Verstappen denies Leclerc maiden victory with controversial pass

2019 Austrian Grand Prix summary

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Max Verstappen has won the Austrian Grand Prix for he second year in a row after a controversial pass on Charles Leclerc in the dying laps of the race.

The Red Bull driver elbowed the Ferrari aside at turn three after he dived down the inside of the long-time race leader. The stewards are investigating the incident, which left Leclerc fuming on the radio.

Verstappen started from the front row but made a poor start, losing five places and falling behind the Mercedes drivers and Sebastian Vettel. However he jumped ahead of Lewis Hamilton when the world champion had to pit for a new nose, and passed Vettel and Valtteri Bottas before closing on the race leader.

Leclerc crossed the line 2.7s behind Verstappen and over 13 seconds ahead of Bottas as both Mercedes drivers struggled with cooling problems. Hamilton lost fourth place late in the race to Vettel, who made an extra pit stop for a set of soft tyres.

Lando Norris resisted Pierre Gasly to take sixth place, while Carlos Sainz Jnr capped a strong day for McLaren by racing from the back of the field to claim eighth.

Kimi Raikkonen, who briefly held fourth place at the start, took ninth place. Team mate Antonio Giovinazzi scored his first F1 points with tenth on a day all 20 drivers saw the chequered flag.

Haas endured another tough race. Kevin Magnussen picked up a drive-through penalty for being out of position at the start, and slipped back during the race. He crossed the line 19th, behind George Russell’s Williams.

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2019 Austrian Grand Prix reaction

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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92 comments on “Verstappen denies Leclerc maiden victory with controversial pass”

  1. Boy wonder can do no wrong.

  2. Leclerc should have defended the inside… On a side note, Honda is starting to expose Mclaren with this season.

    1. On a side note, Honda is starting to expose Mclaren with this season.

      They were exposed bit by bit starting with 2016. At least I noticed it.

      1. @mg1982 Indeed. ‘GP2 chassis!’

    2. @krichelle
      Starting?
      Its clear as day that this year is the first since 2014 that McLaren has anything but a junkheap.

  3. Absolutely brilliant drive by Max. Just wow!! What a racer.

    1. Totally agree. I can’t stand the bloke even though he’s my namesake. But he was in a different race today and lapped his team mate..!

      1. Yeah – I have turned around with Max. Wasn’t a fan in past years but wow, he is surely the in form driver in the paddock. Getting the absolute most out of the Redbull every race.
        Must be hard being Gasly..

  4. Fun to watch people run other people off the track to gain a position. Great stuff the lap before.

    1. You’re so salty it’s actually hilarious.

  5. They’re probably waiting with punishing Verstappen until most Dutch fans have left…

    1. Kkkk for sure… They’ll punish Max for giving us some fun in this season…

      1. They did it with Ricciardo in France, and that wasn’t even for many points.

    2. Josh (@canadianjosh)
      30th June 2019, 16:44

      I am starting to think that as well, however F1 had a black eye after robbing Seb, not so sure they want another with Max.

      1. They’d have had more than that if Jos was involved…

  6. After recalling this I’m worried about Max:Rosberg given penalty points for forcing Verstappen off.

    How many penalty points does he have, is he close to a ban?

    1. @stefanauss Yes, now that you brought it up, there are some similarities between these two moves, but I still don’t feel a penalty would be that necessary for Max.

      1. No similarities at all, Rosberg never aimed for the apex.

  7. The kind of pace and durability Redbull had on those hard tyres, without the bad start Max would have dominated this one.
    As for that move, It looked a bit like Nico forcing Lewis off the track in 2016 and Nico got a penalty for it. Max should have left a bit more space still its 50-50.

    1. Unlike Rosberg, who barely attempted to steer the car, Max was trying. But I think he could have input more steering lock to give Leclerc more room..

      1. Yeah, but still quite close to the maneouver against VET in China 2018.

    2. @amg44

      Rosbgerg had the inside line, but chose to go wide at the outside before the corner… he just didnt turn in at all… they are very very different
      max lec touching on racing line way passed the middle of the corner and just at the exit following natural flow of a corner
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ixmGVL4dedI
      ros ham colliding due to ros not trying to turn in and at the outside where you are not supposed to be if you are someone covering inside!
      https://youtu.be/ixmGVL4dedI?t=100

      1. @mysticus

        I mean from some camera angles it looks okayishhh but from some camera angles especially Charles on board it looks like Max gave him no room at all and just ran him off the track.
        But its also an uphill difficult corner where car understeers so i am 50-50 on this one.

