Leclerc holds on to win Austrian GP, Verstappen settles for second
SPIELBERG, Austria (AP) — Charles Leclerc reignited his challenge for the Formula 1 title by hanging on to win the Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday for a third victory of the season, while hopes of Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz of a second place came to an end when his engine blew up as he was about to tackle Max Verstappen’s Red Bull.
Leclerc was clearly stressed in the closing laps as his throttle was not working properly, making it harder to control his speed through the corners.
« Yes. Come on! » Leclerc shouted over the team radio after crossing the line. « I was scared. I was very scared. Yep! »
The Monegasque driver held on to beat second-placed Verstappen by 1.5 seconds.
« I really needed this win, the last five races have been incredibly tough, » said Leclerc. « At the end it was really difficult, I had this problem with the accelerator. »
Verstappen picked up a bonus point for fastest lap with the eight points he took by winning Saturday’s sprint race. Lewis Hamilton finished third for Mercedes and earned an encouraging third consecutive podium finish. His teammate George Russell placed fourth.
After cutting on lap 58 of 71, Sainz’s car was burning and began sliding backwards in the gravel as a marshal rushed towards it with a fire extinguisher and urged the Spaniard to jump. Sainz got out in time as the flames licked his racing suit. He was unharmed, sitting on the grass to contemplate his bad luck.