Austrian Grand Prix: Sprint Will Test Red Bull As Chasing Pack Make Up Ground

This weekend will see our second Sprint race of the season...
13:00, 28 Jun 2023

The second Sprint race of the Formula One season will take place this Saturday as the Austrian Grand Prix takes centre stage and the signs point to a more intriguing race at the front of the pack, particularly over the shorter distance. 

Red Bull are clearly the quickest team on the track, but in Canada last time out Max Verstappen’s victory was the slimmest he has enjoyed this year. Sure, perhaps Christian Horner will point to the treacherous conditions as a reason for that, but credit must also be given to the other teams. 

Aston Martin and Mercedes are both benefiting from recent upgrades and we saw Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton make up the podium places in Montreal. Third placed Hamilton only finished 14 seconds behind Verstappen which in any other season would feel gargantuan, but given where they have been, it is progress for Mercedes. 


Meanwhile, both Ferraris were only only a second slower than second-placed Alonso across the final 30 laps, which will give them encouragement. They have at least shown if they get things right they can keep pace with their rivals which is vital in the race for second place.

The Sprint also provides Ferrari with a further boost, given how they performed at the last shortened race in Baku. Charles Leclerc was quickest in both qualifying sessions and finished second behind Sergio Perez in the Sprint race, with only four seconds between him and Checo after 17 laps. He also kept a rampaging Verstappen behind him and Ferrari will hope to find pace again over the shorter distance. 

AusGPPractice Hamiltonjpg

In addition to Ferrari, Mercedes will be heartened by their performance in Canada. It wasn’t a track they were expected to do particularly well at, or one their car was suited to, yet they came away with a podium - as well as a hefty dose of positivity for the future. For Aston Martin, their latest upgrade is also expected to have a bigger impact elsewhere, with the straight line speed of the Red Bull Ring likely to suit them.

Don’t get me wrong, Red Bull are likely to enjoy a ninth win from nine on home soil, but the gap between them and the chasing pack will be well worth watching. The added factor of the Sprint race could throw another spanner in the works for Horner, while Sergio Perez, after three races without a top three finish - will be feeling the pressure to perform. 

There hasn’t been any drama at the front of the grid so far this term. It’s simply been a case of waving Verstappen off into the distance. But in Austria, it feels as though the excitement could return. One strong weekend from one or more of these chasing teams could lead to serious drama in the hills of Spielberg. 

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