Written by Sofia Costantino, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri
Are you ready to dive into the high-speed world of Formula One? Whether you're a seasoned fan or a newcomer to the sport, there's never been a better time to catch up with everything happening on track this year.
This article has got you covered, from the latest race results and driver standings to the biggest shocks and controversies. So buckle up and get ready to experience the thrill of the race like never before!
Carlos Sainz showcased his incredible consistency, remarkable ability, and awareness on track throughout the race, proving himself as a formidable force on the day. Coming into the race, expectations were high for Sainz and the Ferrari team, with the car’s upgrades paying off throughout the weekend. The circuit at Spielberg demands a balanced approach to strategy, tire management, and optimum performance. Sainz demonstrated his prowess right from the start, qualifying in a strong position, earning himself a place in the top three on the starting grid.
As the race unfolded, Sainz's talent became evident. He skillfully maneuvered through the early stages, maintaining a steady pace while managing his tires efficiently. This calculated approach allowed him to build a solid foundation and lay the groundwork for a successful strategy.
Sainz's performance this weekend was a masterclass. It was truly amazing his ability to defend his position while under pressure, execute the strategy this weekend, and helped his teammate finish second, securing crucial championship points for the team.
Despite his stunning drive, the smooth operator admitted to being left with a “sour feeling” after the Austrian Grand Prix, the Ferrari driver’s promising race at the Red Bull Ring ultimately yielding only a fourth-place finish, which became sixth after a post-race time penalty (we’ll talk about this later on).
Sainz ran third behind Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc in the early stages of Sunday’s race, but after closing in on his team mate for second position, he was instructed by the Ferrari pit wall to hold position. His position was going to be compromised by being the second of the Ferraris to pit under the early Virtual Safety Car, costing him valuable time as he dropped behind Sergio Perez, Lando Norris, and Lewis Hamilton.
While Norris and Hamilton were easy targets in the following laps, Sainz could not out-race Perez to the chequered flag and had to settle for fourth position. However, following a protest from Aston Martin regarding track limits, he was one of eight drivers to receive a post-race penalty. His was 10 seconds, and dropped him two places to sixth, behind Norris and Fernando Alonso.
“Yeah, obviously frustrated with the final outcome after having such a strong pace on the medium [tyres], feeling also like I was playing the team game and not getting rewarded with a good result,” said Sainz, speaking before the additional 10-second time penalty was awarded.
“It always leaves you with a sour feeling. I’ve been very strong today, very quick, very fast, good overtaking, good defending, but in the end, P4 is not what I want.”
When talking about pitting under VSC, Sainz continued: “The Virtual Safety Car ending like it was, I think it would have made sense because I was always going to get a bit penalised by that, which I did.
“I think I lost six or seven seconds of race time, three positions which I had to recover then, using my tyres, track limits… From the first stop onwards my race was quite compromised, especially a shame after having such a good pace.”
However, Sainz is still left with plenty of hope from Ferrari’s new and upgraded car, the improvements noticeable by everyone, and not only the car, but also his own level of driving, he did a remarkable job this past weekend.
“Yeah, I’m very happy with the car performance this weekend, with my feeling with the car,” he commented. “I think I’m also in a good personal moment with my driving, with my understanding of the car, how to drive it in the race, it’s just a shame that we could not maximize the result.”
Sainz has been one of the most consistent drivers this season. Austria was the first race which saw Ferrari battle for the win. For all the tifosis out there, we hope they maintain the rhythm and continue to improve, let's hope for a race like Silverstone last year, with Sainz celebrating first place. And concluding with the Ferrari column, we must congratulate them once again on their 800th podium, a historic milestone in the sport.
Now, let's carry on, and talk about the Virtual Safety Car that appeared to have changed the pace of the race. Even before the VSC, Red Bull could already see that the degradation rate of almost everyone was high enough to have moved the race decisively towards a two-stop, whereas pre-race, many felt the one-stop would be favored. So, the risk of coming in a few laps earlier than ideal wasn’t a big one.
But Red Bull’s reasoning for staying out was different for each car. Christian Horner told Verstappen “Staying out put us on an offset to the others, and although it meant we conceded track position [to the Ferraris] when we came in [nine laps later], the tyre advantage it provided meant it was easy to recover that.”
