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Formula 1: Lights Out - What to look for at the Austrian GP

After the chaos and excitement of the British Grand Prix, drivers' championship leader Max Verstappen will be hoping for a far more straightforward weekend in Red Bull's home race in Austria.

Verstappen was one of many drivers caught up in the Silverstone turmoil as Red Bull saw their six-race winning run ended by Ferrari's Carlos Sainz.

The Spaniard's first win in Formula 1 was fully deserved but he and Ferrari may struggle to repeat their British Grand Prix success at the picturesque Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, where the home team are usually very strong.

Max Verstappen has won the Austrian Grand Prix three times in the last four years while taking the chequered flag in four of the last six races staged at the Red Bull Ring and is the 5/6 favourite for victory again.

However, with the sprint race making its return this weekend, a stronger Mercedes car edging into the picture and Ferrari's Charles Leclerc desperate to prove he's a title contender, there are plenty of obstacles for Verstappen to overcome.

Verstappen still in control

Verstappen had looked on course for his sixth victory in the last seven races at the British Grand Prix with the Red Bull looking significantly faster than the rest of the grid, only to collect a piece of debris from the collision which lead to Zhou Guanyu's huge accident, thus scuppering the Dutchman's chances.

The world champion gamely nursed his wounded car home in seventh and will have been delighted to see the majority of his title rivals only make up minimal ground on him with team mate Sergio Perez cutting the gap to 34 points, while Leclerc is still 43 points adrift.

Red Bull remain the team to beat, the minor tweaks they made to their car at Silverstone appearing to have been very productive and they'll expect to have the fastest car on the track once more in Austria.

Sergio Perez gave a good demonstration of Red Bull's dominance in Northamptonshire, coming from the back of the grid following an early front wing change to take second and if unhindered, it's tough to envisage a scenario where both Red Bull's don't end up on the podium at 5/6.

Ferrari power struggle

Ferrari are best-placed to deny Red Bull a return to winning ways with Sainz saying last week's win had been a long time coming from a personal and team point of view, the Scuderia having been plagued by issues recently.

Sainz's maiden win and pole position at the 150th time of asking was certainly a moment of celebration for the team following their difficult run but also created more problems with Leclerc unhappy with his treatment.

For the fourth time in five races, Leclerc failed to convert a lead in a grand prix into a victory with Ferrari taking the decision to pit Sainz, rather than the Monegasque driver for the faster soft tyres during a late safety car at Silverstone.

While Leclerc says he understood the decision, it was a missed opportunity for the 24-year-old to reignite his flagging title hopes as he only made minimal inroads into Verstappen's lead.

Frustration is starting to build between Ferrari and Leclerc, who will be desperate for a release on Sunday at 5/2 for the win.

Related Formula 1 News

Formula 1: Chequered Flag - British GP Review

Mercedes gains minimal

If frustration levels are rising in the Scuderia garage, they have started to ease somewhat at neighbours Mercedes, who have recorded three consecutive podium finishes following a difficult start to the season.

The Silver Arrows' major package of upgrades for Silverstone brought them closer to Ferrari and Red Bull with Lewis Hamilton leading the race at one point before coming home in third, while the seven-time world champion also ended up nabbing the extra point for the fastest lap.

Hamilton's team mate George Russell may well have joined him in the fight for a top three spot had his race not ended after one lap with Mercedes feeling they are heading in the right direction.

However, Hamilton admitted post-race at Silverstone they aren't yet ready to challenge for wins and the bumpy Red Bull Ring might see Mercedes slip back slightly.

While being a fast track like Silverstone, team principal Toto Wolff says it's a very different circuit in other ways and may not suit their problematic W13.

Sprint for the line

For the second time this season, the sprint race is on the agenda in Formula 1, giving teams an opportunity to bag some all-important extra points.

The return of the sprint means a shake up to the usual order of weekend events with qualifying for the sprint race taking place on Friday afternoon.

The sprint then takes place on Saturday with a maximum of eight championship points, and pole position for Sunday's grand prix up for grabs to the winner.

Only two drivers have ever won a sprint race in F1 since they were introduced last year; Valterri Bottas and Verstappen.

Verstappen won the first sprint race of this season at Imola, overcoming a poor start to power clear of Leclerc on that occasion. The Dutchman, who will have plenty of support in Austria, looks a bit of value at 11/10 to win the sprint given he's odds-on for Sunday's race.

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