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Wednesday, 21 November, 2018

Red Bull may make perfect start to home event

Hamilton heavy favourite for race

Max Verstappen suffered an early exit in Baku
1 of 1

Austrian Grand Prix practice one
Sky Sports F1, 9am Friday

The championship fight between Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton turned nasty in Baku last time with a barging match behind the safety car.

Perhaps the beautiful surroundings of the Styrian mountains will have a calming effect on the drivers in this weekend's Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring, but then again if recent history is anything to go by perhaps not.

Hamilton collided with his then teammate Nico Rosberg on the last lap of last year's race as the German driver struggled with brake issues.

The Englishman claimed victory in that race, his first at the track, and bookmakers are anticipating another strong weekend from Hamilton.

The three-time world champion is odds-on to take pole position and also to win the race, while he is 6-5 to go fastest in the first practice session.

Having topped three of the last four opening practices, that might be considered a decent price, however there could be a value each-way alternative in the shape of teenage superstar Max Verstappen.

The Dutchman's Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo has scored more points than any other driver over the last four races having earned a win and three third places. However, Verstappen has been unlucky to suffer early mechanical failures while lying second in Canada and while fighting for third in Azerbaijan.

Max Verstappen (left) shows off his ice hockey skills

Red Bull rarely miss a chance for publicity - already this week the drivers have captained teams of media against each other in an ice hockey match - and while a repeat of Ricciardo's Baku win looks too much to hope for they could feasibly top the Friday morning times.

Verstappen managed that in Azerbaijan and repeated the feat in the afternoon.

Red Bull look closer to the pace this season than in the previous three years since the circuit rejoined the calendar. And with Verstappen having featured in the top five on the timesheet in seven of the eight P1 sessions this year, they may be tempted to put him on a glory run to please corporate guests at the team's home circuit.

Recommendation
M Verstappen fastest in practice one
1pt each-way 14-1 Sky Bet

Verstappen has been unlucky to suffer early mechanical failures while lying second in Canada and while fighting for third in Azerbaijan
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