Valtteri Bottas has saved Mercedes’ face with a third position at the Red Bull Ring. Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton rounded up the top five…behind their respective ‘squires’.
Spaniard Carlos Sainz performed a spectacular comeback receiving the chequered flag in eighth place from a starting 19th position. His McLaren teammate, Lando Norris, got a sensational sixth place, before a disappointing Pierre Gasly.
Initially, it seemed as if Charles Leclerc would put an end to Ferrari’s curse at the mountainous Styria region in Austria. The Italian Scuderia hasn’t won since Spa 2018.
The #16 from Maranello was also hoping to make up for Bahrain when only a bolt of bad luck robbed him of his first F1 victory.
The red box, however, was hesitating about their strategy. Would it be wise to use soft compounds under the scorching temperatures? This reasonable doubt started gaining weight. The other drivers, including Verstappen and both Mercedes, initially mounted medium-hard tires.
The lights go off and the dreams light up
Leclerc held on to the first place after the lights went off. Max Verstappen, however, was slow on the accelerator and fell to seventh place in an instant, very much to the disappointment of his fans. It seemed everything was lost for him and his team.
Heroes, however, have a habit of rebelling against destiny and their legends are built upon moments such as those lived on the first seconds of the 2019 F1 Austrian GP. The Dutchman was not about to give up before his exhilarated home crowd. And so he didn’t.
Verstappen delighted the public with a memorable performance in one of the best races of recent times. Little by little, driven by his hunger and courage, he started climbing up positions and cutting down chunks of time to their rivals.
An epic duel between two future champs
Verstappen was running second with just ten laps to go. Then, a ferocious chase began. Every lap became a classifying one for the blue car #33.
Max was pushing his car to the limit, flying towards glory. There is nothing more motivating than touching the victory with the tips of your fingers. At just a few laps from the end, Max was hot on Charles’ wheels.
The Monegasque could see the Dutchman’s bloodshot eyes on the rear-view mirror but the Black Tulip didn’t get ahead of himself. He accosted his prey, held back by his worn-out tires, before delivering the final blow.
With two laps to go, those two wizards of the wheel, and the future champions of the competition, engaged in a beautiful battle. After the intense exchange of blows, Max came out on top.
And this is how Verstappen claimed his epic victory, his sixth in Formula 1. Leclerc, defeated and angry with his rival’s final movement, received the chequered flag in second position.
An 18-second eternity after that, a lacklustre Bottas crossed the finish line. Vettel was fourth after another spiritless performance and Hamilton fifth having had to go through boxes to exchange his front wing.
Against all odds and with a great display of talent, skill and nerves of steel, Carlos Sainz got the eight position. The son of the Dakar’s twice champion had started nineteenth.
It is Showtime again in the F1
It was a thrilling race right until the very end. The heroic comeback of the Red Bull #33 before his fans, gave the blue team its first victory of the year, and the sixfth of his career.
Max’ pass on Leclerc, however, remains under investigation, so we must be cautious in our celebrations as everything could change over the next few hours.
Despite the result, Hamilton has benefited from the outcome, widening his lead in the standings.
Renault and Hass have fallen short of the mark at the Austrian GP. After their rebirth in France, the French team has again been left out of the points.
Haas has been the great loser of the day with Romain Grosjean arriving 16th and Kevin Magnussen in a dreadful 19th position.
Leclerc’s disappointed expression on the podium is understandable. He had been a lot superior to anyone else throughout the whole of the weekend in Spielberg.
He obtained a very comfortable pole position on Saturday, and in the end, he only managed a second position… or the first of the losers as Ayrton Senna would have said.
Images of ‘2019 Austrian F1 GP’: F1.com.