Charles Leclerc held on for an emphatic win over Max Verstappen in Austria, with the race coming down to the final laps.
The Austrian Grand Prix hosted the second sprint weekend of 2022. The Emilia Romagna Grand Prix was the first sprint weekend of the season, back in April. While the Brazilian Grand Prix is the final weekend scheduled to host a sprint race in November.
Leclerc recorded the fifth win of his career. It is his first win where he started from outside of pole position. Leclerc started the Grand Prix from P2, following the sprint race on Saturday.
Drama before the lights go out
A spectacle ensued from the very beginning, as Fernando Alonso failed to start the sprint race. As the grid took off for the formation lap, Alonso was left stranded in his grid spot.
It was soon discovered he was suffering from electronic issues, as he returned to pit lane. Alonso would sit the sprint race out and start the Grand Prix from the back of the grid.
As the field returned to the grid to start the race, Zhou Guanyu appeared to have an issue. It was reported that he lost power, before stopping on the final corner.
Zhou managed to regain power but was to start the sprint race from pit lane, due to the circumstance. The field was to do a second formation lap because of the disruption.
Leclerc takes the cake
After starting the race beside the pole-sitter Verstappen – Leclerc’s pace was unmatched.
Leclerc stormed home for the fifth win of his career and his first win since the Australian Grand Prix.
Appearing to be short of pace in the sprint race, Ferrari decided on an alternate strategy. His first stint was much longer than Verstappen’s. Thus, leaving question marks on whether Ferrari would opt for fewer stops than Red Bull.
When his teammate retired from the race, Leclerc had the opportunity for a cheap pit stop under the VSC. Verstappen followed suit, providing viewers with a grandstand finish.
With several laps remaining, Leclerc began to suffer from a sticky throttle. His braking would be harder in the corners, therefore he was losing time.
Verstappen began to shorten the deficit, closing to within two seconds on the final lap. Albeit, Leclerc took the chequered flag, with Verstappen in second.
Lewis Hamilton took third, making it the third consecutive race he’s finished on the podium.
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Ferrari was ever so close to a 1-2 finish. Leclerc had overtaken Verstappen for the lead again, and Carlos Sainz was closing in on the reigning champion.
On lap 57, Sainz, with DRS engaged and sitting in the slipstream of Verstappen, was closing in. Suddenly, his power had dispersed, and smoke appeared from the rear.
Out of the race, Sainz headed for the escape road as his engine continued to explode. His car went up in flames as the exploding engine began to dismantle the structure of the car.
Fortunately for Sainz, he got out of the car safely. He won’t be happy, as he recorded his fourth DNF of the season.
Penalties were seen all over the track. From incidents to track limit violations, the race director was busy the entire race.
Sergio Perez and George Russell were entangled on the opening lap at turn four. Going around the outside, Perez snuck in front of Russell but was tagged and spun.
Perez was demoted to last in the field, while Russell continued with little to no damage. Russell picked up a five-second time penalty for causing the incident – which he would later serve during a pit-stop.
Perez continued to run last, gaining no time whatsoever. Red Bull soon decided to retire the car on lap 26.
Track limits proved to be difficult to stay within – especially at turns nine and 10, as Pierre Gasly and Lando Norris were penalised.
Gasly was first to have three strikes next to his name, receiving his penalty on lap 33. Norris received his soon after on lap 35.
Once again at turn four, but this time on lap 40, Gasly and Sebastian Vettel battled for position. Similarly to the Perez-Russell incident, Vettel was the unlucky driver, spinning and losing position after taking contact from Gasly.
Gasly, who caused the incident, received another five-second time penalty for his troubles.
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