To be absolutely honest, it would be only silly to suggest that Lewis Hamilton is scared of the Red Bull challenge that will be up in full might up at the forthcoming Austrian Grand Prix. This is down to the simple reason that drivers like Lewis Hamilton don’t fear challenges; they look forward to competing with all their might and challenge, never eschewing a chance to attack.
But truth be told, what makes the 2021 world championship a peculiar season for Lewis Hamilton is the fact that this has been a year where it’s not been him all the way. As a matter of fact, for a man so habitual of occupying the top step of the podium, the last race that the seven-time world champion won was back in Spain, which is precisely three races ago.
Since then, both he and Max suffered at Baku with Red Bull going to win at both Azerbaijan as well as the recent French Grand Prix. Though to be fair to the Red Bull arsenal, winning at Paul Ricard was, by no means, just another feat for in their entire history of Grand Prix racing up until the 2021 Le Castellet-bound race, the Milton Keynes-based outfit had never won at France.
So what could be expected now in the next race? From a purely Mercedes point of view, a win at Austria would be vital and of much significance, not only down to the fact that the mighty team have gone without a single win in the past 3 events but even Valtteri Bottas was unable to stand on the top step of the podium, whether one speaks of Monaco, Baku, or Paul Ricard with Lewis not being able to emerge victorious.
Though to simply expect Mercedes to come smashingly hard would also be a fool’s errand since they would have to take cognisance of the fact that the Spielberg-bound Austrian GP happens to be Red Bull’s home race event.
It’s the contest where Lewis Hamilton’s biggest thorn in the path to getting an eighth world title, Max Verstppen, raced away to a fantastic win in 2018, which notched up the team’s maiden win at their own home track. Lewis would be further denied a victory the following year when in 2019, Verstappen claimed another sensational win, then his sixth Grand Prix victory.
But all of that said, what’s that one vital piece of concern that Lewis Hamilton is thinking about ahead of the first of the two races at Austria?
In an interaction with Sky network, here’s what Lewis Hamilton had to say:
“It’s a power-hungry circuit, it’s got those long long straights, so we could see something similar [to France] – obviously with the straight-line speed of the Red Bull!”
He’d further add, “But we’ve got three days to try and see if we can make any adjustments and improvements and maybe if we maximise absolutely everything maybe we can give them a run for their money!”
But all of that said, one thing must be taken into consideration- in the 2020 Austrian GP, Max Verstappen had retired from the season-opener while bagging a third at the following Styrian GP (held at the same venue).
So while it would bring some sense of relief to Mercedes that Lewis Hamilton’s main title rival hasn’t enjoyed the best of recent runs at the track, they’d also be mindful of the fact that 2021 is a fresh season and Verstappen, already in hot form, enjoying a 12-point lead over Lewis, would want to strike back hard at his opponents!
All of this is poised to make the upcoming race at Sunday a hotseller!