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2023 Austrian Grand Prix Takeaways

By Jeff Stinger

After another commanding performance by Max Verstappen, the battle around the Red Bull ring was arguably one of the more exciting races of the season. The Red Bull driver grabs his seventh win of the season in the 2023 Austrian Grand Prix, increasing his lead to 81 points. Although his victory never looked in jeopardy, even with the virtual safety car appearing, interesting storylines developed behind him.

Before this weekend’s British Grand Prix sets off, let’s round up the most memorable 2023 Austrian Grand Prix storylines below.

Key Takeaways from the 2023 Austrian Grand Prix

Ferrari in Form

The Tifosi finally ended their drought last weekend. This was their smoothest race weekend after Azerbaijan. They had their upgrade package in line and squeezed every ounce of power from their engine for only a second podium finish of the year courtesy of Charles Leclerc.

Many thought the Ferraris would put more pressure on Red Bull this season. But, that won’t be happening anytime soon looking at the past results. The only driver who can come close to Max this season is teammate Perez on his best day. And that’s a tall order from someone in the same car as the two-time World Champion.

There were no sketchy strategy calls, reliability concerns, or crashes. This was the bland Ferrari and boring Leclern many are accustomed to, but his victory would be nothing without teammate Carlos Sainz.

In contrast, the Spaniard’s afternoon was more eventful than his teammate’s. He was right up the Monegasque’s gearbox. But, he was asked to help Charles had a bit more pace than him. Sainz knew that his position was critical if they wanted to catch Verstappen. The strategists then told him to hold his place, which he did.

He was likely the better Ferrari driver over the race weekend, maintaining a decent pace throughout, but in the end, it doesn’t matter if his teammate had recorded better sector times toward the end. Carlos crossed the line in P4 but dropped down to P6 in the final results following his penalty.

Super Max Breaking Records

Verstappen entered the 2023 campaign with his head held high and 35 wins and now 42 victories in. He can easily move into third on the all-time list at this rate, overtaking former Red Bull champion Sebastian Vettel’s 53 achievements. With only 13 races left, Verstappen needs to win almost all of them to do that and join the top three with Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher.

The Belgian-Dutch driver is in a league of his own right now. We’re witnessing levels of consistency unknown to the sport. During their title-winning years, even Sir Lewis and Michael Schumacher would hit the occasional speed bump. However, Max is firing on all cylinders now and finishes nine seconds ahead of his competition on bad days.

A Mercedes Disaster

Alex Albon is incredibly underrated. The former Red Bull driver did something incredible for Williams over the weekend. If he keeps this up, expect more teams to gain interest in adding him to their driver lineup. The 2023 Canadian GP saw him showcase tire management and defense masterclass. He scored a well-deserved six points and a season-best finish at P7.

Williams delivered their promise of game-changing upgrades. Although only Albon’s car appeared to pick up the benefits throughout practice, he did complete a solid qualifying session around the wet track and an even better result by the end of 70 laps on Sunday.

It appears that the team strategy of Albon running a now familiar long final stint works wonders. The FW45’s outlandish straight-line speed paired with veteran-esque managed his tires well to bag seventh place and improve Williams’s 2023 points from one to seven.

The Fickle Side of Ferrari

Just when we thought Mercedes picked up the pace, they ended up with a seemingly underwhelming points finish. There’s still plenty of work ahead of the constructor. While Austria was expected to be a good weekend for the team, both drivers failed to close the gap for a podium finish. The reward was P7 and P8 for their first two-car finish of the season, with Lewis Hamilton giving up a place to Lando Norris’ recently-upgraded MCL60.

Silverstone puts plenty of pressure on both Mercedes drivers as they fight to see the checkered flag first in their home race. Wilff admitted that the race is their best chance for a victory, but after what happened around the Red Bull Ring, things might be different for the Brackley and Brixworth-based team.

Hamilton crossed 39.1 seconds behind Verstappen in the final lap. Put that on top of Red Bull’s late pitstop, and that’s close to a minute they have to find. In an interview, Lewis Hamilton said “I definitely didn’t expect us to be as bad, I don’t really have an answer for it. The feeling of the car was very much the same as we’ve had over the last year. [But] compared to the last two races, the last two races are way better.” so expect Mercedes to force better results this weekend.

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