Max Verstappen Wins Wet/Dry Austria Sprint In Red Bull 1-2

Max Verstappen Wins Wet/Dry Austria Sprint In Red Bull 1-2
Max Verstappen Wins Wet/Dry Austria Sprint In Red Bull 1-2

World Champion Max Verstappen won the second F1 Sprint of the season, lit up by drying conditions.

Verstappen had to fend off teammate Sergio Perez at the start before scoring an easy victory, as Perez finished second.

“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. 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,” said Verstappen

The Mexican had initially gained the lead at Turn 1 but Verstappen snatched the position back into Turn 3, after Perez had squeezed the Dutchman onto the grass on the run towards Turn 3.

After a wet start, several drivers switched to slicks with a handful of laps remaining in an attempt to gain track position.

However, the top five all stayed on intermediate tyres, with not enough laps for those who pitted to catch up.

As a result, Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz finished third, ahead of the Aston Martin pair of Lance Stroll and Fernando Alonso.

‘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,’ said Sainz, after scoring his first podium of the 2023 F1 season.

Nico Hulkenberg, who had run second early on was the highest-placed driver who switched to slicks.

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Varying strategies leads to entertaining race

Sprint races in Formula 1 have split opinion, with the Sprint’s themselves not always delivering what F1 management hoped. But the added variable of the weather in Austria helped light up this race.

The action was instant, with Perez and Verstappen causing Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner to hold his breath as they battled, the field came to a near stand-still at Turn 3 as they all scrabbled for grip.

British driver Lando Norris, who started third, could have snatched the lead but the squabbling Red Bull’s baulked him and he dropped back to 10th, allowing Haas’ Nico Hulkenberg to leap into second place.

The Haas has performed well in damp conditions because the car generates tyre temperature effectively, but this came back to bite the German as Perez eventually re-took second place.

And with the race lulling a little, despite a queue forming behind Alex Albon’s Williams in seventh, George Russell’s Mercedes was the first to risk slicks as the track dried out.

Russell, who won an F1 Sprint in Brazil last year, was quickly the fastest man on the circuit, which allowed him to grab the final point on offer in eighth, missing out on seventh by nine-thousandths of a second to Alpine’s Esteban Ocon.

‘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,’ concluded Russell.

However, those who ran at the front early on had enough pace to retain their track position, even though Hulkenberg was almost six seconds quicker than winner Verstappen by the final lap.

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