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Leclerc overcomes Ferrari drama in enthralling Austrian GP win

Leclerc overcomes Ferrari drama in enthralling Austrian GP win

Leclerc overcomes Ferrari drama in enthralling Austrian GP win

Leclerc overcomes Ferrari drama in enthralling Austrian GP win

Charles Leclerc secured his first race win since round three of the season after defeating Max Verstappen at the Austrian Grand Prix.

The Monégasque hadn't tasted victory since Australia and had to fend off throttle issues in the closing stages to dramatically hold on.

Ferrari finally got on top of its strategic failings of recent times to outthink Red Bull by running further into the race on its starting tyres, dominating throughout.

But the Scuderia's chances of a one-two ended in flames as Carlos Sainz's power unit internally imploded when battling Verstappen for second in the closing stages of the race.

Lewis Hamilton fought back from a difficult weekend to take a third podium in a row as both Ferrari and Red Bull endured up-and-down races.

Perez day ruined by Russell contact

Verstappen had the best start of anyone whilst Sainz came under immediate pressure from George Russell.

The Mercedes made the move for third on the inside turn one but was pinched by the Spaniard who returned to the track.

Sergio Perez took his chance to go around the outside of Russell into turn four but the Mexican was rotated by the W13's left-front tyres, spinning off into the gravel. The Red Bull recovered but was forced into an early stop with hefty damage to his sidepod.

Russell was penalised five seconds for his role in the incident and dropped to the back of the field when pitting to take the punishment on lap 11, changing his front wing in the process.

The damage proved too much for Perez as he retired on lap 26.

Verstappen and Leclerc resume battle

WIth Sainz preoccupied at the start, Leclerc was able to focus solely on the Red Bull of Verstappen up front.

By the time DRS was enabled, the Monégasque was within the vital one second needed to open the overtaking aid.

On lap 10 Leclerc came from nowhere with a dive to the inside of turn three. The championship protagonists emerged side by side out of the hairpin and remained so into turn four, but a lock-up took away the Ferrari's chance.

Verstappen was struggling with tyre management in the battle and Leclerc was by far more comfortable on the brakes.

On lap 12, Leclerc came again and this time managed to take the initiative on the inside of turn four with another late dive, clinching the race lead.

The battle was broken up by a Verstappen pit stop on lap 14, the Dutchman switching to a set of hard tyres.

The reigning champion was momentarily held up by last year's adversary Hamilton as he charged to make up lost time from his early stop, although the eventual move was easy given the tyre offset.

Ferrari-Red Bull strategy face-off ends with fire

Whilst Verstappen was clearly switched to a two-stop with his stop, Leclerc hit the optimal one-stop window before pitting on lap 26.

The gap to Verstappen when Leclerc emerged from his stop was 6.2s, with Sainz pitting a lap later.

The fresher tyres saw the Ferrari lap a second per lap faster than the leader, reeling back into DRS range by lap 32. The overtake a lap later was as simple as Leclerc could have hoped for as Verstappen complained of unpredictability in the RB18's grip.

But with pace dwindling as the strategic landscape evolved, Leclerc was pitted with 22 laps remaining for a new set of hards, falling around four seconds shy of Verstappen, albeit on 13-lap younger rubber.

Within two laps Leclerc was right back on the tail of his rival and the Red Bull had no answer as the one-time championship leader switched from outside to in at turn three and retook the lead.

Sainz looked set to make it a one-two for the Scuderia before his power unit failed, engulfing the F1-75 in flames and with the car rolling back down the hill towards the race track at turn four, the incident was initially quite worrying.

The virtual safety car gave both leaders a chance to switch to medium tyres for the final sprint to the finish.

After the race resumed, Leclerc complained of throttle issues as Verstappen moved back within four seconds of the race lead.

The throttle pedal was seemingly jamming and forcing Leclerc to manually pull back the pedal with his foot.

But despite the panic, the lead was large enough to keep Verstappen at bay.

Hamilton's three in a row

Hamilton had crashed in qualifying and on lap one of the sprint on Saturday but was able to fight his way from the lower reaches of the top 10 up to the podium.

Team-mate Russell fought back from his early troubles to finish fourth, ahead of the impressive Esteban Ocon, who was largely anonymous, such was his pace.

Mick Schumacher was outstanding to finish sixth, pulling off multiple overtakes to make his way to sixth and score for the second race in a row.

Lando Norris finished seventh despite being one of numerous drivers to have picked up a five-second penalty for exceeding track limits, ahead of Kevin Magnussen.

The Danish driver pulled off the move of the race with a dive to the inside of Fernando Alonso and Zhou Guanyu at turn one early on, the trio moving three-wide at the apex.

Daniel Ricciardo secured double points for McLaren in ninth with Alonso - under investigation for being released from the pits with the car in an unsafe condition - in 10th.

That could mean Valtteri Bottas, who finished 11th for Alfa Romeo, will take home a point, with Alex Albon, Lance Stroll and Zhou following behind.

Pierre Gasly finished 15th having picked up a pair of five-second penalties, one for track limits and another for contact with Sebastian Vettel, with the Aston Martin driver behind him.

Yuki Tsunoda came next, with Nicholas Latifi, Sainz and Perez the retirements.

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