Austrian GP: Verstappen edges Leclerc in thrilling race

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen passed Charles Leclerc in a thrilling finish to the Austrian Grand Prix to give Honda its first win since returning to Formula 1.

Austrian GP: Verstappen edges Leclerc in thrilling race

Verstappen fell to eighth on the opening lap but charged through the order and caught Leclerc late on before winning a wheel-to-wheel battle to secure the victory.

However, his race-winning pass – which resulted in minor contact and pushed Leclerc to the run-off, denying Leclerc a first F1 win – led to a post-race investigation from the stewards.

Leclerc finished second on the road, with Valtteri Bottas third as Mercedes' 100% win record at the start of 2019 was finally ended.

Leclerc led from pole position and despite being on a strategy his rivals felt was "risky" managed to keep the lead Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas at arm's length throughout the grand prix.

He then held on to withstand a late assault from Verstappen, who fell from second to eighth on the opening lap but charged back to score Red Bull's best result of the season with Honda.

Leclerc maintained his pole advantage, aided by the anti-stall kicking in on Verstappen's Red Bull and dropping the Dutchman back to seventh at the first corner.

Verstappen then fell to eighth as teammate Pierre Gasly passed him around the outside at Turn 3, but he retook the position around the outside of the penultimate corner.

As Leclerc built a small lead over Bottas at the front, Sebastian Vettel and Verstappen worked their way up the order.

Vettel started ninth after an engine-related problem in qualifying but was up to fourth by lap six, and Verstappen had made it to fifth three laps later.

Despite being on harder tyres that Mercedes thought would be an advantage to Leclerc's softs, Bottas was the first driver to pit on lap 21, with Vettel stopping the same lap.

Vettel lost a big chunk of time because a radio problem for Ferrari's mechanics meant they did not get the instruction he was pitting.

Leclerc covered Bottas's stop one lap after his pursuer, releasing Lewis Hamilton into the race lead as the other Mercedes and Verstappen extended their opening stints.

Hamilton pitted  on lap 30 after quickly losing a lot of time over the last couple of laps of his first stint thanks to front wing damage likely picked up when he ran wide over the sausage kerb at Turn 1.

The time loss and lengthy stop to change his wing meant Hamilton rejoined eight seconds behind Vettel despite the Ferrari driver's own slow stop, and when Verstappen pitted one lap later he rejoined ahead of Hamilton as well.

While Leclerc held a lead of around four seconds out front, Verstappen – 12.9s off the lead in fourth after stopping – began his charge.

It took him 17 laps to chip away at Vettel's deficit but once in DRS range he quickly mounted an attack.

Vettel repeatedly struggled to make the apex of the Turn 3 right-hander at the top of the hill and on lap 50 of 71 Verstappen took advantage with a good run out of the corner, and used DRS to get ahead into the braking zone and pass Vettel around the outside into Turn 4.

Once clear of the Ferrari, which immediately made a second stop for soft tyres and rejoined behind a muted Hamilton, Verstappen quickly caught Bottas.

Both Mercedes drivers' pace was reduced because of temperature management, and Verstappen nailed Bottas for second on the run up to Turn 3 on lap 56 – having only just reported a brief loss of power.

That released him to try to catch Leclerc, six seconds up the road with 15 laps left.

By the time just five laps remained, Verstappen was on the Ferrari's gearbox and attacked on the outside into Turn 3 and 4, but Leclerc just held on.

The next lap, Verstappen dived inside Leclerc with a superb move at Turn 3, but Leclerc just held on around the outside and was able to outdrag the Red Bull down to Turn 4.

With three laps ago Leclerc half covered the inside but Verstappen moved right to the edge of the track, forced Leclerc wide – and the two bumped wheels as Leclerc tried in vain to hang on again on the outside.

Leclerc took to the run-off and complained over the radio, while Verstappen accused his rival of turning in on him.

Verstappen was told to get his head down and escape, which he did – crossing the line almost three seconds clear.

Behind the top three, Vettel used his soft tyres to catch and overhaul Hamilton for fourth.

Championship leader Hamilton was limited to a muted fifth place, but only lost five points to teammate and title rival Bottas.

Lando Norris made up for his heartbreaking end to last week's race in France by winning the best of the rest battle for McLaren in sixth.

He kept the second Red Bull of Pierre Gasly comfortably at bay to score the best result of his rookie season.

Carlos Sainz executed a long first stint to rise to eighth from the back of the grid, while Alfa Romeo duo Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi completed the point scorers – Giovinazzi finally banking his first F1 point in the process.

