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.

Here’s who were picking to win the Indy 500 — who are YOU picking?

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Several members of the NBC Sports motorsports staff have made their predictions on who will win Sunday’s 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Of the six voters, two are going with 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series champ Josef Newgarden, while two others are going with Helio Castroneves to win a fourth 500, which would tie him with A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears.

Here’s our picks. Who are YOU picking?

Leigh Diffey: Helio Castroneves — He drives the place better than anyone else. For me (for what its worth) he deserves a fourth 500 ring for the frustration he went through never getting the IndyCar title!

Townsend Bell: Josef Newgarden

Nate Ryan: Simon Pagenaud — All of his 2018 misfortune on the track has disappeared in May, and it culminates in the biggest victory of his career.

Jerry Bonkowski: Helio Castroneves – There’s no pressure as he pursues his fourth Indy 500 win. All Helio has to do, as late NFL owner Al Davis would say, is “Just win, baby!” (But if Helio falls short, watch for Marco Andretti)

Kyle Lavigne: Josef Newgarden — I think he has everything he needs to get it done this year.

Dan Beaver: Robert Wickens – Has driven like anything except a rookie and his second-place finish at Phoenix proves he’s just as good on an oval as the road courses.

Follow: Jerry Bonkowski