The sprint race returns for the Austrian Grand Prix, and with rain forecast for all three days in the Styrian mountains there’s a good chance fans will get to see at least some competitive wet-weather running.
Max Verstappen has led the last 223 laps of Formula 1 and will look to extend that at a track he’s won at four times previously.
The Dutchman is one of the best wet-weather drivers in F1 so it’s not like his weekend, or Red Bull‘s streak of winning every grand prix in 2023, will be scuppered if rain does fall on the Red Bull Ring.
However, it could provide a mixed-up order either in qualifying, the sprint or the grand prix itself – as the starting grid for the Canadian GP showed.
Q3 at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve was a who’s-who of F1’s renowned rainmasters – Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso, Nico Hulkenberg, George Russell, Esteban Ocon, Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz have all produced memorable performances in the past.
Meanwhile, Oscar Piastri showed he could be the next to join that group despite ending his session in the wall and Alex Albon also performed well.
Friday, Practice 1 and GP Qualifying
There’s around a 50-60% chance of rain across the day, so it’d be a surprise if both sessions are completely dry. A wet-dry qualifying session is always interesting – just see last time out.
However, it would also throw a spanner in the works if there’s a soaking practice session followed by a dry qualifying. Teams won’t have had any time to test for dry setups before heading straight into the first competitive session of the weekend.
Despite warnings of thunderstorms, it’s set to only be light winds at the Red Bull Ring while temperatures will be in the mid-20s (Celsius) during qualifying so the track should dry quickly.
Saturday: Sprint Shootout and Sprint Race
With an 80% chance of rain in the sprint shootout, it should be a wild ride on Saturday morning. With sessions shortened in sprint qualifying, there’s a bit less chance of a change in conditions while cars are on track to provide a mixed order to the race, but it should still be entertaining as drivers adapt.
Temperatures won’t get above 20 degrees Celsius all day so the track will dry less quickly than Friday, while the chance of rain is still above 50% come the sprint race. Wind remains low.
Sunday: Grand Prix
After a bright Styrian morning, skies again darken for the grand prix start time. Starting as we finished, there’s again a 50-60% of rain – teams will be well used to that by now.
It looks like it’ll be wet for the whole grand prix but if there is a change in the last 20 laps or so then that’ll spice things up even more.