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Red Bull heads to Austria bidding to improve home race form

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Red Bull Formula 1 drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen will head to next weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix bidding to improve their team’s home race form, having scored just one podium over the past three years in Spielberg.

Austria returned to the F1 calendar in 2014 after an 11-year absence, but the past three races at the Red Bull Ring have been difficult ones for the home team.

Max Verstappen finished second last year after the late clash between Mercedes drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, outstripping Red Bull’s previous best finish of eighth in Austria from 2014.

After claiming its first victory of the season last time out in Baku, Red Bull now returns home with its sights set on impressing at one of its most important races of the year.

“I had a really good result in Austria last year coming second,” Verstappen said. “Before the race it was a bit unknown how the tires would play out so I just tried to feel my way in and keep life in them.

“This allowed me to complete a one-stop strategy, which was always going to be a gamble, but in the end worked out really well.

“This year we have to make sure the car is working well in the corners in order to be up with the front-runners and then just try and be as competitive as possible on the straights, itโ€™s always a bit of a compromise.

“The fans at the Red Bull Ring are always extremely passionate and of course there was a big Dutch turn out last year which is always special for me to see, plenty of caravans and orange around the area.”

“At any kind of power circuit like Austria you want to be smooth and get good exits in order to give yourself the best chance on the long straights,” added Baku winner Ricciardo.

“The compromise is always the aero package. In the middle to the end of the lap you want more downforce because the corners are quite fast but more downforce means you are slower on the straights, so the key is to find a good balance throughout the lap.

“I really enjoy the track and the only downside is that I wish it was a bit longer. I wish it had a few more corners, but the corners that do exist are great fun.”

Back in May, Ricciardo and Verstappen completed a fun caravan race at the Red Bull Ring in promotion of the race, causing havoc in the process.

“We have done some pretty crazy things at the track, wearing the lederhosen race suit is something different and a few weeks ago Max and I raced caravans there,” Ricciardo said.

“To be honest Iโ€™m not sure they would have let us do that anywhere else as the caravans were destroyed, but we loved it!”

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).