Max Verstappen, Red Bull, and Charles Leclerc, Ferrari; Red Bull Ring, 2022

Leclerc survives late scare to hold off Verstappen for Austrian Grand Prix victory

2022 Austrian Grand Prix summary

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Charles Leclerc passed Max Verstappen for the lead three times and managed a stuck throttle in the closing laps to win the Austrian Grand Prix.

The Ferrari driver chased down Verstappen throughout the course of the race to eventually claim his first victory since the Australian Grand Prix in April.

Lewis Hamilton took the final podium position in third after Carlos Sainz Jnr retired with an apparent power unit failure late in the race which caused a spectacular fire on his Ferrari.

After both the Formula 3 and Formula 2 races had been held on a wet or damp track, the Red Bull Ring was fully dry as the field formed up on the grid for the start of the race. When the lights went out, Verstappen kept the lead at the start, with Leclerc in third and George Russell moving into third ahead of Sainz.

Sainz fought back to retake third from Russell, who then came under pressure from Sergio Perez. As Perez tried to pass the Mercedes around the outside of turn four, the pair touched at the apex of the corner, sending Perez spinning into the gravel and falling to the back of the field. Perez recovered from the gravel and continued, before pitting at the end of the lap. Russell would later be handed a five second time penalty for the clash.

Leclerc stuck much closer to Verstappen in the early laps than he had managed to during Saturday’s sprint race, sitting well within DRS range of the leader. Leclerc dived to the inside of Verstappen into turn three on lap ten, but Verstappen managed to hold on to the lead. Two laps later, Leclerc used DRS to tuck into the leader’s slipstream and then lunge to the inside of turn four to muscle his way into the lead.

After dropping back from the three leaders ahead, Russell pitted to serve his penalty and replace his front wing. He rejoined 19th, ahead of Perez, on the hard compound tyres. Having lost the lead, Verstappen pitted at the end of lap 13 and switched to hard tyres, rejoining in seventh place.

Hamilton passed Mick Schumacher at turn eight, then Kevin Magnussen soon after to move into fourth place. Next Hamilton was passed by Verstappen, who moved up into third, 20 seconds behind Leclerc and closing the gap on his fresher tyres.

By lap 26, Verstappen had reduced Ferrari’s lead to just 14 seconds, before Leclerc pitted for hard tyres at the end of the lap, rejoining in third place, just over six seconds behind Verstappen. Sainz inherited the lead, but only for one lap. He pitted to switch onto the hard tyres, rejoining back in third.

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Leclerc immediately began chasing down the leading Red Bull on his fresh tyres. By lap 33, Leclerc was in DRS range of Verstappen and pulled to the inside at the uphill braking zone of turn three to sweep by and back into the lead. Verstappen then pitted for a second time at the end of lap 36 – the halfway point of the race – for another set of hard tyres. He rejoined in third, more than 20 second behind Leclerc.

On lap 40, Sebastian Vettel attempted to pass Pierre Gasly around the outside of turn four for 12th, but Gasly appeared to understeer into the right rear of the Aston Martin, sending Vettel spinning into the gravel. Vettel recovered back onto the circuit having lost considerable time and the stewards handed Gasly a five-second time penalty for being responsible for the contact.

Leclerc pitted for a second time at the end of lap 49 for a second set of hards, rejoining only a matter of seconds behind Verstappen. Within three laps, he was once again back up to the rear of the Red Bull. Using DRS up the hill, Leclerc took to the outside of turn three and then cut back to the inside to out-drag Verstappen and take the lead of the race for a third time.

With Leclerc through, Verstappen began falling into the clutches of Sainz behind. As Sainz pursued the Red Bull on lap 57, he suddenly began slowing down the straight with smoke coming from the rear of his Ferrari. Sainz pulled off track at turn four with his car now heavily on fire, but thankfully managed to climb out of the car before the flames began engulfing the cockpit.

