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Austrian Grand Prix 2023

Winners and Losers from 2023 F1 Austrian Grand Prix Qualifying

It was Max Verstappen's day in Qualifying for the 2023 F1 Austrian Grand Prix - with plenty of stories behind him.

Norris Austria VT1
To news overview © XPBimages

Max Verstappen might not like Formula 1 sprint weekends like the Austrian Grand Prix, but he's awfully good at them.

From the seven sprints held so far, his results are 1st, 2nd, 2nd, 1st, 1st, 4th and 2nd - the best of any driver on the grid.

And the way he's driving at the minute, another 1st to that list is surely the expected result in the event.

His pace in the sole practice session, on the Medium tyres, was a huge 'Don't even think about it' to the rest as the machine rolls on.

Behind Verstappen and his fourth straight pole position at the Red Bull Ring and in the 2023 season - once he was cleared in an FIA investigation - there were plenty of stories to tell.

We start our Winners and Losers with the guy who just failed to take pole.

Winner - Charles Leclerc

Fortunately for Ferrari, both drivers have reported that the SF-23 upgrades have made the car easier to drive and that it feels like the car from 2022.

Austria 2022 was Ferrari's last win, with July 10th being the year, but Leclerc has given himself the best opportunity to try and end that run.

It will be tough with the fact that Red Bull is mighty and Ferrari do struggle in races, but the Red Bull Ring has been a kind track to Leclerc, taking three podiums from his four visits, discounting the Styrian Grands Prix.

He out-qualified Carlos Sainz and came oh so close to usurping Verstappen - 0.048s - on merit. A solid day's work.

What did Leclerc say?

"I don't think we expected it to be so close to Red Bull, so it's a good step forward. First of all, I would like to thank all the guys back at the factory."

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Loser - Sergio Perez

What was a rut is now a cause for concern.

It's four races since Sergio Perez made Q3, all races at which Verstappen has taken pole position. In four races, the championship has swung and is so firmly in Verstappen's grip, it might well as be in the vaults of Fort Knox.

There was also the first flickers of frustration from Christian Horner over Perez's performance as his Q2 lap-times were constantly deleted for track limits.

To butcher Oscar Wilde in The Importance of Being Earnest, "to lose one lap time to track limits may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two (and more after that) looks like carelessness."

His excuse of being blocked by Alex Albon didn't hold much water either.

What did Horner say?

"He had the pace, he had a car that was easily capable of being on the first or second row, he was matching Max's times... stay in the white lines. Strike one, strike two... Checo, just stay in the white lines, strike three and that was it."

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Winner - Lando Norris

Like Leclerc, the Red Bull Ring has long been one of Lando Norris's happier hunting grounds - taking his first podium in 2020, and another in 2021.

Armed with the fresh McLaren upgrades, he took fourth on the grid.

While the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Sergio Perez might pass him during the race, Norris must finish ahead of the Aston Martin duo, who haven't lit up the timing sheets throughout Friday.

As a first step with the upgrades, it was as good as it could be, even if Norris felt third was possible.

What did Norris say?

"The last corner is very tricky because you're kind of on the entry kerb, which makes the car very nervous - and I just missed the apex by a little bit. As it compresses, if you miss it, you want to steer so badly, and I just crapped myself as I thought I'd exceed track limits - I had to back out of it.

Loser - George Russell

Alongside Hamilton, George Russell has been largely faultless, but this season he is not quite operating on the same level as the seven-time champion.

From the eight races, Russell has only beaten Hamilton twice, with the younger Briton's early Qualifying advantage slowly being eroded away, with Hamilton in a rich vein of form.

A Q2 exit was clumsy, especially being done for track limits and he's made his Sunday a lot harder as he'll have to fight through midfield traffic while the front-runners escape up the road.

His best chance of a decent result is to stick the Hards on, run as long as possible, goal-hang for a Safety Car and hope for the best.

What did Russell say?

"We weren't quick enough today and from the first laps in the practice session I didn't have the best feel of the car. Obviously, it's challenging going into a sprint race weekend like this, as you just don't have the time to make necessary changes."

Winner - Lance Stroll

Lance Stroll has taken a fair bit of criticism in recent times for his performance deficit to Fernando Alonso, but for the second time in three races, he out-qualified the two-time champion.

And it was on merit, despite being one of many to fall foul of the track limits bingo that hit Qualifying.

Stroll now needs to start doing this week in, week out and to start beating Alonso in races. A 1 from six strike rate (when he has finished) isn't good enough, but he's shown he can do it.

Now comes the challenging bit in doing it consistently.

What did Stroll say?

"I was happy with how the car was feeling today and pleased with my final lap; I think we got everything we could have out of that Qualifying session."

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Loser - Nyck de Vries

When you're under the sort of public criticism Nyck de Vries is taking from his boss in Helmut Marko at the minute, qualifying last is probably not the best thing to do.

To cut de Vries some slack, the early races were on unfamiliar circuits, which even Franz Tost noted.

The run of Austria, Great Britain, Hungary and Belgium will be pivotal in saving de Vries' fledging F1 career, as we have seen Red Bull are not averse to changing drivers mid-season if they don't perform.

The equation is now simple for de Vries. Perform and get the thing somewhere near the points, or he'll be out.

What did Marko say?

"Unfortunately, with the track limits and these sorts of things, I expected both drivers at least in Q2, but it didn't happen. We must have a close look at what we do in the future."

F1 2023 Austrian Grand Prix RN365 News dossier


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