Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Red Bull Ring, 2023

Verstappen takes crushing Austrian GP win while Perez recovers from 15th to podium

2023 Austrian Grand Prix summary

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Max Verstappen took a comfortable victory in the Austrian Grand Prix ahead of Charles Leclerc as Sergio Perez recovered to the podium.

The championship leader claimed his seventh win of the 2023 season, having enough of an advantage at the end of the race to pit for soft tyres to take the fastest lap ahead of Leclerc in second. Perez climbed up the order, passing Sainz in the closing stages to claim the final point.

When the lights went out, Verstappen held the lead into turn one as Leclerc challenged him through turn three and turn four, only for Verstappen to rebuff him both times. Although there were no major collisions at the first corner, there was enough debris from Yuki Tsunoda striking Esteban Ocon left on the circuit on the exit of turn one for the Safety Car to be deployed, neutralising the field for two laps.

The race resumed at the start of lap four, with Verstappen leading the field over the line ahead of Leclerc, Carlos Sainz Jnr, Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris in fifth. Verstappen quickly pulled away from the Ferraris behind, while Sainz used DRS to stick right behind his team mate.

Race start, Red Bull Ring, 2023
Gallery: 2023 Austrian Grand Prix in pictures
On lap 13, Nico Hulkenberg pulled off the circuit at turn three with a smoking Ferrari power unit. The Virtual Safety Car was deployed just as the two Ferraris rounded the penultimate corner, allowing Hamilton, Norris and many others behind them to pit. The Ferraris both pitted on the next lap under the VSC, with Leclerc retaining second place as Verstappen stayed out. Sainz dropped behind Hamilton and Norris, while Perez was promoted to third by staying out.

It did not take long for Sainz to pass Norris for fifth and then hunt down and overtake Hamilton into turn four to move up to fourth behind Perez. Hamilton received a five-second time penalty for exceeding track limits four separate times in fewer than 15 laps, with Tsunoda also earning the same penalty for the same offence.

Sainz overtook Perez to reclaim third position from the Red Bull, restoring Ferrari into second and third. On lap 25, Ferrari claimed the lead when Verstappen pitted for hard tyres, with the championship leader resuming in third behind Sainz. Verstappen quickly got ahead of Sainz to move up to second, with Sainz then becoming the next driver to receive a five-second time penalty for four track limits strikes.

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Norris overtook Hamilton to move up to fourth in the McLaren, while Verstappen set off in pursuit of Leclerc out front. The Red Bull eventually caught him on lap 35, passing him into turn three to retake the lead of the race.

Race start, Red Bull Ring, 2023
Poll: Rate the Race – 2023 Austrian Grand Prix
Once in the lead, Verstappen pulled out a healthy advantage over the Ferraris behind. Sainz pitted at the end of lap 45 for hard tyres, serving his penalty and resuming behind Norris. He overtook the McLaren exiting turn four to take fourth place, as his team mate made his second stop, resuming behind both Red Bulls in third.

Verstappen made his second stop at the end of lap 49, this time able to comfortably rejoin still in the lead, five seconds ahead of his team mate. Perez would come into the pits the next lap and rejoin in fifth behind Norris, leaving Verstappen with a 13 second lead over Leclerc, which quickly began to grow.

Perez caught Norris ahead of him, passing the McLaren into turn four, before immediately pressuring Sainz for the final podium place ahead. Perez fought hard to get ahead of the Ferrari, but for three consecutive laps Sainz managed to repel the Red Bull. Eventually, Perez managed to get ahead on the run to turn four to complete his run to the podium.

Verstappen continued to pull a gap out over Leclerc until he was 24 seconds ahead of the Ferrari driver. He chose to pit with just two laps remaining to fit soft tyres to attempt the fastest lap on the final lap. He emerged a handful of seconds ahead of Leclerc and blitzed the 71st lap to take the chequered flag and the bonus point for fastest lap.

Leclerc finished five seconds behind in second, with Perez completing the podium another 12 seconds behind. Sainz took fourth place ahead of Norris in fifth and Alonso sixth for Aston Martin. The Mercedes of Hamilton and Russell were seventh and eighth, with Pierre Gasly ninth and Lance Stroll completing the points scorers in tenth.