Cla Driver Chassis Gap
1 Netherlands Max Verstappen Red Bull  
2 Monaco Charles Leclerc Ferrari 2.724
3 Finland Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 18.960
4 Germany Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 19.610
5 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 22.805
6 United Kingdom Lando Norris McLaren 1 Lap
7 France Pierre Gasly Red Bull 1 Lap
8 Spain Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren 1 Lap
9 Finland Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo 1 Lap
10 Italy Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo 1 Lap
11 Mexico Sergio Perez Racing Point 1 Lap
12 Australia Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1 Lap
13 Germany Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1 Lap
14 Canada Lance Stroll Racing Point 1 Lap
15 Thailand Alex Albon Toro Rosso 1 Lap
16 France Romain Grosjean Haas 1 Lap
17 Russian Federation Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 2 Laps
18 United Kingdom George Russell Williams 2 Laps
19 Denmark Kevin Magnussen Haas 2 Laps
20 Poland Robert Kubica Williams 3 Laps
shares
comments
Verstappen rumours won't influence Mercedes 2020 line-up talks

Previous article

Verstappen rumours won't influence Mercedes 2020 line-up talks

Next article

Verstappen: No point being in F1 if Leclerc move is punished

Verstappen: No point being in F1 if Leclerc move is punished
Load comments
The F1 champion who became an Indy king in his second career Prime

The F1 champion who became an Indy king in his second career

Emerson Fittipaldi’s decision to go racing with his brother led to him falling out of F1, but he bloomed again on the IndyCar scene. NIGEL ROEBUCK considers a career of two halves

Why Mercedes is pleased to be in the Hungary hunt at a 'Red Bull track' Prime

Why Mercedes is pleased to be in the Hungary hunt at a 'Red Bull track'

Mercedes ended Friday practice at the Hungaroring with a clear gap to Red Bull thanks to Valtteri Bottas’s pace in topping FP2. But there are other reasons why the Black Arrows squad feels satisfied with its progress so far at a track many Formula 1 observers reckon favours Red Bull overall...

How Red Bull endured its second car crash in two weeks Prime

How Red Bull endured its second car crash in two weeks

OPINION: Red Bull was justified to be upset that Lewis Hamilton survived his British GP clash with Max Verstappen and went on to win. But its attempts to lobby the FIA to reconsider the severity of Hamilton's in-race penalty were always likely to backfire, and have only succeeded in creating a PR disaster that will distract from its on-track efforts

The ‘screaming’ F1 engine future that may not be out of reach Prime

The ‘screaming’ F1 engine future that may not be out of reach

OPINION: It wasn't just the Verstappen/Hamilton clash that had the Red Bull and Mercedes bosses at loggerheads at Silverstone, with the nature of Formula 1's 2025 engines also subject for disagreement. But hopes to have loud, emotive engines that are also environmentally friendly don't have to be opposed.

Formula 1
Jul 29, 2021
How Lotus uncovered, then squandered its last ‘unfair advantage’ Prime

How Lotus uncovered, then squandered its last ‘unfair advantage’

Cast in the mould of its founder Colin Chapman, Lotus was powerful and daring but flawed – as it proved through further soaring peaks and painful troughs into the 1980s. DAMIEN SMITH examines a game-changing era

Formula 1
Jul 27, 2021
The core problems Yas Marina’s long-awaited tweaks won't address Prime

The core problems Yas Marina’s long-awaited tweaks won't address

OPINION: Changes to the layout of Abu Dhabi’s circuit aim to reverse the trend of insipid Formula 1 races there - the promoter has even described one of the new corners as “iconic”. And that, argues STUART CODLING, is one of this venue’s abiding failings

Formula 1
Jul 26, 2021
How Ferrari offered Callum Ilott what Red Bull couldn't Prime

How Ferrari offered Callum Ilott what Red Bull couldn't

Last year's Formula 2 runner-up Callum Ilott could be on his way to becoming the first Briton to contest a grand prix in an Alfa Romeo since Reg Parnell in 1950. But, says Oleg Karpov, the Ferrari Driver Academy protege is having to temper his ambition at the moment – outwardly at least…

Formula 1
Jul 25, 2021
The signs that point to F1's rude health Prime

The signs that point to F1's rude health

OPINION: Formula 1's calendar might still be facing disruption as the pandemic affects travel but, says Mark Gallagher, the business itself is fundamentally strong thanks to the epic rivalry taking place on track and the consistent arrival of new sponsors.

Formula 1
Jul 24, 2021