Round Nine: Verstappen once again King of the Ring
After the Canadian Grand Prix, Formula 1 returned to Europe for the Austrian Grand Prix. The race weekend took place from June 30 to July 2, 2023.
Fast Friday at the Red Bull Ring
Where the real spectacle usually begins on Saturday, that was already the case on Friday in Austria - just like in Azerbaijan. This was due to a sprint weekend. The qualifying for the Grand Prix was held on Friday. Max Verstappen secured pole position, less than a tenth ahead of Ferrari's Charles Leclerc. Carlos Sainz came third. Verstappen's teammate Sergio Perez finished in a disappointing fifteenth place after his qualifying times were repeatedly disqualified due to track limits.
Sprint Saturday in Spielberg
The rainy Saturday in Styria was dedicated to the sprint shootout and sprint race. In the shootout as well, Verstappen clocked the fastest time, followed by Sergio Perez and Lando Norris. Nico Hülkenberg impressively placed his Haas car in fourth place.
At the start of the sprint race, it was Perez who got away better than his teammate. The Mexican took the lead in the first corner. However, Verstappen did not allow himself to be outdone and quickly positioned his RB19 next to the one of Perez. Verstappen braked late into turn three and claimed the first position, after which he drove unchallenged to victory. He won the race with a whopping twenty seconds lead on Perez. Carlos Sainz came third.
F1 Grand Prix of Austria 2023
While the sprint race was plagued by rain, it was dry during the main race in Spielberg. Almost the entire field made it through turn one without a scratch. Charles Leclerc led the pack, followed by Verstappen who overtook the Monegasque in turn three.
Yuki Tsunoda damaged his AlphaTauri in the first corner, which resulted in a lot of debris on the track. This led to an early safety car. After the restart, Verstappen again led the field, followed by the two Ferraris.
In the thirteenth lap of the race, Nico Hülkenberg's Haas broke down, leading to a virtual safety car. Several drivers took advantage of the situation and made their pit stop, including Charles Leclerc. Verstappen stayed out.
A few laps after the restart, Verstappen came in for his pit stop. When he rejoined the track, he fell back behind Leclerc and Sainz. However, this proved to be no problem for the Dutchman; he passed the duo within a few laps.
Meanwhile, there were many battles in the midfield. Perez sliced through the field, Norris wrestled with Hamilton and Sainz, and De Vries was in battle with Kevin Magnussen.
While Verstappen drove away, Leclerc secured his P2 and Perez joined in third place. In the penultimate lap of the race, Verstappen did something nobody expected: the Dutch driver made a pit stop. This was to get the fastest lap on new tyres. When he exited the pit lane, Verstappen only had a few seconds lead over Leclerc. In the last lap, however, Verstappen stepped on the gas; he pulled away two seconds from Leclerc and clocked the fastest race lap.
After the race, the final results were significantly adjusted. Many drivers received time penalties for exceeding track limits. Esteban Ocon took the cake: the Frenchman received no less than thirty seconds(!) in penalties.
You can view the full results of the 2023 F1 Austrian Grand Prix here.