FRUSTRATION IN MONTREAL: Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo suffered a frustrating weekend at the 2015 Canadian GP, finishing in 13th place. In 2014, he grabbed his maiden victory in Montreal. Image: The Canadian Press / AP / Tom Boland
SPIELBERG, Austria - However good the party turns out to be, Red Bull is feeling far from bullish as Formula 1 descends on the team’s home circuit for the 2015 Austrian GP on June 21.
In 2014, Austria's scenic Spielberg circuit returned to the calendar after an 11-year absence and hosts revved up fans by winning in Canada with Daniel Ricciardo.
In June 2015, with both its drivers sure to collect penalties in the next few races for exceeding the annual "power unit" allocation, there will be a lot more criticism than optimism wafting through the mountain air.
Neither Ricciardo, whose permanent smile has been tested in 2015, nor team mate Daniil Kvyat has come close to winning and Red Bull, fourth overall, has not been shy in blaming engine partner Renault.
Mercedes has won six of seven races and qualified on pole in each of them, with two-times F1 champion Lewis Hamilton and team mate Nico Rosberg, winner of the 2014 Austrian GP, clear favourites.
Red Bull motorsport consultant Helmut Marko told the F1 website: “Unfortunately, the Red Bull Ring is a real power track, so we won't be with the front runners. However, even if our drivers will hardly see the podium through 2015, fans will get entertainment at its best.”
LE MANS APPEAL
The sport could do with some entertainment. The 2015 Canadian GP was a let-down, while the Le Mans 24 Hours drew a record crowd of 263 500 to watch an endurance series that is fast gaining popularity.
Force India's Nico Hulkenberg, who won Le Mans with Porsche team mates Earl Bamber and Nick Tandy, can expect plenty of attention as he returns to the regular job.
GOING TO TOP 2014 POLES
While his car has a Mercedes engine, and team mate Sergio Perez set the fastest race lap in 2014, Force India is treading water until an upgraded chassis debuts in Silverstone in July 2015.
Mercedes, with Hamilton 17 points clear of Rosberg and aiming for his fifth win of the season, can expect to set the pace.
Hamilton, who needs one more pole to equal his 2014 total, said: "I feel good. The Austrian race was strong for me a year earlier and my qualifying is better now so I plan to try to rectify the loss I had in 2014.”
Williams, which took the front row in Austria in 2014 with Felipe Massa on pole alongside Valtteri Bottas, could challenge Ferrari for a podium place.
Bottas, third in Montreal, said: "The atmosphere is going to be great again. With the upgrades we’re bringing we expect another strong weekend.”
Stay with Wheels24 for the 2015 F1 season – fresh reports every day.