Verstappen Stuns With Austrian Comeback

Max Verstappen scored a stunning victory in Sunday's Austrian Grand Prix. (Steve Etherington Photo)
Max Verstappen scored a stunning victory in Sunday's Austrian Grand Prix. (Steve Etherington Photo)

SPIELBERG, Austria – Max Verstappen overcame a poor start to storm back through the field and win Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring.

Starting second in his Honda-powered Red Bull, Verstappen struggled to get going as the lights went out to start the race. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc rocketed away from the pole as Valtteri Bottas settled into second, with Lewis Hamilton going from fifth to third.

Verstappen, meanwhile, faded from second to seventh in the first few corners. He made up several of those positions quickly and he was back in the top-five within a few laps.

At the front it was all Leclerc, who continued to lead through the pit stops. Verstappen, on the other hand, began to make up ground. On lap 50 he dispatched Sebastian Vettel to take third.

Verstappen quickly set his sights on chasing down Bottas in second. Despite a brief scare caused by an exhaust sensor, Verstappen was able to hunt down and pass Bottas entering turn one on lap 56.

That left only Leclerc in front of Verstappen, who began clicking off fast lap after fast lap to close the gap. With nine-lap fresher tires, Verstappen closed the five-second gap to Leclerc in short order.

By lap 68 Verstappen was there and challenged Leclerc for the lead in the third turn. Verstappen briefly had the position, but Leclerc fought back on the outside and regain the lead in the next corner.

One lap later Verstappen tried again in turn three and this time the two made contact, banging wheels as Verstappen raced clear of Leclerc, who was forced into the run-off area in the process.

Verstappen led the final three laps to earn his second-straight Austrian Grand Prix victory, but stewards announced they would be reviewing the pass for the lead. After a lengthy review process, the stewards announced no further action would be taken.

The victory is the first this season for a team besides Mercedes. It is also the first victory for the Honda marquee in Formula One since Jenson Button won for the brand in 2006.

“It was an incredible race and I’m so happy to take the team’s second victory at our home Grand Prix. It was a shame at the start as I triggered anti-stall and dropped back to seventh,” said Verstappen. “From there onwards the pace was really good, I stayed calm and kept pushing hard. The second stint was decisive for us as the car really came alive. Once I passed Valtteri I thought I could have a go for the win as our pace was so strong but you never know. I just kept pushing, drove flat out and didn’t give up. We passed Charles with a few laps to go so I’m extremely happy. The move was close racing and if you can’t make moves like that I think it is better to stay at home.

“I want to say a big thank you to everyone at Aston Martin Red Bull Racing, all weekend we have been working really well and the upgrades seem to have worked. Thank you to all the crew here, everyone at the factory and of course Honda, it’s not been easy for them over the past years but to win for them today is just incredible.”

Bottas finished third to complete the podium. Vettel took fourth, with Lewis Hamilton finishing fifth after an uneventful race for the championship leader.

Lando Norris matched his career-best with a sixth-place effort for McLaren, followed by Pierre Gasly, Carlos Sainz Jr., Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi.