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Austrian Grand Prix 2023

Winners and Losers from the 2023 F1 Austrian Grand Prix

Despite Max Verstappen's win, the Austrian Grand Prix was overshadowed by the scourge of track limits.

Leclerc sainz Austria
To news overview © XPBimages

There is hope in Formula 1 2023 - as Max Verstappen's streak was finally ended.

No, not that one, but his streak of leading every lap from the 48th in Miami to the 25th in Austria, taking in 249 laps across Monaco, Spain and Canada finally ended.

Charles Leclerc was the driver to snap the streak, as Verstappen failed to overhaul the 305 consecutive laps that Alberto Ascari led in 1952-53.

The World Champion took a fifth straight, and seventh overall win of the season to above Ayrton Senna's career tally with his 42nd. It's the second time in under a year he's won five straight on a weekend of pure dominance.

But, in an unusual twist, we don't start our Winners and Losers with a winner. Instead, we begin with a loser, and an unusual one at that.

Loser - Formula 1

Max Verstappen crossed the finishing line at about 16:28pm local time in Spielberg, taking 1:25:33.607 to complete the 71 laps.

The final classification in the race was not issued by the FIA until nearly five hours later after a successful Aston Martin protest about track limits.

Across the race, 1,200 reports of drivers exceeding track limits were triggered, an average of 16.9 times per lap.

In the end, penalties were handed out galore for totally unavoidable exceeding of track limits, with Carlos Sainz, Lewis Hamilton and Esteban Ocon all dropping down the order.

Lando Norris was promoted to fourth and Fernando Alonso to fifth.

But come on, for the so-called best drivers on the planet, this is just not on.

Drivers were complaining throughout that they hadn't gone over the white lines, but the fact remains they do because it is faster, they can carry more speed through the corner and know that if they don't, the other guy will.

A racing driver is never going to ease off and not commit to the corner at full speed, and there is the round peg trying to be forced into the square hole.

It is a shame that the weekend will be remembered for track limits, instead of a thrilling sprint and decent Grand Prix.

Lairy ideas such as cutting the engines when drivers go off the track won't be coming in anytime soon, and so a penalty for the driver after multiple warnings, is the best solution.

Drivers need a deterrent not to go there, so maybe Christian Horner's gravel solution is not the worst idea ever.

What do you think about track limits in F1? Let us know in the poll and in the comments below.

Winner - Max Verstappen

Verstappen came into the 2023 season on 35 wins, and nine races into it, he's on 42 victories.

At the rate he is going, he will move into third on the all-time list by the end of the season, surpassing Sebastian Vettel's 53.

There are 13 races left, and Verstappen needs to win 12 of them to do that to go behind only Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher.

The way he is driving at the minute, it's doubtful that anyone can beat him. This is a level of consistency never seen before in F1 from a driver and team firing on all cylinders.

During their title winning years, even Hamilton and Schumacher would have the occasional anonymous weekend where they were just not on it - think Russia 2017 or China 2004, respectively.

On Verstappen's bad days, he finishes nine seconds ahead (in Canada) and still wins.

In Austria, he even had the luxury of a late pitstop for the fastest lap, just because.

What did Verstappen say?

"The whole weekend, we have done a really good job, the sprint weekend is always very, very hectic and a lot of things can go wrong and luckily, a lot of things went right for us this weekend."

Loser - Mercedes

In a word - ouch.

That sound you can hear is Mercedes coming back down to earth and realising just how much work is ahead of them.

Austria was expected to be a good weekend, certainly not as strong as Spain, but maybe another podium was up for grabs.

The reward was seventh and eighth for their worst two car finish of the season, with Lewis Hamilton even being overtaken by Lando Norris in the upgraded McLaren.

Silverstone next week is similar to Barcelona, with Wolff previously admitting that that race is their best chance for a win - but at the minute, it feels like clutching at straws.

Hamilton was 39.1s behind Verstappen at the flag. Add in 18 seconds for the late pitstop from the Red Bull, and that's nearly a minute they have to find.

For good measure, this was Verstappen in coast mode. We have not, and probably won't see just what that Red Bull RB19 has when fully unleashed, but when we do, it won't only be Mercedes with a reality check.

What did Hamilton say?

"I definitely didn't expect us to be as bad, I don't really have an answer for it. The feeling of the car was very much the same as we've had over the last year. [But] compared to the last two races, the last two races are way better."

Winner - Lando Norris

This was Lando Norris's best weekend for a while, perhaps since Abu Dhabi 2022, armed with the first part of the huge McLaren upgrade.

He was, on merit, fourth for the main race and third for the sprint, losing out in Saturday's race after Verstappen opted to put a few manners on Perez at Turn 3 with the resulting checking up, costing him positions.

This was a blip in an otherwise strong weekend, rewarded with fifth on the road, and fourth in the results after the Aston protest.

After simply treading water for the majority of the season thus far, this should give McLaren the shot in the arm they've badly needed.

In contrast, Oscar Piastri had a quiet weekend, one that can firmly be chalked up to a learning experience.

What did Norris say?

"I was a bit nervous coming into the race, honestly, that the race pace was going to let us down a lot today. But actually, it was better than I was expecting, which is a good surprise."

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Loser - Carlos Sainz

When both Ferraris pitted under the Virtual Safety Car, Carlos Sainz was right up Charles Leclerc's gearbox, pressuring the sister SF-23.

He had asked to be let through in the early stages as Verstappen scampered off only to be told no, and that Charles was faster than him (bonus points there for getting the reference).

Now, here comes the troubling bit. Sainz knew this was a pivotal time in the race if they had any hope of catching Verstappen, but Ferrari told him to stay where he was.

Which he did.

Sainz never got quite close enough to warrant a lunge at Turns 3 or 4, but if you feel you're quicker than the other guy in the same car, you find a way to get past him.

Come barrelling past and deal with the fallout later. That ruthless nature was on show when he rejected team orders to win the 2022 British Grand Prix - and he needs to show it more often.

He was probably the better Ferrari driver across the weekend, holding decent pace throughout, but in the end, that doesn't matter. The record books will show Leclerc was second and Sainz was fourth on the road, sixth in the final results following his penalty.

What did Sainz say?

"The second stint was already compromised by first sitting behind Charles and then catching the VSC ending. This made me lose seven seconds of race time and positions to cars that I shouldn't have lost. My race was compromised from that point onwards."

			© RN365/Michael Potts
	© RN365/Michael Potts

Winner - Charles Leclerc

And on the flip side, we have Leclerc.

Along with Azerbaijan, this was probably Ferrari's smoothest weekend of the season - or to put it another way, a boring weekend.

They had their package, fresh upgrades and pulled every drop out of it to record just a second podium of the season, having worked hard in recent times to bring the new parts in a bid to catch Red Bull.

That won't be happening anytime soon as the only person that can beat Max Verstappen at the moment is Max Verstappen, but it bodes well for the Scuderia.

There was no disastrous strategy mess-up, or a reliability concern. This was boring Ferrari and boring Leclerc, but the way the season has gone thus far, that will suit them just fine.

What did Leclerc say?

"The upgrades that we brought on the car made me feel a little bit better in those conditions, which is looking good for the future. The team has done an excellent job by bringing these upgrades earlier. But obviously there's still a lot of work to do."


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