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Winners and Losers from 2023 F1 Austrian Grand Prix Sprint

Although Max Verstappen won with a comfortable margin, there were still numerous stories behind him.

Max Verstappen may have won the Austrian Grand Prix Sprint by over 20 seconds, but there was a lot of action behind him in the tricky changeable conditions. Support races prior to the Sprint had already shown just how crucial it was to be on the right tyre at the right time, and that was certainly the case for many who opted to gamble for slicks towards the end. Some got the call right while others fell out of the points having gained numerous positions at the start. RacingNews365.com takes a look at the winners and losers from the F1 Sprint in Austria.

Winner - George Russell

After a hydraulics problem forced him out of the Sprint Shootout early, George Russell believed he missed out on a potential top five starting position. He was not wrong about the pace in the Mercedes, with him gaining a couple of positions at the start of the Sprint while everyone struggled to fire temperature into the Intermediates. This has always been a strength of the W14 and it certainly showed in those opening laps. It later worked for Russell when he was the first to gamble on the slicks, gaining seven positions at the end from starting P15 and taking home a point for Mercedes. What did Russell say? "Conditions today were tricky, so I'm glad we made it from P15 to P8, almost P7. I feel confident driving in these conditions, so all things considered a solid result for us."

Winner - Lance Stroll

Even though Fernando Alonso started ahead of Lance Stroll, the Canadian utilised his superior pace in changeable conditions to his advantage. It was in similar circumstances that he took his first pole at the 2020 Turkish Grand Prix - albeit on a slightly more treacherous circuit - so it was no surprise he excelled on the Intermediates. After overtaking Alonso he made swift work of Nico Hulkenberg before the Haas driver elected to pit for slicks, ensuring he did not lose time to those who did make the gamble at the end.

Loser - Lando Norris

Lando Norris will look back on the Austria Sprint and wonder what could have been. After getting involved with Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen, he was briefly looking at the lead of the race before getting swamped for nearly every top 10 position when he lost momentum coming out of Turn 3. Historically he's performed well at the Red Bull Ring and should be able to convert his starting position for the Grand Prix into a good result. But it was a case of missed opportunity in the Sprint, after McLaren fast-tracked their updates purely to gain some extra points. What did Norris say? "It was a tough race. I had an issue in Turn 3 where I went into anti-stall and unfortunately lost seven positions."

Loser - Valtteri Bottas

If it doesn't rain it most certainly pours for Valtteri Bottas. The Finn made an early call before the Sprint started to begin his formation lap on a set of Mediums, before realising the conditions were too treacherous to complete the opening part of the race. P20 after failing to make the call to switch to dry tyres midway through the race caps off a waste of a session for the Finn, who is desperately looking to find some form amid a spate of poor performances. What did Bottas say? “We decided to take a gamble with the tyres today; it didn’t work out in the end, but I still think it was worth trying, as we had nothing to lose from where I was starting. Towards the final laps, we opted to stay out as everyone else pitted, in case anything happened."

Winner - Nico Hulkenberg

If I told you that Nico Hulkenberg has more Q3 appearances than Sergio Perez in 2023, would you believe me? It's true. What's more, he was holding his own ahead of Perez when the Mexican fell behind in the opening stages of the Sprint, before tyre degradation became a problem midway through. He managed to get the call for slicks right and limit any positions lost by Esteban Ocon and Russell, finishing a solid P6 for the team along with the fastest lap. What did Hulkenberg say? " Eventful and busy race. We didn't really expect to have points in the Sprint race coming here, so happy to have more points on the board."

Loser - Alex Albon

Alex Albon was looking pretty good running in P7 having gained four positions at the start, before he decided to pit for a set of slick tyres with eight laps to go. It was four laps too late and meant those who made the call earlier: Charles Leclerc, Oscar Piastri, and Lewis Hamilton were already ahead on dry tyres when he emerged. Williams stood a chance of taking home some decent points at a track they were not confident in when they arrived. Perhaps this is a learning curve for the team as they start to show signs of improved form. What did Albon say? "We decided to take a gamble with the tyres today; it didn’t work out in the end, but I still think it was worth trying, as we had nothing to lose from where I was starting. Towards the final laps, we opted to stay out as everyone else pitted, in case anything happened. I think with the Mercedes’ performing well on the slicks, we thought it was the right choice to pit but it didn’t work."

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