Sprint winner Max Verstappen claims team-mate Sergio Perez pushed him off track

By Sports Desk July 01, 2023

Max Verstappen accused Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez of pushing him off the road before going on to win Formula One’s sprint race in Austria.

Perez had to settle for second behind Verstappen with Carlos Sainz third for Ferrari.

Lando Norris started third but finished only ninth following a poor opening lap, while George Russell and Lewis Hamilton crossed the line in eighth and 10th respectively on an underwhelming day for Mercedes.

In damp conditions at the Red Bull Ring, pole-sitter Verstappen fell behind Perez as they blasted away from their marks.

Verstappen moved to his right on the run down to the opening corner, but Perez squeezed his way past to take the lead.

However, the Mexican ran wide on the exit of the first bend allowing Verstappen the opportunity of a slingshot back past on the straight.

Verstappen drew alongside his team-mate but ran out of room, briefly dropping two wheels on the grass.

“He pushed me off, man,” yelled Verstappen over the radio. “What the f***.”

On the long drag to the third bend, Verstappen still managed to maintain some momentum, launching an aggressive move down the inside of Perez at Turn 3.

Verstappen made the pass stick, running on deep into the corner, but Perez felt aggrieved by the move. “What is wrong with Max, man,” he said.

From there, Verstappen raced off into the distance, taking the chequered flag 21 sec clear of Perez.

Despite his commanding win, Verstappen, who extended his championship lead from 69 to 70 points, took aim at his team-mate again.

“That first corner was not really nice,” he said on his way back to the pits.

“It could have been a big shunt. We need to have a chat about that. For me it was not OK.”

Russell was the first driver to gamble for dry rubber in the changeable conditions. The British driver pulled in on lap 15 and was soon the speediest man on track.

Half of the 20-strong field took on slicks, too, but such was the advantage of the leading pack, that they were able to finish the race on the intermediate tyres.

However, Russell managed to fight his way back from last after his pit stop to take the final point.

Lance Stroll held off Aston Martin team-mate Fernando Alonso to finish fourth with Haas’ Nico Hulkenberg sixth.

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