The Virtual Safety Car was deployed as Sainz’s car was extinguished. Ferrari pitted the leader for mediums under the VSC, with Red Bull doing the same for Verstappen. Both driver retained their positions comfortably ahead of Hamilton, who was now a distant third.

When the race resumed, Leclerc held a lead of just under four seconds from Verstappen chasing behind. Soon after getting back up to racing speed, Leclerc reported throttle problems, with Ferrari informing their driver that his throttle was sticking to 20% whenever he lifted fully off the pedal. Verstappen began chapping away at the gap, but not by enough to put the leader under significant pressure.

After spending the final laps of the race battling with his throttle problems, Leclerc held on to complete the 71st lap and secure his first victory since April’s Australian Grand Prix. Verstappen crossed the line in second, just 1.5 seconds behind the winner at the end.

Over 40 seconds behind Leclerc, Hamilton eventually crossed the line to take the final podium position, with Russell recovering from his penalty to finish fourth. Esteban Ocon claimed fifth for Alpine, ahead of Mick Schumacher in sixth.

Lando Norris finished seventh for McLaren, despite serving a five second time penalty for exceeding track limits, ahead of Kevin Magnussen eighth and Daniel Ricciardo ninth. Fernando Alonso claimed the final point from the back of the grid, but is under investigation for an unsafe release from the pit lane.

Vettel, Gasly and Zhou Guanyu all received five second time penalties for exceeding track limits repeatedly, but all three finished outside of the points.

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2022 Austrian Grand Prix reaction

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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78 comments on “Leclerc survives late scare to hold off Verstappen for Austrian Grand Prix victory”

  1. Was really interesting how most drivers learned to keep their cars on the track once the penalties started getting dished out.

    So they can do it after all, eh…?

    1. So they can do it after all, eh…?

      For sure. Since the gravel run-off areas are being removed more and more with every year, it’s like an invitation to take certain corners with the car off the actual track as much as possible. And the drivers keep doing it until the stewards decide to intervene. With certain corners of some tracks it became ridiculous, there’s an extension to the extension of the kerb.

      1. The big GT crash at today’s Monza WEC race also shows that ‘natural’ track limits aren’t always the answer.

        Consistent and quick warning and penalties for track limits will make sure the drivers keep it clean within at most a bunch of races. Hopefully the FIA keeps this up.

  2. We need these stewards every race. I liked the penalty on Russell and Gasly were quick, especially Gasly’s which was a definite penalty. But the black and white flags along with the 5 second time penalties for track limits was embarrassing to the drivers.

    1. Yeah, no decisions seemed to be wrong here. Makes a nice change.
      The real difficulty, though, is in being consistent.

      The track limits issues were brought on by the drivers, and the drivers alone.
      If there is embarrassment, it is on them.

      1. well said, they should keep giving them penalties until the drivers learn about track limits

    2. Yes, we do @krichelle. We got clear desicions, consitent during the whole race. And they came really nice and quick too.

      Make it another 2-3 races in a go and we’ll get drivers to pre empt that and stay within track limits.

    3. I also liked the quick decisions, very different to most races in the past. Usually it feels like stewards are quick to make decisions for cars lower down the grid, but then take an eternity for anything involving the front runners. Seemed consistent across the board here.

  3. That scare was almost Mercedian in timing and effect.

    Good race from Charles, Ferrari were significantly quicker today, well deserved victory!

  4. If Russell gets a 5s penalty, eliminates his rival from the race and finishes in 4th place, it means something is wrong.

    1. Comparable with Silverstone last year….

      Still – you penalise the transgression, not the consequence.

      1. I agree in principle, but surely knocking a driver out of the race and barely exceeding track limits a few times should not be punished equally?

        1. Barely exceeding track limits Four times at least.

        2. Drive through penalty – bring it back.

          1. Agreed. And obviously no stopping for tires during it. A straight drive through for one like Russell’s and a stop-and-go for an egregious one.

            Gaining a tenth 4 times by exceeding track limits and punting someone shouldn’t be the same consequences.

