With the cancellation of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in Imola due to the extremely adverse weather conditions, Formula 1 is about to start the second sprint weekend of the year. Will the Austrian Grand Prix, Red Bull’s home race, see Max Verstappen and his team extend their domination or will it be someone else’s chance to shine? For sure, the Anglo-Austrian team seems unbeatable, having won all the races so far, but the particular design of the Styrian circuit, which is short (4.318 km) and extremely fast (a lap is completed in around 1’04’’ in qualifying), could potentially lead to a closer race and give a chance to teams like Aston Martin, Mercedes, or Ferrari to interrupt Red Bull’s cavalcade towards the 2023 title. The Austrian Grand Prix represents the ninth event of the season, which takes place just two weeks after the Canadian Grand Prix, the eighth round of the championship. After the overseas stage, the world championship returns to Europe for the first time since the Spanish Grand Prix held at the beginning of June. This Austrian Grand Prix is the first of four races scheduled for the month of July, which will take place before the summer break. Furthermore, it is the third overall round of the season to be held in the old continent. The Austrian Grand Prix is held at the Red Bull Ring circuit, which has been the venue since 1970, and is also the home base of Red Bull Racing. The circuit has been named variously over the years, including Österreichring between 1970 and 1987 and A1-Ring between 1997 and 2003. It is the track which has hosted all editions of the Austrian Grand Prix, for exception of the inaugural race of 1964, on different configurations. Currently, it has ten corners, and is one of the tracks with the fewest corners of all those used in the championship. Formula 1 has renewed the contract for the inclusion of the race in the world calendar, again on the Red Bull Ring circuit, until the 2030 season, extending the agreement already signed last March. This Grand Prix sees the Sprint format being tested for the second year running, where the race weekend features a 100km race called the Sprint, offering points to the top 8 finishers. The Sprint format has been implemented on six Grands Prix of the World Championship, including Austria, following the agreement reached between the Federation, Liberty Media and the teams. The scoring system for the Sprint provides that the top eight finishers receive 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1 point, respectively.
The Dutch driver Max Verstappen, in case of victory, would become the most successful driver in the history of the Austrian Grand Prix, with four victories. Verstappen has already triumphed in the 2018, 2019 and 2021 editions, sharing the lead with Alain Prost and Jo Siffert, the latter winner of two editions not valid for the Formula 1 championship. The Red Bull Racing team, in case of success, would get the tenth consecutive victory, considering the triumph in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2022, the last race of the previous season. Furthermore, the Scuderia Ferrari would reach the eight hundredth podium in its history if it finish among the top three. Formula 1 has achieved a special milestone as it became the first global motoring category to grant three-star environmental accreditation for all of its teams. This recognition certifies the full commitment of the teams in environmental sustainability programs and was obtained on the basis of a system of 17 criteria that aim to protect the environment through the management of energy, supply chains, noise, transport and of carbon emissions. During the event, Formula 1 is piloting an energy-efficient power plant, which aims to reduce carbon emissions by 90%. This system will supply power to various areas of the paddock, including the garages, pit lane and pit walls, as well as the rooms where timing data and television coverage are handled. The Grand Prix will be overseen by Deputy Commissioner Enrique Bernoldi, a former Formula 1 driver who has already performed this function on several occasions in the past, including at the previous Canadian Grand Prix. Sponsor of the Grand Prix is Rolex, as in the previous edition of 2022 and also in the 2020 race. The Red Bull Ring circuit also hosted two editions of the Styrian Grand Prix in 2020 and 2021, these races were held one week apart from the Austrian Grand Prix to replace other races canceled or postponed due to the COVID pandemic -19. For the current Grand Prix, Pirelli, the exclusive tire supplier, is making three compound options available to the drivers: C3, C4 and C5, representing the softest variants available across the company's entire range for the World Championship. This type of tire has been used unchanged since the 2021 edition of the Grand Prix, and for the fifth time this season, it appears to be the confirmed choice, marking the second consecutive time after the previous Canadian Grand Prix. Before the Canadian race, Pirelli has already announced the tires that will be used in the following British Grand Prix.
In this regard, Mario Isola describes the Red Bull Ring as a demanding circuit for the tyres, with few straights and many corners that require traction and braking. Managing tire overheating will be crucial, and the type of pit stop will depend on tire degradation this year:
"The Red Bull Ring is a circuit where tires get no rest. The cars race through the track's 10 corners in a lap time of just over a minute, and the few straights mean that there is little reprieve for the tyres. The asphalt has a fairly high micro and macro roughness, due to the age of the surface, while grip is high at the start of the lap. Traction and braking are key elements, while particular attention will have to be paid to managing tire overheating. Drivers who manage not to cool their tires properly may find it difficult to defend against attacks from rivals, especially in the first and last sectors. An important factor in this will be ambient temperature, with weather conditions traditionally somewhat variable. Last year's race was largely a two-stopper using the medium and hard compounds, but a one-stopper could also be an option this year if degradation is not too high".
As for the Drag Reduction System (DRS), the Federation has ratified the use of the three zones established since the 2018 edition of the Grand Prix. These three zones were introduced when the world's motoring body decided to expand the number of them on the Red Bull Ring circuit, bringing them to three, compared to the two zones used since 2014, when the circuit was reintegrated into the world calendar, with the intention of facilitating the overtakes. Drivers can activate the rear mobile wing along the main straight, having the detection point positioned before turn 10. The other two zones are located between Turn 3 and Turn 4, and between Turn 1 and Turn 3. The point for determining the gap between the riders is placed before Turn 3, while the new section introduced later has the point for determining the gap between the riders positioned before Turn 1. During last year, the Federation carefully examined the DRS zones, making some changes for 2023 with the aim of making overtaking easier or more difficult on some circuits. However, the Red Bull Ring circuit has not been included among the tracks subject to these changes, and therefore the three zones of the DRS remain unchanged for this Grand Prix. Compared to the 2022 edition, the circuit has undergone some changes. A new painted boundary has been added between Turn 2 and Turn 3 on both sides of the track, keeping the width unchanged. The track boundary behind the second curb at the apex of Turn 8 on the right-hand side has been shortened, while the temporary kerbs at Turn 8 on the right-hand side have been removed. The Federation has established that any driver who does not go around the exit of turn 10 correctly will have the lap time and the one immediately following invalidated, at the discretion of the stewards. After the previous Canadian Grand Prix, the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz Jr. was drawn for scrutineering as it finished in the top ten cars.
The inspections covered the front and rear air intakes, as well as the front and rear interior of the cooling ducts, as required by articles 3.13.3 and 3.13.4 of the technical regulation. All components examined proved to comply with the regulation. Before the start of the first free practice session, the third gearbox and third transmission are installed on Oscar Piastri's car. However, the Australian McLaren driver is not penalized on the starting grid as the new components are among those permitted by the technical regulations. Other pilots, including Valtteri Bottas, Zhou Guanyu, Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hülkenberg, have installed the third unit related to the internal combustion engine, while Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz Jr., Magnussen and Hülkenberg fitting the third unit related to the turbocharger and at the MGU-H. Max Verstappen, Nyck De Vries and Yuki Tsunoda use the second unit relating to the energy recovery system, while Verstappen, Bottas and Tsunoda mount the second unit relating to the electronic control unit. Finally, Leclerc, Sainz Jr., Bottas, Zhou, Magnussen and Hülkenberg install the fourth unit related to the exhaust system. No driver suffers penalties on the starting grid as the new components are within the limits permitted by the technical regulations. Before the Sprint Shootout, the race direction communicate the availability of an additional set of intermediate tires to be used in the Sprint race, in anticipation of the weather conditions. Lando Norris describes the Canadian Grand Prix as a tough but enjoyable weekend, with good overtaking maneuvers and the chance to fight for points. Norris says that the Red Bull Ring is one of his favorite circuits, with special memories including first time on the podium.
With the Sprint event, he expects an interesting and promising weekend, ready to give his all:
"The Canadian GP was a difficult but fun weekend. There was some good overtaking, and we were able to fight for points on-track. Since then, I've been back at the MTC and in the sim this week to prepare for Australia. The Red Bull Ring is one of my favorite circuits. It holds a lot of good memories for me, having scored my first podium there. It's a Sprint weekend too, which always makes it more interesting. It's all looking promising, so we'll get out there and give it our all".
Oscar Piastri was pleased with his Canadian debut despite a frustrating Q3, finishing Sunday just outside the top 10. He highlighted the learning and detail review with his engineers at the MTC during the week. He can't wait to get back to the Red Bull Ring, this time driving an F1 car. He appreciated the new Sprint format in Baku and is excited to live that experience again next weekend, hoping to score points for the team:
"I'm happy with my Canada debut. After a frustrating Q3, my Sunday ended just shy of the top 10. There was a lot of learning, and my engineers and I went over everything at the MTC this week. I'm looking forward to returning to the Red Bull Ring, this time in an F1 car. I quite enjoyed the new Sprint format in Baku, so I'm looking forward to experiencing that again this weekend and hopefully bring back some points for the team".
Andrea Stella, McLaren’s Team Principal, is showing mixed emotions after the Canadian Grand Prix. Whilst it is unfortunate that Lando's five second time penalty resulted in a relegation to 13th position, they showed an improved performance and both cars battled for the points. Now they will focus their efforts on the double round which starts with Austria this weekend. The Austrian race will also be a weekend with the Sprint format. With just one practice session, they will try to be ready right away and competitive on a circuit where they have obtained positive results in previous years:
"We return from Canada with mixed feelings. On one hand it's a shame that the five second penalty given to Lando resulted in a demotion to P13, but on the other hand we showed better pace and both cars were fighting for points. We now shift our focus to this double-header starting with Austria this weekend. The Austrian GP is also a Sprint race weekend. With only one practice session, we will look to try and be ready straight away and be competitive at a track in which we had positive results in previous years".
Guenther Steiner, Haas’ Team Principal, says the team is investigating the gap between the good performance in qualifying and the less good one in the race. They will try to find an intermediate point between the two sessions for the next races. They are working hard to solve the problem and are confident they can overcome it thanks to the positive input from the riders. In the next race, they will test different solutions to solve the race performance problem, while taking into account the general understanding of the behavior of their car:
"We're investigating the very good performance we have in qualifying and not-so-good performance during the race at the moment. We're trying to pinpoint it but for the next races we're maybe going to try and find a sweeter spot between the two sessions, qualifying and the race, so something in the middle. We're working hard on it and trying to find out what we can do over the next races to make it better. We're working very hard to try and find out why the discrepancy of being very fast and not so good in the race is happening. We've got a few leads and for sure it will impact the VF-24 design. We obviously have to take that feature out of the car next year. I must admit, I'm actually very happy with both Kevin and Nico about how they're an integral part in trying to sort the problem and find the solution, how we tackle the short and long-term fix for this, and they' re both very positive. Not about the performance in the race right now but positive that we can get out of the problem we have now. We're going into this race partly a little bit like a test session as well. We have a lot of things to try and cure our problems with the race pace, so we have a few ideas. As we have two races now this weekend, we've got double the amount of time to try to do different things. Obviously, we always try to get the best result possible but also maybe we compromise the best result possible for really understanding what is happening with our car on race day".
Kevin Magnussen appears keen to enter another Sprint race, appreciating the increased action over the weekend and the pressure from the first session. It is a track where he has achieved good results in the past and enjoys the special atmosphere of the European races, trying to make the most of this phase of the championship:
"I'm looking forward to another Sprint. I like Sprint events, there's more stuff happening throughout the weekend and the pressure is on straight away after the first practice. You're really performing and battling for important stuff. Even FP1 has way more pressure because it's the only practice you get so you have to find your rhythm and hit your marks early on and quickly to maximize your rhythm for qualifying. It's just a more focused and more fast-paced weekend, and I quite enjoy that. I don't know why we've been strong here over the years I've been with Haas, but it's a fun circuit. Sometimes there are these circuits you tend to go well at and hopefully we can keep that trend going. I always enjoy the European season, the tracks are ones that all drivers know very well and it's all just familiar surroundings. There's a special atmosphere around the European races so I'm going to enjoy it and try and make the most of it".
Nico Hulkenberg describes the difference between the Baku and the Austrian circuit, underlining the importance of being professional and getting the most out of both. He appreciates the natural surroundings and the technical challenges of the track; therefore, maximizing sessions is crucial to achieve meaningful results:
"I've done it once in Baku now, it's much more intense because from the first practice session, it's much more meaningful, so it definitely felt more intense. It's a very different circuit to Baku, it's a permanent race track and it has a short lap so there's quite a big difference. The approach is the same as always though, we'll be professional and try to get something out of it. There's a lot of nature and the circuit itself is built into the mountains. There's great scenery, it's a scenic route into the track, and it's very green. It's one of the shortest, if not the shortest track we go to with just over one minute per lap, but it's a technical and challenging track so it doesn't mean it's an easy circuit. It's shorter lap times so the field historically is very condensed there. We've seen it super condensed so I can only imagine the smallest of margins will make a big difference, so it's important we maximize the sessions and get everything out of it".
Toto Wolff claims that there have been several positive aspects at the race in Canada. Despite failing to get both cars to the finish, the podium was a solid result and they saw encouraging signs from the upgraded package:
"There were plenty of positives to take from the last race in Canada. Although we didn't get both cars to the checked flag, a podium was a solid result and we saw encouraging signs from our updated package. Austria is always a special weekend, as it's my home race and I have good memories from the track; both with the team but also from my early years racing there and teaching as an instructor. It's also the second Sprint of the season so it will be interesting to see the impact it has on the weekend, at a more traditional circuit. It's a short lap in Spielberg and looks straightforward on paper; several long straights broken up by a range of slow, medium-speed and fast corners. But it's a challenging one to put together and get right. We will aim to build on the momentum we have generated over the past two races and continue our positive trajectory with the car. It's a venue where the W14 should perform better than in Canada, but we won't take anything for granted. As always, we will be working hard to maximize our performance and deliver strong results".
Alessandro Alunni Bravi declares that the team is determined to maintain the positive trend shown in recent races. The point won in Canada was a precious reward and every point could make the difference at the end of the season. Now they focus on improving their performance in qualifying, as they know that a better grid position can make it easier to fight for points. The Sprint race adds unpredictability, and making the most of the single practice session will be crucial to get the most out of it:
"As we head to Austria, we are determined to keep up with the positive trend we have been showing in recent races. Coming back from Canada with one more point to our name was a valuable reward for the team, and we know every point could potentially make the difference at the end of the season. We had good race pace in Montreal, proving the C43 can fight for the top ten. Our focus, now, is on improving our qualifying performances, and the team has been working hard on this goal in the past weeks: our race pace is good and higher places on the grid can ease the job in the pursuit for points. The Austrian Grand Prix will host the second Sprint event of the year, and we are fully aware of how it can add unpredictability to the mix: with just one practice session available, it will be crucial to execute everything to our best".
Valtteri Bottas declares:
"The top ten finish the team achieved in Canada made us even more motivated. Our objective is to keep up with our good form and extend our points streak. Throughout my career, I have always enjoyed racing here in Spielberg: I have scored some good results here – including my first podium and two wins.With the Sprint event format, and less practice time on track, it will be important to get the feeling right with the car from the very start, and build on that, especially when it comes to qualifying. We know we have the potential to do well, and if we keep doing our job, we will remain in the battle for the top ten".
