We are just a few hours away from the highly-anticipated Austrian GP 2021 in the Red Bull Ring on Sunday. A lot of exciting stuff happened on Saturday during the qualifying session which will have a huge bearing on how things could pan out today. As the action is set to begin from IST 6:30 PM, let us have a look at few important points to remember before the start of the race.
1. New tyre compounds for this weekend
With the Red Bull Ring hosting back-to-back races, Pirelli have added a variable to this race to ensure a repeat of strategies from last weekend. Notably, the tyre compounds will be one step softer this weekend as C5 (softest compound) has been introduced for the first time at this venue. As a result, teams will be forced to use the C4 this weekend (which they were avoiding last week) making it a sure-shot two-stop race for all.
2. Possibility of rain in Austria
The weather forecast in Austria has not been up to the mark in last two weeks. While rain was also predicted for last weekend, there were only a few drops that fell and that too, after the end of race. There are predictions for rain today as well and if that happens, we could be in for an unpredictable race at Red Bull Ring. The temperatures will also be lower as compared to last week (which could work in favour of Mercedes) and if rain also adds to the drama, the race will surely open up and Silver Arrows will be in with a big chance to challenge Red Bull.
3. Slight disadvantage for Norris and Perez
Going into the weekend, there will be a slight disadvantage for Lando Norris and Sergio Perez who qualified at P2 and P3, respectively. Both the drivers have only one set of hard tyres available and might have to opt for mediums for the final part of race as it is expected to be a two-stop race. On the other hand, Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas have two sets of hards in addition to an extra set of mediums alongside their starting tyres, giving the last weekend's podium finishers a slight advantage.
4. Sebastian Vettel will start at P11
Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel has been given a 3-place grid penalty for impeding Alpine’s Fernando Alonso during the qualifying session on Saturday. As a result, Vettel will start the Austrian GP 2021 on Sunday at P11 despite qualifying at P8. This would also mean that George Russel (Williams), Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) and Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) will start the race at P8, P9 and P10, respectively. Unfortunately, Alonso had to settle with P14 and has already ruled himself out of top 10 finish.
5. Race will happen in front of fans
Unlike the last weekend's race, the Red Bull Ring could have around 60,000 fans enjoying the race at the arena on Sunday. While we have seen crowds in limited capacity in France, Monaco and Spain this year, the return of fans to Austria will be quite momentous as it also signals the fact that things are coming back to normal post pandemic. The factor of fans could play a huge role as they will be behind Red Bull and Max Verstappen as they try to extend the lead at top of drivers' and constructors' standings. While Verstappen is 18 points ahead of Hamilton, Red Bull are 40 points clear of Mercedes going into the race.