          2. The drive through is still available to the stewards:

            Five second time penalty.
            Ten second time penalty.
            Drive-through penalty (equivalent to 20 seconds).
            Ten second stop&go penalty (equivalent to 30 seconds).

            The equivalent times are added as time penalties if the drive-through or stop&go is given in the last three laps of the race.

    2. With Russell I can see the justification for the five second penalty; it was rather 50/50 and Pérez really made it hard on Russell by taking a very narrow line. What surprised me more is that a similar penalty was given to Gasly who punted Vettel out under very different circumstances where he was just about 100% to blame.

      1. Russel was 100% to blame too. Perez was ahead and gave room.

    3. Very good objection imo, hamilton at least got a 10 sec penalty last year, although it turned out to be irrelevant and it already felt like that as soon as it was given, but it was a very dangerous accident, while this one was a light touch, that is probably the reason for it being a 5 sec penalty only, but indeed, these punishments are so light that if you can do it safely, you should take your opponent out.

  5. BLS (@brightlampshade)
    10th July 2022, 15:50

    I’m sure it was bothering some viewers, but I quite liked the track limit policing this race. Firm but clear, it’s what everyone says they want.

    1. i also liked it, just hope it continues to other tracks as well for consistencies sake

  6. Miltiadis (@miltosgreekfan)
    10th July 2022, 15:55

    Ferrari could be leading both championships,but their treacherous reliability+ some of their extreme questionable strategic calls have left them a distance behind.

    Great drive by Leclerc, despite the late issue and Ferrari lost a certain 1-2 with the engine issue for Sainz. Red Bull lost Perez really early on and they couldn’t get anything more than a P2 for Verstappen.

    Solid drive by Ocon and the real positive is that Mick Schumacher is finally starting to perform. Him and Magnussen are a really decent lineup combining both experience and youth and they are starting now to get consist point scoring results.

    Gasly had a horrid weekend, causing 2 significant incidents and his actual pace wasn’t better either.

    1. I would argue Ovon’s drive was mediocre when you look at the speed Alonso was showing today. 7th after VSC, but then 14th cause he had to come in for a second straight time. He was roughly 14 seconds off 10th with 4 people between him and ended up doing it in just 9 laps.

      1. Miltiadis (@miltosgreekfan)
        10th July 2022, 16:16

        I think this has been the story of the season for the Alpine pair. Ocon is clearly the slower of the 2,but he has managed to stay out of issues and scores significant points,while Alonso has a much higher ceiling but he can’t get the points he deserves. The same happened today, but hey Alpine needed those points and there wasn’t anything else Ocon could do, so I’ll give him that

        1. 100% in agreement. I mean Alonso has had stunningly bad luck his entire career. And I’m not talking about going to teams at the wrong time I’m talking about stuff like what we saw today.

          1. Oh and the broken floor he suffered in qualifying which Sky never once mentioned. If it’s not about the top three teams’ drivers, Lando Norris is about the only other thing they like to talk about and it’s always Kravitz saying “keep in mind Lando gonna be suffering due to being on a degraded engine despite half the field being on a used engine every weekend.”

          2. Miltiadis (@miltosgreekfan)
            10th July 2022, 16:34

            Yep, he got pretty unlucky by having to box for a second time when the wheel wasn’t properly attached. Although he slightly locked when entering the pits, so I don’t know how this affected his first stop.

            Sky is doing a decent job overall,you can’t imagine how bad our Greek commentators are

      2. Honestly, the points tally of Ocon flatters him immensely. He’s been quite slow and steady all season.. A good league and a half below Alonso.

        1. Miltiadis (@miltosgreekfan)
          11th July 2022, 16:16

          Yeah, he hasn’t been a match for Alonso,but he has been able to somehow get a high points tally

    2. Ferrari could be leading both championships,but their treacherous reliability

      To me, this makes as much sense as saying: Aston Martin would be leading the championships but for their lack of speed.

      If you hypothetically make a car that is 2 seconds lap quicker than the rest but only lasts 10 laps, you don’t have a good car and you obviously can’t be leading the WDC or WCC.

