AHEAD OF LECLERC AND PÉREZ
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen took an emphatic Austrian Grand Prix victory, carving out a large enough gap to Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc to pit for new tyres, take the point for fastest lap, and still take the flag five seconds clear of the Monegasque driver. Sergio Pérez delivered a superb recovery in the second Red Bull to claim the final podium position after starting in 15th place.
At the start, Verstappen got away well from pole position and took the lead ahead of Leclerc as the grid streamed towards Turn 1. Behind them, Sainz held third but fourth-place starter Lando Norris was beaten off the line by Lewis Hamilton.
Further back, AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda, starting 16th, tangled with one of the Alpines and damaged his front wing and with debris on the track the Safety Car was released and the race was neutralised.
The hazard was soon cleared and when running resumed Verstappen controlled the restart perfectly ahead of Lelcerc and Sainz, with Hamilton still fourth ahead of Norris and the Aston Martin of Fernando Alonso.
In 13th place Pérez went on the attack and he was soon able to get past Alpine’s Esteban Ocon, Mercedes’ George Russell and then Williams’ Alex Albon.
Haas’ Nico Hülkenberg then pulled over with technical issues and that led to the Virtual Safety Car being deployed. A host of drivers pitted for new tyres. However, Verstappen and Pérez stayed out and when the track went green again Verstappen led Leclerc by 17.7s, with Pérez ion P3. Sainz held fourth ahead of Hamilton, with Norris in sixth ahead of Alonso, Gasly, Tsunoda and Russell. The Red Bulls were now the only cars in the top 10 still on their starting tyres and they began to lose ground to those who had pitted and on lap 21 Sainz passed Pérez to take back third place.
Verstappen made his first regulation pit stop of the race on lap 25 and he moved to Hard compound tyres in a 2.3 second halt. That allowed Leclerc to sweep through into the lead and as Verstappen trundled out of the pit lane he was also passed by Sainz to put Ferrari 1-2 in the order. Verstappen soon closed up to the Ferrari and on lap 26, the Dutchman got a better exit out of Turn 3 and used DRS to outdrag the Spaniard on the run to Turn 4.
Pérez made his first tyre change on lap 26 and after taking on another set of Medium tyres he rejoined in tenth place. He was soon on the move, however, and he quickly made his way past Albon and Russell to rise to eighth place behind Pierre Gasly.
At the front, Verstappen was steadily reeling in Leclerc and on lap 35 he dived down the inside of the Ferrari in Turn 3 to reclaim the lead. He then began to carve out a gap and on lap 41 he was seven seconds clear.
Pérez, too, was advancing, and after overtaking Gasly in Turn 3, he chased down Alonso and breezed past the Aston Martin driver in the same corner to rise to fourth place as other drivers pitted.
On lap 46 Sainz made his second stop for new tyres and to serve a five-second penalty for exceeding track limits, and that allowed Pérez to sweep past into third place. Leclerc stopped two laps later and Pérez was boosted to P2, though the Mexican would need a final pit stop.
Verstappen made his second stop on lap 50 and after fitting a set of medium tyres and he emerged in the lead, six seconds ahead of his team-mate. Pérez then pitted on the following lap and after taking a set of Hard tyres he rejoined in fifth place, four seconds behind Norris and on fresher tyres. The gap was erased in just five laps and on lap 56 he powered past the McLaren on the run to Turn 4.
Sainz was now just a second ahead and Pérez went on the attack. And after an epic battle Pérez at last got DRS out of Turn 3 and roared past through Turn 4 to take P3.
At the front, Verstappen was in imperious form and in the closing stages he extended his lead over Leclerc to a mammoth 24 seconds. On lap 70, he pitted for Soft tyres and set a blistering final lap of 1:07.012 to take the win and the bonus point.
Leclerc crossed the line five seconds adrift and 12 seconds later Pérez took the flag to complete a stellar recovery and to seal a double podium for the team. Fourth place went to Sainz with Norris fifth ahead of Alonso. Hamilton and Russell took seventh and eighth places respectively for Mercedes, while Gasly was ninth for Alpine and the final point went to Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll.
2023 FIA Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix – Race
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 71 -
2 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 71 5.155
3 Sergio Pérez Red Bull Racing 71 17.188
4 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 71 21.377
5 Lando Norris McLaren 71 26.327
6 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin 71 30.317
7 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 71 39.196
8 George Russell Mercedes 71 48.403
9 Pierre Gasly Alpine 71 57.667
10 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 71 59.043
11 Alexander Albon Williams 71 1'09.767
12 Esteban Ocon Alpine 70 - 1 lap
13 Logan Sargeant Williams 70 - 1 lap
14 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo 70 - 1 lap
15 Nyck de Vries AlphaTauri 70 - 1 lap
16 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo 70 - 1 lap
17 Oscar Piastri McLaren 70 - 1 lap
18 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 70 - 1 lap
19 Kevin Magnussen Haas 70 - 1 lap
Nico Hülkenberg Haas 12 - Retirement