Max wins Austrian GP after great comeback: 'Thought it was all over'

Published on 30 June 2019 by Mike Motilall

Max Verstappen took the victory of the Austrian Grand Prix home in the most grand manner possible. The Dutchman, starting from second, got poorly off the line and dropped back, but managed to fight his way back from seventh all the way to a podium finish. He also made little work of race leader Charles Leclerc three laps before the finish. This is Verstappen’s sixth win in his Formula 1-career and the first of this season. With this victory, Honda’s first win in the V6-era is a fact. A frustrated Charles Leclerc finished the race second fastest. Valtteri Bottas came in third, after a difficult weekend for Mercedes.

“After the start I thought it was all over, but we kept pushing”, says a very happy Max after the race. “We were flying after the pit stop, on the straight also. I am very happy for the team and Honda. We have been working for the first time together this season and it is great to win here.”

On lap 69, Verstappen overtook Leclerc, who was heading for his first ever Formula 1-win at that moment. The Monegasque briefly left the track limits during this move, but according to Max that is not a reason for any penalty whatsoever. “We are racing hard, otherwise you should stay at home. If that is not allowed anymore then I wonder what's the point in racing in Formula 1.”

Once again it is a beautiful day when the lights go out on the Red Bull Ring and the ninth race of the season gets underway. Max Verstappen gets slow off the line and drops way back even before everyone reaches the first corner. The Dutchman even dropped back to eighth  but manages to overtake his team mate very quickly, putting him seventh after the first lap. Charles Leclerc leads the pack. Valtteri Bottas, Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen, Lando Norris and Sebastian Vettel are at that moment the top six.

From lap five onwards, Max has been mounting the pressure on Lando Norris, who in turn lost his fifth spot to an advancing Sebastian Vettel. Two laps later, the Dutchman manages to overtake the McLaren-driver for sixth place. On lap nine, it’s Kimi Raikkonen’s turn as Max gets promoted to fifth.

After ten laps, the gap from race leader Leclerc to Bottas is three seconds. Lewis Hamilton follows his team mate at almost the same distance. The following laps Verstappen gradually builds his lead on the backmarkers. The gap to Sebastian Vettel, ahead of Verstappen in fourth, remains around five seconds.

On lap twenty-two, Valtteri Bottas and Sebastian Vettel both come in for their pit stops. Both swith to the white striped hard compound tyre. Bottas rejoins the track in fourth. Vettel in eighth because his tyres were not ready when he entered the pitlane. One lap later, Charles Leclerc reports in the pits for his tyre change. The Monegasque also straps on the harder compound tyres and rejoins behind of Hamilton and Verstappen, who still need to pit.

After thirty laps, Lewis Hamilton pits as well. Apart from a new set of tyres a new front wing is also mounted on the Briton’s car. This drops Hamilton down to P5. One lap later, it’s Max Verstappen’s turn. He will do his stint from fourth on the harder compound as well.

Halfway the race, the top six is formed by: Charles Leclerc, Valtteri Bottas, Sebastian Vettel, Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton and Carlos Sainz. Daniel Ricciardo, Lando Norris, Pierre Gasly and Kimi Raikkonen round up the top ten at that moment, albeit that Sainz and Ricciardo still need to do their pit stops.

Verstappen closes the gap to Sebastian Vettel during this phase of the race. The deficit to the German, running on tyres ten laps older, after two-thirds of the race is only a little over a second. On lap fifty, the Aston Martin Red Bull Racing-driver senses a possibility and takes down the Ferrari, on the straight after Turn three, to claim third place. Immediately after, Vettel heads back to the pits for a new set of softs.

Max’ pace is excellent as he manages to also close the gap to Valtteri Bottas, who is running in second. For a moment there seems to be an issue as Verstappen reports on the radio that he is losing power. After receiving instructions from his engineer, the issue seems to have been solved. On lap 56, the Dutchman overtakes the Mercedes-driver and snatches second place away from him.

Max gives it everything in the closing stages of the race to close the gap to race leader Charles Leclerc. The Dutchman inches up slowly but surely and manages to overtake the Monegasque very spectacularly in Turn three, three laps before the end. Max doesn’t let the lead slip out of his hand and wins for a second time the Austrian Grand Prix magnificently. Charles Leclerc and Valtteri Bottas round up the podium on behalf of Ferrari and Mercedes.

Results Grand Prix Austria:

1Max VerstappenVERRed Bull Racing Honda711:22:01.82226
2Charles LeclercLECFerrari71+2.724s18
3Valtteri BottasBOTMercedes71+18.960s15
4Sebastian VettelVETFerrari71+19.610s12
5Lewis HamiltonHAMMercedes71+22.805s10
6Lando NorrisNORMcLaren Renault70+1 lap8
7Pierre GaslyGASRed Bull Racing Honda70+1 lap6
8Carlos SainzSAIMcLaren Renault70+1 lap4
9Kimi RäikkönenRAIAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari70+1 lap2
10Antonio GiovinazziGIOAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari70+1 lap1
11Sergio PerezPERRacing Point BWT Mercedes70+1 lap0
12Daniel RicciardoRICRenault70+1 lap0
13Nico HulkenbergHULRenault70+1 lap0
14Lance StrollSTRRacing Point BWT Mercedes70+1 lap0
15Alexander AlbonALBScuderia Toro Rosso Honda70+1 lap0
16Romain GrosjeanGROHaas Ferrari70+1 lap0
17Daniil KvyatKVYScuderia Toro Rosso Honda70+1 lap0
18George RussellRUSWilliams Mercedes69+2 laps0
19Kevin MagnussenMAGHaas Ferrari69+2 laps0
20Robert KubicaKUBWilliams Mercedes68+3 laps0