Zhou Guanyu concludes:
"As we head to Austria, I am keen to get back to the good performances we have shown recently. There are still several races to go, and plenty of points within our grasp if we keep making progress. The upgrade package we have introduced a few races ago is making a difference, and I am ready to give all my best on track to extract its potential to the fullest We know how just a tenth could make a great difference in qualifying: during a Sprint weekend, this is even more significant. We must keep focused, and remain at the top of our game all weekend long: this way, we will achieve even better results".
At Red Bull Max Verstappen says:
"This is the second Sprint race of the season, they are always more hectic and complex compared to a normal race. The weather looks a bit unpredictable too so it will definitely mix things up a little bit. Of course Austria is a home race for us.I'm looking forward to seeing all the support again at the track, hopefully we'll put on a good show for everyone in the grandstands.We always enjoy coming back to Austria and I'm excited to try to add another trophy to the collection for the Team. We've had some good results there already so let's see what we can do. I had some fun in the lead up to the race with Yuki too. We drove some mega trucks in a quarry, we had a fun day together and it's always nice to see Red Bull coming up with crazy things for us to do".
His teammate Sergio Perez continues:
"It's always a great race in Austria, it's obviously the home of Red Bull and that makes it extra special for all of us in the Team. I also can't believe how many Mexicans fans make the trip, every year on the green carpet arriving into the circuit I see the Mexico flag, which makes me smile.For me my focus will be on track though because I know how important it is for me to have a consistent weekend and really produces a result, I know I am capable of. The weather looks like it could be tricky and it's a Sprint weekend so time in the car to set-up will be minimal and critical, we must maximize every moment we have to prepare. I had fun at the last Sprint weekend in Baku and it was a very successful time but at a very different circuit. I want to achieve the same again but know I need to step up to achieve that".
After the experience in Montreal, Nyck de Vries recognizes that the team had some shortcomings on track and some bad decisions, leading to an uncompetitive weekend with no points. However, he looks to the future with optimism, looking forward to the next appointments at Red Bull Ring and Silverstone with new updates. The Austrian track is more difficult than it looks on paper, requiring compromises in aerodynamic settings and good tire management. The Sprint format is appreciated and they are preparing to offer a good show for fans and supporters:
"I enjoyed the Montreal experience, but as a team, we were lacking a bit of performance on track and we also didn't execute the best weekend on all fronts. Me personally, but also together with the team, didn't always make the right calls and decisions, and that ultimately resulted in an uncompetitive weekend and no points on the board. That is obviously disappointing, but we have to look ahead, and we have two tracks coming up now that I know. We have updates scheduled for Red Bull Ring and Silverstone, so that's definitely something we are looking forward to and I hope that we can have two good weekends back in Europe. Spielberg is quite a short track, but actually it's much harder than it looks. You can lose a lot of time if you make any mistakes and it's definitely a track which is hard on the brakes. It has quite a lot of straights, but equally there are four high-speed corners. In search of ultimate performance, the compromise between the downforce levels is not so straightforward: you want to put a bit more wing on, but then you also want a package that is raceable and allows you to fight. Usually that also comes with the penalty of a little bit more sliding when you have less downforce, so then you're a bit harder on the tyres. I think in terms of decisions and compromises, Red Bull Ring is a little bit more difficult than you would think from looking at a map of the track. It's a Sprint weekend and that is certainly much more challenging because there is much less track time, so you've got to be on it straight away. Actually, I like the Sprint format and I think it's cool to have a second race. It gives you a first learning and read on what to expect for Sunday's race, and more action for the fans, more entertainment and a bit more of a show. The location is special; the scenery is beautiful and for our team we all experience it as a home race for the Red Bull family. And from my personal perspective, the Red Bull Ring weekend has always been very well attended by Dutch fans, which means there's a lot of orange around the track, so it's going to be an exciting weekend and we will do our best to make everyone proud".
Despite the struggles in Montreal, Yuki Tsunoda believes he has the potential to score points. Now, at Spielberg, he wants to focus on a good performance right from free practice, the Sprint format being particularly demanding. The Austrian track requires a good balance between downforce and drag reduction, but the driver is confident of getting a good result and hopes to score points, especially at the home circuit for the Red Bull team:
"In Canada, we weren't able to put it all together, which was a shame as we probably had the pace to score points. In qualifying, after showing a good pace in FP3, we weren't able to extract all the performance from the car, which isn't normally the case. That put us on the back foot for the race. I tried to recover as much as possible and we knew that we had to be aggressive with race strategy. Maybe we didn't get it quite right, but I feel there are a lot of things we can learn from that weekend, and we won't make the same mistakes in the future. Now we come to Spielberg, the Red Bull Ring, which is a track I like, and I scored points there two years ago in my first Formula 1 season. Our focus for Austria must be to have a good car straight away from FP1 as we have qualifying immediately after that on Friday. You have to be spot-on going into qualifying or you struggle for the rest of the weekend. I did a lot of work in the simulator in preparation for this race and I think this becomes even more important than usual when it's a Sprint event. We tested a lot of things, so the plan is to nail the setup in FP1 and build up confidence straight away. The track layout is tough on brakes, but the team has put a lot of effort into solving issues we've had with this in some races, and we now know how to help them work better. There are really only four hard braking points and I'm sure we'll be better in this area than in past races. Officially there are ten corners, most of them are medium and high-speed, so although you still need a lot of load, there are long straights where you want to have as little drag as possible. From my perspective, I think it will be a challenging race weekend that won't be easy, but I'm looking forward to it. The atmosphere in Spielberg will be great, as it's Red Bull's home track, so it would be nice to be able to score points there".
At Aston Martin, Lance Stroll declares:
"I'm looking forward to returning to Europe for four races within the next few months, all on very different circuits. The Red Bull Ring is a challenging and compact circuit with two distinct halves. Whilst the first half has three DRS straights, the second is a sequence of quick corners, so it's a fun track to race at.Our weekend changes slightly with the Sprint format, which means FP1 is very much focused on dialing in the car and getting up to speed ahead of Qualifying on Friday afternoon. The Sprint event on Saturday brings an additional element to consider across the weekend as we try and maximize our points return".
The Spaniard Fernando Alonso concludes:
"It was great to return to the podium in Canada. The upgrades we brought to the car seemed to be working well and we will continue to optimize the setup as we go into Austria. It's a fast and short lap here and it usually provides some good racing and overtaking. You have to be careful of the run-off areas and try to avoid damage to the cars with the harsh kerbs. I look forward to seeing what we can do. The target will be to keep up this form and score as many points for the team as we try to take back second place in the Constructors' Championship".
French Esteban Ocon declares:
"It's good to be back in Spielberg as I really enjoy coming back here. I had a good result here last year, so we hope to have another good weekend like that. As for the track itself, it presents some interesting challenges with the tight low-speed corners contrasting with the faster infield corners at Turn 6 and 7. Also, the significant elevation changes add to the challenge and make some of the braking zones tricky.Nevertheless, it's fun to drive and hopefully we can take advantage of the Sprint weekend format to collect valuable points".
Meanwhile, Pierre Gasly argues:
"I really like Austria. It's one of those classic European circuits with a traditional feel and a great atmosphere to go with it. It's one of the shortest circuits on the calendar but it's fast and very rewarding. It has some big braking zones as well as fast sweeping corners, especially Sector 3 with the two quick right handers. We have some good opportunities this weekend with the Sprint format. It's two Qualifying sessions and two races where we must be on it from lap one. We have some unfinished business after the disappointment in Baku - the first Sprint of the season - and I'm feeling ready for it in Austria this weekend".
At Ferrari, after the Canadian Grand Prix, the team prepares for the European races, starting with a double appointment in Austria and England. In Spielberg they face the second Sprint weekend of the year, with only one hour of free practice before qualifying. The team worked hard in the factory and in the simulator to get ready, concentrating on the performance of the SF-23 and aiming for a smooth weekend to achieve a good result. These are the words of team principal Frédéric Vasseur:
"After Canada, we now return to complete the European leg of the season taking in some of the classic venues on the calendar, starting with back-to-back races in Austria and England. In Spielberg, we will tackle the second Sprint weekend of the year, which means that Charles, Carlos and the 18 other drivers all get just one hour of free practice before tackling qualifying. We have therefore spent plenty of time working hard in the factory and simulator to be as well prepared as possible. Our main focus has been on ensuring that our drivers can get the most out of the SF-23 package, as indeed they were able to do in the race in Montreal. We're looking to have a straightforward weekend all the way through from Friday to Sunday and if we manage it, then I'm sure we can bring home a good result".
The Spanish Carlos Sainz claims that the Canadian Grand Prix was a real boost of confidence for the whole team, including the drivers, thanks to the good performance of the car:
"The Canadian Grand Prix was a real confidence boost for everyone in the team including we drivers, because we had a car that performed consistently so that we could push during the race and make up places. I'm sure we made progress in Montreal, even if the track layout probably helped us. The result there was nothing special, a fourth and a fifth place, but the perception from our point of view was clearly different and I think I can say it was our best race of the season.Having said that, it's hard to see how we can compete at the same level as Red Bull at the moment, despite the upgrades we have brought here On that topic, I want to thank everyone at Maranello, because they really made a big effort. The important thing is to stay focused and continue to get everything out of the car. This weekend we have the Sprint format, which means it is vital to start off on the right foot right from the only free practice session in the early afternoon tomorrow".
Charles Leclerc declares:
"First of all, we want to check, at a different track to Canada, the progress we saw there, where we were able to count on a car that performed consistently in the race. If we can confirm the step forward we took in Montreal, then we can race on a regular basis against Aston Martin and Mercedes, which would already be an important step, given that so far this season we have usually had to defend.We will have some new parts on the car that we will try in free practice tomorrow and we hope they can help us even more. The Sprint weekend favors those who have prepared well for the races back in the factory and I think that's the case for our team. In general, I like it because every day there's something important: tomorrow it's qualifying, then on Saturday it's the Sprint day and on Sunday the Grand Prix. On top of that, I really like this circuit because some parts of it remind me of a karting track. There is a chance of rain this weekend, for tomorrow and mainly for Saturday, but Leclerc is not too worried about that. On a qualifying lap in heavy rain, we have seen that we are competitive, just as we are in the dry, so I think we can be in the fight. Our race pace is still an unknown quantity, but as I said, we want to check it on this type of track".
Dave Robson, Williams’ Head of Vehicle Performance, says:
"We secured a good result at the last event in Montreal and this weekend we are looking to consolidate that result with another strong performance. This weekend, both cars will have the upgraded parts that only Alex ran in Canada.We have also been able to make some minor adjustments to the outer floor fence and front brake duct vane to gain a little more performance from the new floor package.Both cars will have these latest developments but, as this is sprint event, there will be limited time to assess the extra performance. This is the second sprint event of the season, but we expect this one to be more demanding than Baku; the limited quantity of tires and mandated use of certain compounds at certain times is possibly more restrictive on this short, fast circuit.The threat of rain for Saturday adds to the potential complexity but could offer a useful opportunity for us to exploit the pace of FW45.Both drivers know this circuit well and Logan has enjoyed a lot of success during his previous visits here. This should help both to start FP1 on the front foot and will help them overcome the limited setup time ahead of Friday evening qualifying".
Alex Albon says:
"I'm looking forward to Austria after coming off the back of a great weekend in Canada. This track is another one that should suit our car more than some other circuits. With this format being a sprint weekend, coupled with the rain, it's all to play for. We're going to be aiming for points so let's work to try make that happen".
Logan Sargeant concludes:
"I have a lot of really good memories from Austria in the past. I'm looking forward to heading back and building on that. Another sprint weekend offers more opportunities, and I think it will be a fun and exciting weekend".
On Friday, June 30, 2023, day of the first free practice sessions and qualifying, Max Verstappen is ready for the challenge presented by the Sprint Race. The Dutchman can count on the best car on the grid, driven on a racetrack that has seen triumph more than everyone in Formula 1:
"This is the second Sprint race of the season, they are always more hectic and complex compared to a normal race. The weather looks a bit unpredictable too so it will definitely mix things up a little bit. Of course Austria is a home race for us. I’m looking forward to seeing all the support again at the track, hopefully we’ll put on a good show for everyone in the grandstands. We always enjoy coming back to Austria and I’m excited to try to add another trophy to the collection for the Team. We’ve had some good results there already so let’s see what we can do. I had some fun in the lead up to the race with Yuki too. We drove some mega trucks in a quarry, we had a fun day together and it’s always nice to see Red Bull coming up with crazy things for us to do".
Definitely not a race to be homesick for Sergio Perez: the Mexican driver is followed on his team’s home race by many fellow countrymen ready to support him. Perez does not want to disappoint them, but he knows that there are many challenges, one them possibly being the weather:
"It’s always a great race in Austria, it’s obviously the home of Red Bull and that makes it extra special for all of us in the Team. I also can’t believe how many Mexican fans make the trip, every year on the green carpet arriving into the circuit I see the Mexico flag, which makes me smile. For me my focus will be on track though because I know how important it is for me to have a consistent weekend and really produce a result, I know I am capable of. The weather looks like it could be tricky and it’s a Sprint weekend so time in the car to set-up will be minimal and critical, we must maximise every moment we have to prepare. I had fun at the last Sprint weekend in Baku and it was a very successful time but at a very different circuit. I want to achieve the same again but know I need to step up to achieve that".
As in every sprint weekend since the introduction of the new format, drivers have just one hour of free practice available to find the limit of their cars. Unsurprisingly, it is Max Verstappen who comes out on top, even though he sets the fastest time in the final stages of the session. In fact, the lead is held for a good part of the session by Lewis Hamilton, who is the first driver on track with Pirelli hard tyres. Then it is Ferrari’s turn: first Leclerc and then Sainz steal P1 from the seven-time world champion using soft tyres, which seem to highlight the effectiveness of the upgrades Ferrari has brought to Austria. But then, after three slow laps to reach the perfect working range of the various components, Verstappen goes P1 with a 1’05’’742, remarkably using medium tyres. Other notable drivers to use the medium compound are Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez and Fernando Alonso. The final classification is the following: Verstappen, Sainz, Leclerc, Hamilton, Pérez, Stroll, Magnussen, Alonso, Russell, Zhou, Albon, Piastri, Hulkenberg, Bottas, Tsunoda, De Vries, Sargeant, Ocon, Gasly, Norris. With free practice done and dusted, qualifying for Sunday’s race awaits the best drivers in the world. In Q1 Valtteri Bottas spins at the exit of turn 1 but manages to grab the last spot available for Q2, eliminating Tsunoda. Russell remains on the line for the whole session but in the end manages to save himself with provisional P10. The fastest time is set by Max Verstappen with 1'05"116, closely followed by his teammate Perez (+0.061) and Lando Norris (+0.063), who seems to have found a solution to the problems encountered during FP1. As always, five drivers are out: Tsunoda, Zhou, Sargeant, Magnussen, and De Vries.
