Max Verstappen has broken Mercedes’ stronghold of 2019 with a barnstorming drive, winning his second-straight Austrian Grand Prix - coming back from a nightmare front row start, in which he was swamped off the line, to pass Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in a dramatic move for the lead two laps from home.
Verstappen’s victory, the sixth of his career, wowed the sold-out grandstands - as he hunted down his rivals, after dropping down to eighth, the anti-stall kicking in off the line. The Dutchman’s move for the lead on Lap 69 was aggressive, though, as he bumped wheels with Leclerc and forced him wide. The move, and race result, standing after the stewards' investigation.
“After that start, I thought the race was over. But we just kept pushing hard,” said Verstappen, who took Honda's first win since Hungary 2006.
“The pace was actually not too bad, but I got a bad flat spot on my first tyre. After the pit stop, we were flying. You could see we had good pace on the straight, so we could make the pass.”
When pushed to comment on the contentious move, Verstappen made no bones about his manoeuvre.
“It’s hard racing, otherwise we have to stay home,” he said. “If those things aren’t allowed in racing, what’s the point of being in Formula 1?”
Leclerc was naturally downcast, after the perfect race from pole until Lap 69. And while he preferred to wait to hear from the stewards before commenting, the result would ultimately stand.
“Overall the race was good,” Leclerc said. “At the end I had a bit more degradation than I thought, so Max came back. Then on the incident, I will let the stewards decide for me. It was pretty clear in the car, I don’t know how it looked from the outside.”
Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas closed out the podium as top Silver Arrow, his teammate Lewis Hamilton passed for fourth on the penultimate lap. There’s now two weeks until the next round, the 70th Formula 1 British Grand Prix.
|1||33||Red Bull Racing Honda||71||1:22:01.822||26|
|6||4||McLaren Renault||70||+1 lap||8|
Here’s how the 2019 FORMULA 1 AUSTRIAN GRAND PRIX played-out lap-by-lap:
There’s no shortage of excitement ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix, with a jumbled grid and one of the most classic tracks on the calendar combining for what should be the race of the season. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc starts from pole position for the second time in his career, his first since Bahrain - and the Monegasque desperate to convert this one to a maiden win. He will start on the soft tyres, though, which are fast but fade just as quickly.
Next to him on the front row, last year’s winner Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen, who is equally determined to break Mercedes’ grip on the championship so far in front of thousands of his fanatical supporters. The Dutchman ensuring there will be lots of sparks heading down to Turn 1, just 217 metres from pole to the apex of the first corner. He also starts on the far more durable medium tyres. It’s the stars of the future on the front row, the youngest on average in the history of the sport at 21 years and 265 days.
On the second row, it’s the two Silver Arrows - Valtteri Bottas more than half a second behind Leclerc at the end of Q3, but he starts ahead of his teammate, 5-time F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton. The Brit starts fourth, after taking a three-place grid penalty (and one penalty point) for impeding the Q1 lap of Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen. Hamilton moving up one spot to fourth, after Haas’ Kevin Magnussen’s penalty was taken into account. Incredibly, six of the 20 driver incurrent penalties at the race, with just two slots staying the same after they were applied. It’s also the first time we’ve seen three different constructors in the top-three in 2019.
On the third row, it’s McLaren’s Lando Norris with another spectacular slot ahead of both Alfa Romeo cars. Then it’s the other Red Bull with Pierre Gasly one spot ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel - who starts ninth, after suffering an issue with his engine’s pneumatic air supply line in Q3. The 4-time F1 World Champion needs a strong result in Austria to keep his dwindling championship hopes alive. Magnussen closes out the top-10.
On the back row of the grid, two racers hungry for results - with Toro Rosso’s Alexander Albon and McLaren’s Carlos Sainz both taking fresh power units this weekend. The pair behind Williams’ Robert Kubica, who starts ahead of George Russell for only the second time this year - the Brit starting from the pit lane after a new front wing assembly was fitted. The pit lane start was forced after it was fitted under parc ferme conditions, and is of a slightly different spec.