        1. @amg44
          i see your point for this case, but this is certainly way different to ham/ros incident, if you watch it from any angle, ros just didnt go for racing line nor inside! he just went wide outside and clearly pushed ham off…

          why people compare it to ham ros is beyond me. entirely different situation… only similarity is it happened at the same corner,

          also sorry wrong video for max lec incident
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uUQ7w4LVCPk here is the correct one…

          they are nothing alike…
          where as max lec is perfect copy of what every other driver does if they are on the racing line and inside!

    3. It’s the 50-50 that’s critical– Rosberg v. Hamilton, Hamilton did everything right, and Rosberg… not so much.

      In Max v. Charles, neither driver was particularly at fault– they went side-by-side into a corner that you can’t go side-by-side. Someone was going to lose, and they were dead even… so the guy on the outside lost.

      Had Leclerc focused a bit more on re-passing Verstappen, and less on being mad, he might have retaken the lead.

  8. What a legendary performance by VER.
    I bet that these two, LEC and VER, are going to provide some really memorable moments in the near future.

    1. And Norris.

      1. Norris is a gem too, I agree.

        I do hope Russell gets a chance to show what he’s got in a different car as well. I think he’s the real deal but I’m afraid driving for Williams is hurting his chances in F1.

        1. Future fight possiblity
          Verstappen (Red Bull)
          Leclerc (Ferrari)
          Norris (McLaren) if they manage to perform well
          Russell (Mercedes)

    2. Senna Prost II

  9. Ok, and now let’s stop fooling around and after the streak of penalties let’s finally use the common sense. No penalty for Alonso on Massa at Nürburgring 2007, no penalty for Hamilton on Rosberg at Austria, and the list surely goes on. F1 would ridicule itself if it was to penalise Verstappen and devalue the results of 2 out of 3 last races.

    1. Dutchguy (@justarandomdutchguy)
      30th June 2019, 16:37

      THey would seriously hurt the sport
      (regardless of RB itself and Verstappen)

      Honda would be robbed of their first turbo-hybrid era win
      Leclerc would’ve been robbed of the his spot on the actual podium
      The best race of the year so far would be completely overshadowed by more penalty controversy

      A penalty this late would hurt the sports’ already sketchy reputation

      1. 1) You say that Leclerc would have been robbed of his spot on the podium – do you mean that he would have been robbed of second and given first? Because I don’t think he would consider this as ‘being robbed’.
        2) If the stewards start to judge things by taking into account a much wider context (it was a really good race, Honda deserve a win, we don’t want to make more fans angry), rather than judging each incident on its merits, they’re going to have a hell of a lot of trouble, and it will make their judgments even more inconsistent than they apparently already are.

    2. I think you have that the wrong way round. Rosberg did get a pen for causing the collision with HAM in 16.

      1. Josh (@canadianjosh)
        30th June 2019, 16:46

        I believe there was quite a bit of car damage with that incident no?

        1. Nico was clumsy at it…LH has perfected it. Max did nothing LH hasn’t done.

          1. @robbie
            you said it perfectly as anyone with a brain damage would… well done, it shows your scars are running very deep and going a long way…

          2. @robbie Exactly, it’s what sets the great drivers apart, it was very Hamilton-(Alonso/Vettel/Senna/Schumacher)esque from Max. In the reverse situation I would expect Charles to do exactly the same! A champions pass.

          3. @ju88sy Exactly. There’s a right way to do it and a wrong way, and sometimes the differences are subtle. LH’s lack of penalties for very similar moves is why the stewards have been consistent with Max and why the Sky commentators were immediately on Max’s side as was pretty much everyone who gets racing and it’s subtleties.

  10. Superb from Verstappen. I thought the pass was hard but within the acceptable. Max had the corner, Leclerc knew that and still turned in, looking for MV to give him space. Could he or should he have done? It’s a move Verstappen does, pushing his opponent wide and/or closing the door definitively, and it’s got him into problems in the past. In this case, though, I didn’t think it was particularly exaggerated, it’s the kind of move that you’d see go unpenalized endless times when someone has the corner and the racing line. Want a Ferrari comparison? Spa 2008 when Raikkonen forced Hamilton wide at the bus stop – and HAM got penalized for cutting the chicane (and not giving back the place ‘enough’).

