2022 F1 Austrian Grand Prix preview: Sprint race qualifying returns

Round 11 of the 2022 Formula 1 World Championship takes us this weekend to Spielberg, Austria, home of the Red Bull Ring and site of the annual Austrian Grand Prix.

At a short 2.688 miles in length, it takes just 68 seconds to complete a lap of the Red Bull Ring, which is made up of only 10 corners—the fewest of any circuit on the calendar. There are four long straights, each one preceded by a slow corner, and that places the engineering emphasis on traction and straight-line speed.

The surface is low grip and low abrasion, with the track getting progressively quicker as the weekend goes on. Even though the asphalt is relatively new, the track is quite bumpy in places, which makes it difficult to find consistent grip. Pirelli has nominated C3 as the White hard, C4 as the Yellow medium, and C5 as the Red soft.

The Red Bull Ring is also notorious for its aggressive curbs and is considered to be one of the toughest tests for suspension. This applies especially to the curbs at the exits of Turn 1, Turn 6 and Turn 7, which take an exceptionally high toll on the cars due to the curbs’ height and the speed at which the cars are traveling.

Red Bull Ring, home of the Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix

Red Bull Ring, home of the Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix

One other issue to look out for during the Austrian round is weather. Given the high altitude of the Red Bull Ring (approximately 2,100 feet), temperatures can be a bit cool. The mountain location can also make weather a bit unpredictable. The current forecast calls for mild conditions and possibly some rain during Sunday’s race.

This year’s Austrian round sees the hosting of a sprint race for qualifying, a concept that was introduced last season and was applied this season at April’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. Unlike last year, the winner of the sprint race picks up eight points instead of five, while points are now allocated to the top eight finishers, rather than just the top three as previously.

The sprint race qualifying sees a traditional time-based qualifying session held after a single practice session on Friday, to determine the starting grid for the 62-mile sprint race to be held on Saturday. The results of the sprint race then determine the starting grid for Sunday’s full-length race.

Going into Saturday’s qualifying race and Sunday’s full-length race, Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen leads the 2022 Drivers’ Championship with 181 points. Fellow Red Bull driver Sergio Perez is second with 147 points, followed by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in third with 138 points. In the Constructors’ Championship, Red Bull leads with 328 points, followed by Ferrari with 265 points and Mercedes-Benz AMG with 204 points. Last year’s winner in Austria was Verstappen driving for Red Bull.

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