Ferrari surprise in Austria: Leclerc second, Sainz third. Verstappen, pole and investigation: no penalty

Ferrari surprise in Austria: Leclerc second, Sainz third.  Verstappen, pole and investigation: no penalty


The redheads close to the landlord: Max Verstappen in pole on the Red Bull Ring, but behind the two world champions we find the Ferraris of Charles Leclerc by just 48 thousandths and that of Carlos Sainz by less than two tenths. Next to the Spaniard, former teammate Lando Norris, fourth with McLaren. Behind them the Mercedes of Hamilton and the Aston Martin of Stroll, who beat Fernando Alonso, seventh. For Verstappen also the final thrill: he ends up under investigation for having hindered Magnussen in turn 1, but in the end the race direction decides not to take action.

The redheads are the first of the pursuers. Too soon to say if the SF 23 has risen again, given that the main problem of the Prancing Horse’s car so far has been above all in the race. The updates brought to Styria by Maranello (front wing and bottom) seem to confirm the good pace already found in Canada. Confirmation will be received on Sunday. Because Saturday will be entirely dedicated to the sprint race: qualifying in the morning, 100km in the afternoon. An appetizer of the real gp. Most likely, in the rain.

The starting order of the top three for the race is exactly the same as it was a year ago, even if the values ​​in the field have changed with a dominant Red Bull this season, indeed a player in another league, and a Ferrari that has from the beginning it turned out to be below expectations. In 2022, the World Cup was still open up to Austria: Leclerc won in Styria, but it was also the last victory for him and for the Scuderia.

Maybe something is changing? Not for Verstappen, he always travels on the wave: pole number 26, sixth of the year, fourth at his company’s home. A session full of times canceled due to exceeding the track limits, even his teammate, Sergio Perez, fell victim to it. The Mexican, still a little sick from the flu, didn’t get to Q3 for the fourth qualifying in a row. He will start 15th. George Russell also out with the other Mercedes (11th). Max: “Yes it was difficult due to the track limits, we don’t do it on purpose, but at such high speed we don’t see the white lines. It was a matter of survival and that takes away some of the joy. I’m happy with the pole position, but the weekend is still long and special”. And for him who doesn’t really like the sprint format, it will be very long.

Leclerc can’t wait to go through it all. After some difficult qualifying (Barcelona and Montreal) and a not exactly lucky year except for Baku when the first sprint took place (2 poles, 2 podiums), the smile on the face of the Monegasque is seen again: ““It’s a beautiful feeling to have clean qualifying and be back on the front row, the feeling has improved in the last two races, on the last lap I was able to put everything together and stay close to Max, I’m surprised how close. Good feeling with the car since the tests. The race pace seemed good in Montreal, we need to improve our consistency in the race. Red Bull has always been faster on race day for now, but if we can put them in trouble we will and we will be happy.”

Sainz is happy too, despite being faster than Leclerc throughout the session but finally beaten by his teammate: “Good lap, good qualifying. We have taken steps forward, we didn’t expect to be so close. Tomorrow? The weekend is long. Today we have put ourselves in a good position for Sunday, the goal will be to get on the podium with both cars. Tomorrow will be a different day, with different weather and different track conditions. It could change everything, so we’ll have to keep focused.”

Yes it could change everything. Very quietly. The team principal, Fred Vasseur: “Good qualifying, we are not far from pole. Having two cars in the top three is a great reward for all the hard work the team has put into bringing the updates. It’s a first step forward, however valuable, in Canada bad qualifying and a good race, here we want to do well in both. We don’t have sets of new tires ahead of the sprint race, but this is the price to pay on a track where you risk having your time cancelled. Do the updates work? We still have to test them but it seems to us that we are starting to solve the problems ”. It begins again?


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