Max Verstappen beats Charles Leclerc to win Austrian Grand Prix
SPIELBERG, Austria — Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won the Austrian Grand Prix after beating Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in a wheel-banging battle of the 21-year-olds on Sunday, subject to a Formula One stewards’ enquiry. The Dutchman’s victory for the second year in a row at Spielberg also dealt champions Mercedes their first defeat of the season.
Verstappen seized the lead from Leclerc, who had led from pole position, two laps from the end with the dueling pair making contact into the tight uphill turn three as the crowd roared.
He crossed the line, acclaimed by thousands of orange-shirted Dutch fans at a circuit owned by Red Bull, 2.7 seconds ahead of the Monegasque. The pair were the sport’s youngest ever top two.
Valtteri Bottas was third for Mercedes, who saw their streak of 10 successive wins — eight this season — come to an end. Championship-leading teammate Lewis Hamilton, winner of the previous four races, finished fifth and behind Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
Five-times world champion Hamilton remains well in front in the standings, 31 clear of Finland’s Bottas after nine of 21 races.
The victory was the first for a Honda-powered car since Britain’s Jenson Button won in Hungary in 2006 for the Japanese manufacturer’s own team, and a welcome antidote to last weekend’s dull French Grand Prix.
Verstappen, now with six career wins if confirmed, was also the last driver to beat Mercedes — in the Mexican Grand Prix last October.
“For Honda to win again here is incredible,” said the youngster, who had to fight back from eighth at the end of the first lap after getting bogged down on the front row at the start.
The Red Bull came into a league of its own after the pitstops with Verstappen scything through the field one car at a time and then chasing down Leclerc.
“After that start, I thought the race was over,” said Verstappen.
“It’s hard racing, otherwise we have to stay at home. If those things are not allowed in racing, then what’s the point of being in Formula One,” he added when asked about the summons.
The Monegasque, forced wide as Verstappen went through, said he would let the stewards decide.
“On the incident for me it was pretty clear in the car,” he said. “I don’t know what it looked like from the outside but we’ll see what the decision is.
“We touched and I had to go wide, and I didn’t have a chance to fight back,” added Leclerc, who had fended off another attack from the Red Bull a lap earlier.
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said Verstappen had given Leclerc enough room.
“These are two guys of the future and if they take this victory away from Max that’s stealing from Formula One,” he said. “We need drivers going wheel-to-wheel and fighting with each other.”
Leclerc also led from pole in Bahrain in March before losing out with an engine problem.
Vettel made two pitstops, the first catching the mechanics by surprise, and used his fresher tires to put a late move on Hamilton.
The Mercedes driver had qualified second but started fourth after collecting a penalty for impeding Kimi Raikkonen in Saturday’s qualifying.
The championship leader had to take on a new front wing at his pitstop and then later had to manage his pace as his Mercedes struggled in the heat.
“Today exposed our Achilles heel,” said Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff. “We couldn’t really race with our car. We were just trying to keep it alive and cool it properly.”
British rookie Lando Norris finished sixth for McLaren, who also had Carlos Sainz eighth after the Spaniard started at the back of the field.
Verstappen’s under-fire French teammate Pierre Gasly was seventh, while Alfa Romeo had a double points finish with Raikkonen ninth and Antonio Giovinazzi 10th. The point was the Italian’s first in Formula One.
Sunday’s race saw no major incident with all of the 20 cars making it to the flag. (Writing by Abhishek Takle; Editing by Alan Baldwin and Clare Fallon)
via Autoblog https://ift.tt/1afPJWx
June 30, 2019 at 02:27PM