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Charles Leclerc

Leclerc beats Verstappen to Austrian GP win amid late drama for Ferrari

Charles Leclerc returned to winning ways at the Austrian Grand Prix, with Max Verstappen taking second after Carlos Sainz's car ground to a halt in the closing stages.

Austria start
To news overview © XPB

Charles Leclerc got the better of Max Verstappen as the pair went head-to-head in an intriguing battle for victory at the Austrian Grand Prix.

Leclerc overhauled Verstappen for the lead on three separate occasions, with Ferrari and Red Bull opting for different tyre strategies.

It marked Leclerc's third triumph of the season - compared to Verstappen's six - and his first since Australia three months ago.

Verstappen made his two routine pit-stops much earlier than Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, leading to a game of cat and mouse that Ferrari ultimately won.

But it was a bittersweet race for the Italian marque, with Sainz retiring due to an apparent engine failure late on – gifting Verstappen second place.

Lewis Hamilton claimed the 'best of the rest' crown with a third successive podium finish, followed by Mercedes teammate George Russell and Alpine's Esteban Ocon.

After a dramatic midfield scrap, the Haas and McLaren cars all scored points, along with Fernando Alonso in the other Alpine.

Result Race - Austrian

# Driver Team Time Tyre
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Drama from the start at the Red Bull Ring

As per the Sprint, Verstappen made another clean getaway to maintain his pole position advantage at the start, with Leclerc slotting into second.

Behind, Sainz lost out to the fast-starting Russell at Turn 1, but fought back on the long run to Turn 3 to reclaim third.

With Russell's exit compromised, Sergio Perez went for a move around the outside of Turn 4, only to get tagged and sent sliding into the gravel.

Replays showed that Perez was marginally ahead at the exit, with the stewards opting to hand Russell a five-second penalty for causing a collision.

Over the following laps, Verstappen pushed hard to free himself from DRS range of Leclerc, with the tactic - used in the Sprint - initially working well.

However, Leclerc soon closed back in and gained use of the overtaking aid, enabling him to get within touching distance in the braking zones.

An initial battle on Lap 10 of 71 went Verstappen's way, but Leclerc did not give up and made a bold move up the inside at Turn 4 two tours later.

From there, Leclerc settled into a rhythm and gradually built up a lead as the frontrunners managed their Medium compound tyres.

Leclerc and Verstappen's battle goes strategic

Verstappen and Red Bull were the first to blink in terms of pit-stops, swapping Medium tyres for Hards on Lap 13 after locking up.

Leclerc and Sainz stayed out much longer, while Verstappen worked his way through the pack – including 2021 title rival Hamilton.

Having initially lost crucial time as he pulled DRS-assisted moves on several cars, Verstappen pumped in a series of fastest laps to put pressure on the Ferrari pit wall.

Leclerc stretched out his opening stint to Lap 27, emerging some six seconds behind Verstappen, with Sainz following suit next time around.

Verstappen moved into what would be a brief lead, with the charging Leclerc breezing past on Lap 33, ahead of the Dutchman's second stop four laps later.

Leclerc's second pass of the day prompted a frustrated radio message from Verstappen, who described his car as "unpredictable".

Leclerc and Sainz both made their second stops with around 20 laps remaining, giving them the task of clearing Verstappen once again – one Leclerc easily ticked off.

However, on Lap 57, Sainz's engine gave up as he approached Verstappen and forced him to park his car amid smoke and flames, putting an end to Ferrari's hopes of a 1-2.

Leclerc and Verstappen both pitted again under the Virtual Safety Car to swap back to Mediums amid the threat of a full Safety Car, which ultimately did not materialise.

Late throttle issues for Leclerc threatened to spell complete disaster for Ferrari, but he overcame them to beat Verstappen to the win.

			© XPB
	© XPB

Hamilton scores another podium for Mercedes

Hamilton made up a handful of places to end the day third, clearing both Ferrari-powered Haas drivers despite remarking on their "crazy" straight-line speed.

Hamilton's teammate, Russell, started the day ahead, but had to settle for fourth - ahead of Ocon - after the penalty handed to him for his clash with Perez.

Mick Schumacher, Lando Norris, Kevin Magnussen and Daniel Ricciardo were involved in a close battle for points, which were completed by Alonso – albeit with an investigation underway for a potential unsafe release from the pits.

Perez retired due to bodywork damage picked up in his clash with Russell, while the Williams of Nicholas Latifi also failed to make the finish amid floor issues.

Elsewhere, Pierre Gasly was given a five-second time penalty for a clash with Sebastian Vettel – in similar style to the Russell/Perez incident.

Gasly was also hit with a five-second penalty over track limits, with several other drivers joining him.

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