Leclerc wins Austrian GP despite late scare

Red Bull’s Verstappen had to settle for second place, but holds a comfortable 38-point (208-170) lead over the Monegasque after 11 of 22 races. Mercedes’s seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton completed the podium for the third race in a row.
Charles Leclerc lifts the winner’s trophy on the podium
Charles Leclerc lifts the winner’s trophy on the podium

SPIELBERG: Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc survived a late throttle scare to win the Austrian GP here on Sunday and become Formula One world championship leader Max Verstappen’s closest rival.

Red Bull’s Verstappen had to settle for second place, but holds a comfortable 38-point (208-170) lead over the Monegasque after 11 of 22 races. Mercedes’s seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton completed the podium for the third race in a row.

“I was scared. I was really scared,” said a relieved Leclerc (1:24:24.312) over the team radio after taking the chequered flag at the Red Bull Ring with Verstappen (+1.532 seconds) in his mirrors and one-and-a-half seconds behind.

The 24-year-old Leclerc overtook the Dutch driver three times in the race, but feared the win might still slip away as he battled a throttle problem over the last few laps. The victory was Leclerc’s third of the season, his first since Australia in April and the first time he won from anywhere other than the pole position.

Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz had retired with an engine failure with 14 laps to go while chasing a likely Ferrari one-two. Meanwhile, Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez, who had been second overall, also failed to finish.

The former’s car was damaged in a first lap collision with Mercedes’s George Russell (+58.972 seconds), who ended up fourth despite a five-second penalty. Hamilton (+41.217 seconds), who finished ahead of Russell at third, was about 40 seconds behind Leclerc.

Alpine’s Esteban Ocon (+68.436 seconds) was fifth, ahead of Mick Schumacher in sixth for Haas. The German was voted the ‘Driver of the Day’. Lando Norris finished seventh for McLaren, ahead of Haas’s Kevin Magnussen and McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo, with Alpine’s Fernando Alonso taking the final point in 10th.

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