Yet despite the lengthy absence from competition, drivers are familiar with the famously fast circuit after having completed two days of collective testing there back in April.
Then, the four sessions produced fastest times by four different drivers: Steijn Schothorst (Josef Kaufmann Racing), Nyck de Vries (Koiranen GP), Pierre Gasly (Tech 1 Racing) and Jake Dennis (Fortec Motorsports).
The first six races of the season have been hard-fought – but so far none of the title favourites has taken a firm grip on the championship. Matthieu Vaxivière (Tech 1 Racing) dominated at Motorland Aragon and Gasly scored the most points at Spa-Francorchamps, while Oliver Rowland (Manor MP Motorsport) was the best performer at Moscow Raceway.
The trio will be out to secure maximum points in Austria. But so too will Esteban Ocon (ART Junior Team), Oscar Tunjo (Josef Kaufmann Racing), Dennis, Luca Ghiotto (Prema Powerteam), Egor Orudzhev (Tech 1 Racing) and Bruno Bonifacio (Prema Powerteam).
Caterham Racing Academy driver Aurelien Panis, meanwhile, recently joined Prema Powerteam and will be hoping to make a positive start.