Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Red Bull Ring, 2023

Verstappen pips Leclerc to pole as track limits errors doom Perez to 15th

2023 Austrian Grand Prix qualifying

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Max Verstappen secured his fourth pole position in a row in Austria, narrowly beating the resurgent Ferrari of Charles Leclerc.

However Sergio Perez in the other Red Bull registered his fourth consecutive failure to reach the final phase of qualifying. This time a string of track limits infringements prevented him progressing from Q2.


Clouds had begun to gather over the Red Bull Ring as the qualifying session to decide the grid for Sunday’s Grand Prix began. The two Haas drivers, Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg, were the first out on track, and soon after Hulkenberg earned the indignity of being the first driver to have a time deleted for exceeding track limits having run wide at the penultimate corner.

Max Verstappen set the early benchmark with a 1’05.190, but later had his time deleted for exceeding track limits at the final corner as well. A strong of his rivals also lost times for running outside of the confines of the track, including Lewis Hamilton, Carlos Sainz Jnr, Lando Norris and Zhou Guanyu.

Valtteri Bottas spun his Alfa Romeo when attempting to start a flying lap, losing the rear of his car under throttle exiting turn one. After coming to a rest on the outside of the corner, Bottas was seemingly unable to restart his car and the session was stopped with red flags. However, Bottas managed to recover his car back to the pits under the red flag, just as his team mate did in the same session two weeks earlier, and Q1 resumed soon after, the Alfa Romeo driver continuing.

Verstappen put in a legitimate lap time to move to the top of the times with a 1’05.116, two tenths of a second ahead of Carlos Sainz Jnr and another two tenths further ahead of Charles Leclerc in third.

With under three minutes remaining in the session, the drop zone consisted of Hulkenberg, Alexander Albon, Esteban Ocon, Logan Sargeant in the second Williams and Nyck de Vries. Albon avoided a slow Zhou through the final corner to complete his lap and jump clear of the bottom five, while his team mate Sargeant could not and was eliminated in 18th.

Ocon and Hulkenberg just went safe, which dropped Yuki Tsunoda and Kevin Magnussen into the drop zone and into elimination. Tsunoda was the first driver knocked out, with Zhou, Sargeant, Magnussen and De Vries the final driver in 20th place.
Q1 result

Position Number Driver Team Model Time Gap Laps
1 1 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda RBPT RB19 1’05.116 12
2 11 Sergio Perez Red Bull-Honda RBPT RB19 1’05.177 0.061 10
3 55 Carlos Sainz Jnr Ferrari SF-23 1’05.339 0.223 10
4 10 Pierre Gasly Alpine-Renault A523 1’05.515 0.399 9
5 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari SF-23 1’05.577 0.461 10
6 4 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes MCL60 1’05.617 0.501 12
7 14 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin-Mercedes AMR23 1’05.655 0.539 12
8 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W14 1’05.673 0.557 11
9 23 Alexander Albon Williams-Mercedes FW45 1’05.673 0.557 9
10 81 Oscar Piastri McLaren-Mercedes MCL60 1’05.683 0.567 10
11 63 George Russell Mercedes W14 1’05.686 0.570 12
12 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes AMR23 1’05.710 0.594 10
13 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault A523 1’05.729 0.613 9
14 27 Nico Hulkenberg Haas-Ferrari VF-23 1’05.740 0.624 10
15 77 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo-Ferrari C43 1’05.763 0.647 8
16 22 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT AT04 1’05.784 0.668 10
17 24 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo-Ferrari C43 1’05.818 0.702 9
18 2 Logan Sargeant Williams-Mercedes FW45 1’05.948 0.832 9
19 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari VF-23 1’05.971 0.855 10
20 21 Nyck de Vries AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT AT04 1’05.974 0.858 10

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Red Bull were eager to send out both their drivers onto the track for the start of the second phase of qualifying. Both Verstappen and Perez waited for several minutes at the end of the pit lane for the green lights to appear.

After the session began, Verstappen used his fresh soft tyres to immediately post the quickest lap of the day so far, becoming the first driver under the 1’05 barrier. Perez was less than a tenth of a second slower than his team mate on his first attempt of the session. However both Red Bull drivers then lost their first and second-quickest times for exceeding track limits in the final two corners.

Track limits remained a bone of contention throughout the second phase of qualifying. Lance Stroll also had his second-quickest time deleted for running wide at the penultimate corner, leaving Norris on the top of the order with a 1’05.038 with Hulkenberg second in the Haas.

After multiple cooldown laps on his tyres, Verstappen managed to emulate his first lap time without exceeding track limits to move up to first place and stay there. Perez moved to fourth before he was demoted a place by Fernando Alonso, but both drivers lost those times for track limits violations, leaving the Red Bull driver with no representative time on the board.

As the field retured to the pit lane after their first runs, the five drivers in danger were Stroll, Oscar Piastri, Bottas, Russell and Perez – the latter pair both having lost times good enough for the top ten due to exceeding track limits.

