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SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA - JULY 01: Sprint winner Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing and Second placed Sergio Perez of Mexico and Oracle Red Bull Racing talk in parc ferme during the Sprint ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Austria at Red Bull Ring on July 01, 2023 in Spielberg, Austria. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)

Hill: Verstappen v Perez, we want to see entertainment

SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA - JULY 01: Sprint winner Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing and Second placed Sergio Perez of Mexico and Oracle Red Bull Racing talk in parc ferme during the Sprint ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Austria at Red Bull Ring on July 01, 2023 in Spielberg, Austria. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)

The only real talking points of the 2023 Austrian Grand Prix Sprint Race, were a first-lap rubbing of wheels between Red Bull duo Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez, and then the 20-second gap the World Champ had to his teammate when they crossed the line one-two at Red Bull Ring on Saturday.

With Verstappen apparently not content with just winning these days, but rather by how much seems to matter for the Dutch ace; aka as how much damage he can inflict on the chasing posse, while the lead RBR delivered another demolition job.

Hence the role of ‘entertaining’ F1 viewers fell to the Best of the Rest, where the action was indeed fast and furious, but the problem is that this is F1, where it’s all about winning and second place is the domicile of the first of the other 19 losers.

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But, thankfully, the rest of the ‘show’ has its moments pointed out in Jad Mallak’s Sprint Race report.

For a while now, the only way Verstappen is going to be stopped from claiming an increasingly inevitable third F1 title in a row is from within his own team, in the form of Perez. And, for the first half a dozen races the Mexican veteran looked primed for a proper title fight, but after his impressive wins in Jeddah and then Baku, his form took a steep nose-dive while Max raised the benchmark even further.

Although Perez did well to qualy second in the Sprint Shootout and then did what was expected of him to finish second in the race, albeit a distant second for two drivers in the same dominant car, which the Red Bull RB19 is. Not quite a challenge to Verstappen, but still the only hope that this 2023 F1 championship, in its ninth round of 22 this weekend, remains relevant and the forthcoming races worth following.

Reflecting on the Sprint Race, Damon Hill said on Sky F1: “We want to see entertainment. If you’re a team boss you might have a quiet word and say: What are you doing? That was a little bit too overaggressive, do you mind not doing that in the future? It was very feisty from Sergio.”

Damon: I don’t know if Christian is as happy as he showed

F1 fans got a brief taste when Perez found himself leading into Turn 1, drifted wide as Verstappen cut inside for the drag race up the hill, through the slight left-angled elbow they call Turn 2 and then hung Perez out to dry, the #11 car tripping up and dropping to third, while Verstappen powered to a victory which he made look easy.

Hill continued: “I understand it slightly more from Max’s case. From our point of view, we could see Max out-broke himself [at Turn 3]. I don’t think Checo knew that information at the moment, which is why he released his frustration.

“I want to believe that they fully can really race as much as they want. They showed us there they can do a bit of it. At the end of the day, neither of those incidents cost them anything. We want to see them racing. I don’t know if Christian is as happy as he showed,” added Hill.

On that note, immediately after the race, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner commented on Sky F1: “They’ve spoken about it. I think Checo had Max maybe unsighted there on the right-hand side. Thankfully they didn’t collect each other and a 1-2 finish is a great result for the team.

“The rules are very fair, race hard but give each other space. At Turn One and Three was OK, the bit in the middle was where it got a bit tasty but maybe Checo didn’t see Max,” insisted Horner.

Perez: I’ve had a rough period which many drivers have had

SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA - JULY 01: Sprint winner Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing and Second placed Sergio Perez of Mexico and Oracle Red Bull Racing talk in parc ferme during the Sprint ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Austria at Red Bull Ring on July 01, 2023 in Spielberg, Austria. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Despite the first lap affair at their home Red Bull Ring, Perez knows he needed that result and told reporters: “I haven’t lost it, you know, you don’t go from winning races to all of a sudden being a very bad driver.”

Nevertheless, Verstappen, winner of six of eight races this season, still extended his lead over the Mexican to a massive 70 points.

Perez went on to explain: “People in the sport forget the amount of detail we are operating at. When you don’t have everything together, then you see a big difference. But yes, I’ve had a rough period which many drivers have had, but it seems to be even bigger when a Red Bull driver has it.”

Saturday might well be as good as it gets for the veteran, starting his 344th Grand Prix today, because Perez qualified only 15th for today’s race after having laps deleted for exceeding track limits and has also been struggling with his health, after reporting sick on arrival in Spielberg.

“I’m not that good. Just recovering. It’s going to be a tough race,” predicted the Mexican, who has not been on the podium since the Miami Grand Prix, and from  (Additional Reporting by Reuters)