‘What the hell’: Controversy in F1 war
Max Verstappen bounced back from a disastrous start and survived a nervous wait post-race to to claim an incredible win at the Austrian Grand Prix.
The Dutchman was made to delay his celebrations when stewards investigated an incident late in the race which threatened to rob the young gun of his first win for the season.
Ferrari's Charles Leclerc led for much of the 71-lap race but on lap 68 he and Verstappen collided when the Red Bull star took the inside on Turn Three. The pair bumped into each other and Leclerc went off the track, causing him to complain over the team radio.
"What the hell is that," he yelled.
But Verstappen was able to breathe a sigh of relief when stewards finally made a decision in their investigation more than two hours after the grand prix finished, saying they "did not consider that either driver was wholly or predominantly to blame for the incident. We consider that this is a racing incident".
Verstappen's breakthrough win means the freakish streak of Mercedes is over after a stunning dogfight between two drivers widely considered to be the future of the sport. Leclerc and Verstappen started next to each other on the front row of the grid but had much different drives.
Leclerc led from the beginning of the race, getting off to a perfect start and continuing without pressure until the dramatic clash with his rival. Verstappen on the other hand endured a nightmare scenario when he stalled at the start.
It saw the 21-year-old drop from the front row of the grid to seventh and he was forced to claw his way back.
The Mercedes pair of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas - who finished third - sitting on the second row immediately overtook Verstappen as he dropped down in the pack. The commentators called it an "atrocious start" but Red Bull's main man soon flew back into contention.
A memorable fight with Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel and Bottas was just the appetiser as Verstappen and Leclerc fought for supremacy.
Leclerc was driving a brilliant race and holding Verstappen at bay until the 68th lap when the cruel twist cost him victory.
Verstappen powered to the chequered flag first after the controversial bump, recording his sixth F1 victory and defending his title in Austria.
The win for Red Bull was also the first for the team with the Honda engine after switching from former power unit supplier Renault this season.
It was Honda's first win as a constructor since 2006 with Jenson Button.
Verstappen was thrilled with the victory but had some strong words for the stewards as they investigated the incident.
"After that start, I thought the race was over but we just kept pushing hard and then after the pit stop we were flying," Verstappen said.
"It's hard racing otherwise we have to stay home. If those things aren't allow in racing, what's the point of being in Formula One?"
It was a thrilling finish but Leclerc was furious about the result.
"Overall the race was good, at the end I had a bit more degradation than I though and then on the incident, I'll let the stewards decide but in the car it was pretty clear in the car, I don't know how it looked on the outside but we'll see what the decision is," Leclerc said.
"I was on the outside just like the lap before. He left a space for a car width on the exit of the corner and he didn't on the other lap so we touched and I had to go wide, it's a shame."
"I'm angry obviously. On the first lap, he left me a car width, on the second one he didn't and on that I think there's something so we'll see."
'SHOT IN THE ARM FORMULA ONE NEEDED'
The Austrian Grand Prix has come hot on the heels of one of the most boring races in recent memory.
The French Grand Prix was slammed across the board as Lewis Hamilton strolled to an expected victory.
But Austria has pulled out all the stops with battles across the board keeping the race interesting.
The big result was the finish with Verstappen recovering from well back and even 14 seconds down to come back for a phenomenal victory.
The commentators were raving about the result.
"What an incredible race, after Paul Ricard, that was the shot in the arm that Formula One needed," David Croft said. "It was courtesy of the quite brilliant Max Verstappen. You have to doth your cap to one of the great drives.
"I hope they don't get a penalty for that, I really don't. It was cracking racing, Leclerc knew what was coming and you felt he had to concede there."
Paul Di Resta added: "Who said it's boring? This is epic."
Fans were excited about the result but not happy that the discussion was taken over by the possibility of a penalty.
What a difference between today's F1 GP in Austria & the last one in France! However with the precedent set in Canada, will @Max33Verstappen win stay put? The fact is that the FIA has become too namby pamby & this has to stop.— ADIL DARUKHANAWALA (@adiljal) June 30, 2019
"This was just what F1 needs," Red Bull boss Christian Horner said. "This was hard racing between two guys who are the future. And if you take this victory away from Max here, that, in my view, would be stealing from Formula One. This is exactly what we need, drivers going wheel to wheel and fighting each other."
1. Max Verstappen (RED BULL)
2. Charles Leclerc (FERRARI)
3. Valtteri Bottas (MERCEDES),
4. Sebastian Vettel (FERRARI)
5. Lewis Hamilton (MERCEDES)
6. Lando Norris (MCLAREN)
7. Pierre Gasly (RED BULL)
8. Carlos Sainz (MCLAREN)
9. Kimi Räikkönen (ALFA ROMEO)
10. Antonio Giovinazzi (ALFA ROMEO)
11. Sergio Perez (RACING POINT)
12. Daniel Ricciardo (RENAULT)
13. Nico Hulkenberg (RENAULT)
14. Lance Stroll (RACING POINT)
15. Alexander Albon (TORO ROSSO)
16. Romain Grosjean (HAAS)
17. Daniil Kvyat (TORO ROSSO)
18. George Russell (WILLIAMS)
19. Kevin Magnussen (HAAS)
20. Robert Kubica (WILLIAMS)
Hey F1 is amazing again.— Robert Zacny (@RobZacny) June 30, 2019