Russell improved but only into tenth place and was immediately knocked back into danger by Perez, who moved into second place. However, Perez once again had his third and final lap deleted for running too wide at the final corner, as had been the case for every single push lap he attempted in Q2. The disbelieving driver had no idea where he had committed his latest error, and was furious to learn he had missed the chance to progress to Q3 for the fourth race in a row.

He was far from the only driver who had their final push laps deleted for failing to stay within the white lines. When the chequered flag waved and the stewards had finished striking out the illegal times set in the final minutes, Russell was left as the first driver eliminated in 11th place. Joining him out was Ocon in the Alpine and Piastri for McLaren – both of which, like Perez, had lost times which could have got them into Q3 for running wide. Bottas was the other driver who failed to make the cut.

Q2 result

Position Number Driver Team Model Time Gap Laps
1 1 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda RBPT RB19 1’04.951 18
2 55 Carlos Sainz Jnr Ferrari SF-23 1’04.975 0.024 19
3 4 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes MCL60 1’05.038 0.087 17
4 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari SF-23 1’05.087 0.136 20
5 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes AMR23 1’05.121 0.170 19
6 14 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin-Mercedes AMR23 1’05.181 0.230 21
7 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W14 1’05.188 0.237 19
8 10 Pierre Gasly Alpine-Renault A523 1’05.308 0.357 15
9 27 Nico Hulkenberg Haas-Ferrari VF-23 1’05.362 0.411 18
10 23 Alexander Albon Williams-Mercedes FW45 1’05.387 0.436 15
11 63 George Russell Mercedes W14 1’05.428 0.477 21
12 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault A523 1’05.453 0.502 15
13 81 Oscar Piastri McLaren-Mercedes MCL60 1’05.605 0.654 19
14 77 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo-Ferrari C43 1’05.680 0.729 14
15 11 Sergio Perez Red Bull-Honda RBPT RB19 2’06.688 61.737 19

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The final shoot-out for pole position appeared to be as much a question of who could stay within the white lines as much as who was quickest around the ten-turn Red Bull Ring.

Albon was the first driver to set a time, posting a 1’05.823 in the Williams. That initial benchmark was obliterated by Verstappen on his first flying lap, as he successfully kept his car within the white lines to set the provisional pole time of a 1’04.503. The two Ferraris were closest to the championship leader after their first attempts, but Leclerc and Sainz were two and four tenths of a second slower, respectively, with Norris only just behind Sainz in fourth, half a second behind.

Hamilton set the fastest opening sector on his first push lap but could not maintain that speed throughout the rest of the lap and moved to fifth, just behind Norris. Albon took advantage of a clear track to set a time good enough to move up to a provisional sixth place until, almost inevitably, he had that final time deleted for running too wide on the exit of the penultimate corner.

In the final minutes, Verstappen and the Ferraris both headed out for their final runs on fresh soft tyres. Verstappen improved by a tenth of a second to lower his own pole time to a 1’04.391. Leclerc was quickest in the middle sector but lost half a tenth to Verstappen in the final sector and crossed the line that far behind the Red Bull driver, ensuring yet another pole for the world champion.

Sainz was just under two tenths behind Verstappen in third place, while Norris secured fourth place in his updated McLaren. Hamilton secured fifth for Mercedes ahead of the two Aston Martins of Stroll and Alonso. Hulkenberg took eighth for Haas, with Gasly ninth and Albon in tenth, his final deleted time ultimately having no impact on his final qualifying position.

Q3 result

Position Number Driver Team Model Time Gap Laps
1 1 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda RBPT RB19 1’04.391 24
2 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari SF-23 1’04.439 0.048 26
3 55 Carlos Sainz Jnr Ferrari SF-23 1’04.581 0.190 25
4 4 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes MCL60 1’04.658 0.267 23
5 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W14 1’04.819 0.428 25
6 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes AMR23 1’04.893 0.502 25
7 14 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin-Mercedes AMR23 1’04.911 0.520 27
8 27 Nico Hulkenberg Haas-Ferrari VF-23 1’05.090 0.699 24
9 10 Pierre Gasly Alpine-Renault A523 1’05.170 0.779 21
10 23 Alexander Albon Williams-Mercedes FW45 1’05.823 1.432 21

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2023 Austrian Grand Prix

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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25 comments on “Verstappen pips Leclerc to pole as track limits errors doom Perez to 15th”

  1. Great to see Ferrari posing some kind of challenge.

  2. If Checo didn’t have his streak of not reaching Q3, I’d expect him to finish the race 2nd or 3rd at least, but as the DRS train effect proved surprisingly effective in Canada, I reckon it could be even more effective in Austria, in which case, climbing through positions would be difficult again.

    1. He’s going nowhere. He might get lapped by Verstappen barring a couple safety car periods. I feel so bad for him. But everyone in that seat gets to feel the pain. Also Russell seems to have be having a really bad run now.

      1. @dmw I fully agree.

