Formula One

2023 Austrian Grand Prix Sprint Saturday driver ratings – How did the drivers perform in the sprint at the Red Bull Ring?

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Photo by XPB / Icon Sport

A frantic sprint in drying conditions took place in Austria and there is plenty to unpack, so let’s see how the drivers performed!

These driver ratings correspond to the Sprint Shootout and Sprint Race that took place on Saturday; thus we are not taking yesterday’s qualifying session. This will be included in the driver ratings for the main Grand Prix, as it set the grid for that.

Max Verstappen: 1st – 10

An eventful opening lap, which featured a few wheel-to-wheel moments with his teammate for the lead, did not prove to be an obstacle for Max Verstappen on his way to another dominant display. Despite the shortened 24-lap race, he was able to pull out a 21-second lead at the end of the race for another victory and increased his lead in the standings to seventy points.

Sergio Perez: 2nd – 6

Coming off the back of his fourth consecutive qualifying session outside the top ten, Sergio Perez had a huge weight on his shoulders to perform. He qualified on the front row and battled hard against his teammate on the opening lap, but lost out. He also fell behind Hulkenberg on the opening lap, but regained second place halfway through the sprint. He could do nothing to follow the pace of Verstappen though and settled for a much-needed podium finish.

Carlos Sainz: 3rd – 9

The day started in a bad way for Carlos Sainz, who almost spent the entirety of SQ1 in his garage due to a brake-by-wire issue. Ferrari was able to repair it just in time though, with the Spaniard recording just one time, to go first in SQ1 and fifth at the end of qualifying. A good start and steady pace earned him third at the end, for his first podium of the season, not far off Perez.

Lance Stroll: 4th – 8

Lance Stroll is renowned for his skills both in opening laps and wet weather, so putting both of those in display for today’s race was no surprise. He leaped ahead of his teammate, as well as Norris, on the first lap and later passed Hulkenberg to get up to fourth. He spent the closing laps trying to fend off the other Aston Martin and succeeded in doing so.

Fernando Alonso: 5th – 6.5

For the second time this season, Fernando Alonso lost out to his teammate in a race and, just like in Spain, followed him across the line. Unlike that race though, today he seemed willing to attack Stroll, but could not find his way through in the wet conditions and crossed the line in fifth.

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Photo by XPB / Icon Sport

Nico Hulkenberg: 6th – 10

Nico Hulkenberg has been impressive in Austria and qualifying fourth in the shootout has been the ultimate proof of that. Gaining two more places on the first lap made things even better for the German and he held onto that position for the first half, but dropped down as tyre wear became a factor. His switch to medium tyres looked like a big gamble, but he brought the car home in sixth, which is where he would have finished at best had he stayed on intermediate tyres. An impressive showing for the German.

Esteban Ocon: 7th – 7

Starting in eighth, the expectation for Esteban Ocon was to fight in the fringes of the points paying positions and that’s what happened indeed. He spent most of the race in eighth, defending from Leclerc and Norris. When others pitted, he found himself in sixth, was unable to hold Hulkenberg back, but held onto seventh position across the line by just nine thousandths of a second from Russell!

George Russell: 8th – 8.5

For George Russell, the qualifying session ended early, as a hydraulics issue left him unable to compete in SQ2. After climbing up to tenth and staying there two-thirds of the way through, points were not looking probable. He was the first to take the risk and switch to slicks, something that gave him eighth and very nearly got him ahead of Ocon as well. An inspired gamble for the Brit paid off.

Lando Norris: 9th – 6.5

McLaren upgrade package seems to be paying dividends already, as after qualifying fourth for the main race, Lando Norris went one better and qualified third for the sprint. A move on the first lap against the two Red Bull did not pay off for the Brit, whose car went into anti-stall and dropped to tenth. From there, ninth was all he could salvage in the drying track.

Lewis Hamilton: 10th – 5.5

Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes endured a tricky qualifying session, which culminated in an SQ1 exit, after a deleted lap due to track limits left him eighteenth. A good recovery to eleventh on the opening laps was followed by a switch to the slicks, but it was not enough to get him to the points.

Oscar Piastri: 11th – 6

Qualifying seventeenth was a disappointment for Oscar Piastri, but a good recovery will give him some of his confidence back. The Australian, racing without the upgrades brought by McLaren, gained a few positions early on and was one of the first to switch to slicks, eventually finishing eleventh.

Charles Leclerc: 12th – 4

After escaping an SQ1 elimination by just one thousandth of a session over Zhou Guanyu, Charles Leclerc qualified sixth. He would start the race in ninth though, after blocking Oscar Piastri during SQ2. He spent most of the race trying to get past Ocon, but he was unable to do so. His pace was nowhere to be found when he switched to slicks and he finished only twelfth.

Alex Albon: 13th – 6

Just like in Canada, Alex Albon looked to be one of the stars of the day, but it did not pan out in the end. Starting eleventh, the Williams driver climbed up to seventh and stayed there until he pitted for slicks. His pace disappeared and he tumbled to thirteenth.

Kevin Magnussen: 14th – 4

Despite his teammate impressing by running at the front, Kevin Magnussen as a non-factor in the race, falling down from his starting place of tenth and not being in contention for points at any point today.

Pierre Gasly: 15th – 4.5

Pierre Gasly was caught out by having to visit the weighbridge during SQ2 and got eliminated, making his task to score points much more difficult. He elected not to switch to slicks and fell down the order late on, eventually coming across the line in fifteenth.

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Photo by XPB / Icon Sport

Yuki Tsunoda: 16th – 4.5

An uneventful sprint for Yuki Tsunoda in Austria, as he qualified thirteenth, made a late switch to intermediates and finished sixteenth. But the Japanese driver is someone we’ve come to expect more from.

Nyck de Vries: 17th – 5

Under pressure from the team’s management, Nyck de Vries needed to step up his game and today was an okay display from him. Finishing seventeenth, just behind the other Alpha Tauri, was nothing impressive though.

Logan Sargeant: 18th – 4

An anonymous race for Logan Sargeant, who started last after having his time deleted in SQ1, and only got ahead of the Alfa Romeos in the race to finish eighteenth.

Zhou Guanyu: 19th – 4

Not much to show from today by Zhou Guanyu, who started sixteenth and followed the strategy of most drivers, but did not have the pace to do much. He only finished ahead of his teammate, who took plenty of risks.

Valtteri Bottas: 20th – 5

The Red Bull Ring is one of the strongest tracks for Valtteri Bottas and losing out to his teammate in the qualifying sessions. He took a ridiculous risk in choosing slick tyres for the start, but he switched to inters before the start. Ultimately, he ran most of the race at the back and stayed on the inters while most of the field switched to slicks and finished last. Credit to him for taking a few much-needed risks though.

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