Verstappen wins Austrian thriller

Max Verstappen stormed through field and make a move late in the race on pole sitter Charles Leclerc to win his first and the first-non Mercedes win of 2019.

The Dutchman, who started on the front row, went into anti stall off the line and ended up seventh after the first lap, just behind a fast-starting Sebastian Vettel, the Alfa Romeo of Kimi Raikonen and the McLaren of Lando Norris.

Norris had made his way past Lewis Hamilton on lap 1, and into third, but fell behind the Mercedes and the Alfa shortly after.

This let Charles Leclerc get a gap out front, however due to the nature of Austria’s short lap, the gaps between everyone remained relatively close.

Vettel and Bottas were the first to pit, however the Ferrari mechanics weren’t prepared so Vettel lost a lot of time and position during the stop. Then came Leclerc’s pitstop which kept him in front of the Mercedes driver. Hamilton extended his stint, but after reports of losing downforce, Mercedes opted to chnage the championship leader’s nose at his stop. Verstappen pitted much later on, which came to his advantgae and he emerged fourth and was blisteringly quick on the hard compound tyres.

Quickly Verstappen started closing in, first on the now third place Vettel. Once Verstappen made the move and Vettel was down to fourth, Ferrari called him in to put on some soft compound tyres. He emerged behind Hamilton, but would strat to close in fast.

Verstappen then made a move on Bottas with just over ten laps remaining of the race and set his sights on race leader Leclerc. The Dutchman tried to make a move with just 4 laps to go, however Leclerc was able to get the drive out of Turn 3 and maintained his position.

The next lap Leclerc was not as fortunate as Verstappen dived into Turn 3 and took the lead of the race, despite forcing the Ferrari off the track. However, the incident is currently under investigation by the Stewards.

Verstappen claimed victory in front of the ‘Orange Army’ for the second year in a row but could lose it. (Photo from the Chequered Flag) 

So as it stands Verstappen won from Leclerc and Bottas rounding out the podium, Vettel fourth, Hamilton fifth. Norris won the mid-field battle in sixth ahead of Pierre Gasly, with Sainz finishing eighth after starting 19th.

The two Alfa Romeos of Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi rounded out the top 10, the italian scoring points for the first time in his career and being the first Italian since Vitantonio Liuzzi came sixth at the 2010 Korean Grand Prix.

By Jack Pickering.

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