The stage is perfectly set for Round 9 of Formula One 2021 season as the Red Bull Ring in Austria hosts the second race of the double-header on July 4, Sunday. The first one actually turned out to be a thrilling spectacle for the fans as home team's Max Verstappen secured his 4th win of the season. The Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas finished second and third respectively as Red Bull and Verstappen extended their lead at top of the standings.
As the F1 fans have witnessed different sets of podiums this year, it won't be surprising to see another twist in the tale. With so many exciting drivers on the grid, let us have a look at the possible contenders who could find themselves on the podium in Austria on Sunday.
1. Sergio Perez
The experienced driver has settled in well in his new team - Red Bull after a slow start to the season. Sergio Perez has been absolutely fantastic in last few races, having secured two podium finish. The 31-year-old came remarkably close to complete a hat-trick last weekend when he had closed the gap on Bottas despite losing some time due to a slow pit-stop.
It was an impressive 4th-place finish for Perez in Styrian GP 2021 and with so much confidence behind his back, he would be one of the leading contenders to challenge for a spot on the podium this Sunday. It would be a fairytale for Red Bull as well if both Verstappen and Perez get on the podium at their home race in Austria.
2. Charles Leclerc
Ferrari's wonder-boy has had a tough start to 2021 campaign but he has still managed to display his class whenever he has got a fair chance. After being pushed at the back of grid in Styrian GP 2021 last weekend, Charles Leclerc produced a fantastic drive to finish at P7. He was named as 'driver of the day' and would be really confident going into this weekend.
The 23-year-old has had some success at Red Bull Ring having finished P2 in Austrian GP 2020. With Ferrari also showing some good race pace in Austria, they would be hoping for a similar performance this weekend. If they can have a better qualifying as well, there are possibilities of Ferrari and Leclerc securing their first podium finish of the season.
3. Lando Norris
The McLaren racer has emerged as one of the most impressive drivers of this season, being the only one to get points in all 8 races so far. Having already secured two podiums, Lando Norris has the self-belief and confidence required to challenge for a top-3 finish once again this weekend as he tries to keep hold of his fourth spot in the standings.
The 21-year-old qualified P3 in Austria last week before finishing P5 in the race. Although McLaren can't really compete with Mercedes and Red Bull in terms of race-pace, one just cannot rule out the possibility of any red flags during the race which has usually worked in favour of Norris this season. A slight possibility of rain could also open up the race entirely on Sunday.