    1. One lap before Max left enough space, that didnt work….
      For next lap move i would give, never liked it, espeacialy on Hams second season, when he was pushing everybody off..
      If we go for racing, that was fun
      On rule side – no space left – penalty.

  11. As an on-off fan of Ferrari and a longtime fan of Leclerc (been following him since karting in 2012, and he became my favourite driver after Jules died in 2014), this sucks, because Ferrari had the car to win today and it’s going to be hard to find any more opportunities to win after this. But it’s impossible to deny that Max was by far and away the best today, and the incident I personally felt was hard but fair. Leclerc lost that lead when Max switched to the inside, and while Charles bravely tried to stick around his outside, he was always going to be forced off and Max wasn’t really oibligated to leave him space on the outside. Great drive from Max, and good to see the young guns delivering. Here’s to more of such intense competition between these two hungry young lions!

    1. Ferrari made the wrong tire choice yesterday. That’s all.

      1. This!

        Leclerc starting on the softs, while Max started on the mediums, meant Lecler’s hards were 10 laps older than Verstappen’s. Ferrari dropped the ball big time but that won’t be a talking point I guess.

        1. @jeffreyj Perhaps, but even then, if Bottas had pitted on lap 21 (like he did), Ferrari would still have reacted to that. I don’t think that tyre call played that much of a role today. I don’t think Leclerc pitted because of deg, he pitted because the hard tyres seemed to be getting into temperature quite quickly and Bottas would have had a chance to undercut if he stayed out.

      2. Yes! If he was on mediums like all the other front runners Leclerc would have won this race.
        He could have gone loger in the first stint and not been a sitting duck at the end.
        Putting him on softs was a move from a team that has forgotten how to win. They were scared they would lose track postion early I guess – but they didn’t have to do this – he had a genuine pace advantage.
        A tactic from a team lacking confidence..
        But no taking away from Max. He is driving better than anyone over the last year or so.

        1. @dazman I disagree. Bottas, starting 2nd, pitted on lap 21, whether with deg or trying an undercut, I don’t know. But even if Leclerc had started on mediums, he would have had to react to that scenario. Looking at his laptimes, I think that’s what they did, I don’t think they pitted him because he was suffering from too much deg even on the softs.

          1. @wsrgo Hey I checked the pit stops and you’re right. Leclerc reacted to Bottas pitting. I had thought it was the other way around. So… yep, tyres had little to do with it. He would likely have pitted when he did regardless of his rubber.
            I still don’t like the soft tyre strategy though.. felt like they didn’t trust him.

    2. I’ll drink to that !! Fully agreed… Sure it was a hard pass, so of course there is a bit of controversy. And sure Leclerc is not happy, who would be. But that was a great drive from Max, lots of great passing, a fantastic battle between these 2 young wolf and… well… If they cannot fight hard when fighting for a victory 3 laps before the checkered flag, better not have racing. Thanks to both driver & on to the next

  12. Formula 1 is great again yea…..the Blaaa I mean Mercedes didn’t win, there will be no up ed moaning about, tires or engines for the next 2 weeks, just allot of how great Max is

  13. Verstappen will go unpunished he always does when it matters. Last year same track shoved Kimi in the opening lap. He went on to win. He is the golden boy.

    1. Josh (@canadianjosh)
      30th June 2019, 16:48

      Golden boy? Didn’t he get take. Out of the podium room a few years ago in the US?

    2. @philby, silly comment. He’s had plenty of penalties. Sometimes debatable, mostly justified —like in Austin when he was denied a podium. Funny how people still believe that there’s an element of bias in the stewarding. It’s hard enough as it is already.

      1. @ Search what is silly is comparing this to USA 2017 when he overtook with all 4 wheels out of the track. You compare this to an incident that can be ruled from a single slow mo replay…

  14. A bump and run for the win on the final laps. Nascar at it’s finest. Now to go watch the THEHOUSE.COM 400 at Chicagoland.

  15. If you ask me, it was just hard, on the limit racing. Given that nothing happened to LEC’s car and he didn’t lose more than 1 place… no penalties needed.

    But, after Canada, if we want to have consistency, a 5sec penalty is a must: VER created a collision, then he forced LEC into evasive maneouver and off-track. But hey, LEC is not HAM… so I don’t see any change of the result.

  16. Amazing drive from Max, phenomenal.

    But.

    It’s a pen, he pushed Leclerc off track. ‘Crowding’ as the rules call it. I think Max will get a pen.

