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Thursday 22 August 2019

Max-nificent win for Verstappen

HARD: Max Verstappen. Pic: AP
HARD: Max Verstappen. Pic: AP

Max Verstappen produced one of the most remarkable comebacks in recent Formula One history to win yesterday's Austrian Grand Prix.

The Red Bull driver, roared on by his large Dutch following at a sweltering Spielberg, denied Charles Leclerc the first win of his career by passing the young Ferrari driver with just two laps to go.

Verstappen's winning move on Leclerc, however, is under investigation.

"What the hell is that?" Leclerc yelled over the team radio following the Dutchman's move. Verstappen protested his innocence.

"It is hard racing, otherwise we have to stay at home," said Verstappen. "If those things are not allowed in racing, then what is the point in being in Formula One?"

Leclerc said: "I will let the stewards decide. I was on the outside of the corner the lap before. 'He left the space, but he didn't on the next lap. I had to go wide and didn't have a chance to come back at him."

Verstappen began alongside Leclerc on the front row but dropped to seventh following a torrid start.

The Dutch driver was then running in fourth place with 20 laps to run, but passed Sebastian Vettel, Valtteri Bottas and finally Leclerc in a stunning end to the race.

Bottas finished third for Mercedes, while Vettel fought his way past Lewis Hamilton on the penultimate lap to take fourth.

Hamilton heads to his home race at Silverstone in a fortnight's time, 31 points clear of Bottas in the championship.

British teenager Lando Norris finished sixth for McLaren, equalling his career best.

Leclerc did not put a foot wrong, and his initial cause was aided by troubles for his rivals.

As Leclerc roared down to the first corner, Verstappen, who started alongside the Ferrari driver on the front row, staggered away from his marks, losing five places to seventh.

Vettel made up five spots, and was running in fourth when he made his first stop, but his Ferrari crew were not ready for him.

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