Verstappen untouchable at the Red Bull Ring

Austrian Grand Prix 2023: Verstappen untouchable at Red Bull Ring

July 2, 2023

Max Verstappen was in a league of his own at the Red Bull Ring as he won the 2023 Austrian Grand Prix with relative ease. Winning the Sprint event and taking the fastest lap in the race as well sees the Dutchman leave Austria with maximum points.

Charles Leclerc finished second ahead of Sergio Pérez, who rounded out the podium places.

The finishing order behind the podium sitters was as follows: Carlos Sainz, Lando Norris, Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton, George Russell, Pierre Gasly and Lance Stroll, but a penalty-laden weekend all relating to track limits saw almost all the drivers in the top ten behind the top three get post-race penalties.

Following the penalties, the final race classification saw Lando Norris in fourth ahead of Fernando Alonso, Carlos Sainz, George Russell, Lewis Hamilton, Lance Stroll and Pierre Gasly.

Verstappen led off the line and there was immediate action as Charles Leclerc attacked him, but the Dutchman managed to hold on. Further down, Yuki Tsunoda spun onto the gravel, which brought out the Safety Car and saw the AlphaTauri driver having to go to the pits early on. Once the Safety Car came in, Verstappen sped away, and by Lap 5, he led Leclerc by over a second.

Sergio Pérez, meanwhile, got an important move done on George Russell as he overtook the Mercedes for P11 on Lap 11. The Mexican got past Alex Albon for P9 on Lap 12. 

Nico Hülkenberg was the first retiree of the race on Lap 14 as he encountered an engine issue just one lap after his first pit-stop. Hülkenberg’s retirement brought out the Yellow Flag and, eventually, the Virtual Safety Car.

Lando Norris and Lewis Hamilton came in for their stops and a host of drivers followed them into the pits. Racing then resumed on Lap 16, with Verstappen leading from Leclerc and Pérez, leaving Hamilton in fourth ahead of Norris. Hamilton was given a five-second penalty for exceeding track limits, and he wasn’t the only one who received a penalty for track limits, as Yuki Tsunoda was handed a similar penalty. Sainz got past Hamilton for P4 on Lap 19; the Brit had no answer for the Ferrari car’s speed.

Verstappen came in for his stop on Lap 25 and, after switching to the hard compounds, re-joined in P3 just behind Sainz, with Leclerc leading. Verstappen took a lap to brush aside Sainz at Turn 3 and was off chasing Leclerc.

Pérez came in for his stop on Lap 26 and re-joined in P11. Pérez was up to P9 inside a lap’s time, getting past Esteban Ocon and Alex Albon.

Lando Norris took P4 from his compatriot Hamilton on Lap 28, with the veteran struggling to get to grips with his car. Sainz was handed a five-second penalty for track limits on Lap 29. Pérez, meanwhile, breezed past Russell on Lap 30 as he went up to P8.

By Lap 34, Verstappen was less than a second behind race leader Leclerc. He ultimately re-took the lead of the race the following lap at Turn 3. Pérez got Alonso for P5 on Lap 41. With Sainz and Leclerc stopping for their pit-stops, Pérez was in P2 by Lap 48, though by the next lap Verstappen had opened up a lead of over 26 seconds.

Verstappen came in for his stop on Lap 50 and re-joined in first place, a good five and a half seconds clear of his teammate. Pérez came in for his stop on Lap 51, re-joining in fifth place behind the two Ferrari drivers and Norris in P4. Pérez eventually got Norris for P4 on Lap 56 at Turn 4, forcing him to go wide and lock up, and then got Sainz on Lap 61 heading into Turn 4, thereby moving into the podium places.

Verstappen, in the meantime, had built up his lead to over 23 seconds by Lap 67. He came in for another stop on Lap 69, re-joining the track on the soft compounds in an attempt to try take the fastest lap.

The Dutchman ultimately won the race and took the fastest lap as well, taking maximum points from the weekend. This was also his 42nd career win as he went past Ayrton Senna’s record of 41 wins in the list of all-time victories. Verstappen also became the most successful driver at the Red Bull Ring.

Verstappen’s fifth win in a row puts him 95 points clear of his teammate in the Drivers’ Standings.

Racing is back next week as we head to Silverstone for the British Grand Prix. 

Aditya Chaudhuri

Hailing from the City of Joy, the things that bring me joy are cricket, a good non-tilt CS:GO session, F1 and movies.

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