It’s going to be a hot race, with the ambient temperature at 33 degrees Celsius - and track temperature up at 51 degrees. It’s prime territory for blistering, especially for those on the softs. Though strategy wise, it looks like a straight one-stopper - those on the softs coming in between laps 9-19, those on the prime mediums between laps 13-24. Both set to move straight onto the hards for more durable performance to the chequered flag. 25 seconds are needed to get into the pit lane, but it’ll be less if there’s a safety car - with 17 SC/VSC deployments from 2014-2018 for a 60 per cent chance.
Of the top-10, all but Verstappen (P2) and the two Mercedes’ of Bottas (P3) and Hamilton (P4) are on the softs. And the rest of the grid is in agreement, the balance on the mediums.
Polesitter Leclerc gets a great start, Verstappen a horrible start - passed by both Mercedes and Raikkonen, and Vettel as well into Turn 1. Norris challenging Hamilton into Turn 3. Gasly ahead of Verstappen as well, the Dutchman in P8 now. Raikkonen up to P4 ahead of Norris.
So Leclerc leads Bottas and Hamilton, Raikkonen staying in touch ahead of Norris. Vettel in P6 is on a charge. Verstappen has passed Gasly and is up to P7. Vettel needs to get past Norris to make some ground up on the frontrunners.
Leclerc sets the fastest lap, a 1:09.282. He’s 1.9 seconds ahead of Bottas. Hamilton 1.4 seconds adrift in P3. DRS enabled. Vettel all over Norris now. Ricciardo has dropped back to 14th, from where he started in 12th.
Leclerc extending his lead on Bottas, 2.2 seconds the gap. Vettel passes Norris for P5 into Turn 3, the pair go wheel to wheel but Vettel stays ahead into Turn 4 - and gets the job done. Verstappen looking to make the same move.
Leclerc leads Bottas by 2.4 seconds, Hamilton in P3 4.7 seconds behind the leader. Raikkonen in P4 under pressure from Vettel. Verstappen chasing down Norris.
Russell is up to P18 from the pit lane start, having passed Kubica and Kvyat. Replays show anti-stall affected Verstappen start, who is now in P7. So it’s Leclerc, Bottas, Hamilton, Vettel, Raikkonen, Norris, Verstappen, Gasly, Giovinazzi and Perez closes out the top-10.
Verstappen passes Norris for P6 at Turn 3, on the inside. Leclerc leads Bottas by 2.6 seconds.
Verstappen chasing down Raikkonen now. The top-four are now fairly well spaced out Leclerc, Bottas, Hamilton and Vettel - 10 seconds covering them. Magnussen under investigation for being out of position at the start.
Verstappen passes Raikkonen for P5 at Turn 3. Magnussen in P14 has a train of cars behind him - Sainz, Grosjean, and Albon.
Leclerc is 2.6 seconds ahead of Bottas, the Monegasque two tenths faster on that last lap. Mercedes keeping in touch and on far more durable tyres. How long can Leclerc go? Grosjean forced wide, after Albon passed him for P16.
Midfield battle providing the fight - Magnussen, Albon, Grosjean, Russell and Kvyat all in close quarters. Albon and Magnussen going wheel to wheel for P15.
Leclerc going to plan A, he is told over the radio. The Monegasque is 3.5 seconds ahead of Bottas. Hamilton in P3 is 2.8 seconds behind the leading pair. Magnussen pits, releasing Albon.
Leclerc lapping in the 1:09s, both Mercedes in the 1:10s on that last lap. Magnussen has a drive through for being out of position at the start, costing him 17 seconds. Norris in P7 is chasing down the Alfa Romeo of Raikkonen.
Leclerc now 4-seconds ahead of Bottas, as Hamilton sets a personal best. Leclerc wants to know when to start pushing, Ferrari tells him he’s doing the right times. Norris passes Raikkonen for P6 at Turn 3. Gasly, behind the pair, is now hunting the Iceman.
Replays show Magnussen was on the edge of his grid slot, but ahead of the yellow timing marker. Gasly chasing down Raikkonen now, the pair on the softs. Mercedes drivers now in the 1:09s, so they’re responding to Leclerc’s pace.
Leclerc leads Bottas by 3.7 seconds.
Verstappen in P5 sets the fastest lap, a 1:09.252. Hamilton in P3 is also responding with a personal best, quicker than Leclerc’s last lap. Hamilton pushing hard.
