Charles Leclerc survived a late reliability scare to win the Austrian GP, securing his first victory since the Australian GP in April. Benefitting from Carlos Sainz’s engine failure, Max Verstappen finished second, while Lewis Hamilton completed the podium.
- Leclerc survives throttle issue to win
- Verstappen and Hamilton on podium
- Sainz, Perez retire
Leclerc fends off Verstappen
Verstappen may have won the Sprint Race on Saturday, but Ferrari appeared to have a clear pace advantage in Sunday’s race. Leclerc passed Verstappen to move into the lead on lap 12, prompting the Red Bull driver to pit. He briefly lost that lead when he pitted for fresh tyres, but it didn’t take too much time to catch Verstappen and once again pass him for the lead.
But reliability problems hit Ferrari in the closing stages of the race. While the Virtual Safety Car was deployed for Sainz’ stoppage, Leclerc started reporting issues with his throttle, which made downshifts difficult.
This allowed Verstappen to close the gap down to within 2.3sec. But Leclerc survived some tense final laps to take victory. This hands Ferrari their second consecutive win, following Sainz’ British GP victory, helping them put some pressure on current championship leader Verstappen. It was also a much-needed result for Leclerc, who hadn’t been on the podium since Miami.
“I definitely needed that one,” Leclerc admitted. “The last five races have been incredibly difficult for myself but also for the team obviously, and to finally show that we've got the pace in the car and that we can do it is incredible, so we need to push until the end [of the year].”
Explaining what happened in the closing stages, he said, “the end was incredibly difficult. I had this problem with the throttle and it would get stuck at 20 percent or 30 percent throttle in the low-speed. So it was very tricky but we managed to make it stick until the end and I'm so happy.”
Sainz’s engine failure costs Ferrari 1-2 result
Ferrari did, however, lose out on what looked like a clear shot at a 1-2 finish. Sainz was right on Verstappen’s tail when he suddenly slowed with fire at the rear of his Ferrari. This also has an impact on Leclerc’s championship fight; had Sainz finished second, he could have eaten into Verstappen’s lead.
Sainz’s retirement allowed Hamilton to land the final spot on the podium for the third time in a row. George Russell finished fourth, having been handed a 5-sec penalty for colliding with Sergio Perez early in the race.
Alpine’s Esteban Ocon was fifth. Mick Schumacher scored his best F1 result yet with a sixth-place finish, after overtaking McLaren’s Lando Norris and his Haas teammate Kevin Magnussen. Daniel Ricciardo finished ninth for McLaren, while Fernando Alonso rounded out the top 10 after having to pit thrice.
2022 F1 championship standings
Leclerc’s win has helped him close the gap to Verstappen in the championship by a bit. At the halfway point of the season, Verstappen now holds a 38 points lead. But as we’ve seen in the past, it only takes one bad race to turn things around, so it yet remains a tight championship battle.
After a short break, the French GP is up next on July 24.
2022 Austrian GP results
|2022 Austrian GP results|
|2||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing|
|11||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo|
|13||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin|
|14||Zhou Guanyu||Alfa Romeo|
|17||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin|
|NC||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing|