Leclerc finally returns to winning ways to deny Verstappen at Red Bull Ring after Sainz drama

By Sports Desk July 10, 2022

Charles Leclerc reignited his Formula One world championship ambitions with victory in the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring.

Throughout qualifying and Saturday's sprint, all signs pointed to defending world champion Max Verstappen continuing his run of dominance in Spielberg and extending his lead in the drivers' standings.

However, in cooler conditions on Sunday, the Ferraris of Leclerc and Carlos Sainz had a clear edge over the Red Bull of Verstappen, who had a clean getaway to stay in the lead into the first corner.

The Scuderia also made the perfect strategy calls to get themselves in position for a one-two, only for Sainz to be denied by an engine failure on lap 58.

Despite a worried Leclerc experiencing problems with his throttle, he held on to clinch a third victory of the season, although Verstappen's advantage in the standings remains 38 points.

Sainz had to go off the track at turn one to protect against a fast-starting George Russell, who was soon given a five-second time penalty for causing a collision after he made contact with Sergio Perez at turn four, with the Mexican sent into the gravel and eventually forced to retire because of the damage.

Leclerc got past Verstappen with a brilliant overtake down the inside of turn four on lap 12, and Perez's exit from the equation put Ferrari in full control of the race and in the rare position of seeing their strategy working to a tee.

Following his second stop, Leclerc got ahead of Verstappen for good on lap 53 at turn three, and Sainz appeared set to repeat the feat five laps later on turn four, only for smoke to begin billowing from the back of his car.

Sainz's fiery exit, which led to a virtual safety car under which Leclerc and Verstappen both pitted, understandably caused nerves for his team-mate.

Leclerc, who saw victories in Barcelona and Baku taken away from him by an engine failure, was soon reporting issues with the throttle, and Verstappen began to loom in his mirrors.

But his car held together to allow him to weave across the finish line in delight, with Lewis Hamilton profiting from Sainz's misfortune to take third behind Verstappen and ahead of Mercedes team-mate Russell. Esteban Ocon was fifth for Alpine.

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