F1 Data Prediction - Can Ferrari spring a surprise in Austria?

Analysis of data from previous races that present characteristics similar to the race track in Austria to explain why Max Verstappen will be the team to beat and why Ferrari could be their closest challenger.

2023 Austrian Grand Prix


We are back in Europe for this week's Formula 1 Grand Prix, the setting being a loved track among the rolling hills of Austria.

The race track in Spielberg, Styria, Austria is a bastion for the Red Bull team, the motorsport complex is owned by them and in recent history, they have been holding the fort, making it difficult for the other teams to defeat them.

The layout comprises a mixture of slow-speed, slow-to-medium-speed, and medium-to-fast-speed corners separated by straights. It is a short track with just 10 corners hence the lap times are quick and will be very close between teams.

The downforce load of this circuit is low to medium, teams could go either way to maximize their lap times based on the characteristics of their car. Sector 1 demands a good straight-line speed as it consists of two long straights, sector 2 and sector 3 are where downforce helps in posting a quick time.

Based on the nature of the track let's examine which team among the top 4 will be the quickest to complete a lap in Styria.


For the comparisons, data with similar variables are selected to make a viable analysis. For instance, the fastest sectors by a team and not individual drivers are considered for the qualifying examination.

2022 Austrian GP

It is fair to say that the cars that competed last year have come a long way in their development journeys but it is always important to be reminded how the teams performed against each other a year ago.

Hers is a bar chart representing the times set by the current top 4 in last year's qualifying session:

  • It could not have been closer between the Red Bull and the Ferrari.

  • Mercedes were not in the same league.

  • Aston Martins were languishing in the doldrums.

The mini-sector map displays the dominance of Redbull and Ferrari with both exchanging most of the mini-sectors; there were a few won by Mercedes but marginally on acceleration zones:

2023 Formula 1 Season

So far this season, Max Verstappen has been the leading driver and is not showing any signs of slowing down. Perez has been slipping down with his lackluster performances and has opened the doors for the drivers among the top 4 to claim that second position. Max's dominance and form with Perez's woes have made it difficult to gauge the performance gained by the trailing teams.

2023 Bahrain GP

The third sector of the Sakhir circuit is very similar to the first sector of the Red Bull ring. Here's a bar chart comparing the times set by the four teams:

  • The Red Bull with its straight-line advantage at the time is clearly the fastest.

  • The first iteration of both the Mercedes and Ferrari with nothing between them.

  • Aston Martin in its base car was the slowest.

The mini-sector map show where the performance was split between the teams at Sector 3:

2023 Miami GP

Sector 3 in Miami has a long straight with a heavy braking zone at turn 17 followed by sweeping turns 18 and 19 running to the finish line, characteristics shared with sector 2 of the Austrian track. Here's a bar chart representing the times set by the top 4 in that sector

  • Nothing to choose between Red Bull, Ferrari, and Aston.

  • Off-colour Mercedes was down on pace.

The mini-sector map depicts the phases at which each team was fastest:

2023 Spanish GP

Sector 3 of the Styrian track consists of medium-fast corners leading to the start-finish straight, close in configuration to the end of the updated track in Catalunya. The bar chart below represents the times registered by the top 4 teams:

  • The difference in time is very small but is not negligible as it will be very similar in the upcoming qualifying and sprint shootout session of the Austrian Grand Prix.

  • Only the Aston was not in its latest configuration but it bodes well to them that they were the second fastest team in this sector.

The mini-sector map shows that most of it was dominated by Red Bull but most of it was in the start-finish straight:

2023 Canadian GP

Qualifying for the Canadian grand prix was a wet session, data obtained from that session cannot be used for collation but Free Practice 2 was dry and there were some fast laps set on soft tyres which can be taken into consideration. Yes, the fuel loads and engine modes are unknown but there is a new development in the performance of the Ferrari team in particular that has to be noticed.

On close observation of the telemetry above, the top speed of the Ferrari stands out, even above Red Bull, this fact was hinted at by some pandits in the last Grand Prix and evidently, they seemed to have taken a step forward. This advantage could play a major role this weekend.


With his form and arguably the fastest car on the grid, Max will still be the man to beat. With his orange army in full voice, he could be fueled to give us another dominating performance this weekend. To keep his relevance in the championship and as the second Red Bull driver, Perez has to perform at his highest level. It is going to be close between the rest with each team strong at different parts of the track. Mercedes do well in high-speed corners and thus will be fast in sectors 2 and 3, Ferrari seems to have gained some top speed which will help them in sector 1. Aston Martin is an unknown entity with their new upgrade, on race pace in the hands of Alonso they seemed par but Alonso claimed he had to push every lap to keep his position and the qualifying performance couldn't be gauged because of the rain, Stroll didn't have a good weekend. It will be intriguing to see what will happen among the top 4, will the order remain the same? Will a team from the midfield have a say in the proceedings? The teams will have two shots at setting a blistering one-lap pace as it is the second sprint weekend of the season.


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