Charles Leclerc gets third F1 win of season with Austrian Grand Prix victory

Charles Leclerc gets third F1 win of season with Austrian Grand Prix victory

SPIELBERG, Austria — Charles Leclerc revived his Formula One title challenge by holding on to win the Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday for his third victory of the season

while Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz’s hopes of a second-place finish ended when his engine blew as he was about to attack Max Verstappen’s Red Bull.

Leclerc was clearly stressed in the closing laps as his throttle was not working properly, making it more difficult to control his speed into turns.

“Yes! Come on!” Leclerc screamed on team radio after crossing the line. “I was scared. I was really scared. Yessss!”

The Monaco driver held on to beat second-place Verstappen by 1.5 seconds.

“I definitely needed that win, the last five races have been incredibly difficult,“ Leclerc said. “At the end it was really difficult, I had this problem with the throttle.“

A relieved Leclerc sang along as the anthem played on the podium, then engaged in a Champagne-spraying joust with a grinning Verstappen

Leclerc didn’t forget Ferrari’s race director Laurent Mekies, either, dousing him with bubbly.

The mutual respect between Verstappen and Leclerc — both 24 years old and former fierce karting rivals — is growing strongly.

“You guys were so fast today,” Verstappen said in the post-race cool down room.

“Yeah, we were very quick,” Leclerc replied. Leclerc moved up to second overall but is still a distant 38 points behind Verstappen — 208 vs. 170 — with Red Bull’s Sergio Perez dropping to third

He retired after 26 of 71 laps after being hit on the opening lap when trying to overtake George Russell’s Mercedes.

Verstappen picked up a bonus point for fastest lap to go with the eight points he took by winning Saturday’s sprint race.

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