“I was scared. I was really scared.”
After his teammate Carlos Sainz’s car ignited in flames on Lap 58, Charles Leclerc was having issues with his throttle as the laps wound down during the Austrian Grand Prix.
While Max Verstappen kept the pressure on Leclerc, the Monaco driver survived to win by 1.5 seconds, gaining six points in the World Driver’s Championship race. It is Leclerc’s first career victory where he did not start on pole.
During the last five races, Leclerc suffered two DNFs and two lost podium places due to poor pit strategy calls from Ferrari. This time around, Ferrari made the correct pit strategy decisions to defeat Verstappen.
12 laps into the race, Leclerc overtook Verstappen on pure pace. Verstappen pitted two laps later to gain the speed on fresher tires for a two-stop strategy. While the Austrian GP was expected to be a one-stop race, every team elected for the two-stop strategy.
Leclerc pitted 13 laps after Verstappen both times, allowing him to pass the Dutchman three times throughout the race. After Leclerc overtook Verstappen for a third time on Lap 53, Sainz attempted to track down Verstappn and snag a 1-2 finish for Ferrari.
However, Sainz’s car ignited in flames on Lap 58, resulting in his fourth DNF of the season. The two frontrunners took advantage of the Virtual Safety Car and gained a free pit stop. Leclerc came out four seconds ahead and nervously held off Verstappen for the win despite Leclerc having issues with his throttle.
“It was a really good race,” Leclerc said. “The pace was there. The end was incredibly difficult – I had this problem with the throttle but we managed to make it stick until the end. I’m so so happy.”
Sainz’s retirement canceled out Sergio Perez’s crash on Lap 1 as George Russell made contact with the Mexican driver in turn 4. Perez retired 26 laps later as there was too much damage to stay out. With Leclerc’s win, the Ferrari driver now sits P2 in the WDC standings, 38 points behind Verstappen.
Despite a five-second time penalty for Russell as a result of the class, Mercedes once again took advanatge of the DNFs from Ferrari and Red Bull Racing. Lewis Hamilton worked his way past a crowded midfield to land on the podium for the third race in a row and the 186th time in his legendary Formula 1 career.
“A big thank you to the men and women in the garage who rebuilt the car,” Hamilton said. “We’ve made some improvements this weekend. We just have to keep chipping away.”
Russell recovered to finish P4, once again securing a top-five finish after his streak was broken at Silverstone last weekend.
Esteban Ocon finished P5 to pick up his first top-five finish of the season. His teammate Fernando Alonso overtook Alexander Albon and Valttteri Bottas at the end of the race to secure a point
For the second race in a row, Haas F1 Team secured a double-points finish with Mick Schumacher outdueling a packed midfield to finish P6, the best result of his F1 career one week after getting his points in F1.
Kevin Magnussen finished P8 after finishing P7 in the sprint race, gaining six points in Austria this weekend.
Lando Norris came home to finish P7 despite a five-second time penalty, his worst career finish at the Red Bull Ring while Daniel Ricciardo salvaged a P9 finish after struggling for pace on Friday and Saturday.
The stewards were strict on track limits throughout the weekend as Perez had his Q3 times deleted for that reason. During the Austrian Grand Prix, Norris, Pierre Gasly, and Zhou Guanyu all suffered five-second time penalties for exceeding track limits.
Next up, the 2022 Formula 1 season will head to Circuit Paul Ricard on July, 24 for the French Grand Prix.