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Mixed fortunes for Ferrari as Leclerc wins Austrian GP


Well if nothing else, the cast continue to provide plenty of material for season whatever it is of Drive to Survive.

Be it growing restlessness between the Ferrari pair and their counterparts at Hass, Fernando's suspicion of bias within Alpine or Seb storming out of a drivers' briefing, the plots and sub-plots are piling up.

Over the years a number of British soaps have been expended from two episodes a week to four or five, and as Liberty seeks to expand the calendar who is to say that their won't be nightly editions of Drive to Survive a little further down the line.

Based on yesterday's evidence, and the sheer cut and thrust of the Red Bull Ring we can expect more drama today, especially as Max and Charles share the front row for the fifth time this season.

Courtesy of his mega-start and equally mega rise through the field, Sergio is there to lend support to the Red Bull cause, which isn't how it looked on Friday night after he'd been demoted.

Carlos is up there as well, however it appears the Spaniard is a little less inclined to play the team game than his Latin counterpart.

Then we have George, Kevin, Lewis, Mick and the McLarens, and as if that wasn't enough we have a very frustrated Fernando and Valtteri at the back, the Finn starting from the pitlane.

Because they are starting from the back, both have opted to take on new components, the Spaniard the full engine package while the Finn takes on a new turbocharger and MGU-H. The Alfa Romeo driver also took the opportunity to have a new rear wing assembly fitted, hence the pitlane start.

Talking of Alpine, after the chequered flag yesterday, Esteban stopped on track with a suspected electrical issue on the high-pressure fuel pump. According to Alpine, the part has been replaced, and for future races, the team is actively pursuing a root cause fix. You may recall that it was a fuel pump issue that caused the French driver to 'park up' last Sunday, thus (fortuitously for Ross Brawn) bringing out the safety car.

As for the failure of Fernando to start yesterday, Alpine suspects a possible failure of the "standard electronic control unit, energy storage control unit or any of the electrical wiring on the chassis or power unit".

We're sick of saying it, and you no doubt of reading it, but the race cannot be won at the first corner, or Turn 3 or even Turn 4, but it can be lost. That said, Red Mist Max will want to stamp his authority from the outset.

Other than overenthusiasm in the overtaking department, another major factor today - and we'll get to the Weather Gods later - is track limits.

Throughout the weekend we have seen drivers having their times deleted on a track that positively demands to take a chance on the wild side, and we don't expect that to change today. Consequently, we could see a few drivers penalised today.

The reason for Seb's fit of pique(et) at the drivers' briefing is related to the lack of consistency in terms of the application of the rules, a common complaint from drivers since the sacking of Michael Masi and the decision to have two race directors.

The FIA really does need to get its act together for it isn't only the drivers who are unhappy with some of these decisions. Never mind the underpants and nose studs, it is the policing of erratic and sometimes dangerous driving that we want to see.

The quickest strategy on paper is going to be a one-stopper from medium to hard.

For cars starting out of position, starting on the hard isn't out of the question either, leaving a choice between the soft and the medium for the final stint.

A two-stopper is slower under normal circumstances, but the best way to do it would be using all three compounds: medium, hard, then soft. There's a reasonably high safety car probability so that could influence a two-stopper.

Sadly, the Weather Gods are unlikely to play a part today, the bright sunshine and warm temperatures witnessed on Friday and Saturday looking set to continue.

The pitlane opens and leading the way is Sainz, followed by Gasly, Bottas, Stroll and Leclerc.

Air temperature is 20 degrees C, while the track temperature is 31 degrees. There is a lot more cloud than on previous days however. There is a 10% chance of rain seemingly.

The two Mercedes are sporting different rear wings, Russell opting for a bigger version while Hamilton has the version with less drag.

Late drama for Hamilton where there appears to be a (left-front) brake issue.

As for tyres, all are on mediums bar Zhou, Tsunoda, Vettel and Alonso who are on hards.

They head off on the formation lap, all getting away. The air is already filled with orange smoke.

The grid forms.

They're away! The leading four; Verstappen, Leclerc, Sainz and Russell, all getting away well. Verstappen leads into Turn 1 with Leclerc tucked in behind. Russell is on the inside of Sainz who runs slightly wide.

Into Turn 3, Sainz has got ahead of Russell, who now has Perez alongside. The Mercedes and Red Bull are side-by-side through the corner and all the way to Turn 4.

Russell has the inside, but tags the Mexican causing the Red Bull to spin off into the gravel.

Both drivers understandably have differing views of the incident.

At the end of lap 1, it's: Verstappen, Leclerc, Sainz, Russell, Ocon, Magnussen, Hamilton, Schumacher, Ricciardo and Norris. Perez, having dropped to last, pits. He has a hole in his sidepod, nonetheless he continues, now on hards.

It's Deja vu for Hamilton as he finds himself caught between the Haas pair.

After 2 laps, Verstappen has a 1s lead, while Sainz is 1.7s down on Leclerc.

Vettel fears he has hit a piece of debris but he is assured that all is okay.

Having lost time in that clash with Perez, Russell is 5s down on Sainz and now heading a DRS train that comprises Ocon, Magnussen, Schumacher and Hamilton.

Already, drivers are having times deleted, among them Gasly, Norris and Hamilton.

"Their straight line speed is crazy," says Hamilton of the Haas pair.

Out front, Leclerc is hard on the heels of the race leader.

At the start of lap 9, Perez is lapped by the leading pair.

Behind the Russell DRS train, Norris, in ninth, heads a train of his own, with Ricciardo, Stroll, Gasly and Albon forming the carriages.

On lap 10, Leclerc tries a move at Turn 3, as Norris is given a 5s penalty for that clash with Perez.

"I cannot hold this long," warns Verstappen, who is told that he is not in the pit window.

At the end of lap 11, Russell pits, first serving his penalty, then having his front wing adjusted. HE rejoins in 19th.

However, Leclerc makes a surprise move on Verstappen at Turn 4 and catches the world champion on the hop.

The crowd falls silent.

Ricciardo, Gasly and Latifi all pit at the end of lap 12.

Next time around Verstappen pits, as Leclerc has his time deleted for the second time.

Verstappen rejoins in 8th on a new set of hards.

Check out our Sunday gallery from Spielberg here.


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1. Posted by Chester, 11/07/2022 12:39

"Similar sentiments, kenji. Don't want one team domination. Perez was hard done and penalty was a nothing joke. Glad Leclerc won!! "

Rating: Positive (1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by kenji, 11/07/2022 3:05

"The race was one of many parts and overall was quite good especially the last ten laps. The question of track limits once again were in sharp focus and rightly so. The rules are simple and were applied without fear or favour. There was plenty of warning given for the transgressions to be noted before penalties. It's all rather simple, stay on the track as defined by the white line and you can race as hard as you want, move over it iand you pay the price. Was extremely glad to see Leclerc take a much needed win. He drove like demon and got the result, very very well done. Perez was very hard done by and something rankles when 'the' other driver gets a minor penalty and then goes on to take fourth place and the innocent party loses his race entirely. Hopefully we will see the rest of the season follow on with battles between RB and Ferrari continue as it is what we needed badly. Total domination by one team is boring. Loving the tension.....they race well wheel to wheel."

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