Verstappen flying as Red Bull return home for Austria double

By Sports Desk June 23, 2021

Max Verstappen is taking the Formula One title race to Mercedes and he holds all of the momentum as Red Bull return home for two consecutive races in Austria.

The Red Bull Ring will host rounds eight and nine of the 2021 season, starting with the Styrian Grand Prix this week.

Triumphs for Verstappen and team-mate Sergio Perez were impressive at the street circuits of Monaco and Baku.

But the Dutchman's win at the more traditional French Grand Prix – a race Mercedes had dominated in the previous two years – was a huge statement.

Verstappen now leads Hamilton by 12 points in the drivers' standings, while Red Bull are 37 in front when it comes to the constructors' championship.

The leader is chasing his third career victory in Spielberg, which would make this his most successful track in terms of wins.

 

Verstappen is also looking for a fifth podium at the circuit, while a finish of seventh or better will make this venue his most productive for points. 

A fourth win of 2021 would also make this his most successful F1 season even though we are not yet at the halfway stage, highlighting his team's huge progress.

Valtteri Bottas and Hamilton won the two grands prix here last year, though there were sweet home successes for Red Bull in each of the two years prior.

Another triumph would pile further pressure on Mercedes, whose lead driver Hamilton has gone three without victory. Only in 2016 – the last time he was not crowned champion – has he had a worse run since 2014.
 

LAST TIME OUT

Red Bull rescued a dramatic victory for Verstappen with a bold strategy call at the French Grand Prix.

That came after an error from the Dutchman – who started on pole – saw Hamilton move into the ascendancy on lap one. 

Trailing the Briton after that poor start, Red Bull's strategy turned the race on its head with a powerful undercut. Once back in the lead, they then made the call to pit a second time and surrender track position. 

With Hamilton out in front on older tyres, Verstappen got to work cutting the gap and made the winning pass on the penultimate lap to cap a thrilling race.

Perez beat Bottas to the last spot on the podium, with Lando Norris the best of the rest in fifth for McLaren as neither Ferrari made the top 10.
 

WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR IN SPIELBERG

While Red Bull are flying high and can draw upon past positive memories at home, the last time they had a race where both drivers retired in F1 was on this circuit last year at the Austrian Grand Prix.

Mercedes' two 2020 successes give them hope of a title fightback and, despite their torrid recent run, the championship damage has been limited to an extent with 12 points still a manageable gap for Hamilton.

Failure to win, though, would give the German team their worst run in the Hybrid Era of four races without victory.

The improved form of Perez and Bottas over recent races has brought an added dimension to a season where Hamilton and Verstappen had taken centre stage.

But Bottas is yet to finish in the top two this season and the under-pressure Finn will be particularly closely watched in Austria.

He expressed frustration over strategy on team radio in France – which team boss Toto Wolff insisted he was fine with – amid continued speculation over whether George Russell will take his seat next season.

Ferrari are in need of a boost after a dreadful outing in France which allowed McLaren to seize the advantage in the race for third.

 

TOP FIVE OPTA STATS

Brilliant Bottas – The Finn needs a result and will hope it can come at a circuit where he has more poles (three) than at any other. Mercedes have been on pole in six of the last seven Spielberg races, with the exception being Charles Leclerc in 2019.

Spielberg Saturday – Qualifying could be crucial – since 2014 (when Spielberg returned to F1), the eventual winner at the Red Bull Ring has begun the race on the first two rows of the starting grid. Six of those eight races had a winner start on the front row.

Frustrated Ferrari – Both drivers for the Italian team have finished without scoring points in two out of the last eight grands prix (2020 Abu Dhabi and 2021 France). That is as many times as it happened in Ferrari's previous 214 races.

Prime Perez – The Mexican comes to this contest after reaching back-to-back podiums for the first time in his F1 career. He is also enjoying his best streak of consecutive top-five finishes (5).

Lively Lando – Norris has scored points in his last 12 GPs, the best run in his F1 career and longest active streak on the grid. The last McLaren driver to record a better sequence than the Briton was Fernando Alonso in his opening 14 races of the 2007 campaign.

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Drivers


1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 131
2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 119
3. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) – 84
4. Lando Norris (McLaren) – 76
5. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) – 59

Constructors

1. Red Bull – 215
2. Mercedes – 178
3. McLaren – 110
4. Ferrari – 94
5. AlphaTauri – 45

Related items

  • Allen and Bills denied as Henry's Titans hold on in 34-31 thriller Allen and Bills denied as Henry's Titans hold on in 34-31 thriller

    Derrick Henry came up big in the fourth quarter and the Tennessee Titans thwarted Josh Allen at the death in a thrilling 34-31 NFL victory over the Buffalo Bills.

