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F1 Austrian GP: Verstappen dominates after first lap tussle with Perez

Max Verstappen won the Formula 1 sprint race at the 2023 Austrian Grand Prix, prevailing after a brutal lap one battle with team-mate Sergio Perez in wet conditions.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

There, each Red Bull driver appeared to push the other off-track, and that allowed Nico Hulkenberg to play an early starring role for Haas before he had to complete a late charge on slicks as his starting intermediates faded.

At the start, Perez made a slightly better getaway compared to polesitter Verstappen and then shot to the inside alongside the pitwall as the pair raced to Turn 1.

There, Perez forced his way ahead of Verstappen and then cut him off so forcefully on the run up the hill through the Turn 2 kink Verstappen briefly had to put his right-side wheels on the grass.

Then at Turn 3 Verstappen sent his car back up Perez’s inside from a long way back and the Mexican driver had to take to the run off, from where he rejoined behind Verstappen.

Their tangle held up Lando Norris, who fell from third into the final places in the top 10, while Hulkenberg got such a good run he was able to benefit when the Red Bull’s fought again in Turn 4.

Perez was again on the outside and lost momentum as Verstappen saw him off, with Hulkenberg getting such a better run out of the long downhill right-hander and through Turn 5 he was able to surge ahead on the next downhill corner – the fast left of Turn 6.

That left Verstappen clear to ease ahead – taking chunks of time from Hulkenberg over the opening phase of the 24-lap race.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19, Nico Hulkenberg, Haas VF-23, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60, the rest of the field at the start of the Sprint

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19, Nico Hulkenberg, Haas VF-23, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60, the rest of the field at the start of the Sprint

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Hulkenberg initially kept Perez at arms length, with Sainz following the second Red Bull closely as the pack behind fell away, but by half distance and with Verstappen nearly 10s clear Perez was able to mount an attack.

Perez retook second on lap 12 with a better exit compared to Hulkenberg coming out of Turn 4, with Sainz also getting the Haas the next lap with a better exit from Turn 3 as Hulkenberg began to struggle for tyre life left on his intermediates.

George Russell and Lewis Hamilton had made good progress from their sprint shootout qualifying to run just outside the top 10, when Russell became the first driver to switch to slicks on lap 15.

His pace on the softs encouraged nine others to switch to slicks – although not the Red Bulls or Sainz, who ran untroubled to the finish in their established order to the finish, with Verstappen winning by 21.0s over Perez.

Sainz was a further 2.0s adrift by the finish, while behind the similarly inters-shod Aston Martins battled to the finish, with Lance Stroll holding off Fernando Alonso in fourth and fifth.

Hulkenberg ended up as the top slicks finisher as Haas opted to pit him for mediums on lap 17 having spotted Russell flying on the softs in the pack behind.

He had to make a last-lap pass on Esteban Ocon at Turn 1, but Hulkenberg was able to recover back to sixth by the finish.

Esteban Ocon, Alpine A523, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23

Esteban Ocon, Alpine A523, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Russell nearly got Ocon too having shot up the order with his early decision to change tyres paying off, finishing in a near dead-heat with the Alpine as they flashed down the start-finish line.

Norris took ninth ahead of Hamilton – the McLaren driver having engaged in an early race battle with Ocon and Charles Leclerc, who ended up 12th after a late battle with Alex Albon and Oscar Piastri, who were all passed by Hamilton during the second Mercedes driver’s charge on slicks after he had come in two laps after Russell.

F1 Austrian GP sprint race results (24 laps):

Cla Driver Chassis Engine Time Gap
1 Netherlands Max Verstappen Red Bull Red Bull 30'26.730  
2 Mexico Sergio Perez Red Bull Red Bull 30'47.778 21.048
3 Spain Carlos Sainz Ferrari Ferrari 30'49.818 23.088
4 Canada Lance Stroll Aston Martin Mercedes 30'56.433 29.703
5 Spain Fernando Alonso Aston Martin Mercedes 30'56.839 30.109
6 Germany Nico Hulkenberg Haas Ferrari 30'58.027 31.297
7 France Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault 31'03.332 36.602
8 United Kingdom George Russell Mercedes Mercedes 31'03.341 36.611
9 United Kingdom Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes 31'05.338 38.608
10 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Mercedes 31'13.105 46.375
11 Australia Oscar Piastri McLaren Mercedes 31'16.537 49.807
12 Monaco Charles Leclerc Ferrari Ferrari 31'17.519 50.789
13 Thailand Alex Albon Williams Mercedes 31'19.578 52.848
14 Denmark Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 31'23.323 56.593
15 France Pierre Gasly Alpine Renault 31'24.382 57.652
16 Japan Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri Red Bull 31'31.552 1'04.822
17 Netherlands Nyck de Vries AlphaTauri Red Bull 31'32.347 1'05.617
18 United States Logan Sargeant Williams Mercedes 31'32.789 1'06.059
19 China Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo Ferrari 31'37.555 1'10.825
20 Finland Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Ferrari 31'43.165 1'16.435

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