      1. Miltiadis (@miltosgreekfan)
        11th July 2022, 16:17

        It’s not just about the reliability,but the strategic calls as well that cost significant points to their campaigns

  7. Decently exciting race overall & a tense ending, but luckily Leclerc’s car didn’t fail him in the end.
    The fire marshal was unnecessarily slow, though.
    Quietly good drive by Ocon & points again for Mick.
    AT was nowhere, especially Gasly.
    Alonso’s finger gesture to Tsunoda was funny.

    1. Yes, we got a lot of good solid and fair racing (apart from a few moments from a few drivers, mostly in the AT cars). The thing with Sainz and the car rolling back really was a bit scary, why weren’t there 2-3 marshals there to help out quicker! I felt quite apprehensive, seeing the car on fire roll back towards the track with Carlos still in it.

      I kind of think the overnight rain might have upset the expectations for tyre life. Or maybe Red Bull just setup the car a tad too much for outright pace and (possibly due to only having one hour of training?).

      Good to see so many drivers fighting in close battles, some strategy in there. Give me more of this!

      1. training

        I’m learning German and I see this word often used in place of practice. Is it the same in Dutch?

        1. Yes, ‘free practise’ in Dutch is ‘vrije training’.

      2. Every team had only one hour of practice.

    2. Yes, liked alonso’s gesture too, a very rare thing nowadays in the moment.

  8. The failure on Sainz’s car was really scary. The PU have literally blow up and thank heaven he was out of the car before the fire got worse. If this happened to Zhou last race, it would have certainly been a disaster… On the other hand, Ferrari confirming that they have the best all around car, quick everywhere on every tyre and in all conditions.

    Verstappen and RBR despite being perfect in both qualy and race and squeezing everything possible from the RB18 by bringing upgrades every race even in the RB Ring have no answer to the pace of both Ferraris not only Leclerc. Sainz was on the way to overtake Max before his PU failure.

    I wonder what would have happened if Sainz was still in the race and Leclerc had his throttle issue. Vettel in Hungaroring 2017 have had a steering wheel issue and Raikkonen escorted him to the finish line, overtaking was difficult but nevertheless Raikkonen didn’t mount an attack on Seb.

    1. Good point there asking what would have happened in that moment @tifoso1989. I would think Ferrari would have asked Sainz to be rear gunner (then again, without the fire, Leclerc would have been further ahead of Max and both still on the hards, since there wouldn’t have been a VSC), but I kind of feel Sainz would have been pushing a lot to be able to pass.

      1. @bascb
        Sainz coming of his first win would have certainly wanted his second consecutive win, no question about that. Whether Ferrari would tell him to back off and whether he will comply or not, that’s a different story. It would have been an interesting situation to see.

        1. Yes, that would definitely have been one we would be discussing a lot!

    2. Hope you’re right, but I’m afraid it was more the case of a race where Ferrari was faster overall in the race from a certain track, just like Australia and Spain. Unfortunately, in all these races where it could/should have been a 1-2 for them 1 of their cars DNFed, which meant lots of points lost in the WCC. But, after those races, Ferrari was on the back foot in the race pace starting with Imola of course.

      Don’t think SAI would have been a problem for LEC, VER had no reason to settle behind LEC, yet he didn’t really caught him. It looked like LEC still managed to keep up the speed.

      1. Apart from Imola where RBR were marginally quicker and Ferrari were having problems with tyres. Pace wise, Ferrari has been quick everywhere. Reliability is certainly an issue and it still could go the wrong way for Leclerc especially with how some of the remaining races like Spa and Monza are hard on the engines.

    3. Nice insight, however, I don’t agree about Ferrari having the best all around package. Their reliability is atrocious and that one fact considerably puts this car below the Red Bull for me. They seem to overload their engines and that’s not a sign neither of competence nor the ideal potential of their car.

      1. Indeed, while red bull’s reliability is also unsure, I wouldn’t say ferrari has the best car all around, they’re probably up there, then ferrari has organisation issues on top.

