After Canada win, Red Bull looks toward home in Austria

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A fruitful Canadian Grand Prix has given momentum to Red Bull as it and the rest of the Formula One paddock prepare to return to Austria for the first time since 2003.

It will be a home race for Red Bull, which has revitalized the old A1 Ring into the new Red Bull Ring. Back in November, the first batch of tickets for the June 22 Grand Prix sold out in 48 hours, assuring that a big crowd will be on hand to welcome F1 back.

And that means high expectations for Montreal winner Daniel Ricciardo and four-time defending World Champion Sebastian Vettel, as well as their boss, team principal Christian Horner.

“To have a race at the Red Bull Ring as Red Bull Racing – with that comes a bit of pressure but it will be fantastic to perform in front of effectively a home crowd,” Horner said to Reuters.

“They sold out within a matter of hours a colossal amount of tickets and I think it is going to be a huge spectacle. For us as a team, it will be trying to get the most out of that weekend as we can.”

Red Bull’s triumph in Canada will surely intensify their ongoing battle with Mercedes. But even though the rivalry between the teams has gotten more fierce as the season’s progressed, Merc’s Toto Wolff was impressed at what Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz has done regarding the revival of the Austrian Grand Prix.

“It is a fantastic place with so much history and heritage and I think what Mateschitz’s done there has just revived the region,” Wolff also said to Reuters.

“I hope on the Sunday night, we are going to spoil the party, but I think he has a bigger picture than just a racing team.”

Still, this particular race has already been at the center of some controversy between the teams.

Last month, the name of Niki Lauda, three-time F1 champion and current Merc non-executive chairman, was removed from one of the Red Bull Ring’s corners.

Then going into last weekend in Montreal, some German media reports surfaced about Red Bull kicking Mercedes personnel out of their hotel for Austria.

According to the UK’s Guardian newspaper, Horner denied those reports and was spotted with a piece of paper that showed Mercedes had actually cancelled their reservations.

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.