On a day of penalties, there were low scores throughout the grid in our Austria driver ratings.
Ratings explained: Every driver starts the weekend slap bang in the middle with a 5/10 rating and we operate on a sliding scale from there. We take the entire weekend into account, not just the race itself.
However, the scores will be weighted more towards a driver’s race performance, but qualifying performances (good or bad) are also factored into our ratings and, in extreme circumstances, practice will also play a minor part in the overall score.
The sprint race will also be taken into account but the primary focus will remain Sunday’s grand prix.
Track limits were the words of the day as no fewer than nine drivers handed a penalty for overstepping the mark.
One man who avoided that ignominy was Max Verstappen who won for the 42nd time in his career to take even more control of the title race.
Here are PlanetF1.com’s driver ratings for the 2023 Austrian Grand Prix:
Max Verstappen 9
Another effortlessly dominant weekend performance from the Dutchman who topped every session.
In the sprint race, he had to fend off a team-mate charge that went close to the line if it did not tip over at points but he would finish a staggering 20 seconds ahead of Sergio Perez.
In the race, Verstappen made sure there was no repeat incident at the start but his run of leading every lap was finally broken when Red Bull hesitated ever so slightly in calling him in.
It was Charles Leclerc who took that P1 position that has appeared at times to have been glued to Verstappen but Leclerc was then the victim of a calculated overtake from the Red Bull man.
Heading up the hill, Verstappen eased off to ensure that when they passed the second DRS detection zone, he was behind Leclerc. Come the actual start of the zone, Verstappen had already passed the Ferrari but the DRS advantage allowed him to disappear down the track onto his fifth successive victory.
Charles Leclerc 8
If there was any doubt about who is number one in Ferrari, that was firmly put to bed early on in Austria. Despite being the slower of the two cars, Ferrari rejected Carlos Sainz’s request to pass Charles Leclerc and it worked in the Monégasque’s favour.
They then pitted him first and although it was a slow stop, he had enough time to take the lead once Verstappen came in for his change.
Leclerc’s lead may not have lasted long but there was little he could do to stop the powerful Red Bull.
Overall, it was a good run out for Leclerc but he will question why his team-mate had so much more pace early on.
Sergio Perez 6.5
Yes, he did well to rise up through the ranks to finish on the podium but he should never have had to.
Perez was poor in qualifying, given multiple warnings for track limits but still unable to keep his car within the lines. He paid the price and although his sprint performance was better, the fact he got more points for finishing lower on Sunday than he did on the Saturday shows where his priorities should always lie.
In the RB19, Perez is the second quickest driver but it is the chasm between him and his team-mate that is more reflective of his performance.
Lando Norris 9
An excellent drive from the McLaren man.
As early as Friday, it looked like the upgrades, applied solely to Norris’ car, had greatly improved his performance. His sprint was compromised by anti-stall coming out of Turn 3 but he learned from that in the race itself, recognising this time it was a marathon not a sprint.
At one point, he looked a potential shout for the podium but ultimately the Red Bulls and Ferraris were too quick but he should receive credit for being one of just 11 drivers not to be given an in-race penalty.
With more upgrades on their way for next week’s British Grand Prix, the future is looking rosey for Norris.
Fernando Alonso 7.5
Starting down in P7, Fernando Alonso and Aston Martin needed a perfect strategy if they were to rise high up the grid but they seemed to have changed their mind early on when despite starting on the hard, they swapped for another set under an early Safety Car.
Then when the VSC came out in lap 15, they swapped Alonso onto the mediums meaning his longest stint came on the mediums rather than the hards.
Late on, he did not have the pace to match the other cars who had pitted later which meant P5 was about the best the Spaniard could hope for. He was later promoted to P6 as a result of Sainz’s penalty.
Carlos Sainz 8
At times during the race it seemed as if Carlos Sainz was battling against 19 other drivers and his own team such were the odd choices from the Ferrari pit wall. Early on when the Spaniard had the clear speed advantage over his team-mate, Ferrari rejected numerous pleas from Sainz to be allowed to overtake.
The two were eventually split when Ferrari opted to bring both cars in under the VSC, resulting in time loss for Sainz as a result of the double stack and a slow pit stop sent him down the grid.
He battled his way back up but was vulnerable to a charging Perez and he ended fourth but that was later revoked as a 10-second time penalty pushed him to sixth.
George Russell 7.5
While his team-mate was having difficulties keeping it within the white lines, George Russell was not.
An issue in quali robbed him of a chance to start further up the grid but he made quick moves and maximised his tyres to move up the order.
Perhaps the Astons were potentially within reach had Russell started higher up but that would have been the best Mercedes could have hoped for considering how slow on pace the W14 looked in Austria.
Lewis Hamilton 6.5
An awful race for Lewis Hamilton in which he twice had to be told to focus by team principal Toto Wolff.
The Brit’s biggest complaint was being unable to keep the car within the limits but his team-mate was one of few drivers not to even receive a strike.
The Mercedes car was not quick, as Wolff admitted, but Hamilton’s approach did not help.
Lance Stroll 6.5
Unfortunately timing was the undoing of Lance Stroll’s race as the VSC happened to end the very moment he was in the pits.
As a result, he rejoined much further down the order than he had been expecting but he was involved in a fun battle with Ocon, Albon and Magnussen and Gasly.
His performance was good enough to get him in the points with a P10 finish which was later promoted to P9.
