Cars > Redline

5 things we learned from 2023 Austrian Grand Prix

Don’t go beyond the solid white line

The Red Bull Ring is one of the more picturesque tracks in Formula 1. PHOTO FROM FORMULA 1

The Red Bull Ring may be a short circuit at 4.318km long, but it is an entertaining one filled with elevation changes, tight turns, and fast sweeping corners (along with a scenic view of the Styrian Alps).

It was also the venue of the 2023 Austrian Grand Prix. Unlike the usual Formula 1 weekend, this round was different featuring a sprint race on Saturday before the main event on Sunday. So, here are five things we learned from the races.

Esteban Ocon had a photo finish ahead of George Russell—he led by only 0.09 second. PHOTO FROM FORMULA 1

1. The sprint race was action-packed. For once, the two Red Bull driversMax Verstappen and Sergio Perezwere on the front row with the Dutchman in the lead. Meanwhile, Lando Norris (McLaren) and Nico Hulkenberg (Haas) found themselves in P3 and P4, respectively, after the sprint shoot-out.

Though only 24 laps long, the sprint race was exciting with the mixed conditions of the track. Right after the lights went out, Checo challenged his teammate for the lead in the opening lap with Max emerging ahead.

Later in the sprint race, Haas noticed that Hulkenberg was getting eaten up, so the team gambled by pitting him early for slick tires. And this allowed him to finish in the points at P6.

Though brief, it was refreshing to see Charles Leclerc trying to go wheel-to-wheel against Max Verstappen. PHOTO FROM FORMULA 1

2. Ferrari is fast again. Looking at the most recent races, it appears that Ferrari has the fourth-best car on the grid lagging behind Mercedes-AMG and Aston Martin. But the new upgrades for Austria turned the tables.

Not only did Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz qualify in P2 and P3, respectively, but they were able to hold their ground throughout the race. The former managed to finish second on the podium, while the latter drove hard to prevent Perez from taking P2 away from his teammate.

Even Lewis Hamilton's team principal was fed up with the complaints. PHOTO FROM FORMULA 1

3. Mercedes-AMG was on the back foot. You know the Silver Arrows car is in trouble when team principal Toto Wolff said: “Lewis, the car is bad, we know. Please drive it.” Throughout the race, Lewis Hamilton made it clear he didn’t like the performance of his W14. And he was also complaining about everyone else breaching track limits.

Ironically, he, too, was guilty of that, receiving a five-second penalty as early as Lap 17. His teammate George Russell didn’t fare any better having been knocked out at Q2 in P11, and finishing the race in P8 before the post-event penalties were applied.

Lando Norris won ‘Driver of the Day’ for making good use of his much-improved car. PHOTO FROM FORMULA 1

4. Lando Norris benefited from McLaren’s upgrade. It was no secret that the Woking-based team was struggling with having one of the worst cars on the grid. But it appears there might be hope as the update on the MCL60 of Norris gave him a fighting chance in Austria.

He finished P3 in the sprint shoot-out and P4 in qualifying, and ended the grand prix in P5, before being promoted to P4 due to the penalty of Sainz. If the same improvement could be carried over to his teammate Oscar Piastri, then perhaps McLaren would have a shot at beating Alpine for P5 in the standings.

Most of the track-limit breaches were at the final corner. PHOTO FROM FORMULA 1

5. Track-limit violations resulted in penalties galore. If you know how to drive, one basic traffic rule is not to cross solid white lines. This also applies to F1 as those dictate the boundaries of a racing circuit.

However, track limits are a lot harder to follow than you’d imagine when drivers try to use as much of the road to squeeze out every fraction of a second and cut down their time.

These breaches are among the most contentious offenses in the sport because of how arbitrarily they can be enforced from track to track. It seems that the stewards were in full force for Austria, though.

These are all the penalties accumulated post-race for going off-track. SCREENSHOT FROM FORMULA 1

In qualifying alone, 47 lap times were deleted—three of which belonged to Perez who failed to get out of Q2 because of this. Meanwhile, the FIA claims there were over 1,200 possible violations in the race on Sunday, and this kept the stewards busy.

That’s why even more penalties were issued after the event with the results getting jumbled up. It still didn’t alter the podium, fortunately, with Verstappen in first, Leclerc in second, and Perez in third.

The next race will be the 2023 British Grand Prix on July 9 at 10pm (Philippine time).

Leandro Mangubat

Leandro is our staff writer. Although having a background in mechanical engineering, he enjoys photography and writing more.