  9. Alonso drove the most amazing race and came out in 7th w/much fresher tires afrer VSC, but then had to pit again the next lap due to loose wheel. Then proceeded to gain 4 places and 20 second gap in just 10 laps. Alpine is wasting his talent. If his car head started for the sprint he’s finishing at worst fourth today.

    1. wasting his talent? Alonso is a washed up driver in his 40’s wasting a seat that should’ve gone to F3/F2 champion Oscar Piastri’s who is currently sitting at home.

      1. If someone is wasting a seat ,it´s Ocon :)

      2. I think he’s doing OK, there’re some other drivers who don’t perform better and could very well make room for someone else too, like LAT, ALB, STR, VET.

        1. I think albon isn’t doing too badly of those.

        2. And their car isn’t good either.

      3. @ccpbioweapon

        If you think Alonso is wasting a seat I wonder what you think about Ocon, Latifi, Stroll, Vettel, Schumacher, Magnussen, Sainz and Ricciardo. Maybe you’d prefer a 10 car grid?

  10. Strong as always by Leclerc, good to see Ferrari can still keep it (somewhat) together on his side. Very unfortunate and even scary for Sainz. The marshal response was a bit slow, and that run-off proved dangerous as well. Time to flatten it for the next even.

    Verstappen will be pleased with losing only five points to Leclerc over the weekend. Strange to see their pace disappear today during the longer stints. Pérez was unfortunate, but it was his own fault he got demoted on the Sprint grid, and even though Russell got the penalty he pinched the Brit very tightly and could have done more to avoid the first lap collision as well.

    Solid drive by both Mercedes, save for that first lap incident with Russell. They’re still a lot slower, but they seem to be very reliable and are only about 60 points behind Ferrari in the WCC! Impressive.

    Really strong weekend by the Alpine guys. Alonso is always fun to watch, shame about his failed stop during the VSC.

    Good result by Haas, Magnussen was quick thinking in that great five-way scrap with Zhou and Alonso.

    McLaren had a rough weekend, so they’ll be pleased to come back with a double point-scoring finish.

  11. A lot of people thought before the race that Max would disappear into the distance and that he is cruising in a superior car. Ferrari have shown they have the car to beat RedBull and give us a close battle to the end. If they can do the same in the next few races and maybe get Carlos ahead of Max too then it’s game on.

    1. I was one of those. It’s a pleasant surprise to see Ferrari actually has Sunday pace.

  12. I wonder is Ferrari turning up the engine this race since Azerbaijan, at the risk of combustion engine exploded?

    1. These are my thoughts as well. The reliability issued they had seem very much related to pushing the hardware they have beyond it’s limits in an effort to push ahead of the RBPT hardware. They are lucky that Charles managed to finish the race this time around, but if they keep doing this they got no chance of overtaking Red Bull in either championship it looks like.

  13. Never really thought about it before but I had always thought that the constructor’s trophy went to the team with the most points in the race and not to the constructor of the winning car. Mercedes finished with 27 points whilst Ferrari had 25.

    1. Oh, interesting thought, there’s been some recent races where indeed a non-winning car ended up scoring more points than anyone else, definitely ferrari in turkey 2020 in one of the few good races they had that year, I think they got 3rd and 4th, as well as mclaren in a recent monza, has to be 2020 too, and even before that SC issue that sent hamilton to the back, they were ahead of everyone else but him.

  14. Mercedes once again has the worst pit crew by a long margin. Their average time must be 3.9 whilst every other team is probably around 2.9. And I found HAM complaining about track limit warnings to be tiresome.

    1. From his point of view everyone was doing it too. Until Bono told him people we’re getting black/white flags he had to assume that the normal practice of random, occasional enforcement of this rule continued and he was being singled out.

      I’m not stressed about British Bias, because it’s a British broadcast of an international event, but Croft jumping in to say, oh the cars are so wide how could he possibly know, dear dear, precious Lewis—-just tiresome. It was like that Bill Burr comedy bit where he mocks the Sky presenters with an over the top, whiny (to Americans, I guess) British accent for fawning over Hamilton.