Vettel told to push hard, and that he’s doing well. The German is in P4. Gasly going wheel to wheel with Raikkonen at Turn 4.
Vettel sets the fastest lap, a 1:09.073. Leclerc on a personal best lap as well. The Monegasque half a second faster on that last lap.
Leclerc now leads Bottas by 4.7 seconds, Hamilton 1.6 seconds behind his teammate in P3. The Brit pulling in his teammate.
Top-10 is Leclerc, Bottas, Hamilton, Vettel, Verstappen, Norris, Raikkonen, Gasly, Giovinazzi, Perez. Raikkonen in P7 is keeping Gasly at bay perfectly.
Bottas and Vettel pit from P3 and P4. Bottas goes onto the hards, 3.5 seconds. Vettel’s stop was a nightmare - Ferrari wasn’t ready, tyres still in blankets and it’s a 6.1 second stop. So the top-five is now Leclerc, Hamilton, Verstappen, Bottas and Norris.
Leclerc pits from the lead, he’s onto the hards - a 2.6 second stop. As Hamilton sets the fastest lap, a 1:08.842. Verstappen in P2 has also set a personal best. Vettel under fire from Gasly now.
So Hamilton leads this race, but has to keep his tyre temperatures under control. Raikkonen pits, releasing Vettel and Gasly, who Vettel passed on the run to Turn 3 after his stop - the Frenchman now has a new rival to chase down.
Hamilton leads Verstappen, with Leclerc 15 seconds behind the leader - and 25 needed to stay ahead.
Hamilton on a charge now, he knows it’s now or never - but goes wide at Turn 1. Norris, Gasly and Stroll pit.
Leclerc two tenths faster than Hamilton on that last lap. Hulkenberg pits.
Hamilton complains he lost downforce, potential damage to his front wing. He leads Verstappen by 6.6 seconds - the leading pair yet to stop.
Hamilton doing 1:10.2s, more than a second slower than Verstappen. New front wing in pit lane as Mercedes prepares for pit stop.
Vettel in P5 sets the fastest lap, a 1:08.750. Mercedes confirms it will change the front wing.
Hamilton pits from the lead. New front wing, and onto the hards - it’s a 11-second stop, and he comes out in P5 behind Vettel, who has set another fastest lap, a 1:08.345. So the order now is Verstappen, Leclerc, Bottas, Vettel and Hamilton.
Verstappen pits from the lead, he’s onto the hards - and exits in P4, ahead of Hamilton. So it’s Leclerc, Bottas, Vettel, Verstappen and Hamilton. Then Sainz, Ricciardo, Norris, Gasly and Raikkonen close out the top-10.
Replays show Gasly passed Raikkonen into Turn 4 - and he’s into P9.
Verstappen told he’s got decent tyre advantage, so go for it. He’s 3.6 seconds behind Vettel.
Leclerc leads Bottas by 4.1 seconds. Top-five covered by 19-seconds.
Leclerc sets the fastest lap, a 1:08.344 - he’s 4.6 seconds ahead of Bottas. Sainz in P6, Ricciardo in P7 and Albon in P14 are the only ones yet to stop - as the Anglo-Thai driver comes into the pits.
Hamilton told field will bunch at the end of the race, providing some opportunities. Only Sainz, Ricciardo and Norris are on the mediums.
Leclerc leads Bottas by 5-seconds.
Norris in P8 is hunting down Ricciardo. Gasly onto the back of this pair now, 0.7 seconds the gap.
Gasly all over Norris, after the Brit went wide into Turn 3.
The top-14 are on the lead lap.
Norris passes Ricciardo for P7 into Turn 4. Gasly behind has some blisters on right front, which may hinder his progress. Sainz pits from P6.
Leclerc leads Bottas by 4-seconds. Hamilton complaining of having to lift and coast.
Verstappen in P4 does fastest lap, a 1:08.317. Norris in P6 is told to keep Ricciardo behind him, to hold Gasly behind.
Verstappen sets another fastest lap, a 1:08.165 - he’s 1.4 seconds behind Vettel and 9.1 seconds off the lead. A half second faster than Vettel ahead. Replays show Gasly passing Ricciardo into Turn 3, and rising to P7.