Q2 provides drama as Perez gets eliminated. The Mexican driver sets three fast laps, the last of which puts him in second place right behind his teammate, but all three are deleted because of track limits. Track limits are a serious issue on this circuit, with hundreds of laps cancelled also in junior categories like F2 and F3. The trickiest corners are turn 9 and 10, where drivers are more tempted to use the outside kerb to keep cornering speed and tend to exceed the track limits with all four wheels. Same fate as Perez for Ocon, who commits his infringement at the last corner. A third big name is in the knock-out section of the time sheets: George Russell simply lacks pace in Q2 and gets eliminated. The five drivers out of Q3 are (in order) Russell, Ocon, Piastri, Bottas, and Perez, who will start from 15th place on the grid. Verstappen is again fastest (1'04"951), followed by Sainz (+0.085), and again Norris (+0.087) in P3. In his first Q3 attempt Verstappen sets the fastest time with a 1'04"503. Leclerc posts the best middle sector but it is not sufficient and settles momentarily for P2 with a time of 1’04’’709. It is clear that once again the pole position will be decided between these two, like practically on every occasion when they have had a competitive car in the last few years. An honorable mention goes to Nico Hulkenberg, who, due to the deleted times, makes it to Q3 and is 9th after the first attempt. Verstappen improves in his second attempt and secures the 26th pole position of his career with a time of 1'04"391. Alonso goes momentarily third but is beaten by Stroll, then Sainz goes to P2. Hulkenberg incredibly improves to 7th (1'05"090). Leclerc also improves and marks again the best middle sector, but two slides in the last two corners, especially at turn 9, probably cost him pole position. Leclerc is second with a time of 1'04"439. In the final moments Hamilton beats both Aston Martins and claims P5. The final classification of qualifying is Verstappen (1'04"391), Leclerc (+0.048), Sainz (+0.190), Norris (+0.267), Hamilton (+0.428), Stroll (+0.502), Alonso (+0.520), Hulkenberg (+0.699), Gasly (+0.779), Albon (+1.432). Christian Horner praises the defending world champion after another pole position and a very tight qualifying session:
"It was a difficult session today, it’s very hard to see the white lines as we can see from the number of infringements, but a superb job from Max to get that pole despite needing to be a little more conservative due to track limits. For Checo it was more frustrating, he had the pace and was putting in similar lap times to Max but unfortunately, he had three deleted lap times. He’ll be incredibly frustrated, but he’s got the full support of the Team and we all know what he’s capable of, he’ll turn the page and race hard for the rest of the weekend. This track is one you can overtake on, you can see the Ferraris had great pace and Charles was just half a tenth off at the end, so the weekend offers some tough but exciting racing".
Charles Leclerc misses the opportunity to repeat his performance in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, when he qualified on pole. However, the Monegasque feels he has had the chance to push and fully exploit the car’s potential. Besides, Leclerc does not hesitate to thank his team for upgrading the car earlier than scheduled for this season. The new aero package, which includes a new front wing and floor to improve the rear stability at high speed, has certainly played its part and Leclerc aims to confirm the result on Sunday:
"It feels good to finally have a clean qualifying again and to be back on the front row. The feeling from the car has been a bit better in the last three races and then in Q1 and Q2, it was all about building up to that lap in Q3 and I managed to put everything into that last lap and got very close to Max. We hadn’t expected to be that close to the Red Bull so it’s a good step forward and I would like to thank everyone back at the factory for all the work they have done in the last few weeks in order to bring an update package at Spielberg, earlier than planned. It’s really impressive and helped us to perform well today. Now we need to confirm that in the races, tomorrow and Sunday. Starting from the Sprint we need to focus on consistency and we will see on Sunday if we have the same race pace as in Montreal".
Carlos Sainz is right behind his teammate. The Spaniard comes from a solid qualifying but laments the penalty system related to track limits infringements. Sainz underlines that there should be more promptness by the stewards’ panel in giving sanctions so that the drivers do not have to make rush decisions or, as in his case, waste a set of tyres:
"Overall it was a positive day for me and the team as we will start second and third on Sunday for the GP. The car was good all day and I was fast from the start, which is always a good sign. We don't have much indication of our race pace compared to our rivals but we look forward to tomorrow's and Saturday's races. Despite the good result, I think we need to work together with the FIA to find a better system to make quicker and more efficient decisions on infractions regarding track limits. In Q2 in fact I had achieved a good time and was in the garage with my mind already on Q3 when I had to go out again, as there were doubts about my lap, and I had to use the set of Soft tires we had set aside for tomorrow's Sprint qualifying".
Ferrari’s Team Principal Frédéric Vasseur is satisfied with the team’s progress since Canada. The red drivers have been amongst the few to be almost never involved in the track limits madness and they have produced a solid effort to qualify in front, only behind an almost unbeatable Verstappen. Now the goal is to grab many points in the races on Saturday and Sunday:
"As we expected we witnessed a hectic qualifying here in Austria. I have to congratulate both Charles and Carlos because they made no mistakes by always staying within the limits of the track and were competitive from start to finish. Of course, the 48 thousandths difference from pole burns a bit, but we have to look at the positives, and there are quite a few. In Montreal in the race we took a good step forward, and here we want to confirm that. Of course, the Sprint weekend is much tighter since there is only one free practice session and we also had some updates to check on the track: both Charles and Carlos benefited from them, and for that I want to thank everyone who worked day and night in Maranello to allow us to fit the new components as early as this weekend. We have a special day ahead of us tomorrow, with qualifying and a Sprint race that will also allow us to work towards Sunday's Grand Prix. We have to stay focused, the weekend is still long but we have started it in the right way".
In a tough day for Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton remains a beacon of hope for the Brackley-based team, claiming an excellent P5. The seven-time world champion has qualified ahead of both Aston Martins, who are the direct rivals in the constructor championship. Hamilton brings home what he can and prepares for the incoming challenges:
"It was a tough session today, but thankfully we got through it. This track has always been a challenge for our car in the past and it showed again today, so I'll take P5. It's a good, strong position to start the race from on Sunday. I'm not quite sure yet, where exactly we stand with our race pace, possibly we're third or fourth quickest. We're trying to focus on us and to get around as quick as we can, so we will work hard overnight and try to do better in sprint qualifying tomorrow, depending on weather conditions and temperatures".
George Russell shows his disappointment after a difficult qualifying. The reduced time available in free practice has not been sufficient for the Brit and his team to find the right set-up. With lack of confidence, it is always difficult to find the limit and P11 is the direct consequence. Russell hopes to overturn his fate by working overnight on the performance and then give it 100% in the race to gain some positions:
"We weren't quick enough today and from the first laps in the practice session I didn't have the best feel of the car. Obviously, it's challenging going into a sprint race weekend like this, as you just don't have the time to make necessary changes. We'll see what we can do overnight going into tomorrow and how we can improve ahead of the sprint qualifying. P11 is clearly not the best starting position for Sunday, but we've had some good results starting from further down the field this year so I'm hopeful we can fight our way back during the race".
Trackside Engineering Director Andrew Shovlin narrates a difficult situation for Mercedes. The lack of speed in the car has forced Hamilton to work overtime to claim a P5 which is not guaranteed they will manage to maintain. At the same time, Russell has not found a good feeling with the car and will have to adapt to it to get some points, since not many changes are allowed due to the parc-fermé rule:
"We've struggled for high speed grip today and ultimately that's where we were losing out in qualifying. George had a tough session; he's lacked the confidence in the rear to really push and ultimately if we can't give him that in qualifying he'll be on the back foot from the start. Lewis had a better session, but the car isn't fast enough and P5 for him is all we could expect. We're hoping the long run will be better than the single lap but we've got tomorrow morning's qualifying to get through first and there's a decent chance that it will be a wet session. We've got tonight to have a look into the single lap performance and hopefully we can find a bit more, although we're limited in what we can tune as we are now in parc fermé".
McLaren experiences an exceptional qualifying, at least with one of his drivers. Lando Norris seems to have perfectly exploited the new aero package the Woking-based team has brought (forward) to Austria. The upgrades, which McLaren planned for the home race at Silverstone, include new Red-Bull-inspired sidepods with ‘downward’ design and Aston-Martin-inspired canals, a new halo, and a new floor. Despite having run just 17 laps in free practice and not a single one on soft tyres and being apparently condemned to the back foot, Norris and the team have found the way to make everything work. The young Brit does not hide his joy:
"I'm super happy with P4. It was one of the best qualifying sessions of the season. The car was feeling good today, I had a lot of confidence and was chipping away through qualifying so I'm happy. The team did an awesome job on getting the upgrades ready for this race and they did a great job today to get us there. I think I could've had a little bit more as I made a small mistake in the last corner, which likely cost me P3, so I am a little bit frustrated, but at the same time, I'm taking a P4 every day. So, I'm happy, we're in a good position for Sunday and we'll try to do the same again tomorrow".
Oscar Piastri is less fortunate than his teammate. The Aussie will have the right to the new components at the next race in Silverstone, as it often happens in Formula 1, where upgrades are introduced only for one car. Being stuck with the old version of the MCL60, Piastri does his best to qualify as high as he can. The McLaren rookie has got pace and is able to fight to enter Q3 but a lap deletion relegates him to 13th place:
"So, P13 in qualifying. It's a bit of a shame as I would have been in Q3 without the lap deletion. The pace was very encouraging for both myself and Lando. The new upgrade is looking good, so a huge thank you to the team for all of their work. We'll try again tomorrow to get into the top 10 and then, of course, for Sunday, we'll try to make our way into the points if we can".
Team Principal Andrea Stella looks back at a qualifying that could have been better. The team has missed out on a potential double Q3 finish, but the upgrades on the car seem to work and optimism grows ahead of the home GP:
"Today feels a little bittersweet. From a car performance point of view, we should have had two cars in Q3 but unfortunately, Oscar had a lap-time deleted. This was a situation that many endured today, and we know it is a factor in Austria. On the other side of the garage, Lando's performance with the upgraded car was encouraging, as he was consistently near the top of each session, but we will learn more over the weekend, especially in terms of race pace. I would like to thank the team at the factory and trackside for the efforts that led to delivering the upgrades and for the hard work ongoing at McLaren, as we attempt to gain competitiveness".
For the second time this season Lance Stroll qualifies ahead of his teammate. The Canadian driver claims P6 after a very intense but satisfying session:
"I was happy with how the AMR23 was feeling today and pleased with my final lap; I think we got everything we could have out of that Qualifying session. Track limits were tight, and I had a couple of laps deleted as I was trying to really commit to those fast corners, but it was the same for everyone and something we're used to around this circuit. It looks like we could be in for some slightly challenging weather conditions for the Sprint events tomorrow, so it's good to have a solid starting position on the board as we look ahead to Sunday's race".
Fernando Alonso recriminates a lap deletion in Q2, which has forced him to spend an extra set of soft tyres to qualify for Q3, leaving him with just one new set for that session. However, the Spaniard is not disappointed and is eager to improve during the weekend, supported by the car:
"I feel good after that Qualifying session. It's always intense qualifying here where the lap times are so close. If you look at the timing board throughout the three sessions, there are two or three tenths between a number of cars. We had one lap time deleted in Q2, which forced us to put an extra set of tyres on the car to progress. It then meant we only had one chance on new tyres in Q3, which wasn't ideal. However, sixth and seventh are strong starting positions for us. I think it'll be interesting and exciting with the weather as there is a chance of rain tomorrow and maybe dry conditions on Sunday. The car feels good, so I'm optimistic heading into the rest of the weekend".
Excellent news for Nico Hulkenberg as he claims the 8th position on the starting grid, his second-best result of the season after the 7th place in Spain. The German driver has found the perfect qualifying and enjoys the result:
"Q3 is always good news. We know though the difficulty is in the race for us, but I’m happy to have another smooth qualifying. I extracted everything from the car, and it was a clean execution from myself and the team, which is a positive, and very good for today. One session of one hour is very little time to do things and you also have to prepare a little bit for qualifying. Tomorrow we’ll get a first read and a first answer on how it’s going to go".
Unfortunately for Kevin Magnussen he cannot replicate his teammate’s performance. The Dane finds traffic and technical difficulties in his way, which prevent him from giving his best, in such a tight session. Magnussen ends his day in P19:
"It’s all so tight at the moment. I had traffic with Verstappen at Turn 1 on the first lap of my final run, but that lap was deleted for track limits - it wouldn’t have counted anyway. Then on my second attempt I had a downshift fault, it wouldn’t downshift, so it cost me a little bit of time at Turn 3 as I was in the wrong gear. When it’s this tight, in fact it’s unbelievably tight - a little issue like that is very costly. Normally you can get away with something like this, but we were just on the wrong end of it today".
Team Principal Guenther Steiner analyzes a bittersweet Friday for Haas. Despite Hulkenberg’s excellent performance, Steiner laments a possible impeding by Verstappen on Magnussen, which might have prevented him from completing a clean lap that could have put him in Q2:
"Let’s start with the good news, Nico made it into Q3 and ended up P8, which is a good result for us to be in the top 10 again. Obviously, Kevin’s lap didn’t go so well on his second run. His first run was very good on his first set of tires and he had a solid time and had no risk at all. On the second run on the first lap, after Turn 1 he found Verstappen parked on the outside and obviously lost some time and concentration and he couldn’t better his second fast lap, and that was it for him. One is good and one is not so good. It’s a busy day tomorrow with Sprint qualifying and the Sprint so we’ll just try to get them into the top 10 again".
Pierre Gasly is seeking a clean race after two unfortunate weekends. The work starts from Friday here in Austria, as the Frenchman is determined to have a prolific qualifying session that puts him in a good position for the race. Gasly claims P9 at the end of Q3 and experiences a bit of relief. The Alpine driver is aware of the potential of his car and is confident that he can perform well in Spielberg, especially thanks to a variable weather that could open many scenarios for the sprint race:
"It was a tricky session for everyone with all the track limits incidents, so it was all about pushing everything to the maximum, trying to extract as much lap time as possible but also staying within the limits, especially at the final two corners. I targeted having a trouble-free session, especially after the last two races, so I'm pleased that was the case today. We definitely have a car capable of being in the top ten and there's another good opportunity tomorrow in the Sprint. It might rain and I'm confident we can score points from the two remaining days in Austria".
As aware of track limits as his teammate and the rest of the field, Esteban Ocon has not been able to avoid numerous infringements that cost him the access to Q3. The last corner is fatal for the Frenchman, who will have to start Sunday’s race from P12, from which the aim is obviously scoring points:
"It's not been an easy day for us as we didn't reach Q3, which is the minimum aim for each Qualifying session. We were in the top ten in Q2, but our lap was deleted for track limits, which we saw many times this afternoon up and down the grid. The margins are very small here, and we really have to push the limits especially at the final two corners as that's where time is to gain. It is disappointing, but I am confident we can recover some places in Sunday's race from twelfth on the grid. We will review today but now our focus turns to the Sprint Day tomorrow with another Qualifying session before the Sprint Race. There is an opportunity to score points tomorrow and that is our target".