In total, seven drivers received penalties for at least four track limits violations, with Tsunoda earning a second 10-second penalty for his seven total infringements.

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2023 Austrian Grand Prix reaction

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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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36 comments on “Verstappen takes crushing Austrian GP win while Perez recovers from 15th to podium”

  1. Pitting once more with about a 23-second lead would usually be risky, but not for Red Bull, so worth doing ultimately.

    1. Massive advantage they have in races,specially with Verstappen.

      1. Indeed

      2. Massive advantage they have in races,specially with Verstappen.

        Words not in the right order and not complete. Should read:

        Verstappen has massive advantage with that car, especially when his teammate isn’t there to compete with equal equipment.

    2. Also impressive that after the pitstop, LEC about 2sec behind VER and, barely two laps later, at the finish line, the difference wnet over 5sec.

      1. Yes, to be fair leclerc was 4 sec behind: verstappen let him reduce the gap to 2,1 until he started his lap to charge the battery, then he was flying, he was gaining 4 to 6 tenths every couple of corners and gained overall 2,8 sec that lap.

  2. The entire race was made by that brilliant piece of defensive driving by Carlos Sainz to keep Sergio Perez behind him for so long. I really feel that that is the sort of racing we would get if there was no DRS. Yes, it helped Perez get closer into the braking zone, but in general he could follow the Ferrari extremely closely anyway and it was nice to see that Sainz, by driving defensively into every single corner, was able to keep Perez behind him. It was a shame that eventually Perez worked out the trick with the DRS zone and the actual overtake was a simple drive-by before the braking zone.

    It should be possible for a driver ahead to be able to hold the position if they drive perfectly into every corner, and we saw that for a time with Sainz today, but eventually DRS made it impossible. DRS simply has to go at the end of this season; it would make the racing so much better. And we saw in the laps before it was enabled, and in the DRS trains, that overtaking is still very possible without DRS. It just requires a bit of skill.

    1. “brilliant piece of defensive driving by Carlos Sainz ” So true, that!

    2. Indeed, great defending. Do not know about the “intimidating” part

      1. Funny stuff, that “intimidating” accusation. Perhaps it would sound less weird in Spanish or something. I mean, it wasn’t really driving in traffic, but in a race.

      2. Do not know about the “intimidating” part

        Indeed so. Perez is downright accommodating and friendly when compared to his teammate.

    3. Watched the highlights, and was pleased to see Sainz give Pérez a good, firm but fair run for his money. Seeing Pérez zoom past even before the braking zone with the help of DRS just shows how much good racing F1 has been robbed off in the last 10 years that this awful system has been in place.

      And DRS is not just bad because its resulting passes are boring, but also because a lot of drivers just don’t even bother anymore. The way Leclerc just let Verstappen could easily give someone the impression he was being lapped – rather than leading the race.

    4. Yes, great job to sainz, and yes, let’s get rid of drs!

      1. what I don’t understand is that the FIA is trying with length-changes of the DRS-zones to get the best compromize.
        But what if they just reduced the DRS-gap to 50mm, or 60, or … mm width next season
        I think DRS now is just too powerfull, can’t that just be reduced? Give a little advantage to the one behind, but still make him fight for the overtake

  3. Ferrari was the closest threat and yet they were so far away Red Bull couldn’t care less about pitting on that VSC.

    Then he comes in for tyres just for that another FL point because he had the gap to do that instead of trying to do it on worn tyres.

    I’ve seen many, many easy wins, but this one may take the cake.

    1. They should have let Carlos through as he was clearly faster than Charles… Now they (and esp Carlos) suffer by their own doing. Stupid strategy.

      1. I tend to think ferrari nowadays aren’t too keen on team orders, this happens both ways: when leclerc is faster they let him wait, ask sainz if he can do a 1.24.5 (example), then he does 1.24.9, “this is not good enough, we’re swapping the cars” and also in this case they were reluctant to swap.

