Max Verstappen has won the Austrian Grand Prix, and by doing so secured the first Honda powered victory since the company's return to the sport in 2015. Leclerc was passed in the penultimate lap and finished second, ahead of Bottas in third place.
The Austrian Grand Prix featured an unusual grid, with Leclerc and Verstappen on the front row, followed by the Mercedes drivers on the second, thanks to a 3-place penalty for impeding for Hamilton.
With Magnussen also 5-places down in 10th, Norris inherited 5th, followed by Raikkonen, Giovinazzi, Gasly, Vettel. Grosjean started from 11th and was, therefore, the first with a free tyre choice.
As the lights went out, Leclerc had a perfect launch to maintain the lead, but Verstappen got away badly and dropped down to seventh, just ahead of Gasly. Norris had a great start and moved up into third, behind Bottas, followed by Hamilton and Raikkonen.
Hamilton though soon got back into third, with Raikkonen sneaking past as well to move up into 4th. Norris quickly lost another place to Vettel on lap 4, thanks to DRS. Another 3 laps later, Verstappen made it past the McLaren as well.
Raikkonen was the next one to drop down, retrograding from 4th to 6th in the course of 2 laps, as Vettel and Verstappen worked their way up. The Finn soon came under attack from Norris, and after a few laps of dicing, the McLaren driver managed to re-gain one of the positions he had lost in the opening laps.
By lap 10, Leclerc had built an advantage of 2.7s over Bottas and Hamilton. Vettel followed in 4th at 10s and Verstappen at 15s.
Meanwhile, Kevin Magnussen was handed a drive-through penalty for being out of place at the start. The Haas driver tumbled down from 10th to 20th by fulfilling his penalty.
On lap 20, after a series of push laps from Leclerc and Vettel, the leader's advantage had increased to 4s while Vettel's deficit over Hamilton was only 2.5s. The Mercedes drivers in between were 1.5s apart from one another, but crucially using the medium tyre on their first stint, contrary to the Ferrari drivers.
Vettel and Bottas became the first to stop on lap 22, followed by Leclerc one lap later. Vettel's stop though wasn't the best, as the Ferrari crew didn't seem ready with the hard tyres when the German entered the pitlane.
As Vettel dropped down into 7th, one second behind Norris and Gasly, Hamilton went on to set the fastest lap while reporting "tyres are good!".
Many drivers pitted the next few laps, but Hamilton simply continued, lapping more than half a second per lap faster than Verstappen in second place - also on medium tyres. Eventually, on lap 30, exactly when Vettel went faster than Hamilton, the Briton pitted for a new nose and hard tyres. The stop lasted 11 seconds but appeared necessary due to Hamilton's reported issues with his front wing.
Clearly, with such a slow stop, Verstappen was pitted right after, and returned to the track in 4th, 4 seconds up on Hamilton in 5th. Sainz and Ricciardo, who were still yet to pit, followed up in 6th and 7th, ahead of Norris, Gasly and Raikkonen.
Halfway into the race, positions at the front appeared stale, though Hamilton was told that the team's predictions expect the bunch to pack up towards the end of the race, and requested Hamilton "to make sure he was there when that moment arrived". In any case, Hamilton, who had gained considerably on Verstappen before the pitstop, had lost 3 seconds in the first 7 laps after they both switched to hard tyres.
Behind the top 5 and Sainz, Ricciardo once again drew the spotlights towards him as he proved a really hard nut to crack for Norris and Gasly behind. The duo was repeatedly very close, but various overtaking attempts failed to come to fruition. It was only in lap 42 that Norris found a way past the Australian. Gasly did the same three laps later.
Verstappen had meanwhile further increased the pace and started to eat away the advantage of Vettel. A few fastest laps brought the Dutchman within DRS range on lap 47, with Red Bull quickly telling him that he had a substantial apex speed advantage at Turn 1. The next two laps saw Verstappen attack at Turn 4, but it was only on lap 50 that he made it past the Ferrari.
Right after that, Vettel returned to the pits to change to new soft tyres, in what was another imperfect stop from Ferrari, totalling 3.6s to complete.
With the cheers of the numerous Dutch fans not yet silenced, Verstappen went on to close the gap to Bottas ahead and entered DRS range on lap 54. Right at that time, Verstappen reported a loss of power, which seemed correctly rapidly by a "Fail 03" setting on his steering wheel.
Just 2 laps later, he got ahead of Bottas, leaving 15 laps on the table to catch the leader, at the time 5 seconds up the road. It didn't seem to bother Verstappen at all as he simply continued lapping ever faster, stringing purple fastest laps one after the other.
It was on lap 66 that Verstappen ended up in DRS range of Leclerc. Gasly wisely decided to get out of the way and got himself lapped right after, not get mixed up into the fight for the lead.
On lap 68, Verstappen out-braked Leclerc at Turn 3, but Leclerc kept aside of the Ferrari and got ahead yet again to maintain the lead, fiercely taking the inside of Turn 4 to maintain the lead for yet another lap.
The next lap, Verstappen did the identical same move, but this time went a little bit wider on the exit of the corner, bumping into Lerclerc and, following which the Ferrari driver went into the run-off. That was a position lost for Leclerc, and a certain win for Max Verstappen, though it needed a move that will create quite a bit of discussion yet again.
Further behind, Vettel passed Hamilton for 4th in the penultimate lap, leaving Hamilton to finish an anonymous Austrian GP in 5th place.
|1||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Honda||71||1:22:01.822||26|
|3||77||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes AMG||71||+18.960s||15|
|5||44||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG||71||+22.805s||10|
|6||4||Lando Norris||McLaren Renault||70||+1 lap||8|
|7||10||Pierre Gasly||Red Bull Racing Honda||70||+1 lap||6|
|8||55||Carlos Sainz||McLaren Renault||70||+1 lap||4|
|9||7||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||70||+1 lap||2|
|10||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||70||+1 lap||1|
|11||11||Sergio Perez||Racing Point BWT Mercedes||70||+1 lap||0|
|12||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Renault||70||+1 lap||0|
|13||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Renault||70||+1 lap||0|
|14||18||Lance Stroll||Racing Point BWT Mercedes||70||+1 lap||0|
|15||23||Alexander Albon||Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda||70||+1 lap||0|
|16||8||Romain Grosjean||Haas Ferrari||70||+1 lap||0|
|17||26||Daniil Kvyat||Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda||70||+1 lap||0|
|18||63||George Russell||Williams Mercedes||69||+2 laps||0|
|19||20||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari||69||+2 laps||0|
|20||88||Robert Kubica||Williams Mercedes||68||+3 laps||0|