Verstappen retains Austrian GP victory after escaping penalty

Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc make contact pic: Fox Sports

Max Verstappen has been confirmed the winner of the Austrian Grand Prix after stewards opted not to penalise him for his late-race pass of then-leader Charles Leclerc.

Verstappen was in danger of losing his victory given that the #33 Red Bull and Leclerc’s Ferrari went on to cross the finish line 2.724s apart.

The Dutchman drove down the inside of Leclerc Turn 3 on Lap 69, and the pair made wheel-to-wheel contact as they exited the corner.

Verstappen straddled the ripple strip while Leclerc’s Ferrari was bumped into the bitumen run-off area before he continued in second position.

Stewards decided to take no further action due to neither driver being deemed predominately responsible.

“Car 33 (Verstappen) sought to overtake car 16 (Leclerc) at Turn 3 on lap 69 by out-braking car 16,” read the stewards report.

“When doing so, car 33 was alongside car 16 on the entry of the corner and was in full control of the car while attempting the overtaking move on the inside of car 16.

“However, both car 33 and car 16 proceeded to negotiate the corner alongside each other but there was clearly insufficient space for both cars to do so.

“Shortly after the late apex, while exiting the corner, there was contact between the two cars. In the totality of the circumstances, we did not consider that either driver was wholly or predominantly to blame for the incident.

“We consider that this is a racing incident.”

Speaking shortly after the race, before the investigation took place, Leclerc pointed to Verstappen’s attempt to pass at the same corner a lap earlier.

On that occasion, Leclerc argued, he had been left racing room, unlike the second instance when Verstappen did manage to overtake.

“I don’t know,” said the Monegasque when asked if he thought the penalty was not fair.

“I was on the outside, like the lap before, the lap before was completely fine, he left the space for a car width on the exit of the corner but he didn’t on the other lap so we touched and I had to go wide, and then obviously I didn’t have any chance to pass back so it’s a shame.”

Verstappen was adamant prior to seeing stewards that he had done no wrong.

“Great race, but I don’t think we should get a penalty for that,” he told Sky Sports F1.

“I never opened (the steering wheel), but the problem is, in that corner, the crest. When you then go a bit deeper in such a tight angle you just understeer because of that crest.

“The car on the outside, he has to wait a bit because we went quite deep. I never opened the steering wheel.

“I am in front (of Leclerc) and he just had to cut back at me, but he just tried to go around the outside which is not possible.”

Verstappen also retains the third position in the championship which he took from Ferrari’s other driver, Sebastian Vettel, by virtue of his win and the German’s fourth position finish.

They are separated by three points in the drivers’ standings due to Verstappen also setting the fastest lap of the race, despite Vettel making a second pit stop to take on soft compound tyres and go after the bonus point.

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