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2023 Austrian GP: How did British drivers perform amid track limits debacle

2023 Austrian GP: How did British drivers perform amid track limits debacle

25 June at 08:00

The Austrian Grand Prix is just around the corner. At Red Bull Racing's home race, they will be hoping for a repeat of last year when Max Verstappen dominated the entire weekend. For the British drivers, it was the start of the McLaren turnaround with a positive performance from Lando Norris, whereas the Mercedes drivers struggled hugely all weekend. Those not so keen on a repeat are the organisers: the race was dominated by the track limits debacle that took place there.

How the 2023 Austrian Grand Prix played out

Verstappen was at the top of the timesheets throughout the F1 weekend in Spielberg. Like this year, the 2023 Grand Prix was a sprint race, which meant that only one free practice session was scheduled. In this, the Dutchman was fastest, as well as in qualifying for the Grand Prix.

After a shocking start to 2023, McLaren found some form at the Red Bull Ring, as Norris was able to take P4 ahead of Lewis Hamilton in P5. Alex Albon in the Williams did brilliantly to get out of Q2 and qualify tenths, whereas George Russell had a very poor qualifying session and could only finish in P11.

Verstappen also recorded the fastest time in qualifying for the sprint race, with Sergio Perez next to him on the front row. Norris went one better and took a great P3. Alex Albon scored a respectable P11 and qualified ahead of the languishing Mercedes, with Russell not setting a time in SQ2 and finishing in P15, and Hamilton not getting out of SQ1 by qualifying in P18.

Verstappen retained the lead at the start and did not relinquish it, although he was almost hit by his teammate shortly after the start. As a result, Perez went wide and lost places to Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz, but he would later regain these. Norris had a sprint race to forget, tumbling down the order from P3 to finish ninth and out of the points. Russell gained seven places to earn a point in P8 just ahead of Norris, with Hamilton coming just behind the McLaren driver in P10. Albon crossed the line 13th.

Verstappen was also dominant in Sunday's race. He built up such a large lead that he was able to make a pit stop in the closing stages of the race to also take the extra point for the fastest lap. Charles Leclerc was second behind Verstappen, followed by Perez. In contrast to the sprint race, Norris was able to make the most of his grid spot in P4, holding on to that place and earning 12 points for McLaren which helped them continue to grow into the 2023 season. Russell and Hamilton could only manage P7 and P8, respectively, in what was a challenging weekend for the German team. Albon just missed out on the potential to earn a great point for Williams, finishing in P11.

Track limits debacle through the weekend:

However, the most talked about element of the race weekend was the track limits. As many as 100 track limit violations were confirmed by the stewards, but they later turned out to be over 1,200 - following protests by Aston Martin. As a result, the race result was only announced five hours after the finish by the FIA, which was busy calculating the many penalties handed out. Fourteen of the 20 drivers changed positions due to the penalties afterwards.