    In fact, it could set a dangerous precedent if they don’t, drivers thinking they can just drive each other off.

    1. Why do it there and then? It wasn’t the last corner of the last. Plenty of time to overtake in a faster car over the next couple of laps. Hot headed thinking. A penalty? No strong feelings, but it was an unnecessarily premature move asking for controversy.

    2. It was LEC’s decision to stay at the outside. If he accepted he was passed this would not have happened.
      No penalty, just real driving as F1 should be.

      1. Real driving is conceding a corner when you are alongside?

        He had a right to the racetrack, Max pushed him off.

      2. They were wheel to wheel, Ver should have left a cars width…isnt the rule something along the lines, if the car is 3/4ths or less alongside the other car it has to concede the line. Therefore lec was at least 3/4th alongside Ver and shouldn’t of had to concede, so veratappen didnt have right of way and should have been penalised according to those rules….if im remembering the rules correct.

    3. @Gav If anything then it is LH that has already set the ‘dangerous precedent’ numerous times. Max owned the corner with hard racing. Penalize this and they sterilize F1.

      1. @robbie You should drop this, it’s ridiculous. Hamilton pushed Rosberg wide, which the latter reciprocated, no penalties involved in these cases. And in part because it was never ‘dangerous’. You don’t need to justify Verstappen’s move with this empty argument.

        1. @david-br It is hardly an empty argument to say that a multiple WDC does exactly what Max did with CL, so fair game.

          Gav said it could set a dangerous precedence if they don’t punish Max, and my point is LH had a chance to set that precedence already and it was not penalized on several occasions and therefore not dangerous and neither was Max’s move on CL.

          Drivers know that if they want to do this move they have to do it the right way so that they won’t be penalized, so I don’t envision a bunch of drivers just going ahead and thinking they can just do whatever they want in corners and get away with it just because Max did in Austria. There are subtleties, and Max did it the right way just as LH has done so in the past.

          1. @robbie The thing is, the way you put it, with such apparent animosity against Hamilton, it kind of undermines the point you’re making. Maybe you don’t intend to sound hostile to HAM but it reads like that (especially as you repeated it several times). Anyhow the moves are different to some extent as most (not all) of the HAM shoves on ROS were first corner incidents where greater leeway is generally allowed by stewards. Obviously I agree in general, though, that Verstappen’s move was fine in this case. Looking at it again, in fact, I noticed that VER took the corner more deeply and Leclerc took it more shallowly (going wide left, even onto the rumble stripes, to cut across the corner more acutely), which meant both had altered their trajectories from the same corner the previous lap, both making it more likely they’d converge.

          2. @david-br I repeated it several times because I felt it was and is a valid point. I thought the miriad of LH fans, some of whom likely might not like Max, would appreciate the reminder that LH has done the same, and it has contributed to his CV and to many, his greatness. So it would be hypocritical of them to slag Max for doing what LH also does.

      2. Amazing! A touch between LEC and VER, and we still find a way to blame HAM!

        Go on then, these numerous examples….

        1. Still waiting….

  17. The guy knows how to race. Its a part of racing, finding the limits, even going over them in a way that wont get you punished.
    All the true greats did it. Its called racing and he is mastering it.

    1. @Valinor Exactly, finding the limits and going just a little over if he can. Did you also notice how he held back while outbraking to not pass the DRS detection line in front and immediatly afterthe line releasing the brake to get in front? Never saw it before.

  18. If Merc actually stopped being so worried what fans think Lewis could have maybe won today. Look at the lap he did when Bottas was out of his way on very old tyres. Then he kept pushing and made loads of errors. Bottas barely finished ahead even with Hamilton have a 11 second pitsstop. His race pace is embarassing

  19. F1 is the equivalent of US NBA basketball. A million rules, selectively enforced. “It was just racing.” The whole thing is just racing, from when the lights go out until the checkered flag. So what exactly is racing and when during a race isn’t it racing?

  20. Leclerc created that situation by trying to hang on around the outside when he was always going to run out of space. Verstappen had a nose ahead at the point when Leclerc made that decision.

    F1’s rule-makers put so much effort into making overtaking possible, and then undermine that by investigating incidents like this, where all there is to it is that the defending driver was trying too hard.

    Stonewall not a penalty.

    1. Yeah, I agree… I can understand him not wanting to concede the corner but Max had the racing line. The previous lap the positions were reversed and Max, rightly, got out of it.