Verstappen closing on Vettel, 1.3 seconds the gap. Mercedes will be next and the Silver Arrows are compromised, both having to lift and coast in high temperatures.
Verstappen told he has a significant pace advantage over Vettel into Turn 1. Ricciardo, stops - and is the last to pit.
Verstappen goes so close to Vettel into Turn 1, and he locks up into Turn 3 - but aggressively tries it on into Turn 4, can’t make it work. The crowd is behind him.
Verstappen told to get him, as the Dutchman hunts down the Ferrari. And he gets so close into Turn 3. Vettel covers him off into Turn 4 as Verstappen tries the outside.
Verstappen-Vettel battle is heating up. Perfect attack into Turn 3, and he goes around the outside - and is through for P3 into Turn 4 - the perfect drive out of Turn 3. Bottas is 2.2 seconds ahead now, and is a sitting duck.
Vettel pits for the softs as Verstappen sets the fastest lap, a 1:07.844. So it’s Leclerc, Bootas, Verstappen, Hamilton and Vettel as the top-five.
Leclerc leads Bottas by 4.8 seconds, Verstappen in P3 is 1.0 seconds behind.
Verstappen is hunting down Bottas.
Verstappen within a second of Bottas. As Vettel in P5 sets the fastest lap, a 1:07.787 - a new lap record.
Verstappen getting really close to Bottas now. Verstappen says he’s losing power. Could his race be about to end? Verstappen told to hit fail 03 to correct.
Verstappen passes Bottas for P2 into Turn 3. Such an impressive drive from the Dutchman! 15 laps to go, and 5.2 seconds to the leader - Leclerc.
Verstappen was 0.8 seconds faster on that last lap, with his exhaust issue under control. Only the top-eight are on the lead lap now.
Leclerc sets a personal best, responds to Verstappen’s pace - doing very similar times. 4.8 seconds the gap now.
Verstappen sets the fastest lap of the race, a 1:07.766 - will he run out of laps to attack Leclerc?
Leclerc is 4.2 seconds ahead of Verstappen, doing fairly similar times - within a tenth.
Verstappen sets another fastest lap, a 1:07.475. Gap to Leclerc at 4-seconds flat now.
Verstappen now 3.8 seconds behind Leclerc, who is getting through traffic - this time Sainz.
Verstappen has benefited from traffic, 3.0 seconds the gap to Leclerc now.
Verstappen has the gap to Leclerc down to 2.5 seconds. Traffic coming up, including Gasly - Verstappen’s teammate.
Verstappen now 1.7 seconds behind Leclerc. Hamilton in P4 is also under fire from Vettel - 1.5 seconds the gap.
Verstappen now 1-second behind Leclerc, and closing.
Verstappen in DRS range. He’s so close into Turn 3. They’re jockeying into Turn 4.
Verstappen all over the back of Leclerc into Turn 1. Verstappen steams down into Turn 3, and passes but Leclerc gets ahead down to Turn 4. Crowd going wild!
Three laps to go. Verstappen is all over him. And he forces Leclerc off track to take the lead into Turn 3. Wow! Leclerc is powerless, forced wide and they bang wheels.
Vettel all over the back of Hamilton - and fighting for P4. Vettel getting past into Turn 4 for P4.
Lap 71 - FINAL LAP:
Max Verstappen has won his second-straight Austrian Grand Prix, sending the home crowd wild at the Red Bull Ring.
|1||33||Red Bull Racing Honda||71||1:22:01.822||26|
|6||4||McLaren Renault||70||+1 lap||8|
|7||10||Red Bull Racing Honda||70||+1 lap||6|
|8||55||McLaren Renault||70||+1 lap||4|
|9||7||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||70||+1 lap||2|
|10||99||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||70||+1 lap||1|
|11||11||Racing Point BWT Mercedes||70||+1 lap||0|
|14||18||Racing Point BWT Mercedes||70||+1 lap||0|
|15||23||Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda||70||+1 lap||0|
|16||8||Haas Ferrari||70||+1 lap||0|
|17||26||Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda||70||+1 lap||0|
|18||63||Williams Mercedes||69||+2 laps||0|
|19||20||Haas Ferrari||69||+2 laps||0|
|20||88||Williams Mercedes||68||+3 laps||0|