2017 Austrian Grand Prix Preview: The calm after the storm?

Ahead of the 2017 Austrian Grand Prix, the 965th race in Formula 1 history, here is the guide to everything you need to know ahead of the race.

2017 Austrian Grand Prix Preview: The calm after the storm?
The Styrian Mountains provide a picturesque background to the Austrian Grand Prix. (Image Credit: Sutton Images)

They say they want to move on, but both Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel know that they can't after their Formula 1 title battle for supremacy ignited in Azerbaijan two weeks ago. 

The story is familiar by now. Under the safety car, Vettel believed Hamilton brake-checked him out of Turn 15 and the German lost his head and reacted by ramming the Mercedes. 

After being hauled in front of an FIA tribunal in Paris on Monday, Vettel was essentially let off without further punishment. 

Speaking in the FIA Press Conference, Vettel said: "Am I proud of the moment? No. Can I take it back? No. Do I regret it? Yes. What I did was wrong."

Although Hamilton confirmed that Vettel had texted him to apologise a couple of days after the race, which he had accepted,  the British driver rebuffed the non-apology apology when he said: "I don't feel like I said anything I want to take back. I'm still under the same opinion of what happened" - in the aftermath of the race, Hamilton had called Vettel's actions a "disgrace" and "disgusting."

What to look out for?

That's enough of the off-track antics, let's discuss on-track as F1 heads to Austria and the Red Bull Ring. 

Mercedes and Ferrari are locked in a true battle royale at the front, where a simple mistake, i.e a headrest coming loose, could prove crucial come the season end. 

Austria has been something of a Mercedes playground since it returned in 2014, where hasn't?, but unless something drastic happens, the margins once again could be in the hundredths, if not thousandths. 

Red Bull visits it's home track, where it will be hoping to improve on just a single podium finish since '14, which Max Verstappen delivered last season. 

Saying that, Verstappen will just want to see the chequered flag, having not finished four of the last six races, including the last two where the Renault engine went pop while he was in a podium place. 

Force India will be hoping that Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon aren't too close on-track on Sunday, after Perez's refusal to play the team game in Canada, resulted in hightened tensions and led to the collision in Azerbaijan. 

The two will talk, but Perez has said that the young Frenchman needs to understand "what racing means."

There are growing clouds over Jolyon Palmer's future at Renault, especially after Robert Kubica said his chance of returning to F1 was "at 80-90%" following an impressive test in Valencia, the Goodwood Festival of Speed and another test in the 2012 spec Renault.

Palmer's season has gone from bad to worse in recent races, starting at the back in Azerbaijan, before conking out a few laps in. Renault were hoping for fifth in the constructors' this season, but its haul of 18 points has come solely from Nico Hulkenberg. It is time Palmer delivered or else. 

The Track:

Last year the Red Bull Ring had nine corners, this year it has 10. The run up the hill from Turn 1 has a slight left kink in it, which has been allocated the Turn 2 name. The old Turn 2, the tight right at the top of the hill is now Turn 3 and so on. 

The track is less power dependent than Canada or Azerbaijan, but a bit of grunt doesn't hurt, in particular out of the heavy traction zones, which eat rear tyres for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

There are two DRS zones, one along the pit-straight, and the other along the run from Turn 3 to Turn 4. 

What tyres are Pirelli bringing?

Pirelli's new for 2017 tyres are a lot harder than in previous years. This means that the softer rubber is generally being prefered, but sometimes that is still too hard, and joined with too high tyre pressures, makes it extremely hard to get the tyres into the correct operating window. 

The Italian manfacturer has opted for the ultra-soft, super-soft and soft compound rubber for the weekend, with the Intermediate and Wet tyres also being shipped to Austria. 

Will it rain?

There is the chance that rain could hit the track during the weekend, but at the time of writing, there is little chance of the wet stuff coming. 

Needless to say, temparatures will be in the low 20 degree region, with cloud cover being a continued presence. 

The high altitude to the circuit, second highest after Mexico, will put a strain on the engines, in particular those belonging to Renault and Honda. 

When it is on?

It is the familiar European timing schedule, with first practice underway at 10am local time, 9am UK time on Friday morning, with Qualifying and the Race underway at 1pm on Saturday and Sunday. 

As ever, Sky Sports F1 will show live coverage of the entire weekend, and Channel 4 will offer a full highlights package for freeview viewers later on Saturday and Sunday evenings. 

Sky will also be showing coverage of the Formula 2 and GP3 support series. 

First Practice - Friday - 09:00am - 10:30am

Second Practice - Friday - 13:00pm - 14:30pm

Third Practice - Saturday - 10:00am - 11:00am

Qualifying - Saturday - 13:00pm - 14:00pm

Race - the 71 laps of the 2017 Austrian GP get underway at 13:00pm on Sunday afternoon. 

All times UK. 

Formula 1