2015 Austrian Grand Prix Preview

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Following a brief sojourn to Montreal two weekends ago for the Canadian Grand Prix, Formula 1 now returns to Europe for the first of five races on the continent.

The Austrian Grand Prix rejoined the F1 calendar in 2014 after 11 years away, returning to the revamped A1 Ring in Spielberg, now under the ownership of Red Bull and bearing the name of the energy drink giant.

Nico Rosberg won last year’s event ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton to clinch a Mercedes one-two, but after Felipe Massa claimed his first pole position in six years on Saturday, the weekend immediately became one of the most notable of the 2014 season.

This time around, we look poised to enjoy another all-Mercedes fight at the front of the field, but with both Ferrari and Williams lurking just behind and rain on the horizon for Friday and Saturday, anything could happen amid the Styrian mountains.

2015 Austrian Grand Prix – Talking Points

Hamilton looks to turn the screwsource: Getty Images

After suffering back-to-back defeats to Nico Rosberg in Spain and Monaco, Lewis Hamilton hit back in style at the Canadian Grand Prix two weeks ago with a comfortable victory. Now, the Briton will be hoping to turn the screw in the title race and deliver another blow to Rosberg’s championship hopes with a victory in Austria. After losing to the German driver at last year’s event, Hamilton will want to cross another grand prix off his hit-list this weekend.

Can Ferrari’s upgrades come to the fore?

Ferrari entered the Canadian Grand Prix with much fanfare and expectation following an upgrade to its power unit, only to fade to fourth and fifth place in the race far behind Mercedes at the front. The Red Bull Ring should suit the Ferrari SF15-T car, and it will be interesting to see just how much of a challenge either Sebastian Vettel or Kimi Raikkonen can pose to Hamilton and Rosberg this weekend.

Lightning strikes twice

Williams’ upset in Austria last year was one of the biggest shocks of the season. Felipe Massa’s pole position proved to be the only non-Mercedes pole of the 2014 season, and Williams could well have won the race had it opted for a more aggressive strategy instead of settling for P3 and P4. The team should run well once again this year, meaning that the battle to complete the podium – or perhaps even fight for the race win – will be an intense one.

But will lightning strike?

Looking at the weather forecast for the next few days, proceedings in Spielberg could be interrupted by more than a spot of rain. Thunderstorms are forecast for both Friday and Saturday in Austria, meaning that both practice and qualifying could be something of a lottery – albeit one with a little more running than we saw in the wet FP2 session in Monaco, one would hope. Sunday’s forecast is brighter, but the first real wet grand prix of the year could make for a very interesting turn of events.

Red Bull’s homecoming

Red Bull’s first home grand prix was something of a disaster in 2014 – Sebastian Vettel and both Toro Rossos retired; Daniel Ricciardo scored just four points – and 2015 is shaping up to be little better. After ailing to just two points in Canada, Red Bull is in need of a serious reboot in the coming races. Another humbling at its big weekend on home soil will only further the doubt already seeping into Dietrich Mateschitz’s mind, one would imagine.

2015 Austrian Grand Prix – Facts and Figures

Track: Red Bull Ring
Laps: 71
Corners: 9
Lap Record: Michael Schumacher 1:08.337 (Ferrari, 2003)
Tire Compounds: Soft (Option); Medium (Prime)
2014 Winner: Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
2014 Pole Position: Felipe Massa (Williams) 1:08.759
2014 Fastest Lap: Sergio Perez (Force India) 1:12.142
DRS Zones: Main Straight (T9 to T1); Turn 2 to Turn 3

2015 Austrian Grand Prix – TV Times

Free Practice 1: NBC Sports Live Extra 4am ET 6/19
Free Practice 2: NBCSN 8am ET 6/19
Free Practice 3: NBC Sports Live Extra 5am ET 6/20
Qualifying: NBCSN 8am ET 6/20
Race: NBCSN 7:30am ET 6/21

For further broadcast details, click here.

Malcolm Stewart sidelined by knee surgery for ‘extended duration’

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The knee injury that kept Malcolm Stewart from mounting up for Anaheim 2 will require surgery and he will be sidelined for “an extended duration” of the Monster Energy Supercross season, according to the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team.

“I just wanted to give you guys an update,” Stewart said on Instagram. “It’s not the news you guys want to hear, but I took a spill last week and hurt my knee pretty bad to the point that we’re going to have to get surgery done.

“I’m definitely bummed out about it; I felt we were riding pretty good and were just now starting to get the ball rolling, but it is what it is.”

Stewart’s season started with high expectations until accidents in the first two rounds left him 15th in the standings.

He ended 2022 on a high note, finishing a career high third in the Supercross standings. He then missed the start of the Pro Motocross season with another knee injury.

The 2023 season appeared to live up to his expectations. Despite back-to-back accidents, Stewart contended for podiums at both Anaheim 1 and San Diego. He won his heat at San Diego.

“It was very tough to receive the news that Malcolm will need to undergo knee surgery,” Nathan Ramsey, Team Manager for the Husqvarna team said in a press release. “He has worked so hard to be in a position to win races this year and I truly believe he was ready.

“The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing program will support him in every way that we can through his recovery and we can’t wait to get him back on track and back at the races.”

Stewart joins 250 rider Jalek Swoll on the sidelines after he broke an arm in a practice session. Swoll will be relieved by Talon Hawkins beginning this week at Houston, Texas.

A replacement rider has not been announced for Stewart, which means the focus shifts to his 450 teammate Christian Craig, who currently sits 12th in the standings with three top-15s in the opening rounds.