  4. The main drama came from the 5s penalties and the battle for 16th. And Hamiltons meltdown about his penalty.

    1. Hamilton needs a therapist on his pit wall … plus the car was “too slow” and “wouldn’t turn”.

      1. Attribution is a Mercedes character signature. Toto does it, and Lewis does it. Russell will follow in time.
        It’s always external..some reflection is missing
        And hard to take for the factory, “it’s a bad car” or words of that intent.

        1. Ah, yes, I was surprised wolff came on the radio a couple of times “we know the car is bad, lewis; please drive it”, it looked like he was annoyed.

          1. So he is annoyed with Lewis and insults the factory. Great team boss.

      2. Didn’t hear any complaining from Russell and Mercedes is simply the 2nd-4th fastest car depending on the track.

        So Lewis would be more accurate that HE is too slow and HE couldn’t turn certainly given that he had his track limit penalty within 15 laps. Russell didn’t have a penalty.
        Lewis has been off the pace the whole weekend – didn’t even make it into SQ2 due to his poor driving, exceeding track limits and deciding to start his final lap while he was told Max was coming on a hot lap.

        Pretty odd and also pathetic that Toto at all cost is trying to PR defend Lewis. Doubt Toto would do that (or ever has done) for Russell. Lewis is a prima donna in his behavior – his radio messages has been awful this weekend – yet Toto desperately trying to keep him happy as the contract extension isn’t signed and Toto doesn’t have any other decent driver to replace him despite him hyping up Mick Schumacher.

    2. To me it almost sounded like he’s playing a victim card or something, thinking he’s being targeted and the only one penalized. Sometimes it’s just talk within the team and it sounds different when taken out of context, but here he did talk to the audience, obviously. I don’t like that at all. At least he didn’t feel intimidated like Sainz. Radio is a funny thing, but I wonder how different drivers’ attitude would be without it being broadcasted.

      1. He would have no idea what was happening with other people’s penalties. So fair of him to ask and also to be miffed when he sees everyone else in front of him going off constantly.

        1. Lewis kept saying Lando was over the limit, turns out he wasn’t, so maybe Lewis does not understand the limits?

  5. Kudos to SAI for his drive. Also kudos to Mercedes pit crew. I dog them every race but they had very good pit stop times today. Still say HAM or RUS is leaving Mercedes at end of year. Still think PER is getting dumped at the break. I also think TSU is in trouble for his seat. Just a lack of control and there are plenty of drivers in line for a seat.

    1. RUS has been pretty poor lately and the fact he finished behind Hamilton with the latters set up issues and penalty during the race wasn’t great. But he is still their future and can match or better Hamilton in his good days. Hamilton still has a better chance at number 8 at Mercedes than at Ferrari. AM is not going to fire the boss’s son. And Horner will never hire him. I don’t know about Perez. What can RBR do besides re hire Ricciardo which is not a great option despite what instagram wants. I think Tsunoda would not work out with his attitude issues. I do see de vries going down the plank for sure.

    2. I would not be paying Hamilton the kind of money he is demanding when he is constantly saying the car is the problem. That in itself says, “get the car right and you don’t need the driver…”.
      He has been spoilt by having the best car for so many years that he now can’t cope with a car that is anything less than dominant.

      1. Possibly we will see the same mind set from Verstappen at some point in the future.

    3. I can understand why hamilton would leave, don’t think russell would because this is still the best car he drove; I really doubt perez is leaving because there’s no threat to red bull, they’re not in immediate rush to score more points for the constructor’s championship, and this race (focus on the word race) he did way better than usual, he usually doesn’t recover 12 places when he starts from the back.

      Tsunoda, while better than de vries so far, I have to admit has a special talent to get penalties, this race he got several for going over the track limits, serving them incorrectly, and not long ago managed to get 2 penalties the same race for going over the white line at pit entry.

  6. Why would PER be dumped ? VER has shown to get very territorial when he sees the slightest threat and RBR will do everything to keep VER happy (as shown yesterday with the late pit stop). PER is the perfect teammate. Everyone knows he is no match to VER, he scores points. Plus there is no one out there who could do a better job while being no threat to VER. So, PER will continue next year as well.

    1. Per does not like Bottas did. He is simply not consistent.
      So there are better choices .

      1. Such as ?

      2. Eduardo Quintana
        3rd July 2023, 18:17

        Such as?

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