InsideRacing's Betting Tips for the Austrian Grand Prix

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After 217 days, it's finally time to go racing in Formula 1 as the Austrian Grand Prix kick starts the delayed 2020 season on Sunday

But while the sport might be returning under a new normal due to Covid-19, some things remain the same, notably that Mercedes is still the clear leader at the front of the field.

In qualifying on Saturday, the now all-black Silver Arrows dominated but it was Valtteri Bottas who sent an early message to world champion Lewis Hamilton by claiming pole by just 0.012s.

The man many tipped to be Mercedes' nearest challenger this season, Max Verstappen, will indeed start from third on the grid at Red Bull's home track.

Worryingly, however, the Dutchman was over half a second off the pace, frankly a lifetime around this circuit where the pole time was just under 63 seconds.

The biggest shock came at Ferrari, where fears of underperformance were more than justified as Charles Leclerc only managed seventh fastest, while teammate Sebastian Vettel didn't even make the Q3 shootout in 11th.

Instead, its the midfield teams that have closed the gap, with McLaren's Lando Norris starting fourth and the Racing Point team, with their so-called 'Pink Mercedes' sixth and eighth with Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll respectively.

Renault is also in the mix for the top-six, though Daniel Ricciardo was disappointed down in 10th, while new teammate Esteban Ocon starts 14th.

Towards the back, George Russell highlighted the progress made by Williams as he just missed out on Q2 and will start 17th, but there's unhappiness at Alfa Romeo, who was the slowest of the 10 teams with Antonio Giovinazzi 18th and Kimi Raikkonen 19th.

So with the 2020 grid looking very different from that which ended 2019, where should you look for the best bets for today's race in Spielberg?

Well, we've come up with three options for you to consider, the banker, the hunch and the long shot that might just come good!

The Banker: McLaren - Double Points Finish (13/18 SportingBet)

As mentioned, the pace of the upper midfield teams has been the big story so far this weekend, with McLaren and Racing Point at least overhauling Ferrari and even giving Red Bull a run for their money as the domination of the top three teams has been broken.

Both look more than capable of fighting for the top-six, but McLaren to score a double top-10/ points finish is a safe choice and offers the best odds.

Renault is a longer shot at 11/4, due to Esteban Ocon starting 14th, but they too are worth considering if you're looking for a bigger return.

The Hunch: Lance Stroll - Top 6 Finish (7/4 SkyBet)

While the Canadian still lacks pace over a single lap, he is much stronger over a race distance as he proved several times last year by scoring points from near the back of the field.

So from a much stronger starting position in ninth, Stroll should easily find himself in the hunt with teammate Sergio Perez and the McLaren's in the battle for fifth and sixth - and that's assuming Alex Albon has the race pace to claim fourth.

The big question mark is whether Ferrari's race pace will be up there with the other top midfield teams. But with their lack of top speed, they could well be easy pickings for the Racing Point on the straights.

The Long Shot: Red Bull - Double Podium Finish (5/1 Ladbrokes)

If there's one question mark over Mercedes ahead of the race, it is that of reliability.

The team struggled with several engine issues during testing and last year also had to turn their power mode right now in Austria due to cooling issues in the high temperatures.

Though an upgrade has been brought aimed at fixing those problems, the forecast is hotter for Sunday, so it will be a test to see if the German manufacturer has overcome their weakness.

If not, that could be the perfect opportunity for Red Bull to pounce and, should Albon's pace be enough to be ahead of the midfield, one Mercedes problem is all it would take for the Thai to get his chance at joining Max on the podium.

And that's our picks for the Austrian Grand Prix, all odds are via OddsChecker and correct at the time of writing (10:20amBST).