The last two months have been a constant stumble from one calamity to another for Scuderia Ferrari, as the iconic Italian team attempts to chase down Red Bull Racing in the Formula One points standings. This past weekend, F1 visited the Red Bull Ring for the Austrian Grand Prix. The event was unfortunately marred by incidents of rampant harassment in spectator areas, but the race itself was another tense duel between Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen.
Differing tire strategies during the 71-lap race meant that Leclerc had to pass Verstappen on-track three separate occasions to win the race. However, reliability became the Monégasque driver’s number one opponent during the closing laps. It seems to be a trend for Leclerc: Power unit failures took him out of contention for race wins in Spain and Azerbaijan this season.
During the post-race press conference, Leclerc said:
“Yeah, it was a really good race. I mean, the pace was there at the beginning and we had some good fights with Max and the end was incredibly difficult. I had this problem with the throttle, and it would get stuck at 20 or 30% throttle in the low speed [corners]. So it was very tricky. But we managed to make it stick until the end. And I’m so happy.”
It was clear that Leclerc was struggling with some kind of engine issue near the end, but he was able to cross the finish line first, taking his third race victory of the season. Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz was not as fortunate. On lap 57, the engine in Sainz’s Ferrari failed and burst into flames. This led to a harrowing scene where the Spaniard attempted to escape his Ferrari as it rolled backwards towards the track. Sainz was able to get his burning Ferrari to stop by turning it up against the barrier.
Charles Leclerc now trails Max Verstappen by 38 points in the World Drivers’ Championship. Formula One will return in 13 days for the French Grand Prix at Circuit Paul Ricard.