Like his drivers, Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer is sure the team has the potential to reach the top ten with both cars, even though Ocon has complicated reaching this goal after being knocked out in Q2:
"It's always a little disappointing not to have both cars in Q3 in Qualifying but today was largely defined by extremely fine margins for all teams and drivers. Esteban was very close to being in Q3 but for his lap being deleted for track limits; something we saw for most drivers today. As a team, we certainly had the speed to have both cars inside the top ten, so that must be the target for tomorrow where we have the Sprint Shootout to define the grid for the afternoon's Sprint Race. Pierre did a good job today to get into Q3. It was important for his side of the garage to have a smooth afternoon without any issues or incidents, especially after what happened in Spain and Canada, and he's put himself in a decent position on the grid for Sunday's race. There is a long way to go this weekend, where will continue to give maximum effort, and I'm confident scoring strong points with both cars across these next two days is achievable".
Alex Albon rounds up the top 10 of the Austrian qualifying. The Thai driver is on a very consistent streak, extracting what he can from his car. This time, luck has been on his side by providing him access to Q3 thanks to various track limits infringements and consequent lap deletions. However, Albon does not hide a bit of preoccupation ahead of Sunday, as a lack of pace compared to the cars around him could result in a difficult race:
"I'm feeling comfortable about the result we delivered today in Qualifying, as despite the track limits, we would've finished P10 regardless. We got through to Q3 because of a few other drivers suffering from track limits, so P10 was definitely the best we could do. The upgrades are working but I think we had a bit more raw pace in Canada than we do here. We have some quick cars in front and behind us on Sunday, so let's see how we go".
Despite a disappointing P18, according to Logan Sargeant his qualifying session deserves more recognition as he has found more pace compared to free practice. Knowing that there is room for improvement, the American admits he has taken a conservative approach in the last sector to avoid track limits infringements:
"I've got mixed feelings after that session. I'm genuinely pretty happy with my lap. I was missing a bit this morning in Free Practice and knew I had a good bit to find but I felt like it was coming. I found most of it through Sectors 1 and 2. I struggled a little bit to judge the last two corners with track limits. Obviously not wanting to lose my lap, I maybe left a little bit too much on the table. Tomorrow is another good day to keep learning. It looks wet so some more time in those conditions would be good for me and a nice change. The grid is brutally close, and I just need to be that bit better".
Head of Vehicle Performance Dave Robson provides positive feedback for his team’s performance in qualifying:
"Qualifying at the Red Bull Ring is always tricky due to the track being short and fast and the drivers pushing the track limits very hard. We weren't perfect but when it counted, we did a good job, kept the laps clean, and got a decent grid position as a result. Logan was unfortunate that he couldn't quite find the time he needed to escape a very tight Q1 session. His improvement over FP1 was extremely good and it would've been good for him to have another couple of goes in Q2. Alex was very good today, kept it clean when he needed to and then pushed things to the limit in Q3 when he had little to lose. It's a shame he got his final laptime deleted, but it was only good enough for P10 today anyway. Nonetheless, he has put himself into a good position for the Grand Prix on Sunday. The midfield is incredibly tight with multiple drivers capable of setting the same laptime. We will repeat the qualifying again tomorrow, albeit in a slightly different format. Like the other teams, we will be looking to see how we can do things better despite the cars being in Parc Ferme. Additionally, the weather may play a part tomorrow, which might be the opportunity we need to have a good result in a Saturday Sprint".
Valtteri Bottas aims at the points for Sunday’s race, after a not-so-satisfying qualifying that sees him finish P14. The Finn, who spun in Q1, was hoping for a better result that unfortunately did not come:
"Of course, we were targeting something more than Q2, but on the positive, we have seen how margins are very small once again. Overall, it’s been a relatively normal qualifying session, although I spun at the start of Q1: I got too close to a Red Bull who didn’t see me, and I lost the back end. It wasn’t ideal, but I thankfully managed to get back underway with the session. We are still lacking a bit of performance on the single lap, and this is what we’ll be putting our focus on overnight. Tomorrow is a new day, and Sunday as well: there are still lots of opportunities for us to improve. Our target, as always, is to get into the points, and that’s what we’ll be working towards".
Bottas’ feelings are shared by his teammate Zhou Guanyu. The Chinese drivers thinks that his car has the potential to do better than 17th on the grid, and he also laments problems with traffic, that has compromised his last attempt in Q1 by forcing him to slow down and putting the tyres off temperature:
"I feel like where we are today doesn’t really reflect our performances: I reckon we had the pace for more. Towards the end of Q1, I found myself at the back of the pack and stood still for over 10 seconds, losing a lot in sector one due to the tyres not being warm enough. I still managed to slightly recover in sector three, but that didn’t end up making enough of a difference. Nevertheless, I feel like the potential was definitely there today, so I cannot say I am completely satisfied with this session. Now, our focus will be on tomorrow, especially on the Shootout: hopefully, we’ll be in the fight for some points. As for the the car, we have been able to find a reasonably decent balance, it overall felt okay. I still think we have the potential to be moving forward tomorrow, and on Sunday as well: I am confident we have a chance to climb up the field, and get into the points".
Team Representative Alessandro Alunni Bravi thinks the team has to improve their qualifying trend, but there is also the potential to improve the starting positions:
"I think we extracted the maximum we could get from our package today, even though I reckon Zhou had the potential to get into Q2 as well - unfortunately, traffic didn’t help him. Today, we once again got confirmation that we need to work to further improve our qualifying pace, as well as getting the most out of soft tyres; our places on Sunday’s starting grid are not ideal, but we have shown in previous races how we are able to recover positions throughout the race thanks to our long run pace, the work done on the pitwall, and the effort put in by our drivers. Our work will go on analysing this session, as there is always something to be learned. Tomorrow is a new day, and it will be somewhat of a standalone day: still, we’ll need to execute a perfect Saturday, and place ourselves in the hunt for points".
Yuki Tsunoda is the first driver to be knocked out of Q2. The Japanese shows disappointment after wasting the chance to improve from 16th position, especially with the potential to do so. According to Tsunoda, traffic was the main obstacle. He hopes for a better result on Saturday:
"I’m very frustrated because I couldn't maximise our performance today due to traffic. The second push was really good, Q2 was possible today, and obviously, the pack is still tight, so it's a shame, but it is what it is. Tomorrow seems different compared to today, with potential rain forecasted, so we have to be prepared, and I will put my full effort into Sprint qualifying".
Nyck de Vries is 20th and finds in sheer lack of pace the reason of such a poor result. Like his teammate, the Dutchman will try to improve on Saturday, hopefully exploiting the weather:
"I think we weren't quite strong enough today. Especially as the session evolved, I felt as if we were losing performance. In my last run, I made a mistake in Turn 1 and lost two tenths, which would’ve put us slightly more in the mix. Nevertheless, I don’t think we were strong enough to proceed to Q2. Tomorrow is another day with new opportunities and different weather conditions, so we’ll get another shot at maximising our performance".
Chief Race Engineer Jonathan Eddolls guides us through AlphaTauri’s Friday:
"As is typical with this year's Sprint format, it's been a busy day on track and made to feel more intense with the short lap here. Both drivers ran a Medium and a Soft compound tyre in FP1, completing many laps with little breathing space between each, with the focus on quali preparation over short runs, followed by some sustainable running in preparation for the race. The hot track in FP1 gave the tyres a hard time so we were suffering from general overheating, which affected the balance".
"Apart from that, there were no massive limitations to work on. With the short lap, the gaps between drivers are typically small, so we thought we would have a fighting chance to make it into Q2 by running three tyre sets in Q1. We ran the three new soft tyres with both drivers in Q1 and made progress on each, but we didn't have quite enough pace to make it through to Q2. This wasn't helped by the usual challenge of traffic at the end of the out lap, so the tyres were not ideal to start the flying lap. Yuki missed out on a spot in Q2 by two thousandths of a second, so it was super close. Clearly, the starting positions will make Sunday more of a challenge, but it's a long race here. It's hard on the car, so we will do all we can with strategy to progress further up the grid. The focus and preparations now turn to tomorrow’s Sprint Shootout and Race, particularly because of any impact the weather might have, due to the high chance of rain".
Eddolls points out how close is the field on such a short racetrack like the Red Bull Ring. Pirelli Motorsport Director Mario Isola agrees with this statement, especially observing the final classification after Q1. Pirelli finds confirmation of the simulated tyre performance in the data gathered on Friday, with almost perfect conditions during free practice and a significantly cooler track during qualifying:
"The second Sprint Race weekend of the season got underway with a very busy day and all the drivers very evenly matched, if you consider that in Q1, the times of all 20 drivers were covered by less than nine tenths of a second. As far as the behaviour of the tyres is concerned, there were no particular surprises, with the pole time pretty close to what was predicted, while the gaps between the compounds matched our simulations: half a second between Hard and Medium, four tenths between Medium and Soft. The track turned out to be pretty well rubbered-in already thanks to the F2 and F3 series running on track prior to the only F1 free practice session, run in quite high temperatures. The sixty minutes saw a lot of action on track, with several interesting long runs on the Hard, a compound that performed well. Temperatures were very different in qualifying, significantly cooler, with the track going from 52 °C to 38 °C, so that track evolution was not linear. As for the weather, we have to take into consideration that there's a good chance of rain, especially during the Sprint Shootout, although maybe not as significantly as had been previously expected".
Saturday the 1st of July the teams are ready for the second Sprint shootout and race of this 2023 season. Compared to the Azerbaijan’ Sprint race, this time there are very particular conditions on track because the circuit is wet but there is a visible dry line in the straight. It is time for Q1 and the drivers have 12 minutes to make it through Q2. Evreryone is warming out his tyres on track. Teams make mixed choices for tyres also because the track is declared wet, so they are not obliged to use new medium tyres for Q1. 10 minutes to go and Ocon opens the dances. He scores 17.986s in the first sector, 49.980s in the second, and completes his first best in 1'12"208. Russel on soft tyres gets a purple in first sector (48.537s) and scores 1'10"819. A yellow flag waves on the first sector but it lasts a few as the track is clear. Hamilton on soft climbs to P1 (1'10"424) but Alonso, on softs, manages to complete his lap in 1'10"333. Leclerc on softs scores 1'12"854 and goes fourth fastest. His teammate Sainz flags some issue related to the brake so goes back to the box. It’s the turn of Max Verstappen. The Dutch on medium tyres scores a purple in the 2nd sector and goes first in 1'10"201, followed by Tsunoda on softs (+0.063), Alonso on softs (+0.132), Hamilton on softs (+0.223), Magnussen on mediums (+0.286), Russell on softs (+0.618), De Vries on softs (0.771), Hulkenberg on softs (+0.869), and Ocon on softs (+1.096). Perez, also on softs, goes 10th in 1'11"499, followed by Norris (+2.386), Stroll (+2.589), Leclerc on softs (+2.653), who has slipped down to P13 in the meantime, Bottas on mediums (1'13"504), and Gasly on softs (+11.688). Sainz, Zhou, Albon, Piastri, and Sergeant have not scored a best yet. Hamilton on softs scores a purple in the second sector and goes first in 1'08"960. His ex-McLaren teammate Alonso on softs scores +1.682 in the second sector and raises his foot to try again a new best. In the meantime, the FIA stewards announce that Verstappen’s time - 1'10"201 - is deleted due to track limits at Turn 9. Tsunoda on softs goes first in 1'08"451, but it lasts a few as Piastri on softs goes first in 1'08"303, followed by Russell at +0.089.
Gasly on softs goes 14th (+1.605). New announcement from the FIA Stewards: Zhou’s time is deleted due to track limits at Turn 9 lap. Norris on softs takes the lead with 1'07"755, while Alonso goes second (+0.177) scoring a purple in the last sector. New announcement from the FIA Stewards: Perez’ time is deleted 1'11"499 to track limits lap 3. Leclerc scores +0.507 in the second sector and goes 7th (+0.803). Sergeant’s time (1'08"609) is deleted as well as he went off the track and continued at Turn 9, lap 5. Five minutes to the end of Q1. Sainz has not scored a best yet and the five drivers at risk are Gasly (+2.153), Bottas, who is now out on mediums, Zhou (+2.380), Sergeant (+2.789), and Sainz no time. Albon scores a fastest second sector (28.762) and goes first in 1.07.506 putting Magnussen at risk. Perez gets a purple in the second sector (29.548) and from P10 goes first in 1'07"214. His teammate Verstappen on mediums from P9 goes second in +0.129, scoring the fastest last sector (20.673). Piastri from P5 goes P7 (+0.974). He says to his team:
"Got massively impeded by the Ferrari".
Meanwhile Leclerc is back to the box for a quick tyres change. Norris gets a purple in the second sector (29.485s) and goes fifth fastest (+0.670). Hamilton scores +0.268 and goes third (+0.197). 3 minutes to the end of Q1. Ferrari’s mechanics are still working on Sainz’ car. Hulkenberg goes impressively second at +0.103. Hamilton goes first in 1'06"624. The FIA Stewards announce that an impeding between Piastri and Leclerc has been noted. Stroll goes seventh +0.606, while Tsunoda improves again and goes third (1'06"896). Piastri goes from P15 to P5 (+0.482). Leclerc from P18 scores +0.109 in the second and goes to P16 (+1.106), remaining in the drop zone temporarily but he still has time to try again. Norris scores his best at 1'06"723 at 55 seconds to the end but it lasts a few as Verstappen this time on soft tyres, scores a purple first sector and goes first in 1'06"236. Sainz goes out in a rush to try to shoot his time at 2 minutes to the end of Q1 to save himself from the elimination.
"No warm up no warm up".
Says his team.
"One time lap. One time lap".
Albon scores -0.033 in the second sector, and goes from P15 to P3 (+0.169). Leclerc from P16 goes P8 in 1'07"061 and manages to save himself from the elimination zone. Bottas goes from P18 to P15. It’ Sainz’s turn. He scores purple in the first sector (16.549s), +0.084 in the second and goes from P20 to the lead in 1'06"187, making a Herculean task. Zhou improves and takes P14 (+0.875) while Magnussen goes fifth in 1'06"629. Stroll goes fourth (+0.424). The countdown stops and Q1 ends. Sainz is in P1 1'06"187, followed by Verstappen +0.049, Hulkenber +0.361, Strolll +0.382, Alonso +0.424, Magnussen +0.442, Russell +0.466, De Vries +0.517, Norris +0.536, and Ocon +0.653. Gasly is in P11 +0.686, followed by Albon +0.705, Tsunoda +0.709, Perez +0.737, and Leclerc saved himself from elimination for a thousand (+0.001). The drivers eliminated are Zhou, Piastri (+0.045), Hamilton (+0.221), Bottas (+0.230), and Sergeant (+0.365). Asks Lewis to his team:
"This timing is really really bad. Am I out?"
Q2 is about to start and the drivers are waiting on the pitlane. 10 minutes to make through Q3. Max on used soft tyres and scores 16.445s in the first sector, 45.602s in the second, and goes first in 1'05"624. Norris is straight behind him at +0.385, followed by Ocon (+0.520), Magnussen (+0.530), Perez (+0.545), and Devries (+0.969).
