Austrian GP Wrap: Verstappen snatches dramatic win from Leclerc

Max Verstappen made an incredible recovery to win the Austrian Grand Prix after forcing Charles Leclerc off track in a gripping late battle.

Leclerc looked set to claim his maiden Formula 1® win at the Red Bull Ring, but the Ferrari driver was passed by Verstappen on lap 69 of 71.

Verstappen's win was under investigation after a clash of wheels with the Frenchman in a dramatic end to an eventful race, at a track where he was also victorious last year.

Leclerc was clearly unimpressed with the way the Dutchman overtook, but it was down to the stewards to decide the outcome.

Verstappen had dropped from second to seventh in a poor start but stormed his way through the field - roared on by a huge army of Dutch fans.

Valtteri Bottas took third ahead of Sebastian Vettel after passing championship leader Lewis Hamilton late on.

Fast-finishing Red Bull driver Verstappen first hit the front on lap 68 as he went wheel-to-wheel with Leclerc, only for the Ferrari man to regain first place.

Verstappen passed again on the inside at Turn 3, with the pair touching wheels again, and he did not allow Leclerc to hit back.

 

VERSTAPPEN TAKES IT TO THE MAX

Verstappen started in second after Hamilton was given a three-place grid penalty for impeding Kimi Raikkonen in qualifying.

The 21-year-old Dutchman gave himself work to do when he slipped five spots in a nightmare start.

He appeared to thrive on the challenge of forcing his way through the field, though, and passed Bottas a little too easily with 15 laps to go after overtaking Vettel, before attacking Leclerc.

Verstappen said of his Leclerc pass: "It's hard racing. If those things are not allowed in racing then what's the point in being in Formula 1®."

MORE WOE FOR FERRARI

Not a lot has gone right for Ferrari this season and it was not only Leclerc who endured more misery.

The engineers were not ready for Vettel's pit stop on lap 23 due to a radio issue, a slow stop costing the German time and also Bottas, who had to wait for Vettel.

That opened the door for Mercedes, but they experienced issues of their own as they failed to secure victory for the first time this season.

WING DAMAGE COSTS HAMILTON

It was looking promising for Mercedes when Verstappen started so badly, with Bottas second and Hamilton third.

Ferrari's botched pit stop opened the door for Hamilton to stay out longer at the front on medium tyres, but the defending champion suffered wing damage pushing to extend his lead.

Hamilton had to pit earlier than planned and his championship lead now stands at 31 points after Vettel passed him in the closing stages. The Grand Prix outcome marked the end of a 10-race winning streak for Mercedes.

IN THE POINTS

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
2. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +2.724secs
3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +18.960s
4. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +19.610s
5. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +22.805
6. Lando Norris (McLaren) +1 lap
7. Pierre Gasly (Red Bull) +1 lap
8. Carlos Sainz (McLaren) +1 lap
9. Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo) +1 lap
10. Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo) + lap

DRIVER STANDINGS

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 197
2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) 166 (-31)
3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 126 (-71)
4  Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 123 (-74)
5. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 105 (-92)

CONSTRUCTOR STANDINGS

1. Mercedes 363
2. Ferrari 228 (-135)
3. Red Bull 169 (-194)
4. McLaren 52 (-311)
5. Renault 32 (-331)

WHAT'S NEXT

Vettel will be hoping a repeat of last year's British Grand Prix on July 14, having won at Silverstone last year.

 

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