  3. i know the sprint race weekend format is allegedly meant to be driving engagement and fan interest on all 3 days.

    however i noticed the past few there seems to be less fan engagement, interest and excitement on the sprint weekends so it seems as if it’s failing to do what they want it to and is instead turning people off.

    qualifying day is usually very exciting and you see a lot of fans engaged in the product for qualifying yet both today and in baku earlier in the year it seems as if all the places i usually hang out to talk f1 with fellow fans and/or monitor news and views have been ghost towns compared to the normal weekend.

    it just seems like the sprint weekends aren’t bringing interest and are instead driving people to not watch based on how quiet things have been for the past few on the fan sites, social media and so on.

    1. Problem is no one knows when it is, or why it matters, and the fact it doesn’t set the grid makes it seem irrelevant. It also jumbled up the rhythm of the weekend that serious fans expect. And look at Checo. He could fight his way to like 5th in the sprint. But what does it matter? And what if Verstappen loses the sprint to a Ferrari somehow? . Doesn’t matter. Basically it’s an opportunity to have a full grid standing start.

      1. But it does set the grid. No matter what happens tomorrow, this is the grid for Sunday.

        1. I think because its a non-practice session that awards no points, Liberty feel they can push it to Friday when most people won’t watch it live, and there are no ill effects, leaving more room for Mariokart stuff on Saturday for new fans, while not rocking the Sunday boat for older fans (or uninterested broadcasters). Classic Bernie fudge that keeps everyone equally unhappy.

      2. no one knows when it is

        Even Sky doesn’t mention the sprint, in its F1 ads repeated endlessly during the cricket this week. Just “Sunday race from whenever o’clock”. No mention of their expensive coverage of Friday & Saturday qualifying and racing…

      3. Tommy Scragend
        30th June 2023, 18:07

        He could fight his way to like 5th in the sprint

        Perez may not need to “fight his way to 5th” in the sprint. He could qualify on the front row for it. Qualifying for the sprint is tomorrow.

        1. Yes I forgot the format.

    2. This might be news to the millionaires running F1, but a lot of people work on Friday.

      Having qualifying at 17.00 CEST is pretty much the worst moment to do it as that’s the time people are making their way back home, going somewhere to have dinner, picking up some kids, etc.

  4. Well done Lando for beating Mercedes and Aston Martin.

    1. He’s going to keep Lewis and Fernando together on track so that will be good times. Unfortunately for those three Verstappen and the Ferraris are going to disappear down the road before they can pass Norris at the stop.

  5. Lando always does well at this track.

  6. It is great to see Charles taking the car to the edge. Good to see at least one team close to Max and Red Bull. Tough luck for Perez, as he had the pace for top 3. After quite a bit of criticism, for the first time Stroll Jnr could put pip Alonso.

    1. It is great to see Charles taking the car to the edge.

      For sure. He’s always great to watch when he’s really pushing to the limit.

  7. Another quali I’ve missed because of this stupid new format!!!

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      30th June 2023, 21:10

      @sonnycrockett me and you buddy! I had no idea it was qualifying Friday ;-)

  8. Good on Lance for beating Fred!

  9. How is it that Hamilton does not get his lap time deleted, when it is so obvious he exceeds the white line? Look at the footage of Q3 with 6.21 min. to go.
    I saw other lap time deletions (e.g. Albon) where the infringement seemed much less..

    1. Maybe no tracklimits in that corner?

    2. Wadda ya mean, a penalty for whom? Ya crazy or what?

  10. While I hate quali on friday, this one was extremely frustrating. I hate the current solution for track limits with a passion. It killed the excitement of an end to a Q* session because there is no clue if and when a time gets deleted. And a popular opinion here is the ‘just stay within the line’ retort. But that is just silly. Going as wide as possible yields valuable time, especially on a short track where they are naturally close anyway. Throwing a car through a corner gives a variance. A slight change of wind, a couple degrees of tire temp, maybe a hint of disturbed air off another car, more rubber on the track, a degree extra track temp, a slightly different bounce off a bump… and the car will go an inch wider or less wide. When the time is there to gain and with the variance of the corner it just makes it a gamble. And because it pays to gamble, they do, others do, so they have to. Chuck it into the corner with a 50/50 chance of being legal.. and actually make it means all your competitors also need to make the same gamble.. So we and up having to endure this ****-show on the timing screens… It sucks.

    What they could do is paint the white line wider there, but I’m not a fan of that. The pro would be it would be the same for everyone, no policing needed. The con would be, it would just change the track. So I’d advocate for a natural penalty. Like a strip of astroturf. Or a guardrail/barrier. Removable to accommodate whatever other series maybe. The pro would be that still no policing is needed, but mainly it changes the stakes of the original gamble. Go too wide now and actually lose time or even damage the car. It can be a good thing. Just think of Verstappen in Monaco touching barriers or that shot of Alonso tapping the wall. But most of all it would end this ****-show.

  11. What has happened to the predictions championship on Racefans ? It’s like the eighth sacred mystery.

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