Albon goes eight (+0.806), followed by Hulkenberg, Tsunoda (+0.854), and Gasly (+0.884). De Vries slips down to P12 (+0.969), followed by Leclerc (+0.995), Sainz (+0.239), and Russell with no time; the Briton has flagged some issues on his car and the Mercedes’ mechanics are trying to get it ready before the countdown will eliminate him. Sainz and Leclerc try again. Sainz goes second fastest to Verstappen’s time, while Leclerc goes P9 (+0.713). Hulkenberg tries again and improves in first and second sectors and from P11 climbs to P7 (+0.538). Alonso improves his first sector, and scores a purple in the last sector, taking P4 (+0.298). De Vries goes eleventh (+0.086), but his teammate manages to take his P11 spot (+0.031). Albon on soft tyres goes ninth (+0.528) at 4 minutes to the end of Q2. Drivers at risks are Tsunoda, Leclerc (+0.183), De Vries (+0.269), Gasly (+0.354) and Russell (no time). The English driver will not try any best because his car has an hydraulic issue and is impossible to fix it before the end of Q2. In the meantime, Max goes first in 1'05"624. Magnussen on new softs goes on from 10 to P2 (+0.136). Ocon on new softs scores purple in the third sector (19.829s) and goes first 1'05"604. De Vries’ time is deleted due to track limits. Sainz goes first in 1'05"434, while Leclerc on soft scores +0.110 compared to Albon’s 1'16"525, the last driver to qualify for Q3, (+0.957) in twelfth position. Verstappen’s time of 1'06"793 is deleted due to track limits and Hulkenberg is investigated for an unsafe release, as he has hit a tyre after the pit stop when he was leaving the pitlane. 40 second to the end and Leclerc tries again. Compared to Albon’s time, he scores +0.033 in the first sector, -0.287 in the second, and goes 4th fastest (+0.302). Norris from P7 goes to P5 (+0.328). Verstappen tries again, scores fastest third sector (19.770), and improves his time in 1.05.371. Gasly improves his time but not the position and is excluded from Q3. Q2 ends. Verstappen is in P1 1'05"371, followed by Sainz (+0.063), Ocon (+0.233), Leclerc (+0.302), Norris (+0.328), Magnussen (+0.359), Alonso (+0.388), Perez (+0.465), Stroll (+0.543), Hulkenberg (+0.720). Albon (+0.061), Gasly (+0.269), Tsunoda (+0.278), De Vries (+0.502), and Russell (no time) are excluded. It’s time for the last chapter of this qualifying shootout.
"Few spots on turn 1".
Says the Red Bull team to Checo Perez. Verstappen is the first to try his best. On softs, he scores 16.342s in the first sector, 45.129s in the second, and goes first in 1'04"613. Perez on soft scores 16.431s, 45.257s, and 1'05"080. Sainz tries on new medium tyres, as he has not new red tyres left, while Leclerc opts for a one shot with new soft tyres. Ocon takes P3 on soft +1.392. Alonso soft goes fifth +1.023 while his teammate is straight behind him at +1.807. Hulkenberg on new medium tyres takes P5 from Alonso (+0.857) and Magnussen is in P8 (+1.704). Leclerc goes on track at 4 minutes to the end, opens his rear wing and scores +0.190 compared to Verstappen 16.342s, as he makes a mistake in Turn 4 and loses his car’s rear; goes 5fifth (+0.667). Norris on softs keeps P2 (+0.397). Verstappen tries again and scores a purple in the second sector, and completes his lap in 1'04"440. Sainz on used soft tyres at 1.20 minutes to the end tries again. He does not improve his position but a bit his time and keeps P5 (+0.696). Alonso on softs scores +0.279, +0.484, and goes fifth (+0.645). Ocon is in P8 (+0.753). Stroll on mediums gets P7 (+0.734) and Leclerc improves in P6 (+0.805). Q3 Shootout ends. Verstappen is in pole position for the sprint race (1'04"440), followed by his teammate Perez (+0.493), Norris (+0.570), Hulkenberg (+0.664), Sainz (+0.696), Leclerc (+0.805), Alonso (+0.818), Stroll (+0.907), Ocon (+0.926), and Magnussen (+1.472). After the qualifying session, the FIA Stewards decided to give Leclerc a three-place grid penalty for the Sprint after impeding Piastri in Shootout, so the Monegasque will start this sprint race from P9. In the afternoon, it is time to get serious with the second Sprint race of this season. 24 laps to gain crucial points that will however not change the destiny of this championship. Bottas is the only driver to opt for yellow tyres, while the other teams chose the intermediates as it is raining on track. Formation lap starts and drivers slowly slip on track, lifting the water on it and creating a fog.
"Box box box".
Says the Alfa Romeo team to Bottas, who is driving really slowly as it is impossible to manage the car with yellow tyres in these conditions. As Green flag waves and red lights turn on, the Austrian Sprint race start.
A huge water fog lifts on track and immediately a battle for the first place takes place. Perez tries to attack his teammate Verstappen from the inside of the track and almost pushes Max outside before Turn 1.
"He pushed me outside man, wtf".
"What’s wrong wit Max?"
Asks Perez. This happened as Max before entering Turn 1 lost a bit the rear of his car and changed his trajectory while steering. Verstappen resists and is wheel-to-wheel with his teammate, followed by Norris who finds a way to get closer to the two Red Bull cars. Max goes temporarily in P2 but he has no intention to give up. At Turn 1, the two teammates risk almost to crash but the incident is avoided and Verstappen manages to take P1. Perez fights strongly and goes again wheel-to-wheel with his teammate. Meanwhile, Hulkenberg manages to slip to the top of the race and join the battle for the first place, even overtaking Perez and taking P2. On lap 2, Verstappen is leader of the race. Good start for Perez but he lost the battle with Max and Hulkenberg, who overtook him (+1.204). Perez lost a place (+2.065). Sainz is in P4 at +2.807, followed by the two Aston Martin cars. Albon is in P7, followed by Ocon, Leclerc and Norris. Magnussen is in P11, followed by the two Mercedes, Tsunoda, Gasly , Devries, Piastri, Zhou, Sargeant, and Bottas. Rain increases and the last sector of the track is especially concerned. Russell overtakes Magnussen and Hamilton is getting closer, after having gained 5 places overall. Verstappen scores the fastest lap in 1'18"498. Leclerc’s Ferrari seems to struggle a bit due to the low downforce.
"Is the rain coming?"
Asks Russell but his team reassure him that it will be like now all over the race. Leclerc and Ocon start a battle for P8. Before Turn 7, they are wheel-to-wheel but Ocon strenuously defends his place and keeps P7. Leclerc is unwilling to give up but he has to raise his foot to not crash with Ocon, while Norris is ready to engage both to take P7. Norris is at +0.350 to Leclerc but DRS is not enabled yet. On lap 7, Max, who has created a huge gap with all over drivers by gaining a half a second per lap and is far enough not to be bothered by Hulkenberg, scores fastest lap 1'16"467. At lap 8, Hulkenberg makes a mistake and loses a second but luckily Perez is still far from him at +5.5.799. Hamilton Russell, and Magnussen are engaged in a battle for P11, which Magnussen previously gained at Russell’s expenses. Russell and Magnussen are wheel-to-wheel in the downhill before Turn 4 but George overtakes him and tries to run away from Kevin. Magnussen does not give up and stays closer to Russell to avoid a double attack from Hamilton. 15 laps to go. Max is racing against himself as Hulkenberg is at +6.583.
"Do you think the track will dry?"
Asks the Aston Martin’s team.
Replies Alonso. Hamilton waits for the best time to engage Magnussen and tries to overtake him at lap 10 before Turn 4, as his teammate did 2 laps earlier. Lewis manages to find a way through but Magnussen keeps resisting as much as he can.
Hamilton moves from the outside and conquers P10. At lap 11, Max renews the fastest lap record 1'15"774, not aware of the battles that are happening behind him. Leclerc and Norris are again engaged in a battle for P9 as Norris is just at less than 0.800 to Charles. Perez gets closer to Hulkenberg enough to make the Haas driver in danger while Sainz observes carefully the battle, ready to exploit any window of opportunity to overtake both.
"Max thoughts on conditions?"
Asks the Red Bull team:
Replies Max who scores in the meantime a new fastest lap 1'15"718. On lap 13, Perez attack Hulkenberg, taking P2. Behind, Norris tries to overtake Leclerc at Turn 9. They are wheel-to-wheel but the Ferrari driver manages to keep P9. Sainz finds a way to overtake Hulkenberg and is temporarily in P3. Verstappen scores a new fastest lap 1'15"365 on lap 14.
"Tell Fernando let’s not lose too much time fighting".
Says Stroll to his team. Ten laps to the end and a new battle for P8 is taking place involving Ocon, Leclerc, Norris, and Russell. Leclerc is close to Ocon at Turn 3 but the Freanchman has no intention to leave this without fighting. Leclerc tries to use all his strenght and overtakes Ocon’s car in Turn 4 but the latter does not give up. Norris takes advantage of this battle and gets closer to Leclerc at +0.424. The FIA Stewards announce that Hamilton’s time is cancelled for track limits. On lap 16, Leclerc makes a small mistake and goes out before the finish lane. Norris takes advantage and overtakes him easily, going 9th fastest. Russell goes to the box and decides to get red soft tyres, exiting the pit lane in P20. On lap 17, DRS is finally enabled. Indeed, the track is getting drier, so the teams decide to experiment with tyres choices. Ocon, Leclerc, and Norris are sticked one to another but Ocon does not give up and defends his P8. Verstappen again scores fastest lap 1'14"506 but Russell scores a purple in the first sector 18.332s. On lap 18, Hamilton and Hulkenberg go to the box and choose the intermediates. On lap 19, Leclerc goes to box and changes his tyres with new intermediates. He ends behind Albon’s William in P13. Hamilton is right behind them with soft warmed tyres at +0.446. Russell steals the fastest lap from Max at 5 laps to go.
The first 8 drivers have not made any pit stop and are on intermediates. Leclerc and Hamilton try to overtake Albon; both are wheel to wheel behind Albon but Hamilton manages to overtake him and takes P13. On lap 21, Russell scores again the fastest lap 1'12"020. Meanwhile, Albon and Hamilton engage in a battle for P11. Bottas seems willing to join them but Leclerc manages to keep P13, while Hamilton sneaks away and gets close to Albon. On lap 22, Russell scores again the fastest lap 1'11"620 and Hamilton finally overtakes Albon. The FIA stewards announce that the incident involving Leclerc and Hamilton will not be reviewed. On lap 23, Russell scores the fastest lap and improves again in his previous time in 1'10"902. Norris finds a way to overtake both Albon and Leclerc, the latter had a tyre blockage, and goes in P7. On lap 24, Piastri gets the fastest lap in 1'10"856 but it lasts a few as again Russell improves his time in 1'10"285 and manages to take P6. Leclerc finally overtakes Albon. Verstappen crosses the finish line and wins the Austrian Sprint Race. Alonso tries to shoot his shots and overtake Stroll before the last turn but Lance defends his P4. Ocon is under the attack of Russell for P7 but manages to keep the English driver behind. Verstappen is in P1 1'16"025, followed by Perez, Sainz, Stroll, Alonso, Hulkenberg, Ocon, Russell, Norris, Hamilton, Piastri, Leclerc, Albon, Magnussen, Gasly, Tsunoda, De Vries, Sargeant, Zhou, and Bottas.
"Ok well done, Max".
And Max Verstappen replies:
"That was very executed man. Well done".
Max is happy but he keeps complaining about Perez’ attempt of pushing him out the exit of Turn 1. Indeed, as soon as Max and Checo get off of their cars, they greet each other and start to talk about what happened at the exit of Turn 1. Max Verstappen says that he and Checo clarified what happened today:
"I had a bit of a slow start today, it could have been spicy between Checo and I but he said that he couldn’t see me, and I trust his word. We’re all good, we had a chat after the race and all is cleared up, there’s no need to make a big deal about it".
He said that today was more about tyre management and drive fast.
"After we settled into the race, we knew that 24 laps on the intermediate tyres would be quite long, so it was all about managing the tyres whilst trying to drive fast, which is not always easy. I was able to extend the gap and then towards the end of the race I had a few cars around me on slicks. Of course, we had to stay alert, but I think the race went pretty well today. It’s of course incredibly sad about what happened to Dilano today, he had the same dreams that we had when we were at that age. It’s sad for everyone, his family, the Team and the world of motorsport. There’s a lot more that can be done to protect drivers".
Sergio Perez is satisfied with today’s result:
"It was a great Team result for all of us. At the beginning, Max and I got a bit closer than we should have, there was a bit of misjudgement from both sides, but we have spoken about it and it is all good. Later in the race, after passing Nico in the Haas, it was all about making sure that we made it until the end as the tyres were getting too hot as the circuit dried, but we got the result we wanted. Tomorrow, starting from P15, although overtaking will be difficult, we will give it a go and see what we are able to do and try our best to recover as many positions as possible. I think yesterday we showed very good pace and we are comfortable with the car. I am still feeling unwell and unfortunately far from one hundred percent but I am looking forward to tomorrow to see what we can do. I also want to take a moment to remember Bob Fernley, who was a massive person in my life - a guy that I shared so many years and so many good moments with. I want to wish Audrey and his family the very best. It is really sad and we had a lot of happy memories".
Says Christian Horner, Red Bull’s CEO and Team Principal:
"This is a fantastic result for us, a one-two finish at our home in Austria, with both drivers having a strong race. The golden rule we have as a team is race hard and give each other space and there was without doubt some good, hard racing on the first few corners, it was tight but fair, and both drivers settled into the race and had very good pace. It’s a solid 15 points for the team and hopefully we can carry the momentum into tomorrow’s race. It’s been very sad today to hear of the losses of two members of our motorsports community, Bob Fernley and young Dilano van ’t Hoff, our thoughts are with their families and loved ones".
Carlos Sainz is overall satisfied with his results:
"It wasn’t an easy Saturday but I’m happy to be P3 today after how hectic the start of the day had been, with a brake issue in SQ1 and having only one lap to progress to SQ2! I would have loved to have that set of new Softs in SQ3 but, considering everything, qualifying P5 wasn’t too bad. Then the wet Sprint race was also very challenging. The car was tricky in the high speed sections, but we managed to bring home this third place, which I think was the maximum today. Now all our focus is on tomorrow, where I hope we can confirm the good step forward we have made as a team and bring home a good result".
Charles Leclerc recognises that his side of the garage needs to work more:
"There is a lot of work I need to do to be better in these conditions. At least, that is the case on my side of the garage, as Carlos did well. We were on slicks but the track was only partly dry and I couldn’t get a feel for it, I can’t get the car in the right window and I am so far off the pace. I really struggle to drive the car and don’t feel confident with it and that is reflected in my performance. We need to focus on this from my side, for me to understand why it’s not working in these conditions. It’s not a question of strategy, it’s just down to my pace. It might have seemed like a good fight with Ocon, but honestly, fighting down there is not what interests me. I need to make a step forward in these conditions. For tomorrow, I believe we can be strong if it’s dry, maybe not as strong as Red Bull, but we can still do something good".