Furthermore, Ferrari did not get the full advantage of stopping under the VSC because it was rescinded just as Leclerc and Sainz were exiting the pit lane. “The VSC came about 5s too late for us,” rued Ferrari’s Frederic Vasseur, “and ended about 5s too early.”
When they rejoined with the field back up to full racing speed, Leclerc was around 18s behind Verstappen, meaning the VSC had saved him only around 7s. For Sainz, having to be stacked behind the other Ferrari was a definite disadvantage, as we discussed before.
Staying out was particularly advantageous for Perez, for as the slower cars ahead of him (Pierre Gasly’s Alpine, the two Aston Martins, Lando Norris’s McLaren, and Hamilton’s Mercedes) pitted out his way, and he was able to use the clear air to utilise the Red Bull’s performance, to essentially leapfrog them all.
Max Verstappen continued his dominant form in the 2023 Formula One season with a victory in the Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday. The Red Bull driver started from pole position and led every lap of the race, finishing ahead of Charles Leclerc of Ferrari and Sergio Perez of Red Bull. Thus, the two-time champion reached 42 wins in Formula One, surpassing Ayrton Senna to place himself among the 5 most winners in history. The mythical Brazilian driver would probably be the proudest of the feat, considering that he faithfully reflects the group to which they belong. That of the great champions: arrogant, exaggerated, and not afraid to take risks that anyone else would not dare.
The greatest demonstration of this was given by Verstappen in this last Austrian Grand Prix, which dominated widely, to leave everyone perplexed, when with a lead of 24 seconds over second place (Charles Leclerc, Ferrari) he entered Pits on the penultimate lap of the competition to switch to soft tyres and thus achieve the fastest lap of the race and get one more point (34 on the weekend), which was also taking away from his own team-mate, Sergio Pérez.
But that's the way champions are made. That's why they make so much money. They can be criticized for not showing more humanity or humility, but we are talking about feelings that do not contemplate the big competitors who with their “killer instinct” constantly bend their opponents both on the ground and psychologically, constantly throwing signs of superiority, especially when they try to minimize their achievements by claiming that they win because they have (certainly) the best single-seater.
But not only are they not afraid of the possibility of losing the race “stupidly” if something goes wrong on that unnecessary extra stop, the message to their team is even clearer: they trust them completely and that makes them better.
However, the weekend was not without controversy. Aston Martin protested the results of the race, arguing that many drivers had exceeded track limits on several occasions. The FIA investigated the protest, and ultimately awarded penalties totaling 100 seconds to drivers such as Carlos Sainz, Lewis Hamilton, Esteban Ocon, and others.
The penalty was issued hours after the race had concluded, which led to some criticism from fans and pundits. The track limits issue is also a hot topic of debate. The Red Bull Ring has a number of corners where drivers can run wide without being penalised. This has led to some drivers questioning the fairness of the track, and to calls for the FIA to be more consistent in its enforcement of track limits.
Yet, as the spirit of competition comes from within, for all the participants, the fight for second place becomes the priority, and that is where the optimism of the results is centred. Ferrari were delighted for the podium achieved with Leclerc, finishing just about five seconds behind Verstappen (but without the late pit stop, they would be 24 and if we take into account that Leclerc's arrest was with the Virtual Security vehicle which saved him about 10 seconds, we are talking about more than half a minute, as always).
Thus, as the joy was for Mercedes in Spain and Canada, it passes from one circuit to the other, depending more on the characteristics of the tracks than on the potential improvements, which must be corroborated in subsequent events. In that sense, Aston Martin seems to have stagnated, compared to its initial results and progress is becoming more difficult to achieve.
This weekend will see the cars take to a completely different circuit to the Red Bull Ring. The famous Silverstone circuit will test the chasing pack, in their attempt to catch a driver who has left them very little chance so far. However, while it is the envy of fans of other teams and drivers, those who love the sport have that rare opportunity to enjoy the talent of an extraordinary driver, once again.
Overall, it was a mixed weekend for Formula One, the next race is the British Grand Prix, the one and only Silverstone, on july seventh. All these exciting things to look out for and more will surely make the British Grand Prix an exciting event for Formula One fans. Be sure to tune in to see how it all unfolds on the track.