How the Bookies See It
- Austrian Grand Prix Winner: Lewis Hamilton 5/6, Sebastian Vettel 12/5, Valtteri Bottas 4/1 – Sky Bet
- Hamilton or Vettel to be Penalised for Colliding with Each Other: 20/1 – Paddy Power
- Lewis Hamilton started the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in pole position, which should have given him a good chance of winning. The Brit managed to establish a lead of two seconds within a few laps, and he continued to lead second-place Vettel for quite some time, but Vettel was found guilty of dangerous driving before one of several restarts after deliberately swerving into the side of the Mercedes. Vettel was given a ten-second penalty, but that, and an insecure head rest in Hamilton’s vehicle, changed the nature of the race quite dramatically, and neither of the two ended up with a place on the podium. Hamilton eventually finished in fifth place, to take ten points, which puts him on a total of 139 points for the season, and in second place in the Drivers’ Championship table.
- Sebastian Vettel had a good start to the race in Azerbaijan, starting in fourth place on the grid and quickly slipping into second place after Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas made contact on the second turn of Lap 1. The German followed Hamilton’s lead for some time, before receiving his penalty after the collision with the Brit. Hamilton was called in to the pit lane for his head rest to be attended to, and by Lap 34 the two drivers have reversed their positions, albeit farther down the field than they had been previously, with Vettel in seventh place and Hamilton eighth. Vettel went on to finish in fourth place, and currently leads the Drivers’ Championship table, with 153 points.
- Valtteri Bottas got off to a poor start in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, starting in second place on the grid but making contact with Kimi Raikkonen on the first lap and soon driving his car into the pit lane for attention. That collision cost the Finn dearly, and saw him at the back of the field when he rejoined the race, but he drove superbly from there and eventually managed to finish in second place behind Red Bull winner Daniel Ricciardo. Bottas will no doubt be wondering how he might have fared without that first lap collision, but he earned 18 points for his brave performance, and now has 111 points for the season, putting him in third place for the Championship.
After the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Vettel maintained that Hamilton had been brake-testing him, and that he only drove alongside the Brit to demonstrate his disapproval. Whether or not the German actually believes his own account of what happened, spectators didn’t see any brake-testing by Hamilton, and the Mercedes driver later complained that a ten-second penalty for deliberate collision wasn’t enough. The matter is now being looked at by the FIA, to ‘evaluate whether further action is necessary’.
Whatever the outcome of that investigation, the events in Baku mean that Vettel will need to be very careful about how he races in Austria. It is unlikely that he will try the same thing again on Sunday, and if Hamilton starts the race in front of his German rival in Spielberg, we would expect him to stay there, as long as he doesn’t run into any more bad luck in the way of faulty head rests or similar.
In short, Hamilton’s disappointing result in Azerbaijan was largely, if not wholly, due to dangerous driving on Vettel’s part and an unpredictable technical glitch. Assuming the absence of those things in Austria, we will side with Hamilton to win.
- Sports.net’s Top Tip: Lewis Hamilton to win the Austrian Grand Prix – 5/6 at Sky Bet
*Please note, odds may change as the race approaches.