Frédéric Vasseur, Ferrari’s Team Principal, explains:
"Carlos drove a perfect race, especially as this morning he had been a bit on the back foot after a brake issue in SQ1. In these conditions, Charles struggled, it was more complicated for him as he was starting from further back, he was in traffic but I’m not concerned, as we should have a dry race tomorrow, starting from the first and second row. We need to be able to repeat the pace we showed on Friday and aim for a good result. It will be challenging as this weekend format and the changing weather means we have not been able to get a clear idea of our pace and have hardly been able to do two laps in the same conditions, or on the same tyres. It’s particularly difficult on this track, where we saw that all the drivers were very close on this short lap. But that is the same for all the teams. Tomorrow, from the starting positions we have, there’s a great opportunity to bring home a lot of points".
Lance Stroll first focuses on what happened to Dilano Van ‘t Hoff:
"Today is about Dilano van 't Hoff, the young Dutch driver who we lost in an accident at Spa this morning. Dilano was a member of the motorsport family, and my thoughts are very much with him, his loved ones, and the MP Motorsport team. I feel very strongly that change needs to be made to make Eau Rouge safer; we've lost two young talents in junior motorsport over the last few years and that needs to be spoken about. We had a strong race today in Austria and I was pleased with my opening lap. The focus was on managing our tyres through the drying track conditions; the team made a good call with the strategy and judged that well. Fourth and fifth is a strong result and we'll race hard again tomorrow".
Fernando Alonso hopes to score more on Sunday:
"I am happy with the overall points from today for Aston Martin. In the end we scored three more than Ferrari and eight over Mercedes so it's a good Saturday Sprint for the team. It was a fun but fair fight with Lance, and it was only the last lap where we were very close into Turn Eight. We considered going onto the slicks, but we had seven laps to the end, and we felt like we had enough margin to those behind. The fact that Nico [Hulkenberg] stopped one second in front of me and finished one second behind showed it was very close, but it was the correct decision. Hopefully we can score more tomorrow. The weather should be better, but we start seventh so we'll see what we can manage and aim for a top-five finish. It was very sad to hear the news from Spa and my thoughts are with Dilano's loved ones. The visibility is very poor in certain circuits at high-speed in wet conditions and we can't afford for something like this to happen again".
Tom McCullough, Aston Martin’s Performance Director, recognises that the drivers drove faultlessly in these tricky weather conditions:
"We had pretty challenging weather for the Sprint events today, but both Lance and Fernando drove faultlessly, and the team managed the conditions well to score nine important points - gaining eight on Mercedes and three on Ferrari. The rain showers made for a dramatic racing, especially when the track started to dry out, and we had to weigh up the tricky decision of whether to switch to slick tyres. We held our nerve and judged that we could see out the race on Intermediates. It was a decision we got just right as Nico was catching us on dry tyres on the final lap. It was a Sprint race full of drama, plenty of overtakes, and fair racing - a real treat for the fans".
Nico Hulkenberg analyzes his race:
"I’m happy first and foremost now. Three points on the board in the Sprint wasn’t really expected for us, so that’s pretty positive. My inters were going away from me, I was going backwards more than others and the track was kind of ready for slicks, so we opted for that decision, and it was the right call for us".
In contrast, Kevin Magnussen feels very disappointed:
"It was a disappointing Sprint race for me. There were tricky conditions out there, especially going onto dry tires in damp conditions - the pace wasn’t there. Those are usually conditions that I like, but I didn’t really get anything out of it today. I just didn’t really have great pace on either the intermediates or the dry tires. It’s disappointing. I need to see how we can understand it and of course, I’ll look at my teammate and see where he was, he was faster than me, so I need to see how I can improve".
Guenther Steiner, Haas’ Team Principal, explains why the team is making a good job:
"It’s been a good day for us today. Firstly, in Sprint qualifying, having two cars in SQ3 was fantastic, and then in the race with Nico getting some points was very important, and very good for the team. Under these difficult conditions we’re normally doing a very good job. We’ve got some work to do on the car but we’ll get there as well. Bagging three points in a Sprint is good for us. Tomorrow, we start with one car in the top 10, and hopefully we’ll get some more".
Says Esteban Ocon:
"Today we raced with Dilano in our thoughts. It's a real tragedy what happened in Spa-Francorchamps this morning and our heartfelt condolences are with his loved ones and all those who knew him. On my side, in today's race, it was good to have some battles with Charles [Leclerc], Lando [Norris], and George [Russel] right until the end. The team managed the conditions well and we are pleased to bag a couple of points on a Saturday. Our focus now shifts to tomorrow's Grand Prix when we have some ground to make up but I'm sure we can have a good race".
And Pierre Gasly adds:
"Firstly, my thoughts are with the family and friends of Dilano van 't Hoff following the tragic incident at Spa Francorchamps earlier today. The news is desperately sad, difficult for everyone involved in the motorsport community to take, and we will race with Dilano firmly in our minds. In terms of today's Sprint, it was a challenging one for me especially after some wheel spin off the line, which put us back a couple of positions. I'm staying focused for tomorrow's race where we begin in ninth place and have a much better opportunity to score points".
Comments Otmar Szafnauer, Alpine’s Team Principal:
"Today we raced with Dilano van 't Hoff firmly in our thoughts after the devastating incident in the Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine in Spa-Francorchamps. Our thoughts are with his family, loved ones and friends, as well as the entire MP Motorsport team during this extremely difficult time. For us today in Spielberg, it was not a straightforward Sprint Race with Esteban scoring two points in seventh place. He did a magnificent job, racing firmly and defending smartly throughout. Pierre endured some wheel spin off the line, which put him back in the midfield and out of contention to reach the top eight. Tomorrow's Grand Prix is when bigger points are on offer and I'm confident we can come away with both our cars inside the top ten to ensure we come away from Austria with good points".
George Russell is satisfied with the team’s results taking into consideration the track conditions:
"Conditions today were tricky, so I'm glad we made it from P15 to P8, almost P7. I feel confident driving in these conditions, so all things considered a solid result for us. We're still far from where we want to be, but I definitely take the positives from today's sprint. The shootout didn't really go our way, we were faced with hydraulics issues, which meant we couldn't run in Q2 and had to start the sprint from the back of the grid. There isn't much to lose in a sprint race but there's obviously a high risk of damaging the car in these wet conditions we've seen today. Tomorrow should be warmer and drier and I'm confident that we'll be able to move forward during the race. We had a good car and good pace today so we'll see what we can achieve on Sunday".
Lewis Hamilton had different expectations on today’s result:
"The car felt relatively quick this morning and I think we could've made it to the Top 5 in the shootout and the sprint with the pace we had today, but it wasn't meant to be. Very difficult conditions out there and I didn't want to gamble so the transition to slicks unfortunately happened one lap too late for me. We tried to just have fun in the race and enjoy ourselves. We lost a few points today so we'll focus on the race tomorrow, where we will be in a much better place to start from. We've also got a lot of learnings today, which we can take into tomorrow".
And Toto Wolff, Team Principal & CEO, adds:
"We had a very unlucky shootout session with Lewis in P18 and George in P15, although both drivers said the car felt better today with the setup changes that happened overnight. The focus for us was then to make up ground during the sprint and the team made a perfect call by putting George on slicks at the right time. We didn't have anything to lose really at this point, so a brilliant choice by the team to change tyres early. George fought his way back to P8 and finished just thousandths behind Ocon, so our gamble paid off. Lewis was struggling a bit more to get the tyres warmed up, pitting one lap later. But again, this could've gone either way. There's lots we learned today and the car pace looked decent, so we're looking forward to the race tomorrow".
Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes’ Trackside Engineering Director, finds today’s qualifying frustrating:
"The qualifying session this morning was frustrating; the car was in a much better place in the cooler conditions and both drivers were able to set good times. Lewis unfortunately got bumped after his time was deleted due to track limits. George made it through to the second session, but we had a hydraulic issue as we came back into the pits. We need to do better than that as we missed an opportunity to have both cars firmly in the top ten. Both drivers did a good job in the sprint race today; the conditions were difficult, we knew that we had to take risks on the cross over to gain positions, but ultimately you can't start a sprint race in 15th and 18th and expect great things. To get into the points with George was a good result, the car seemed to be working well on intermediates and the Soft tyres but tomorrow is likely very different, currently it looks dry and hotter so degradation could be a big factor. We've not had a great weekend so far, but hopefully we can move forward in the race tomorrow and leave here with a decent result".
Lando Norris admits that today was tough:
"It was a tough race. I had an issue in Turn 3 where I went into anti-stall and unfortunately lost seven positions. It was difficult to make it back up from there, but we did a good job from then on out. I was happy with the decision to stay out and the pace seemed good, it's just a shame that the issue in the beginning cost me. We're starting in a good position tomorrow, so we will do what we can then".
Oscar Piastri describes his experience:
"P11 in the Sprint. It was a good call for the slicks, and I had a bit of fun out there, with a fair few overtakes. We were super-strong in the mixed conditions again, which is nice, but it was a tricky one out there. I think we got the strategy right, so well done to everyone. It's a shame to miss out on points but it still felt good".
Andrea Stella, McLaren’s Team Principal, finds that today’s results equates yesterday’s one:
"The Sprint Shootout earlier this afternoon was much the same as yesterday with Oscar being unlucky, while on Lando's side of the garage, we managed to make good progress and start P3. In the Sprint, Oscar was able to fight his way from P17 to P11, thanks to a combination of good strategy, brilliant overtaking and strong pace on the dry tyres. Lando lost a lot of places on the first lap because of the issue we had in Turn 3, when anti-stall was triggered. Later in the race, we decided to stay on intermediate tyres as we thought his overall race time would have been similar, and we just missed out on the final point. We'll have a good look at what happened today, learn what we can, and go again tomorrow when there is a chance to score good points".
Alex Albon is frustrated and will try to refocus on Sunday:
"It's a frustrating way to finish what started as a good sprint race, with a great start. I was comfortable, managing quite a lot with Ocon behind me as he was fighting with Charles, so I had margin to save my tyres with a nice buffer. With tyres left on the inters, whilst obviously not being as quick as the cars behind us, I felt comfortable enough to stay there. I think with the Mercedes' performing well on the slicks, we thought it was the right choice to pit but it didn't work. At the end of the day, Ocon finished P7 so we could've had two P7's in a row and 2 points is a big deal for us but it didn't work, so we'll look ahead to tomorrow and try refocus".
Logan Sargeant learned some things today:
"It was honestly a decent race. The first lap was tricky with the amount of spray from starting at the back but I managed it. I made a few good overtakes and felt comfortable in the wet. I think we boxed a little bit too late for the slick tyre at the end to really make it count. It was good learning and I have reference for next time of when I can switch off that tyre. Nevertheless, a good fight with the AlphaTauri guys towards the end of the race. Starting from P20 was always going to be tough but it was a fun race. I think we have a good race car going into tomorrow, so we'll do our best to make something work with the strategy. I'll also do my best to make some good moves, and hopefully we can get as far forward as possible".
Says Dave Robson, Williams’ Head of Vehicle Performance:
"Despite a reasonably good day, the result in the end was very frustrating. Alex qualified well in the shootout and had an excellent opening lap in the damp conditions. We should've left him out on the inters but we were expecting more degradation than there actually was. We could've got a point or two today, so we need to have a look at what we did. With Russell finishing so close to Ocon, it would've been a very tight finish, but we should've had more confidence in our ability to manage the intermediate tyre. Logan had a frustrating formation lap, stuck behind Bottas who was on the slick tyre, and this prevented him from getting a good sense of the conditions. Nonetheless, he had a good race and showed some strong pace. Crucially, it gave some more valuable experience on running the Pirelli slicks in damp conditions, which build on his experience in Canada, and will serve him well in the future. We now return our attention to the Grand Prix, which looks likely to be held in dry conditions. Alex qualified well on Friday and we now have another chance of a strong result".
Yuki Tsunoda thinks they did not have enough pace. However, he tried to maximise the opportunities he got but lap time was deleted for the second time by millimetres during qualifyfing:
"I don’t know what to say about today’s Shootout, in the end, we just didn’t have enough pace. I tried to maximise our opportunity, but our lap time was deleted for the second time by millimetres, so there was definitely frustration. As for the Sprint Race, we finished only P16. It was tricky out there, and there wasn’t much we could do today. I wasn’t able to maximise my performance and extract the maximum out of our car, as we are especially lacking straight-line speed. The pace on the intermediate tyre was ok, but we are quite slow when it’s between dry and wet conditions. We’ve found similar limitations from other tracks, so we take the knowledge from past experiences, reset ourselves, and shift our focus to tomorrow. The pack is still tight, so you always have to be perfect, and you never know what can happen".
Nyck de Vries finds that SQ1 was good but the end of SQ2 was very unfortunate:
“The beginning of the Sprint Qualifying was good; the car felt better than yesterday, but the end of SQ2 was very unfortunate. There was lots of traffic towards the last turn, which turned out to be slight chaos, so we lost our final attempt at getting through to SQ3. Then, talking about this afternoon’s race, no one had the chance to run the wet compound tyres this weekend, so it was tricky for everyone out there, experiencing new circumstances. I had a poor start, lots of wheelspin and then faced high and early degradation on the intermediate tyre. Given our high degradation we maybe could’ve boxed one lap earlier, but I think we made the right call in the end. I felt my pace was strong but got stuck behind Logan (Sargeant), who had a strong straight-line performance. As a team, we are united and trying to extract the maximum, but this weekend we have been lacking overall performance, and it just doesn’t seem like it’s enough".
Jonathan Eddolls, AlphaTauri’s Chief Race Engineer, explains why today’s conditions made an exciting day for this sprint:
"The weather made for quite an exciting day of Sprint action. Heavy overnight rain continued through the morning but then stopped. The track was wet but quickly drying, so we were able to start the Sprint Shootout on slick tyres. With each of our drivers having two brand new sets of the soft tyre remaining from Friday, we had the free choice, which helped us progress to SQ2. We weren't sure if we would need one or two new sets in SQ1, but with good feedback, it was clear that stopping for a second set was the better option. It left us with no new soft tyres for SQ2, so it was hard to compete with the others. Both drivers pushed to the maximum, but in doing so, exceeded track limits on their fastest laps, which cost Yuki a potential P11. This afternoon, consistent rain just before the laps to the grid for the Sprint meant the intermediate tyre was the correct choice to start the race on. But no DRS in those conditions, meant it was hard to make up positions. The track dried and we were struggling on the intermediate tyres, so we pitted both drivers for the soft tyre. However, we weren't able to gain on those who either did the same or stayed out on intermediate tyres. With points for the top eight only, it was always going to be a challenge to score today. Now our focus moves to tomorrow's race, where dry conditions are expected".
Valtteri Bottas says that they made experiment with tyres but it did not work out well for them:
"We decided to take a gamble with the tyres today; it didn’t work out in the end, but I still think it was worth trying, as we had nothing to lose from where I was starting. Towards the final laps, we opted to stay out as everyone else pitted, in case anything happened. I found myself at the back of a train for a while, and in terms of pace, we have seen it was pretty close. Today has been quite tough, but tomorrow is a new day, and our starting position will be slightly better; we have managed to progress through the grid from there already, and that will be the goal again, hopefully putting up some good battles on track and getting back into the points".
