Formula One Betting Preview: Austrian Grand Prix

austrian grand prix

Matthew Jordan

Thursday, July 6, 2017 2:59 PM GMT

All eyes will be on the two drivers atop the Formula One standings, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton, as the circuit heads to the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria, for Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix. Here’s your betting preview

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Will Crash Be Forgotten?

It’s probably a good thing that the Formula One circuit was off last week because tensions could have been very high between the points leader in the series, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, and second-place Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes.

In the European Grand Prix on June 25 in Baku, Azerbaijan, Vettel steered his car intentionally into Hamilton’s after the pair had made contact during a Safety Car period. If that were to happen in NASCAR, the driver would be looking at serious sanctions. But all Vettel received was a 10-second stop-go penalty in the race and three points on his superlicence. Vettel did admit his wrongdoing after the race and Hamilton accepted the apology – only after saying Vettel's driving in Baku was "disgraceful" and "disgusting.”

"Am I proud of the moment? No. Can I take it back? No. Do l regret it? Yes," said the four-time F1 champion Vettel. "Looking back, it was the wrong thing to do. It was dangerous and unnecessary."

Many in the sport felt the FIA should have punished Vettel further. In 1997, for example, the FIA disqualified seven-time champion Michael Schumacher from competing for the series title after he made contact in a race with Jacques Villeneuve. Vettel faces a ban from next Sunday’s British Grand Prix if he racks up three more penalty points on his superlicence on Sunday.

Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo won the race in Baku, with Vettel finishing fourth and Hamilton fifth. The German Vettel leads the driver standings with 153 points with the Brit Hamilton second at 139.

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Mercedes Has Dominated Austria

Now it’s on to Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix, which is held at the 2.7-mile Red Bull Ring in Spielberg. The race is 71 laps, with the fastest-ever lap belonging to Schumacher with a time of 1:08.337 in 2003. The Red Bull Ring is considered a braking-and-traction circuit, calling for medium levels of downforce.

The first Austrian Grand Prix was held in 1970 but it wasn’t run from 1988-1995 or 2004-13. Since its return to the circuit, only Team Mercedes has won here: since-retired Nico Rosberg in 2014-15 and Hamilton last year. Thus he’s the only active driver to win there. Hamilton is the -120 betting favorite at William Hill followed by Vettel at +250.

Hamilton started on the pole in 2016, had the fastest lap of 1:08.411 and finished in a time of 1:27:38.107, nearly six seconds ahead of Max Verstappen. Vettel was knocked out after 26 laps. That race also had controversy as Hamilton collided with his then-teammate Rosberg on the last lap.  Rosberg's front wing was trapped under his car after crash, meaning he was easily passed by Hamilton. Rosberg was given a 10-second penalty and two superlicence penalty points. A Team Mercedes driver to win is -225. Hamilton’s teammate this year, Valterri Bottas, is third in the driver standings.

It has been a rough season for the McLaren Honda team with Fernando Alonso 17th in the standings with two points and Stoffel Vandoorne at zero. Honda is debuting a new engine package for this race, a "spec 3" unit the manufacturer tested during practice in Baku. Honda was encouraged by the straight-line speed performance boost the unit delivered. McLaren has the most wins in Austria of any team with six but not since 2001. Alonso is a +10000 long shot on Sunday.

Free F1 Pick: Team Mercedes -225Best Line Offered: William Hill