Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc raced past his title rival Max Verstappen three times before ending the race in first position in the Austrian Grand Prix.
Carlos Sainz was on his way to make the a one-two finish for Ferrari but his car suffered an engine failure with 14 laps to go – a current issue with the team.
With just 10 laps to go, Leclerc had to battle hard to keep Verstappen at bay, but he managed it, and now he has slashed Verstappen’s championship lead to 38 points, to big him new hope of becoming champion. He also moves second in the overall standings after passing Red Bull’s Sergio Perez.
Hamilton achieved a third consecutive podium finish for Mercedes, starting from eighth position as his season is finally coming together. His team-mate George Russell finished behind him in fourth.
For the first time since the Australian Grand Prix in April, Ferrari had significantly better race pace than the Red Bull of Verstappen. However, Leclerc still did have a tough end to the race as the Dutchman followed closely behind.
The Ferrari’s sticking throttle—the accelerator was not returning to zero when Leclerc lifted off—was also affecting the gearbox, because it refused to make some shifts due to the initial issue.
Despite showing signs of nervousness and worry over the radio, Leclerc handled the issue well to take his first victory since Melbourne.
In addition to suffering through a string of poor performances, the Frenchman has lost two races due to strategy errors and suffered two engine failures.
Ferrari’s performance in the race, although unexpected, will increase their confidence that they can challenge the Dutchman for the championship over the remaining races.
Pace Advantage for Ferrari
Ferrari’s speed came as a bit of a surprise on a track where Red Bull has been so dominant recently.
From the beginning of the race, Leclerc kept tabs on Verstappen until making an excellent pass around the inside of Turn Three on lap 10.
Red Bull switched to a two-stop strategy in the hope of challenging Ferrari after three laps, when Verstappen pitted very early. But it became apparent further in the race that the Ferrari cars were just too quick.
Leclerc pitted 13 laps after Verstappen. He came out 6.2 seconds behind and soon overtook the Red Bull, catching up nine laps later.
Ferrari decided to deploy a one-stop strategy in the early stages of the race, but in the second phase of the race, when Verstappen made his second stop three laps after losing the lead, Leclerc pitted a second time, again 13 laps after Verstappen.
He came out only 1.4 seconds behind Verstappen this time, and overtook him again four laps later.
Sainz was approaching fast to try to pass Verstappen, who was rapidly losing ground to him, when his engine broke down on lap 57.
Ferrari’s reliability issues once again proved troublesome for the team, as Leclerc and several other cars using their engines struggled throughout the race. Verstappen was also able to decrease his disadvantage to Leclerc to the minimum, despite having his worst race in some time.
Rest of the Track
Hamilton stayed out longer than he needed to early in the race to avoid losing ground to competitors who pitted early as a result of Verstappen’s stop.
Lewis Hamilton, the seven-time champion, ran in clear air for one lap after he pitted one lap after Sainz’s Ferrari had made a first stop. He also passed Esteban Ocon’s Alpine two laps later to grab the fourth place that became third on Sainz’s retirement.
Lando Norris and Ocon finished sixth and fifth, respectively, behind Schumacher, who recorded his best F1 finish in sixth. McLarens driven by Daniel Ricciardo and Kevin Magnussen finished seventh and eighth, respectively.
Ocon finished in fifth place, ahead of Haas driver Mick Schumacher, who took his best F1 finish ever in sixth, Lando Norris’s McLaren, the second Haas of Kevin Magnussen and Daniel Ricciardo’s McLaren.
Despite starting from the back of the grid, Fernando Alonso managed to pass Alex Albon’s Williams and Valtteri Bottas’s Alfa Romeo to take the final point, thanks to a late stop for medium tyres.
Russell received a five-second penalty for striking Perez on the first lap, ending the Mexican’s podium finish hopes.
Williams Racing Performance
In a reverse of last week, Alex Albon finish 12th and Nicholas Latifi did not finish.