Zhou Guanyu recognises that today was not good:
"Today hasn’t been our day; conditions have been quite tricky in all the sessions, and that didn’t help our cause. I struggled with a lack of grip for the first part of the sprint; it then slightly improved when I changed for the slick tyres, but ultimately didn’t make a major difference as my race was already quite compromised. As a team, we’ll need to regroup and analyse all details to put the focus on handling such weather conditions better. Tomorrow should be slightly drier, and could help us in improving our position at the start. I think the pace we showed today wasn’t our real one, and there’s more to be extracted from our package: we’ll need to execute a good race, in order to maximise every opportunity and hopefully get back into the top ten".
Says Alessandro Alunni Bravi, Alfa Romeo’s Team Representative:
"First of all, our thoughts today go to Dilano van 't Hoff. We want to send our deepest condolences to his family and his friends; motorsport is more than a community, it’s a family, one where we share passion and sacrifices, and when we lose a member of our family, a young driver who still had so much to achieve, we lose a part of ourselves. As per our performance, today was a disappointing one for the team, one that doesn’t reflect where we really stand. We struggled in these weather conditions, and a lack of grip and of tyre temperature didn’t allow us to extract the maximum from our package. We tried everything in today’s sprint to get any possible opportunity that could have arisen, but unfortunately, it didn’t quite work out our way. What is important, now, is to understand what we are missing compared to the other teams and improve ourselves in order to close the gap. We must not lose our focus, as an important race awaits us tomorrow: there are always several opportunities to be taken, and points to be scored. We are determined to change the story of this weekend, and we are ready to give it all, working hard to try and maximise every chance".
Finally, Mario Isola, Pirelli Motorsport Director, finds today was interesting in terms of tyres choices and strategies due to the tricky weather conditions, which allow multiple options to the teams:
"We had already seen this in the Sprint Shootout, but it was even more evident in the Sprint Race, in which so many positions changed in the closing stages. For example, if we look at the two Aston Martins that did all 24 laps on the Intermediates and Hulkenberg, who having started on Intermediates, switched to Mediums for the last seven laps, they finished only a second apart, showing that both choices were valid. To sum up, I think we can say that the Sprint format is really adding even more of a show to Formula 1. From a tyre point of view, today has allowed us to carry out an even deeper analysis into the very important topic of the crossover point from wet weather tyres to dry ones. This afternoon that crossover point was at 112% of the reference time. Eleven drivers went for this strategy, while not all choosing the same compound, with five opting for the Medium and six the Soft. We have acquired a lot of data that will be very useful for us and also for the teams. As predicted, the rain played its part today, but tomorrow is expected to be dry with temperatures considerably higher than today, although not to the level we saw in FP1. With just one free practice session, there is not that much data available with which to produce an extensive analysis of tyre behaviour over a long run, but we think the Soft will not really be used, thus the choice comes down to the Medium and the Hard. On paper, the fastest strategy seems to be a two-stop, starting on the Medium, switching to Hard and then back to Medium. Or for those who have two sets of C3 available, another stint on the hardest tyre. The one-stop (Medium-Hard) could also be competitive, but looking at how last year's race played out, it is a less attractive option than making two pit-stops".
On Sunday, July 2, 2023, everyone is ready for the Austrian Grand Prix: Verstappen will start on pole, ahead of the Ferrari pair Leclerc and Sainz, while Norris and Hamilton are respectively fourth and fifth. Before the start, a minute of silence is held for Dutch racing driver Dilano van ’t Hoff, who on Saturday lost his life in a crash at Spa-Francorchamps. Magnussen and De Vries will start from the pit lane due to component changes under parc ferme conditions. Everyone is on medium tyres, except for Alonso, Bottas and Magnussen, who are on hards. The weather is cloudy when the light go out and Verstappen immediately takes the lead, defending from Leclerc into Turn 1. The Monegasque mantains his second place, his team mate Sainz is third, Hamilton gets the jump on Norris for P4, followed by Alonso, Hulkenberg, Stroll, Gasly and Albon. At the back, Tsunoda tags Ocon at Turn 1 and loses part of his front wing; Bottas is also involved, then locks up and slides off the track, so the Safety Car in triggered. Tsunoda and Magnussen are the first to pit under the Safety Car, which exits the track at the end of Lap 3, with Verstappen still managing to keep his lead over Leclerc and moving more than a second clear in a handful of corners. On lap 8 the Dutchman has a lead of two seconds over the Ferrari, while Leclerc is under pressure from team mate Sainz, and Norris complains on the radio about Hamilton, who often seems to exceed track limits.
"I think you can see, I don’t need to let you know".
Says Sainz on the radio as he gets closer to Leclerc. The team answer:
"We stick with the plan, no attack for now".
Perez and Russell go wheel-to-wheel as they work their way towards the points; finally, the Mexican passes the Briton at Turn 4, while Gasly does the same with Hulkenberg at Turn 3 for the eighth place. After some others complaints from Norris, Hamilton is given a black-and-white flag, meaning any more track limits violations will put the seven-time world champion on the brink of a penalty.
"I can’t keep it on the track - the car won’t turn".
The Mercedes driver says when informed about it. Meanwhile, Hulkenberg has a loss of power on his Haas and parks it on track, triggering a Virtual Safety Car. Hamilton, Norris, Gasly, Albon, Russell, Ocon, Piastri and Sargeant pit, and a lap later, also Leclerc, Sainz, Alonso and Stroll stop, while Verstappen stays out at the front. When the VSC ends, the Dutchman leads Leclerc by 18 seconds, with Perez now third. Sainz passes Norris at Turn 3, while Hamilton is given a five-second penalty again for track limits. Sainz now also passes Hamilton and Perez in quick succession, before going to search for the top two of Leclerc and Verstappen. Leclerc has cut Verstappen’s advantage to 15 seconds by lap 23, while the leader reports over the radio that his tyre degradation is high. Hamilton and Perez start battling for the fourth place: the Mercedes driver almost finds a way past on several occasions, saying on the radio that the Red Bull is exceeding track limits. On lap 25, Verstappen finally pits, swapping onto the hard tyre, contrary to the Ferrari, which are now on the second sets of mediums. The Dutchman emerges behind both Leclerc and Sainz. Perez boxes a lap later, for mediums. Verstappen passes Sainz for P2 at Turn 3, with Leclerc six seconds ahead, while Norris overtakes Hamilton for P4 at Turn 3. On the other hand, Piastri gets caught out in the midfield scrapping, damages his front wing and pits for a replacement: this sends him to the back of the field, ahead just of Hulkenberg. Sainz is given a five-second time penalty due to track limits, as he went too far over the white lines at the exit of the high-speed penultimate corner.
"We must be inside track limits on every lap - there’s so much going on here".
The McLaren team tell Norris, given the number of time penalties given to his competitors. Leclerc is now the leader, just 2.5 seconds ahead of Verstappen. Ferrari ask him:
"What do you think about three stops?"
But the Monegasque driver doesn’t agree with this possible strategy. On lap 34, Verstappen comes closes to Leclerc, trying to pass him into Turn 3 and then 4. One lap later, the reigning world champion manages to pass the Ferrari. At the back, De Vries and Magnussen battle from Turns 4 to 6, leading to the Haas dramatically running through the gravel.
"De Vries just completely pushed me off again".
The Danishman screams over the radio. After 38 laps, Verstappen leads the way from Leclerc by some five seconds, ahead of Sainz, Norris, Hamilton and Alonso, with Perez, Gasly, Russell and Albon holding the final top 10 spots. At this point, Norris, Russell, Albon and Hamilton all pit again, temporarily promoting Gasly to the top six, until he is given a five-second time penalty over track limits. After his stop, Norris recovers his place from Gasly. Sainz pits on Lap 46, serving at the same time his five-second penalty, and emerges just behind Norris: they run side-by-side from the exit of Turn 3 to Turn 6, until the Ferrari goes past. A couple of laps later, Leclerc pits for a set of hard tyres, leaving Verstappen and Perez running one and two for Red Bull. Verstappen pits on Lap 50 for mediums. He remains in the lead, ahead of team mate Perez, who makes his final stop a tour later for a set of hard tyres. Perez emerges fifth, half a minute down on Verstappen, but he starts to make his way onto the podium. Toto Wolff speaks on the radio, giving a clear message to Hamilton:
"The car is bad, we know. Please drive it".
A lock-up for Norris at Turn 3 is Perez’ opportunity to pass him, going to search the Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz. The Mexican finds a way past Sainz on lap 61, after a hard battle, so the time he lost means Leclerc is 13 seconds ahead. Stroll passes Albon at Turn 4 for the final point, while Sargeant is given a five-second penalty over track limits and Magnussen gets the same soon afterward. At the front, Verstappen wants a late pit stop for fresh tyres. After some resistance from the Red Bull pit wall, his wish is granted and, with the faster lap, he takes the chequered flag. Leclerc crosses the line five seconds back, with Perez 12 seconds further back in the final podium spot, followed by Sainz and Norris. Alonso finishes in sixth, while Mercedes have to settle for seventh and eighth with Hamilton and Russell respectively. Gasly and Stroll rounds out the top ten. Williams leave the ninth race weekend of the season empty-handed, as Albon takes 11th ahead of Alpine’s Ocon and team mate Sargeant. Zhou and Bottas finishes 14th and 16th respectively. Piastri is 17th, while Tsunoda and Magnussen the final drivers to finish, leaving Hulkenberg as the sole retirement. However, following a protest lodged by Aston Martin, the stewards will spend the evening digging into over 1,200 instances where a car is reported as potentially leaving the track. The results promote Norris and Alonso ahead of the penalised Sainz, with some changes further down the order as other drivers are punished for track limit violations. This is the ninth victory of the season for Red Bull, at the team’s home race:
"It’s been a pretty incredible weekend; it couldn’t have been any better to be honest. We did everything well as a Team, from the strategy through to the pit stops. Heading into the race we all had question marks around the tyres but we were all happy with how they performed compared to our competitors. I felt really comfortable in the car all weekend and we were able to do everything that we had planned. The final pit stop was a risk of course, I think the Team could hear from my voice on the radio that I wanted to pit. From the outside it might have looked crazy but I knew we could do it, I saw there was a gap and I wanted to make the most of it".
Sergio Perez from 15th on the grid finished third, after some battles with George Russell and Carlos Sainz:
"It was a really good race. I think we had the pace this weekend: we showed it in the Sprint and we showed it today. It was a nice comeback and I feel really comfortable with the car, it has been really special. I think we were all racing quite hard and it is always a pleasure to battle with drivers like Carlos. We have had a tricky few races, so it has been nice to get back and have that pace and form. I am still not one hundred per cent physically, however, so now I need to look ahead and recover ahead in time for Silverstone".
Christian Horner, Red Bull’s CEO and Team Principal, is very satisfied with today’s race:
"It has been an incredible day for the Team today and a fantastic weekend. Max is obviously on exceptional form, taking qualifying, the Sprint race and now the Grand Prix is just sensational. Obviously we took a different strategy to that of our competitors, meaning he had to make the overtakes on track which led to some fantastic watching and a stunning weekend for him. We decided to go for the fastest lap on the last lap despite the risk involved in an additional pitstop, but Dietrich’s mantra was always ‘no risk, no fun’, and the mechanics have been in such incredible form that it felt relatively low risk. Checo too had such great pace today, particularly when he got clean air. When you start down at 15th, your ability to get close to victory is obviously compromised, so his recovery from 15th to a podium was outstanding and his battle with Carlos was box-office. This is our best run of in-season results since 2013, the Team is operating at a level not seen in our 19-year history and we’re grateful for every victory we achieve. Results like today are the work of every single department, it’s not just about the race team, it’s the activity that goes on behind the scenes back at the factory, from operations, manufacturing, research and development, aerodynamics, to our support functions in Finance, Marketing, Legal and HR, all of these need to come together and work as a team, and this is where we are so strong. This is the first time we’ve been back at the track since Dietrich’s passing. It felt very poignant to put in such a great team performance today. Whilst not here in person, you feel his presence everywhere, his passion and spirit are the reason we’re all here today and we owe him so much. This one’s for Dietrich".
Good race for Lewis Hamilton, who despite some problems in the car, managed to finish only seventh:
"It was not the greatest of days today. We weren't expecting to be as slow as we were and our performance this weekend was a surprise. We don't have the answer as to why just yet, but this track has highlighted several areas of improvement we need to focus on. We knew we didn't have a strong rear-end this weekend, so we took out a lot of front-wing to maintain the balance. I was really struggling into certain corners, particularly Turn 10, and sliding, which I couldn't do anything about it. That is why I was struggling with track limits. We added some front-wing at both stops and the car began to come back to us, but it was still a challenge".
George Russell finished in the points area, in what has been a difficult weekend for Mercedes:
"It was really challenging today, and our pace was not as we expected. After yesterday, I was hoping for a little bit more from the Grand Prix. I am sure we will go away and get to the bottom of our performance here. We have the same car that we had in Barcelona where we were flying so we need to understand what went wrong on our side. The car certainly doesn't feel how we want it to at the moment. It's moving around a lot, and it felt a little bit worse this weekend than at other circuits; the pace was substantially worse though, so we need to get to the bottom of that. Our performance is clearly circuit dependent now. We were nowhere here but good in Montreal and Barcelona. That bodes well for Silverstone as that is a circuit more similar to Barcelona than Austria, so we're excited for next weekend's British Grand Prix. We will be aiming to come back stronger".
Toto Wolff, Mercedes’ Team Principal & CEO, is very direct when explaining the problems of the car:
"Today was a bruising day for the Team. We've had a positive upward trajectory recently but clearly, we didn't have the pace we needed here. It's been a tough weekend overall and both drivers have struggled with the car since FP1. From Friday onwards, we have seen that we were lacking a couple of tenths and we couldn't make the car quicker. Once the tyres start sliding, either under braking or through the corner, then you have no grip. That contributed to our lack of performance, but we will have to go away and analyse it in more detail. We will take this weekend on the chin and move forward. The swings are quite interesting from circuit to circuit where sometimes we are the closest challengers to Red Bull, and at others struggling. We have a step of performance that we are bringing to Silverstone. Let's see if that circuit suits the characteristics of the car a little more and we will analyse from there".
Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes’ Trackside Engineering Director, is not optimistic about the situation:
"There's lots for us to improve on leaving here. The performance clearly hasn't been good enough; we need to understand how much is down to not landing the set-up in the right place and how much is just base performance. We've not brought any updates to the last few races, so it's also possible we're lacking development. We've got plans in place to address that but the gap to Ferrari was certainly a worry today. The situation with track limits was difficult; the notifications were coming in after the fact, so Lewis ended up with a penalty before we could do anything about it. We're happy that we've only got to wait a few days before getting back on track. We need to work hard to understand the areas that need improvement, but we're looking forward to Silverstone and putting this race behind us".
It was not one of the stronger weekends this season for Aston Martin. Fernando Alonso finished sixth:
"I think it was more or less the maximum we could achieve today. We were very close to Lando [Norris] in terms of pace and also the Mercedes. We tried something different by starting on Hards but then the VSC meant our advantage of going longer in the first stint wasn't possible anymore. This circuit didn't suit our car last year so maybe there is something for us to look into. Overall, we've scored a number of points over the Sprint weekend and we've made some ground on second position in the Constructors' Championship. It's a long season and we have our home race at Silverstone next week. It's an incredible track so we will give it our all".