Pierre Gasly 6.5
Pierre Gasly tried to justify his many excursions off the track as his attempts to stay on the tail of Alonso but on a day of penalties, Gasly was amongst the cuplrits.
The black and white flag warning was followed by the five-second penalty but he still managed to finish within the points even after he had an additional 10 seconds added after the race, knocking him down to 10th.
Ignoring the track limits, it was a good race for Gasly who has sort of stumbled into life as an Alpine driver and has yet to fully find his form.
The result means he moves ahead of his team-mate in terms of race finishes, having crossed the line ahead of Esteban Ocon five times in 2023.
Alex Albon 6.5
After a P7 in Canada, it was another race where Albon battled further up than his Williams car should have allowed him to and yet another one where he has nothing to show for it.
He finished 11th and was hit with a track limits penalty but even without that five seconds, he would not have caught Stroll up ahead.
Albon does appear to be operating to the best of his ability but ultimately, the Williams car does not have enough performance.
Zhou Guanyu 5.5
Zhou Guanyu finished ahead of his team-mate but a P14 finish is not much to write home about.
Clearly the car is lacking pace but Zhou managed P9 last time out in Canada which makes you wonder just why he was so much lower down in Austria.
Logan Sargeant 7
Considering he is the least experienced driver on the grid, it came as little surprise to see Logan Sargeant was one of the many hit with a track limits penalty but other than that, it was a good race for the man who has struggled for form in 2023.
The strengths of the Williams car meant it would always suit the long straights of the Red Bull Ring and even if it ultimately lacked for performance against the points-getters, Sargeant was amongst the best of the rest.
It is the American’s best finish since the opening race in Bahrain and maybe enough to get the pressure off his back just a little.
Esteban Ocon 5.5
Esteban Ocon started by picking up a five-second penalty that so many others did but his was actually not his fault for while his rivals were penalised for track limits, the Frenchman was punished for an unsafe release in the pits.
It was an open and shut case with Ocon being released into the path of Logan Sargeant who then had to brake in order to turn into his pit box and as a result, Ocon paid the price.
The 30 seconds added to his time though was a different story with the Frenchman being the worst offender in terms of track limits.
It was not the greatest weekend for Ocon, especially in regards to the race. A P12 quali spot was followed by a finish outside of the points for the first time in five races and he struggled to make any inroads on his charge up the field.
Valtteri Bottas 5
A poor race from a driver who should perhaps be getting more criticism than he currently does. The Alfa car may be slow but the experienced Finn has finished in the points just twice this year and finished behind his team-mate four times.
He qualified P14 but slipped down to 16th before moving up to 15th.
Oscar Piastri 5
The biggest discrepancy between two team-mates came at McLaren and although that was to be expected given Norris was handed the upgrades while Oscar Piastri will have to wait until Silverstone, the more-than-a-lap gap cannot be put down to that alone.
He took damage after he found himself at the back of a queue going into the corner and ended up forcing his front wing under the rear right tyre of Magnussen.
That required a change of front wing and for a McLaren car that has previously looked bereft of pace, it was always going to be a tough ask to move up the grid.
Nyck de Vries 5
Nyck de Vries may have finished ahead of his team-mate for just the second time this season but it was mainly due to the fault of Tsunoda than the performance of the Dutchman.
He started in the pit lane alongside Kevin Magnussen and he would be reunited with the Haas man later in the race as he stepped the wrong side of thet getting your elbows out/forcing someone off line.
Kevin Magnussen 4.5
When the festive season rolls round, we suspect Nyck de Vries will not be on Kevin Magnussen’s Christmas card list.
As they did in Canada, the two found themselves entangled lower down the order but this time, the Dutchman was guilty of shoving Magnussen wide and off the track.
Magnussen’s race was compromised much earlier than that though. A start from the pit lane due to a set-up change meant he was always facing an uphill battle and as we saw with hsi team-mate, Magnussen struggled to make his tyres last.
The unwanted trip into the gravel was the final nail in the coffin with the Dane suspecting his floor may have been damaged as a result.
That handed him a five-second penalty but he did at least keep Valtteri Bottas behind him.
Yuki Tsunoda 4
An eventful afternoon for Yuki Tsunoda with almost none of those events being good ones. His race got off to a dreadful start when he risked too much going into Turn 1 and tagged Ocon.
Tsunoda paid the price though with his front wing picking up enough damage that it needed a change. Before that, another bold move did not come off as he was forced to go into the gravel to avoid contact into the corner having chosen to brake very late.
Luckily for Tsunoda, that caused a VSC but his pit stop was still costly with the front wing swap.
Then came the penalty for track limits and his race could have got a lot worse had the stewards been able to determine whether his team had started working on the car before the time penalty was served.
In the end, the stewards gave him the benefit of the doubt that the front jack had remained off the car but a 10-second penalty would have meant little to a driver who finished in 18th. They did not however give him the benefit of the doubt in terms of track limits and he was given 20 seconds worth of penalties.
Nico Hulkenberg 7
An early end to Nico Hulkenberg’s race as a power loss in lap 14 sent him out but judging by his performance up to that point, he would have finished with the same amount of points even if he had completed the race.
A good quali was rewarded with a P8 but as we have seen so often this year, the Haas just eats through tyres. The first sign came with a lock-up into Turn 3 in the ninth lap and that would surely have happened more often had the German been able to continue.
Haas know there are no points handed out for quali and must solve this tyre issue.
Hulkenberg’s score does get a boost after an excellent sprint quali and sprint.