What they said:
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance:
Today was a good recovery after the result yesterday. Alex drove well and the strategy worked well. Having got into the top 10 with only 10 laps to go, it was disappointing to miss out on a point. However, we had been battling with Bottas since the first pitstop and it was a tight race that could’ve gone either way. At least we got a full race completed with the updated car, which gives some data to go through before we run again in France.
Nicholas suffered with some floor damage early in the race, which cost him a lot of downforce and made the car very difficult to drive. As the damage worsened, we elected to retire him before more significant damage occurred.
After the damage done in Silverstone last week, to come straight to the Red Bull Ring and for Alex to be competitive throughout the weekend and for Nicholas to continue his good qualifying performance, is a good result for the entire team who worked very hard to get us back into this position.
It was a fun race. We took risks, we were bold and I had to push a little bit too hard on the tyres to keep up with Valtteri as he was a little bit quicker than us, so I knew what I was doing wasn’t kind to the tyres but I was trying to stay close to him. You risk and you push to fight for points and today it didn’t quite work out for us, but I still feel it was a good race. The whole race we were more or less matching the McLarens, we hit a bit of traffic here and there but I was really happy with our pace and we’ve definitely made a step forward this weekend. It was the first proper race with the new aero upgrade that we have and there’s a lot learnt from today so we can look at the data and come back stronger in France.
We sustained floor damage from running over some debris at the start of the race and I ran wide on one curb. Towards the end of the first stint I could feel the balance getting worse. Beginning of the second stint there was a lack of downforce and pace. The decision was to retire the car to save the engine mileage and we’ll be ready to go again In France.
Austrian Grand Prix Results
|Track: Red Bull Ring, Austria||Lap Length: 4.318 km|
|Pos||Driver||Team||Time/Gap (Fastest Lap)||Grid||Tyre Changes|
|2.||M. Verstappen||Oracle Red Bull Racing||+1.532s|
|12.||A. Albon||Williams Racing|| |
+ 1 LAP
|DNF||N. Latifi||Williams Racing||DNF|
2022 FIA Formula One World Championship Schedule
|1||20-Mar-22||Bahrain Grand Prix||Bahrain IC, Sakhir|
|2||27-Mar-22||Saudi Arabia Grand Prix||Jeddah Street Circuit, Jeddah|
|3||10-Apr-22||Australian Grand Prix||Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, Melbourne|
|4||24-Apr-22||Emilia Romagna Grand Prix||Imola|
|5||08-May-22||Miami Grand Prix||Miami International Autodrome, Miami|
|6||22-May-22||Spanish Grand Prix||Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona|
|7||29-May-22||Monaco Grand Prix||Monte Carlo, Monaco|
|8||12-Jun-22||Azerbaijan Grand Prix||Baku City Circuit, Baku|
|9||19-Jun-22||Canadian Grand Prix||Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal|
|10||03-Jul-22||British Grand Prix||Silverstone|
|11||10-Jul-22||Austrian Grand Prix||Red Bull Ring, Spielberg|
|12||24-Jul-22||French Grand Prix||Circuit Paul Ricard, Le Castellet|
|13||31-Jul-22||Hungarian Grand Prix||Hungaroring, Mogyorod|
|14||28-Aug-22||Belgian Grand Prix||Spa-Francorchamps, Francorchamps|
|15||04-Sep-22||Dutch Grand Prix||Zandvoort|
|16||11-Sep-22||Italian Grand Prix||Monza|
|17||02-Oct-22||Singapore Grand Prix||Marina Bay, Singapore|
|18||09-Oct-22||Japanese Grand Prix||Suzuka|
|19||23-Oct-22||United States Grand Prix||Circuit of the Americas, Austin|
|20||30-Oct-22||Mexican Grand Prix||Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Mexico City|
|21||13-Nov-22||Brazilian Grand Prix||Interlagos, Sao Paulo|
|22||20-Nov-22||Abu Dhabi Grand Prix||Yas Marina, Abu Dhabi|