Verstappen hopes rain and 'cautious' Mercedes boost Styrian GP chances

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Max Verstappen hopes the possibility of rain and a "cautious" Mercedes approach can help him fight for victory at the Styrian Grand Prix.

Last weekend's season opener in Austria couldn't have gone much worse for the Dutchman as he retired after just 11 laps with an electrical issue on his Red Bull.

However, the pace of his car on Sunday before it ground to a halt was a notable positive, as Verstappen was keeping pace with Valtteri Bottas despite being on harder tyres.

And so with countermeasures now put in place by engine supplier Honda to prevent a repeat of the reliability woes, Max is still hopeful he can win at the Red Bull Ring three years on the trot.

"I feel good but of course the result was not what we wanted, which was to score a good amount of points and fight for the win," he said reflecting on what happened a week ago.

"I was looking good for a podium which I thought was easily possible because it was basically between Mercedes and myself on raw pace.

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"But then you also look at how the whole race panned out, we could have scored a good amount of points against Lewis but it is what it is, we can’t change it and now I’m looking forward to hopefully having a more positive weekend."

What is also giving Verstappen hope is the prospect of a wet qualifying this weekend, with rain and thunderstorms forecast for Saturday.

“I’m looking forward to racing on the same track again this weekend and it’s a good opportunity to get a better understanding of the car," he noted.

“It looks like it could rain this week and I’m not sure anyone knows how competitive they are in the wet with these new cars, so that could be interesting.

“I always enjoy driving in the wet, I don’t mind it, but to be quick you need both the car and driver to be 100%.”

Perhaps more critical though is the potential for more unreliability, particularly if Mercedes is forced to push that little bit harder.

"I'm pretty confident the team has tried to do things to fix it ready for this weekend," last weekend's winner Valtteri Bottas said.

"Obviously, it's limited in the regulations as to how much you can do and how much you can't when it's about the gearbox, but they've localised the issue and I've full trust they're going to fix it, just when is the question."

Mercedes have brought new components for the second Austria race, which they hope will improve the issue if not fix it, and testing them will be a priority for the team on Friday.

"We're running quite a few sensors to try and monitor what's going on and see if this issue will reappear," Bottas added.

"If it will, for sure we will need to be on the cautious side. We obviously want to finish the races and get the full points if we can.

"But that's something we should be wiser after Friday to see how things are. If we potentially have to drive differently, we'll see."