Max Verstappen stormed to victory in the Austrian Grand Prix whilst passing Charles Leclerc for the lead with only two laps remaining, in an overtake the Dutchman described as “hard racing”.
Starting in second behind Leclerc, hopes of a victory for Verstappen had seemingly dashed stalling at the start which had dropped him into seventh, but nothing can get in the way of the Dutchman.
Within ten laps he had already passed Lando Norris and Kimi Raikkonen into fifth place, as strategy then came into play.
Both Bottas and Vettel pitted on lap 21 with Leclerc a lap later, yet Hamilton and Verstappen were left out longer to pit ten laps later, however the current championship leader had dented his hopes by damaging his front-wing.
Meanwhile, Verstappen’s strategy played out perfectly re-joining 3.5seconds behind Vettel but it wasn’t until lap 50 before he made his moves.
The Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel was his first prey before Bottas was next to fall six laps later and then Leclerc with just two laps remaining, through an overtake that went to the stewards.
The steward’s decision is yet to be announced.
Verstappen had already attempted to make his move on the inside of turn 3, but Leclerc managed to hold off in the stretch to turn 4 yet it was only a lap later in which the Dutchman was successful.
The Red Bull driver once again decided to dive on the inside of turn 3 and whilst Leclerc was forced to go off track, with the two cars making slight contact, Verstappen won the battle to then go on and win the race.
Ferrari were not happy believing Verstappen didn’t leave enough room, yet the Dutchman saw nothing wrong regarding it as “hard racing”.
Verstappen also claimed the DHL Fastest Lap bonus point as Bottas claimed the final podium spot, but the championship leader Lewis Hamilton, could only manage fifth place.
The five-time world champion now leads the standings by 31 points ahead of Bottas.
The wait for Leclerc’s maiden victory goes on
Just like in Bahrain, Charles Leclerc dominated the race, a lonely wolf in front of the pack that was seemingly cruising to victory.
Yet, just like in Bahrain, the lead had gone in the race’s closing stage.
In the desert it was due to a loss of power but in Austria, the brilliance and power of Max Verstappen was just too much for the Monegasque, as the wait for victory in Formula One continues.
Despite losing the lead, it is still a weekend the 21-year-old can look back on with pride and one where huge progression has been made.
Fastest in FP2 and FP3, the Ferrari driver then went on to claim the second pole position of his career, two more than Verstappen, whilst dominating a large part of the race.
However, Verstappen just drove a sensational race and maintained pace that any driver would find it hard to defend against.
Verstappen even found himself wheel-to-wheel with his team-mate, Pierre Gasly, following the poor start, yet then went on to lap the Frenchman with only a few laps remaining in his hunt for Leclerc.
However, Gasly did come to Verstappen’s aid as it took Leclerc a couple laps to get past the Frenchman, subsequently narrowing the gap.
Once again it was a tough day at the office for him and another weekend in which speculations of Gasly losing his seat will increase.
Finishing in seventh, he once again found himself behind a McLaren. In France it was Carlos Sainz, this time it was Lando Norris.
The difference between Verstappen and Gasly is clear to see.
What about the rest?
With the faultless drives of Verstappen and Leclerc taking centre stage along with the overtake, and with good reason, there were still terrific performances from lower down the grid.
Carlos Sainz was perhaps driver of the day behind the top two, as he gained 11 places to finish in eighth despite starting in P19 following his grid penalty.
Another great weekend for McLaren, a team that seemingly improve as each race goes by.
It was also a double point finish for Alfa Romeo in P9 and P10 with Antonio Giovinazzi claiming the first point of his F1 career.
Despite a disappointing weekend for Hamilton, what better way to return than with the British Grand Prix? With five career wins around Silverstone, one more and he will hold the outright all-time record, yet Ferrari have improved significantly since Australia, so all is to play for.
But, as always, keep an eye out for Verstappen especially following his drive at the Red Bull Ring.
Has the 2019 season now finally opened up?
Max Verstappen; “It was an incredible race and I’m so happy to take the Team’s second victory at our home Grand Prix. It was a shame at the start as I triggered anti-stall and dropped back to seventh.
From there onwards the pace was really good, I stayed calm and kept pushing hard. The second stint was decisive for us as the car really came alive. Once I passed Valtteri I thought I could have a go for the win as our pace was so strong but you never know.
I just kept pushing, drove flat out and didn’t give up. We passed Charles with a few laps to go so I’m extremely happy. The move was close racing and if you can’t make moves like that I think it is better to stay at home.
I want to say a big thank you to everyone at Aston Martin Red Bull Racing, all weekend we have been working really well and the upgrades seem to have worked. Thank you to all the crew here, everyone at the factory and of course Honda, it’s not been easy for them over the past years but to win for them today is just incredible.”