Formula 1: Max Verstappen wins the Austrian Grand Prix
Max Verstappen celebrated his first win of the season in Spielberg, Austria. The Red Bull driver made after a botched start to a furious catch-up and displaced the long leading Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) in second place.
Following his overtaking maneuver against Leclerc, the race committee spent over two hours discussing whether Verstappen should be punished - and Leclerc should later be named the winner. The Dutchman was allowed to keep his victory. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) was third, Sebastian Vettel fourth. Lewis Hamilton finished fifth at the end.
After qualifying, the starting order was jumbled up due to several penalties. Hamilton started from fourth, alongside his teammate Bottas. This was the first race of the season without a Mercedes in the front row. With Leclerc on pole and Verstappen in second place (both 21 years old) it was the youngest starting row of the Formula 1 history.
The start was spectacular - and from the perspective of Verstappen catastrophic. When the plant jumped to green, the Dutchman did not budge at all. He was overtaken left and right. When the field had sorted after the first corners, Verstappen was only seventh. Vettel, who started in qualifying only in ninth, made up three places at the start.
As Bottas after 22 laps as the first from the top group went to the pits, ordered Ferrari Vettel to change tires. A hasty reaction that seemed to surprise their own mechanics. Hustle broke out as the car drove up, not all four tires had been brought in yet. 6.1 seconds lasted the stop at the end. For comparison: Bottas was back on track after 3.5 seconds, Leclerc - who came shortly after Vettel - after 2.6 seconds.
But despite all adversities Vettel drove a strong race and stayed with the leader. After half of the race, when all the top riders had been in the pits, the Top 5 looked like this:
Series World Champion Hamilton, however, was about 20 seconds behind the Monegassen Leclerc. The Briton had to get a new front wing and stood for eleven seconds in the box.
Verstappen launched an attack on Vettel on lap 48. The German countered the attacks of the faster Dutchman for two rounds, but then Verstappen passed. Although the young star complained by radio drop in performance of his car, but was five laps later Bottas turn and was overtaken. Verstappen now drove one fastest lap to the next, Leclerc's lead melted rapidly at 35 degrees air temperature.
When the Ferrari box warned Leclerc that the Dutchman was lurking just a second behind him, Leclerc replied annoyed, "Leave me alone." His helpers were able to abolish the Monegasse, but not the competitors. Verstappen then worked on Leclerc curve by curve. On lap 69, the Dutchman passed by. A critical scene, both cars touched, Leclerc was briefly pushed off the track. The victory could not be taken Verstappen. The overtaking maneuver was still under review, but Formula Two announced two hours later on Twitter that Verstappen retained victory.