Austrian GP 2022:  Leclerc takes harrowing victory against Verstappen 

Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) has won the Austrian F1 GP 2022 this Sunday at the Red Bull Ring Circuit. Poleman Max Verstappen (Red Bull) finished second, 1,5 seconds behind the young Monegasque. The Dutchman was let down by his rapidly degrading tyres, which prevented him from fighting for victory.

He did, however, took the extra point for the fastest lap, so not all was lost at his home round, where he had taken the start as a favourite. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) claimed third place for the third consecutive Sunday, partly thanks to the lack of reliability of its rival. 

Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) suffered the worst fate in Styria. A mechanical fault knocked him out in the final phase of the race when he was running third and getting very close to robbing second.

This was Sainz’s fourth abandonment of the season due to problems with the F1-75, and a very hard blow for his title hopes and for his quest to level up with his teammate Leclerc. It seems that the British GP winner is destined to become a mere pawn to the Monegasque driver for the rest of the season. 

His compatriot and friend Fernando Alonso (Alpine), was able to salvage a point after he climbed from a starting nineteenth position to finish in tenth.

All in all, very different sensations from Ferrari and Red Bull. Leclerc has finally broken his winning drought despite having to deal with a fault in his accelerator pedal. An invigorating success for the Monegasque driver, who did not win since claim his third of the season. 

Verstappen managed to minimise the damage in what ended up being a very complicated round. The Dutchman is still 38 points ahead of Leclerc, now second, in the drivers’ standings.

Checo Pérez, on the other hand, had to retire following a problem with his RB18. The downfall of the blue cars was the excessive degradation of their tyres, which prevented them from fighting for victory.


Max holds on to the pole at the start  

Verstappen and Leclerc held onto their positions at the start of the Austrian GP 2022. Meanwhile, Sainz lost his third starting place to Russell in the initial metres only to recover it moments later. 

Taking advantage of that battle, Pérez attempted a pass on the Englishman from Mercedes at turn four. Unfortunately, Russell hit him and the Mexican was sent off track and subsequently forced to pit on the first lap. 

After a fierce standoff, Max was overtaken by Charles on lap 12. All of the favourites had started on medium tires, but somehow those of the Dutchman had degraded a lot quicker than the rest.


Max’s early and alarming pit stop 

Knowing that his tyres were letting him down, Max made his first pit stop (3.2-seconds long) two laps later, to mount hard compounds. Leclerc, on the other hand, didn’t pit for hard tyres until the 27th lap, one ahead of Sainz and just at the same time that Pérez was retiring. 

Max was leading Leclerc by 3.4 seconds but it was just a mirage. It was only a matter of time before the Monegasque devoured him on lap 33.

Halfway through the race and Max‘s tyres were in such poor condition that he was forced to make a second pit stop (37th lap). Meanwhile, Leclerc was dominating the Austrian GP 2022 with three seconds over Sainz and 17 over Verstappen. 

Leclerc, whose tyres were performing considerably better, was able to stretch his second stop until the 50th lap and although he re-joined the race behind Verstappen, he swallowed him up once again for the third time three laps later. Soon he was able to escape with more than two seconds over Sainz, third, who in turn was getting closer to Verstappen (now 2.4 seconds ahead).


Sainz’ nightmare 

The dreams of the Spaniard were cut short on the 57th lap when his car’s engine broke down. The incident, which ended up with the red car in flames, triggered a virtual safety car. 

Two laps later and the Styrian battle resumed. Despite Leclerc reporting issues with his accelerator pedal, he was able to sustain a thrilling stand-off with Verstappen.

The young Monegasque finally managed to conquer the top of the podium after a seven-round drought. Max finished in second place ahead of Hamilton, third.

Images of Austrian F1 GP 2022: Ferrari Twitter.

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