  15. I feel the Ferrari are running a higher engine mode.

  16. Imagine if Alonso were in RB

    1. True, would’ve been nice, it’s a thing I suggested ages ago, when verstappen was still making mistakes due to inexperience, would’ve been a flaming pair.

  17. To me, the best race of the season. The lead changed hands 5 times, 3 times with a direct overtake on the track.
    Ferrari surprised me with their pace, I expected VER to storm of into the distance, but for once Ferrari had berrer race pace than quali pace.
    Great drive from Leclerc, especially tha last laps while managing a really big issue.
    Verstappen drove without error, but both Ferraris were faster today.
    Great drive for Schumacher as well, might be just the confidence booster he needs to up his game even more.
    Shame about Alonso’s botched pit stop

  18. I was surprised FIA could resist bring out the red flag this race.

    1. Completely agree. I thought the VSC was completely unnecessary as SAI stopped his car well off the track. Note to SAI: Just turn your wheel when parking on a hill next to a kerb or fence. It is part of regular driving school in the US when parking on a hill.

      1. @jimfromus
        There was a car on the track. I don’t remember if it was a crane or the medical car though. Since Bianchi’s death, any vehicle that will intervene on track it will be only under VSC/SC periods.

    2. I wish we could get back to pre-2020 levels in the amount of red flags we have these days. Around Monza/Mugello 2020, it proved a great way for Liberty to generate excitement, but sometimes it feels too artificial and arbitrary.

      1. Me too, but that’s not going to happen…
        Thankfully they resisted the temptation to go full safty car, though.
        The racing could be resumed rather quickly and except for the inevitable cheap pit stops for some, the didn’t VSC didn’t cause an artificially close finish…

  19. A good advertisement for the effectiveness of the new regulations. Before this year, no team would have opted for a strategy that required their driver to overtake the leader three times in order to win the race.

    1. True, was very unusual to see so many overtakes for the lead.

  20. Despite Leclerc’s win today, the season’s considerably swung to Verstappen’s favour in my opinion. Had Sainz overtaken him and finished second, there would have been far bigger pressure on Red Bull and Verstappen in both championships. Now Ferrari has mounting technical issues to deal with, penalties will be coming quite frequently with their reliability and we probably don’t have to talk too long about their strategic and political competence in a season where they might have a shot at the title. Even though Lecler’s doing great and is on par with Verstappen, Ferrari simply lacks competence and reliability.

    1. Don’t agree about reliability, red bull’s has been questionable too, agree about competence.

    2. @pironitheprovocateur

      The way I see it, the only positives to come out of this weekend for Ferrari are – that they still have a car to challenge Red Bull (which is something I didn’t expect as the season progressed), and now that Sainz is 36 points behind Leclerc, there should be no doubt in their minds who the clear #1 and #2 drivers are in the team.

      I still don’t think they’ll mount a serious championship challenge, as they’re an amateurish organisation when compared to Mercedes and Red Bull. It’s a shame because they actually have the car and driver to do it, but they’re still a poor team operationally with even poorer leadership.

  21. Antonio Corleone
    10th July 2022, 21:49

    I’m starting to see people saying “at least Ferrari strategy was on point”… My oppinion is that Ferrari did a very stupid strategy which involved overkating their main rival for both championships 3 times on track, which is the most stupid strategy that Ferrari chose for their drivers today. The right strategy was to pit Leclerc 3 laps after Max pitted and was batting the Haas’es and Lewis when he had around 22.5 seconds advantage over him. He would have been out in front of Max with newer tyres and not risking trying an overtake. Sainz should have stayed out and try to go for the 1 stop. Strategy E was probably for ‘equal’ and Ferrari were on the way for a 1-2 but not thanks to their strategy. Today they had the pace and that was what made any strategy work, something like Merc’s from 2014 to 2016 when they could have driven in “reverse on wets” and still would have won. If this was a tighter race we would have been laughing at Ferrari strategists.

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