Austrian GP | Vettel’s Baku backlash or Hamilton’s justice?

Preview Round 9 of the Formula One championship, the Austrian Grand Prix.

 As the dust settles over the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Formula One hits back with the Austrian Grand Prix – Red Bull’s owners home Grand Prix. But will Red Bull claim victory on home turf in Speilberg or can Vettel and Hamilton bounce back from their Baku bout to notch another win under their belts? 

From the moment Vettel eased into the back of Hamilton’s Mercedes as the Briton set the pace awaiting the Safety Car’s return to the pits, Formula One was a flock of controversy with ‘was Vettel’s 10 second stop/go penalty enough of a penalty’?

For some argued the effective 30-second punishment that took the German out of contention for the win was not severe enough after the Ferrari racer had intentionally pulled alongside the Silver Arrow and caused contact when racing was not even underway.

On the other hand, some argued the penalty was enough. For had Hamilton himself not had to come into the pits after his headrest came loose, following his brief spell out of the car under the red flag, Lewis should have won the race comfortably. Leading from the front from the off and only behind other cars once he came into the pits.

Baku bash - Vettel:Hamilton - Mercedes

Sebastian Vettel hunts Lewis Hamilton during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Photo credit: Mercedes AMG F1 Team.

Therefore, had Hamilton won the race and not had issues of his own, Vettel’s penalty would have been enough as the German was taken out of the fight and ultimately lost points in the title fight with Lewis.

Instead, Lewis’ stop meant that Vettel’s penalty only took the Ferrari down the order but actually emerged ahead of Hamilton’s Mercedes – where he finished in fourth, with Lewis fifth.

This entire flow of events left F1’s governing body, the FIA, in a tricky position and opted to discuss the matter at a meeting in Paris on Monday. A meeting that could have resulted in a race ban or disqualification from the Azerbaijan results, but instead saw no further action taken after Seb took full responsibility and apologised for his actions. The second time Vettel has apologised for his actions in the last 12 months after his sweary outburst at Formula One’s race director at the Mexican Grand Prix last October.

The FIA’s meeting also agreed that should there be any repetition of such behaviour by Vettel, the matter would immediately be referred to the FIA International Tribunal rather than a meeting where that would have been the outcome. Vettel has also been instructed by FIA President Jean Todt that he cannot endorse any official FIA road safety activities until the end of this year.

Vettel reflects on the Azerbaijan GP - Ferrari

Sebastian Vettel reflects on the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Photo credit: Scuderia Ferrari.

With the Azerbaijan contact now laid to rest, F1 heads to Austria for the next round of the championship at the Red Bull Ring. A race Vettel is yet to claim victory at, while Hamilton pinched the win a year ago after late race contact with Rosberg sent the German back down the order and off the podium.

That contact, like in Azerbaijan though, was not Hamilton’s fault for Rosberg’s lack of speed out of the opening right-hander let Hamilton reel in the race leader for a lunge around the outside at Turn Two. But Rosberg did not want to yield to his former race-leading team-mate and straight lined the apex – sending his Silver Arrow into that of his team-mate before sticking to the track edge to prevent Hamilton from cleanly returning.

Vettel himself also had a torrid time at the 2016 Austrian Grand Prix after a high-speed tyre blow-out down the pit straight sent the German into a debris-filled spin and a pit of anger at Pirelli. Stating after the race: “Complete question mark why the tyre failed.
“It was our decision [to run long from the start], it was clear that everybody had much more tyre life than expected going into the race.
“Out of nothing, the tyre exploded. No signs before that, everything was normal according to the guys on the pit wall, no change in pace from the lap before.

The Red Bull Ring grid, run to Turn One. Photo credit: McLaren F1.

To win at the Red Bull Ring you require a car that provides strong traction out of the corners and stability under braking as the best places for an overtake are the heavy braking zones at turns one, two and three. With the run out of Turn One up the hill to Turn Two particularly requiring strong traction and the right line in order to maximise exit speed.

A tight and twisty middle sector then follows where the Pirelli tyres play a key part due to the focus on mechanical grip.

The track then rounds out with two high-speed right-handers as the racing line crosses with the pit-entry. With the final corner requiring the right line again as to not run wide on exit or cut the corner so much the kerb bounces you offline.

Red Bull Ring track map -

The track map of the Red Bull Ring. Copyright:

This year’s Austrian Grand Prix will be exclusively live on Sky Sports F1 with Channel 4 covering the weekend via highlight packages on Saturday and Sunday evening.

Sky Sports F1
05/07 – 20:30 – F1 Report: Preview
06/07 – 14:00 – Driver Press Conference
06/07 – 21:00 – Paddock Uncut
07/07 – 08:45 – Practice 1
07/07 – 11:00 – Formula 2 Practice
07/07 – 12:45 – Practice 2
07/07 – 14:55 – Formula 2 Qualifying
07/07 – 15:30 – Team Press Conference
07/07 – 16:15 – The F1 Show
08/07 – 08:25 – GP3 Qualifying
08/07 – 09:45 – Practice 3
08/07 – 12:00 – Qualifying (also Sky Sports 1)
08/07 – 14:30 – Formula 2 Feature Race
08/07 – 16:05 – GP3 Race 1
09/07 – 08:05 – GP3 Race 2
09/07 – 09:15 – Formula 2 Sprit Race
09/07 – 10:25 – Porsche Supercup Race
09/07 – 11:30 – Race (also Sky Sports 1)
=> 11:30 – Track Parade
=> 12:00 – Pit Lane Live
=> 12:30 – Race
=> 15:30 – Paddock Live
12/07 – 20:30 – F1 Report: Review

Channel 4 F1
08/07 – 17:30 – Qualifying Highlights
09/07 – 17:45 – Race Highlights

BBC Radio F1
09/07 – 13:00 – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live)