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  • Writer's pictureBen Waterworth

Verstappen train continues to pull away from everyone

If 2023 has taught us anything in F1, it’s that Red Bull are sort of good. As is Max Verstappen. And if you didn’t already know that and have tuned in to the Austrian Grand Prix this weekend, then you have seen supremacy from the home team and the reigning two-time World Champion.


Verstappen so far hasn’t been challenged at the Red Bull Ring, topping every single session so far in a continued show of Red Bull dominance.


This has included two poles this weekend, with both the ‘regular’ and ‘sprint’ poles heading his way, as well as the sprint race itself.


In qualifying on Friday, Verstappen topped every part of the session on a hot track, holding off the two Ferrari’s of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz.

(Photo by Grand Prix 247)


On Saturday, he once again topped sprint qualifying and then lead the entire 24 laps on a wet track, to show that no matter what the conditions, Verstappen has it covered.


However it’s once again behind the Dutchman where all the intrigue and talking points come from.


His main title rival, teammate Sergio Perez, failed once again in ‘main’ qualifying and will start a disappointing 15th on the grid after having his fastest time of the session deleted for exceeding track limits.


After securing Pole Position in Miami four races ago, he hasn’t made it to Q3.


It was a better sprint Qualifying and race for Perez who finished second in both. Initially he took the lead from his teammate into turn 1 with an aggressive move that saw both drivers in heated discussions after the race. However he wasn’t able to maintain that position, dropping back to third behind the fast charging Haas of Nico Hulkenberg before ultimately getting the position back to finish runner-up.


The fight behind the Red Bulls looks likely to be between Ferrari, Mercedes, Aston Martin and perhaps even McLaren, who all had varying fortunes in all of the sessions.


Ferrari look consistent, having qualified 2nd and 3rd for the main race, and finishing 3rd with Sainz in the sprint. Leclerc initially qualified sixth for the sprint race but was demoted three-places due to impeding Aussie Oscar Piastri in sprint qualifying, and struggled in the sprint race in the mixed conditions and ultimately finished 12th.


Mercedes have had a mixed bag so far, with Lewis Hamilton qualifying a strong fifth for the main race. However in the sprint qualifying and race, both he and teammate George Russell struggled, with Russell ultimately sneaking home for a solitary sprint point. To make things worse for him, he was unable to make it out of Q2 in main qualifying and will start 11th on the grid.


Aston Martin once again are on form, with both cars strong in main qualifying. Lance Stroll outqualified Fernando Alonso for only the second time this season with the pair to start sixth and seventh respectively, and both drivers also finished strongly in the sprint race, with Stroll beating Alonso once more to fourth, with Alonso fifth.


McLaren have also looked decent this weekend, particularly in the hands of Lando Norris, who will start fourth on the grid for the race. Piastri will start back in 13th.


With so much happening already in Austria, there is still opportunity for plenty more to come.


Will Verstappen win five races in a row for the second time in his career?


Or will his and Red Bull’s streak finally come to a close?


At 11pm AEST tonight, all will be revealed.


QUALIFYING TIMES

1 Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull Racing 1:04.391

2 Charles LECLERC Ferrari +0.048

3 Carlos SAINZ Ferrari +0.190

4 Lando NORRIS McLaren +0.267

5 Lewis HAMILTON Mercedes +0.428

6 Lance STROLL Aston Martin +0.502

7 Fernando ALONSO Aston Martin +0.520

8 Nico HULKENBERG Haas F1 Team +0.699

9 Pierre GASLY Alpine +0.779

10 Alexander ALBON Williams +1.432

11. George RUSSELL Mercedes +0.477

12. Esteban OCON Alpine +0.502

13 Oscar PIASTRI McLaren +0.654

14 Valtteri BOTTAS Alfa Romeo +0.729

15 Sergio PEREZ Red Bull Racing NO TIME

16. Yuki TSUNODA AlphaTauri +0.668

17. Zhou GUANYU Alfa Romeo +0.702

18. Logan SARGEANT Williams +0.832

19. Kevin MAGNUSSEN Haas + 0.855

20. Nyck DE VRIES AlphaTauri +0.858


SPRINT CLASSIFICATION

1. Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 24 Laps

2. Sergio Perez Red Bull Racing +21.048

3. Carlos Sainz Ferrari +23.088

4. Lance Stroll Aston Martin +29.703

5. Fernando Alonso Aston Martin +30.109

6. Nico Hulkenberg Haas F1 Team +31.297

7. Esteban Ocon Alpine +36.602

8. George Russell Mercedes +36.611

9. Lando Norris McLaren +38.608

10. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +46.375

11. Oscar Piastri McLaren +49.807

12. Charles Leclerc Ferrari +50.789

13. Alexander Albon Williams +52.848

14. Kevin Magnussen Haas F1 Team +56.593

15. Pierre Gasly Alpine +57.652

16. Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri +64.822

17. Nyck De Vries AlphaTauri +65.617

18. Logan Sargeant Williams +66.059

19. Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo +70.825

20. Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo +76.435


This article was originally written for The Roar. You can read the published version here

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