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Austrian Grand Prix 2023

Verstappen secures win in hectic Sprint as Red Bull tension rises

The two Red Bull drivers came close to contact on the opening lap.

Max Verstappen secured victory in a hectic Austrian Grand Prix Sprint as wet conditions led to a thrilling strategic conundrum.

The Dutchman overcame a tense opening to the race with teammate Sergio Perez to finish over 20 seconds ahead of the Mexican, with Carlos Sainz third for Ferrari.

Perez made a stunning start to slip up the inside of Verstappen into Turn 1, before robust defending saw the Dutchman take to the grass on exit.

As the drivers squabbled for track position and fought for grip, the top three all slithered wide. This gave Nico Hulkenberg the invitation he needed to take second for Haas.

Norris was the biggest loser, dropping from third to 10th, though the big story was Verstappen forcing Perez wide and off the track in the first sign of tension between the two Red Bull drivers since the team order fallout in Brazil last year.

Verstappen was afforded the breathing room to break clear with Hulkenberg holding second, though the German was able to hold off Perez's early advances with similar lap times to the Mexican.

It took until lap 12 for Perez to retake second on the road, with Sainz following at Turn 3 a lap later as Hulkenberg began to struggle for traction on the drying track.

As time drew on, Hulkenberg became more and more defenceless as the Aston Martins doubled up on him.

Those outside the top eight fully embraced the F1 Sprint spirit, none more so than Kevin Magnussen, who refused to surrender to Mercedes duo George Russell and Lewis Hamilton.

After two stunning battles, the Danish driver was forced to take the loss with the Haas struggling with wear on its Intermediates.

A back-and-forth fight between Esteban Ocon, Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris allowed Russell and Hamilton to join the race for the final points-paying position as the quintet lit up the Red Bull Ring with entertainment.

Slick gamble

But with nine laps to go, Russell took the gamble to fit Soft tyres onto his W14 to try and change the complexion of the Sprint as the FIA race control enabled DRS activation.

Hulkenberg, fresh from being overtaken by the Aston Martins, pitted for Slick tyres, as did Hamilton, Magnussen, Logan Sargeant, Oscar Piastri, Nyck de Vries and Zhou Guanyu - triggered by Russell purple sector times with temperature increasing in his rubber.

Albon and Leclerc followed suit as the plethora of drivers attempted to overhaul those who stayed out on slicks. The move to slicks proved crucial for Russell, who jumped ahead of the Williams driver - who was seventh.

Hulkenberg returned to the points with five laps to go by overtaking Pierre Gasly, who remained on Intermediates, whilst Hamilton mugged Albon and Valtteri Bottas on the exit of Turn 3, though the Williams fought back valiantly for 11th.

The switch to Slicks ultimately proved too late for significant order changes, with those at the top of the table able to hang it out on Intermediates.

Red Bull secured a one-two with Verstappen ahead of Perez, with Sainz clinching the final podium position.

Aston Martin finished fourth and fifth with Stroll ahead of Alonso, whilst Ocon missed out on sixth as Hulkenberg pipped him to the line.

Norris couldn't hold off the Slick-tyre crusade, with Russell clinching the final point in eight, with Hamilton completing the top 10.

F1 2023 Austrian Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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