Verstappen Claims Another Victory with Impressive Sprint - Hulkenberg Scores Points

news 01-Jul-2023 Sport

Verstappen Sprints to Another Victory - Hulkenberg Scores Points

Spielberg - In the next display of power by Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen, Nico Hulkenberg was rewarded with three championship points for his bold rainy drive in Austria. The only German driver in the field had even been a surprising second-place contender during the sprint in Spielberg, but had to settle for sixth position in the wet conditions of Styria. For the second time this season, the 35-year-old from Emmerich came away with some points.

"The wet track really suited us. However, as the track started to dry, it really chewed up the tires, more so for us than for others," Hulkenberg said on Sky. "When it was properly wet, it was okay." Overall, he was very satisfied and also commented on his team's correct strategy: "I feel absolutely comfortable."

Internal Strife at Red Bull

Behind the 25-year-old Dutchman Verstappen, who now has a 70-point lead in the championship standings, Sergio Perez finished second in the second Red Bull. Carlos Sainz took third place in the Ferrari. "It was a good race," said Verstappen, but also criticized Perez for a tough maneuver at the start of the 100-kilometer race: "That wasn't very nice. The way he did it was not okay."

Perez immediately explained his behavior: "Max was angry, but I didn't see him. When I realized it, I made room for him." Sending others onto the grass under wet conditions is not quite in line with good teamwork, emphasized Red Bull's motorsport director Helmut Marko on Sky.

The second-place championship contender Perez had the best start and aggressively passed polesitter Verstappen. The two Red Bulls battled unusually hard, with Verstappen even briefly going off the track before reclaiming the lead. "He pushed me off. What the hell?" cursed double champion Verstappen over the radio. However, after crossing the finish line, he had regained his composure and said, "It was a tricky moment. When you get pushed into the grass, it's very slippery."

Hulkenberg Seizes the Opportunity

Hulkenberg cleverly took advantage of the internal duel and moved up from fourth place to second. In recent weeks, the veteran driver had consistently secured good qualifying positions but had regularly been pushed far back in the races. However, the slippery circuit in Styria played into the hands of the driver from the Rhineland in the early stages. While dominator Verstappen effortlessly and predictably pulled away at the front, Hulkenberg cleverly held his position right behind.

Only in the twelfth of 24 laps did Perez overtake him on the slowly drying track, and shortly after that, Sainz also passed him. It became clear that the Haas car couldn't keep up with the frontrunners in the race. By that time, Verstappen already had a lead of over ten seconds and stayed out of all the commotion.

Main Race on Sunday

The main race in Spielberg will take place on Sunday (3:00 p.m./Sky). Verstappen, starting from pole position, has the chance to secure his seventh Grand Prix victory in the ninth race of the championship. Last year, he finished second behind runner-up Charles Leclerc, but he had already celebrated a total of four Grand Prix wins at the Red Bull Ring.

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