Lance Stroll finished 10th and is now focused on Silverstone:
"It was a tough day today, but we still come away from the weekend with some decent points for the team. We slightly mistimed our stop under the VSC this afternoon and lost several places in the pits, and that decision dictated the strategy for the rest of our race. In hindsight, we probably should have pitted during the first lap of the VSC rather than the second, so that's something we'll need to review and learn from. I had a few good battles on track while fighting back through the field; taking [Yuki] Tsunoda at Turn Three was especially fun. Our focus now shifts to Silverstone. It's one of the best tracks on the calendar, so I'm looking forward to getting back out there in a few days' time".
Team Principal Mike Krack, knows that they just did not have the pace this weekend. However, the team is looking to bounce back at their home race in Silverstone:
"Today was not our strongest performance, but we still managed to score nine important points. The podium fight was out of reach, but there was the opportunity to finish higher up with both drivers. We lost some track position early on when we chose to pit and stack both cars just as the VSC was ending and that proved quite costly for both drivers. After that, Lance kept his head down to recover into the points, making some important overtaking moves when it mattered. With Fernando, our race today was with Mercedes and, our pace, combined with some rapid pitstops, allowed us to come out ahead in that battle. Our attention now turns to our home race in Silverstone next week where we look forward to putting on a strong performance in front of the passionate British fans".
It was a great return for Ferrari with Charles Leclerc finishing on the podium for the second time this season:
"It’s good to be back on the podium. Friday and today we maximised what we have and the upgrades we introduced this weekend worked well. The team has done an excellent job and we will keep pushing in this direction. I also want to thank Carlos as he made my life a bit easier by putting up a great defence against Checo. I was watching on the big screen, it was very exciting! Now we go to Silverstone which, with Spielberg, is among my favourite circuits. Hopefully we can take advantage of the new upgrades we have on the car again and offer a bit more of a challenge to Red Bull in the next round".
Carlos Sainz, on the other hand, lost out to Perez for third place, but put in a strong performance to take fourth, before ending sixth due to a penalty:
"It was a very solid race even though I’m not happy with the final result, as I think we deserved a double podium today. I felt very quick and comfortable with the car but after the first stop the race was compromised as we lost time and positions. I did my best to push hard and recover, with some good overtaking, but unfortunately I received the penalty for track limits. In the end I tried absolutely everything to defend from Checo but couldn't hold on to that place on the podium. There are some things to review, but in general we have to be happy with the progress made and we need to keep pushing in this direction".
Frédéric Vasseur, Ferrari’s Team Principal, adds:
"Today’s strong result for the team, added to yesterday’s podium with Carlos, proves we are working in the right direction. If we look back, we had a good race in Canada and today we confirmed the progress made on a completely different track layout with a different surface. We still need to make another step forward if we want to fight with Red Bull and we are working hard to achieve that. Charles drove very well today and I think he would have been probably safe from the attacks from Perez towards the end. However Carlos also played his part, fighting Checo making him lose time. Now we go immediately to Silverstone, on another completely different track on which we’ll need to confirm our current form to keep fighting with Mercedes and Aston Martin. We are doing a good job both on track and in Maranello, we will bring more upgrades in the UK and we want to keep fighting in what I think will be a long battle all the way to the end of the season".
It was a solid race for Alpine. Pierre Gasly has made a return to the points:
"It's not been an easy race for us today. Of course, it's always disappointing to miss out on scoring points. We'll need to sit down and carefully review the race to see where we can improve and ensure we can be more competitive on Sunday next week in Silverstone. We had contact with Yuki [Tsunoda] on the first lap and sustained some damage and then we had the penalty for an unsafe release later on, so it was certainly not our day! We leave Austria knowing we had a decent Saturday with points in the bag but with more work to do to improve on Sundays. Bring on Silverstone next week".
Esteban Ocon could not follow suit:
"I think we pretty much extracted the most we could today. While it's satisfying to be back in the points, it's not where we want to be as we aim to be much higher than ninth place. We're lacking some pace compared to our nearest rivals and that showed today. I was pushing a lot and, in the end, we received a five-second penalty for track limits, like other cars again today. It probably doesn't change the result, and only that we fought with Lance [Stroll] at the end rather than George [Russell] ahead. I'm definitely looking forward to Silverstone and I think we can have a much stronger weekend overall there for the team's home race".
Otmar Szafnauer, Alpine’s Team Principal, is aware that the other teams have shown improved performances, so they will have some work to do at Silverstone:
"We are not satisfied to leave Austria with four points across the weekend. This end result highlights where we are lacking especially in terms of being able to fight with our close rivals on race day who, right now, are a couple of tenths of a second ahead of us. Next week is Silverstone where we will have an upgrade on the car and we look forward to adding more performance in the coming races. This weekend was sadly marred by the tragic death of Dilano van 't Hoff in the Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine in Spa-Francorchamps. Dilano will always be in our thoughts and it serves as a reminder of the dangers we face in the sport we love. There are many discussions to be had in our collective goal to further enhance safety in racing. Right now, though, our thoughts are firmly with the family and friends of Dilano as well as the MP Motorsport team".
Great result for McLaren, with Lando Norris fighting amongst the top teams all weekend:
"A very good day! I was a little bit surprised we had the race pace that we did, and it was great to be fighting the Ferraris and Red Bulls. More importantly, we beat both the Astons and Mercedes, which was our main goal today. Overall, a good day and good points. It's one of those tracks which is easy to get punished on. We kept it on track and didn't really make any big mistakes, with some good racing at times. The team has done a great job again. Thank you to everyone back in the factory for bringing the upgrade because that definitely got us in the points today. A big cheers to them".
Oscar Piastri had front-wing damage and finished out of the points:
"A long afternoon. I picked up some front wing damage in the middle with three cars kind of having their incident in front of me and I didn't have anywhere to go, which was unfortunate, and our pace wasn't great. Anyway, I'm looking forward to the next race. It's a home race for the team and I've got some new parts on my car, which I'm very much looking forward to. We'll see what we can do next weekend".
Andrea Stella, McLaren’s Team Principal, thanks the team:
"It's been a positive result here in Spielberg. Not just the valuable points from Lando's P5 but also seeing the MCL60 fighting at the front. That's good for the team and good for our fans. We know this track is a bit of a 'Lando-Special', and he was excellent again today, but certainly some of this result is down to the upgraded aerodynamic package fitted to his car. It's been a colossal amount of work at the factory to get this upgrade here, and a good effort at the track to get the performance out of it. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the people who made that happen, and I hope they're enjoying the result because they certainly deserve it. On Oscar's side, he fell out of contention after some unfortunate circumstances, but we all appreciate the spirit with which he dug in and pushed hard in a race at the back of the field. It's characteristic of Oscar - and the whole team - and we'll take that going to our home race at Silverstone. We're focused on that now and hoping for a positive result at the British Grand Prix".
Valtteri Bottas finished16th, also sustaining wing damage:
"I got some damage on the front wing in a Turn One contact, unfortunately, which made me lose ground on my first stint. That compromised the rest of my race as, with such a tight field, it was pretty much impossible to recover. Overall, we have been lacking pace this weekend, this circuit certain hasn’t suited us as much as in recent races. Nevertheless, we are meant to bring new parts to Silverstone next week, and they are meant to make a difference in our performance. We have seen it with our main competitors, how upgrades have been improving their pace, and hopefully, that will be our case, too, to get back in the fight for the top ten right away".
Zhou Guanyu is 14th and knows they weren’t competitive:
"Unfortunately, this weekend we haven’t been as competitive as we wanted, and the top ten ended up being out of our reach. I had a decent start, today, and it seemed like I could’ve moved forward, but then the Safety Car came in just a couple of laps after I had to pit to remove a tear-off from my rear brake duct, and that ended up not helping us. Overall, our pace hasn’t been the same we had showed recently. There is surely some work to do, looking into the next races, and we’re also meant to bring new upgrades in Silverstone next week. Hopefully, they’ll allow us to make a step forward, and improve again our place in the standings".
Alessandro Alunni Bravi, Alfa Romeo’s Team Representative, says that this result is frustrating but they have an opportunity to return back to the points at Silverstone:
"Today’s race has, unfortunately, been in line with our performances this weekend; we have made a step back, compared to previous races, and of course we will need to analyse this over the next few days. At the same time, our focus now goes onto the next race in Silverstone, for the final leg of this back-to-back: we are bringing an important upgrade there, which can hopefully improve our performance. The fight in the field is very tight, and we have been aware of this since the beginning of the season, so every tenth can make a difference. Next weekend’s race will be important for us, so we must not lose our focus: we need to keep working, and come prepared to Silverstone, in order to promptly react and get back to the positions we deserve. I want to thank all the team, as well as Ferrari, for the job done this weekend: although it has been a difficult one, everyone has been working hard all together, both trackside and back home in Hinwil, trying to maximise any chance. We need to keep pushing, and not lose our confidence: there are still several races in front of us, and we’ll be ready to fight for every single point".
Magnussen started from the pit lane and struggled pass the drivers' ahead:
"I had very poor pace. I went into the gravel at high-speed when de Vries pushed me on at Turn 6, and I don’t know if there was damage to the floor, so we’ll have to check that but there was no chance today. We’ll continue to work to improve as fast as we can".
Hulkenberg started eighth, but his race came to a conclusion after a power unit issue saw smoke come from his car:
"We don’t know the full picture, but after the first stop the issue occurred and we lost power and couldn’t continue. It’s not ideal, it makes things more difficult going forward because we have less information, but we have to make the most of what we have. We’re surrounded by quicker cars that are pushing on from behind, forcing us to go at a pace we’re not necessarily able to keep up with. The positive is the two very good qualifying sessions this weekend, and obviously a very good Sprint, so at least we have that".
Guenther Steiner, Haas’ Team Principal, tells this was another difficult Sunday for the team:
"Thankfully we got some points yesterday when we had the opportunity. Today has been a very disappointing day for us, another PU failure on Nico’s car and obviously the car is not fast enough in dry conditions. We’ve got a lot of work in front of us, and we will keep on working. When we have the tools, we can get good results as we showed yesterday, we just need to do our homework".
Albon was overtaken by Stroll in the closing stages of the race for 10th:
"I'm not disappointed about the race today; I think it's a normal thing with the top 4 teams and top 8 cars in those positions, so there's only two points up for grabs. Lando had a great race, as did Pierre, so that was the remaining points and we were the next best. It was a strong weekend for us, our worst result was 13th where we were running P7 for most of it. When you think of it like that, it's frustrating but it shows we're making steps forward. Obviously, this track suited us and we were expecting a better result, which is a bit disappointing but still a great race and a good execution. I think we did a good job and with Logan having a great race, it demonstrates our steps forward".
Sargeant put in place a strong performance to finish 13th:
"It's been tough lately, so it's great to see the progress we made today. When I don't qualify well, I leave a lot of work to do on Sunday, so to have a good one under my belt is a nice step forward. Today's race shows what we can do, and I feel like we're finally moving forward into the right direction. We have a string of European races which I'm familiar with, so hopefully this is the start of something good for us. We're heading to my favourite track next weekend but it's also a difficult one with lots of high-speed corners, which is something I need to focus on. Thanks again to the team for all the hard work in bringing the upgrades to my car and we'll now look forward to the next race".
Dave Robson, Williams’ Head of Vehicle Performance, knows that they hade more pace during this weekend than in the past:
"Both drivers showed good pace today and both finished in strong positions. Unfortunately, we didn't quite have the pace to get to the top 10; the other teams were quicker today but we were agonisingly close. On the positive side, the car handled well, the tyres were well managed, and Logan had a very strong race. Next weekend in Silverstone, we will look to push the pace a bit harder again and score some points. Although this weekend was a sprint event held in mixed weather conditions, we have learned a lot about the car and there are definitely some positives to take into the British Grand Prix".
De Vries was given a five-second penalty for pushing Magnussen off-track, so finished outside the points:
"I think it was a solid race today. We made some overnight changes to the car to find more performance, which meant we started the race from the pitlane. It certainly played out well for us as the early Virtual Safety Car closed the gap between all the cars. In terms of execution, I think we did a good job and extracted the maximum out of our package, we just lacked pace to fight further towards the top ten. I’ll take the penalty that the stewards gave me, we are just trying to find the limit, but thankfully we made a sufficient gap to not lose any positions. I still have a lot to improve on, and I’m certainly not yet at the level I want to be, but collectively, we are trying to consistently improve".
Yuki Tsunoda continues:
"At the start, I was aggressive trying to make up as many positions as possible. It could’ve gone well, but unfortunately, we damaged the car going into turn one and went off-track at turn four. I don’t know if I sustained damage on the floor from this, but afterwards, I didn’t have pace, so it was a super difficult drive. I couldn’t keep the car within the track limits, and I can definitely learn from this in the future, but overall, it was just a challenging race".
Jonathan Eddolls, AlphaTauri’s Chief Race Engineer, ends:
"With Nyck qualifying P20 on Friday, we elected to remove his car from Parc Ferme and make setup changes, including the rear wing level and suspension, which meant he started from the pitlane. Magnussen did the same, so we were racing with him from the pit exit at the start of the race. Yuki lost a large part of the front wing in turn one and subsequently ran off-track in turn four, therefore he had to pit on the first lap, which put him on the back foot. It was clear in the first stint that tyre degradation was on the high side and would result in a multi-stop race. Unfortunately, we pitted Nyck on lap 12, the lap before the Safety Car was deployed, while others benefitted from the opportunity and were able jump him, which was very unlucky. After the Safety Car period, Yuki struggled with understeer, which we corrected a lot at the next pit stop with a large flap adjustment, so we need to understand if there was damage on his car. From then on, and for both cars, it was a case of splitting up the race with pitstops to optimise tyre degradation and track position. Overall, we didn't have the pace to challenge for points. Track limits were also costly for Yuki, with him receiving a total of 15 seconds worth of penalties, which put him in P18 at the chequered flag. Nyck made some progress in the race and finished five places higher than he started, which is encouraging to see. Our focus now turns to Silverstone, where we are bringing a further aero update, addressing some of the weaknesses of the AT04. We will keep pushing hard and remain positive for the upcoming races".
Mario Isola, Pirelli Motorsport Director, analyzes the race and the teams’ strategies:
"One driver dominated this Grand Prix from start to finish, but there was plenty of excitement in the battles between the nineteen others. From our point of view, everything went well. Our simulations going into this race were confirmed on track, in all the changing conditions we experienced from Friday through to today. We knew the Soft would not be a suitable race tyre, but both Medium and Hard allowed those behind the wheel to push and attack when necessary, showing a sufficient differential in degradation between them, without suffering any excessive overheating. In terms of strategy too, the race went to plan. The VSC on lap 15 did not influence the number of stops, but it did open up alternative choices terms of choosing the window for the first pit stop. The top four finishers went for two Medium stints and one Hard, if we ignore Verstappen's final stop which is not relevant to this analysis, while those who from Friday had preferred to keep two sets of C3, mainly opted to use both along with a set of Mediums".
The next stop is now Silverstone for the British Grand Prix, which takes place from July 7 to 9.