Austrian GP: what time is the race? And this one’s a Sprint weekend, right?

Formula One

Austrian GP: what time is the race? And this one’s a Sprint weekend, right?

Rain is forecast to hit the Austrian GP this weekend. Let the battle for second place commence

Joe HoldingPublished: 29 Jun 2023  External link to Top Gear Magazine Subscription – 5 issues for £5Skip 1 photos in the image carousel and continue reading

A fortnight on from the snoozefest that was the Canadian GP, F1 is back for the first of four races taking place all over Europe in July. So long, weekend plans!

On the face of it, there’s little to get excited about: Max Verstappen is running away with the drivers’ championship, and Red Bull is running away with the constructors’ championship. Reminder: we are only eight races into the season.

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However, behind the so-far-all-conquering RB19 there is much to be intrigued about. Mercedes and Aston Martin appear locked in a tight battle for best-of-the-rest status, and Ferrari – when it isn’t busy shooting itself in the foot and then the other foot and then the first foot again – isn’t far behind in terms of pace.

Meanwhile Alpine – fresh from securing investment from Deadpool himself – will be looking to protect its position in the standings from McLaren, which is promising much needed upgrades very soon.

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And Alex Albon finished an incredible seventh for Williams last time out in Canada: can any of the backmarkers emerge from the blue again and score points in Austria? We shall see.

Lots to talk about as always. Below you’ll find all the info you could possibly need ahead of the Austrian GP.

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What time is the Austrian GP? And what time is qualifying?

The Austrian GP starts at 2pm UK time on Sunday 2 July, while the grid will be set by qualifying at 4pm on Friday 30 June.

That’s because Austria is hosting one of the six ‘Sprint’ weekends on this season’s F1 calendar, with Saturday freed up to host the Sprint Shootout qualifying session at 11am, followed by the Sprint race at 3.30pm.

There’s only one practice session: that starts at 12.30pm on Friday, a few hours before quali.

What’s the weather going to be like?

According to the forecast, it’s going to be wet. As these words are being typed, rain showers are forecast for every day of action at the Red Bull Ring, so expect a certain degree of chaos. If you’ve got tickets, take a brolly. And maybe one of those see-through ponchos.

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Where is the Austrian GP taking place?

The Austrian Grand Prix is being held at the Red Bull Ring, which is located in the Styrian mountains a short distance away from the town of Spielberg. It belonged to Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz (until his death last year), and is considered the team’s home race.

The Austrian Grand Prix has been a permanent fixture on the F1 calendar since 2014, with previous stints from 1997-2003 and 1963-1987. In 2020, it actually held two grands prix on successive weekends, although the second was called the Styrian Grand Prix to mix things up a bit during the Covid-hit season.

How many laps is the Austrian GP?

There’ll be 71 laps of the short, 4.318km (2.683mi) track, which only features 10 corners. Doesn’t sound very exciting, does it? But don’t be fooled, the high-speed nature of the track means there’s often lots of overtaking and the track has served up some absolute classic races in recent years.

Who’s going to win the Austrian GP?

It’s hard to see anyone stopping Max Verstappen, who is currently on a run of four straight wins. He’s also taken the chequered flag at this venue three times in the past, so he’s a formidable entity at this circuit.

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However, the small crumb of comfort for everyone else is that last season, this proved to be one of Red Bull’s weakest tracks as Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc made use of better tyre wear to pass the Dutchman for the lead multiple times on his way to victory. Fair warning: the likelihood of this happening is slimmer than one of Mercedes’ old sidepods.

Other contenders? Sergio Perez desperately needs a good weekend to boost his confidence, and if his teammate DNFs then there’s every chance he could bag a third win of the season. Expect Mercedes, Aston Martin and Ferrari to fight it out for the podium places.

How can I watch the Austrian GP?

British viewers have a few options: subscribe to Sky Sports for its dedicated F1 channel, or sign up for NowTV in order to stream Sky Sports that way. There are alternatives, but they involve venturing into regions of the dark web that we’d really rather you stayed well away from.

If you’re happy to just watch the highlights, then Channel 4 broadcasts free-to-air coverage after qualifying and the race. Saturday’s show at 7.30pm will bring you the previous day’s qualifying, the sprint shootout and the sprint race, while Sunday’s race highlights begin airing at 6.30pm. If you don’t want to know the results, you’ll need to stay off grid until then.

What’s the Top Gear view on the Austrian GP?

We love the Austrian GP. The beautiful location is the antithesis of some of the drab street tracks we’ve seen so far this year, and the circuit itself is one of the best on the calendar. This is because it always seems to provide great racing, with overtaking opportunities in several corners: quite the achievement given there’s fewer than a dozen of ‘em.

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