  21. I wonder when would the next realistic shot at the elusive maiden F1 race win come for Leclerc. It just seems to avoid him at all costs.

  22. @ Search what is silly is comparing this to USA 2017 when he overtook with all 4 wheels out of the track. You compare this to an incident that can be ruled from a single slow mo replay…

  23. I wouldnt like this to be imposed but that pass looks like book definition of “pushing a driver off the track”.
    I Would be ok to treat that as a racing incident if previous races didnt give us examples on the contrary

  24. By the point the wheel bump happened LeClerc should have realised there was nowhere to go and backed out. The bump occurred because he didn’t want to concede the corner, keep his boot in and tried to drive around the outside. I’ll be surprised if a penalty is given. Surprised and disappointed.

  25. I get the feeling a penalty is coming… But if so, it will be extremely difficult for the stewards to not penalize countless overtakes hereafter. This is a standard hard racing manoeuvre, repeated countless times over the years. Verstappen had the corner and line, how much room a driver gives, can give or should give on exit will always be difficult to assess. They’ll penalize this at their own peril.

    1. “how much room a driver gives, can give or should give on exit will always be difficult to assess”
      I am pretty sure the rule book explicitly states the amount of room to be given.

      1. @jimfromus Max had the corner and the racing line. He took the car to the edge of the track on exit as he made the pass, but you’ll see that a dozen times a race. So to me it’s not at all clear whether he should have compromised his own line to give Leclerc space. Presumably not to the stewards either, given they’re taking so long.

  26. Don’t worry, there will be no further action..

  27. Leclerc, next time just turn in and hope your car is in better shape than Verstappen’s after the contact.

    We want tracks that punish going offtrack, but we also want pushing drivers offtrack to be a viable overtaking strategy, because apparently that’s racing. We could also allow drivers to bump their rivals out of the way, that would increase overtakes and create drama and excitement. It works for NASCAR and touring cars, I guess.

  28. As much as I like Max, this is a clear cut case of a penalty. They bumped wheels and he forced him out of the track. Completely unnecessary if you ask me, he would complete the overtake probably in the next corner holding the inside line. If they penalise or not is another matter though.

  29. This is what happens when you don’t let them race and sort it on the track.

    This move while normal from eyes of a racing driver, is against the rules. He released the lock, ran him out of the track, banged him across the curb.. But very gently, I bet Senna or Schumacher would have done much worse.

    Now Officials are between a rock and a hard place, totally of their own doing. F1 should rethink racing regulations quite a bit. There should be track limits and there should be crashing in to people on purpose. Everything else should be fair game.

  30. Gasly ended 1 lap down behind Max. As much as i feel for Gasly, this guy needs to be sacked right now. If were not for him, Red Bull would be battling with Ferrari for that 2nd place in WCC standings.

    They can still achieve 2nd in WCC but for that to happen they need to drop Gasly ASAP.

    I think its game over for Gasly after today. And i dont think he will be relegated to Toro Rosso either.

  31. RedBull’s pace was unbelievably solid today. I think it was Verstappen’s best race. Good fight with Leclerc, hard racing, nothing wrong.
    Once again it’s clear drivers are not the problem at Maranello. The car just isn’t good enough. As the crew. Actually, instead of considering to enter with 3 cars, they should try entering with only 1, because that’s all they can handle. Be Leclerc or Vettel, they always manage to screw up somehow.
    Nice race from McLaren, btw. I wish they could have a big leap forward, for a nice 2nd half of the season. Both drivers are being solid.

  32. Verstappen didn’t get the FOM Driver of the Day. The voters decided to extract the urine this week.

  33. https://f1metrics.wordpress.com/2014/08/28/the-rules-of-racing/

    Scroll down to: “A. Attacker more than half-way alongside”. It shows a picture resembling Max and Charles enough to explain the rule: in this case, the attacker is definitely more than halfway past the defender at the apex. The attacker has the right to the racing line. A collision at the apex is entirely the fault of the defender.

  34. Max and that Red Bull were fantastic. The car looked like it was on rails and he could do whatever he wanted to do with that car. Although must be a hard one for Leclerc to take, but in reality he was never going to hold Max off

  35. Are we all just going to ignore the fact that Gasly, after leading Max on the opening lap, finished a full lap behind him. He needs to go, there are only 6 good seats on the grid and he is wasting 1 of them.

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