    Henry scored his third touchdown for the Titans (4-2) with just over three minutes remaining against the AFC East-leading Bills (4-2) on Monday.

    The Titans then held up Bills signal-caller Allen on a fourth-down quarterback sneak in the final seconds to snap Buffalo's four-game winning streak.

    Henry joined Jim Brown (1958) as the only players in NFL history to rush for three-plus touchdowns in a game three times in the first six games of a season, according to Stats Perform.

    Through Week 6, Henry has three games with 125 or more rushing yards and three-plus rushing touchdowns – it is tied for the most such games in a single season in the Super Bowl era.

    After a tense opening quarter – Tyler Bass' field goal for the Bills was the only score – Buffalo and Tennessee traded touchdowns in the second period.

    Henry sparked the Titans with a memorable 76-yard TD run before Allen threw a 14-yard pass to Stefon Diggs just over three minutes later and the see-sawing battle continued – Allen's pass to Cole Beasley cancelled out Ryan Tannehill's (18-of-29 passing for 216 yards and an interception) four-yard run to give the Bills a 20-17 half-time lead.

    Bass' third field goal and Allen's third TD pass (finishing 35 of 47 for 353 yards, three TDs and an interception) to Tommy Sweeney outweighed Henry's touchdown run as the Bills stretched their lead to 31-24 heading into the final period.

    But Tennessee's defence came up big after Henry scored the only TD of the fourth quarter, having watched Randy Bullock convert his 38-yard field goal.

  • MLB playoffs 2021: History-making Red Sox slam way to Astros rout and ALCS lead MLB playoffs 2021: History-making Red Sox slam way to Astros rout and ALCS lead

    The Boston Red Sox made more history as they crushed the Houston Astros 12-3 for a 2-1 lead in the American League Championship Series (ALCS).

    Kyle Schwarber hit another grand slam for the red-hot Red Sox, who are the first MLB team to smash three slams in a playoff series on their way to a Game 3 win on Monday.

    The Red Sox hit two grand slams in their Game 2 demolition of the Astros. According to Stats Perform, Boston are the first team in major league history to have three slams within the first two innings over a two-game span.

    After J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers celebrated slams against the Astros in the second game, Schwarber cleared the bases in the second inning in Boston.

    Martinez and Devers each homered again, while Christian Arroyo also went deep at Fenway Park.

    The Red Sox raced out to another 9-0 lead through three innings before Kyle Tucker's three-run homer got the battered Astros on the board on the road.

    Eduardo Rodriguez, who gave up five hits and struck out seven, had retired the first six batters prior to Tucker's bomb.

    Martinez and Devers extended the Red Sox's lead in the sixth and eighth inning as the latter became the first ever MLB player to hit for the home run cycle (solo, two-run, three-run and grand slam) over his fist four home runs of a single postseason, per Stats Perform.

    The Red Sox got to Jose Urquidy, who allowed six runs and a homer on five hits – walking two – over 1.2 rough innings.

    Game 4 is back at Fenway Park on Tuesday

     

    Braves at Dodgers

    World Series champions the Los Angeles Dodgers are back on home turf as they host the Atlanta Braves in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series (NLCS), trailing 2-0.

  • Lionel shines by himself – Pochettino has no doubts over Messi at PSG Lionel shines by himself – Pochettino has no doubts over Messi at PSG

    Paris Saint-Germain head coach Mauricio Pochettino has "no doubt" Lionel Messi will continue to perform at the highest level when playing for the Ligue 1 giants.

    Messi and PSG will host Group A rivals RB Leipzig on matchday three of the Champions League on Tuesday.

    After netting in PSG's win against Manchester City three weeks ago, Messi is looking to join team-mate Neymar (2017), Alex (2012) and George Weah (1994) in scoring in his first two home games for the club in the competition.

    As Messi continues to find his feet in the French capital following his blockbuster switch from Barcelona, Pochettino praised the six-time Ballon d'Or winner.

    "Leo [Messi] shines by himself.  He shone in Barcelona, [he] shines with Argentina and shines at PSG," Pochettino told reporters, with PSG level on four points with Club Brugge – a point above City and four clear of winless Leipzig.

    "He is absolutely adapted, he has the intelligence and the adaptation ability at the highest level. He is now more relaxed and with the experience of being at the club and in the city a few months he is very happy here.

    "We are very happy and we expect that everything goes naturally and him to perform the way he expects and everyone expects. I have no doubt about that."

    PSG have a great record against German opponents, having won seven of their eight meetings with Bundesliga clubs on home soil, though the exception in that run was in April this year when Bayern Munich won 1-0 at the Parc des Princes.

    Champions League runners-up in 2019-20, PSG do not tend to slip up at home in the group stage, losing just one of their past 28 such games – against Manchester United in October 2020 – and netting 2.7 goals per game on average.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.