Epic race at the Red Bull Ring in Austria. It was the first non-Mercedes victory in 2019, and Honda’s first win since 2006, bringing tears of joy to Honda’s Technical Director Toyoharu Tanabe. The 2019 Austrian Grand Prix was everything the French GP just the week before was not. It had wheel-to-wheel racing, a surprise winner and controversy. Here's a brief summary of it:
The weekend started with penalties for Alex Albon and Carlos Sainz, both of them getting new power units on their respective cars. As for the practice, track temperature was a scorching hot 54°C, hindering a bit the times, in any case, it was Lewis Hamilton setting the fastest lap with Vettel not far behind. The session was red flag towards the end to recover a piece of Nico Hulkenberg's front wing, which was broken when running over one of the new sausage curbs installed around the track.
The larger sausage curbs continue to be a factor, breaking and/or damaging mainly front wings and floors. Track temperature was not as high as FP1, but very windy. Teams used this session to test different setups for the race as it was similar to the expected weather on Sunday. Just over a third of the session and Max Verstappen went wide on the last turn and crashed heavily against the barrier damaging the rear of his RB15, and bringing out a red flag. A few minutes after going back to green, it was Valtteri Bottas who crashed his W10 after turn 6. Another red flag, but this time, the medical car was deployed. Valtteri was able to exit his car unaided. Big damage to the front of the car. Just a few minutes later, it was Sebastian Vettel who went off on turn 10, but didn't hit any barriers and kept his engine running so just a bit of drama and damaged tires. A few other trips off course by several drivers but no damage. At the end is was Charles Leclerc's 1:05.086 the fastest lap of the session, albeit a lot slower than that in the first session.
Saturday morning was a lot calmer and a bit cooler than Friday, and we had a lot less incidents on track. Charles Leclerc showed real pace, setting the fastest lap of the weekend so far.
Alex Albon and Carlos Sainz Sainz started at the back of the grid for changing power units. Magnussen and Hulkenberg getting a five place grid penalty for gearbox change each.
Out on Q1: Perez, Stroll, Kvyat, Russell and Kubica.
Out in Q2: Grosjean, Hulkenberg, Albon, Ricciardo, and Sainz.
Q3: Exciting final seconds of qualifying saw Charles Leclerc getting his second pole position in F1 with a New Track Record, 1:03.003. Hamilton got second and Verstappen third. Vettel had a problem and did not go out in Q3 classifying 10th, but will start 9th with Magnussen, who qualified fifth, gets a 5-place grid penalty for gearbox change. Lewis Hamilton was penalized with a 3-place grid penalty for impeding Kimi Raikkonen, he should have started fifth, but due to the way the FIA handle penalties, he actually started fourth, and Lando Norris fifth. Pole was the first for Ferrari at Austria since Michael Schumacher in 2003.
Max Verstappen made a bad start and the anti-stall kicked in dropping from second to seventh by Lauda's curve (turn 1). By Lap 20 it was Leclerc ahead of Bottas, Hamilton, Vettel, and Verstappen. Two laps later, Bottas came into the pits, Ferrari responded calling Vettel in. But a communication error caught the Ferrari mechanics off-guard and the stop lasted for an eternal 6.6 seconds. Vettel came out of the pits 8th, Bottas 4th. Vettel fought hard to recover from the team's mistake. Following Verstappen’s pit stop on lap 32, the order was Leclerc, Bottas, Vettel, Verstappen and Hamilton. Verstappen felt the race on his side and started pushing really hard, with the team advising him to use "engine mode 11", on lap 50 he passed Vettel taking 3rd place, on lap 56, he passed Bottas for second, and begun his pursuit of Leclerc.
On lap 68 Verstappen made his first passing attempt for the lead at Lauda's curve and had his RB15 a bit ahead of the Ferrari but Leclerc fought all the way to turn 2 and recover the lead. A lap later, Verstappen tried the same move on Leclerc at the same turn 1, this time he left a bit less room and tire's touched, forcing Leclerc off track. Verstappen was in the lead and held it up. Dramatic ending for an epic fight between two young guns. It was F1's youngest-ever podium, 24 years, 156 days average age, between winner Max Verstappen, second place Charles Leclerc, and third place Valtteri Bottas.
The drama continued after the race as the stewards had to revise Max's pass on Leclerc as they banged wheels with Leclerc forced to leave the track. After several hours of deliberation the stewards decided no further action was necessary, the win stands.