F1 Austrian Grand Prix 2022: Amidst the sea of orange around the Red Bull Ring, in the form of about 100,000 Dutch fans, Ferrari made it back-to-back wins for the first time this season as Charles Leclerc took the chequered flag from Max Verstappen. Lewis Hamilton came home to take P3 in what was his second podium in as many races. As the sprint format returned this race weekend, Verstappen claimed pole and retained his position in the sprint, however, he had to concede the victory to Leclerc owing to the Ferrari’s strong race pace.
Here are some of the key takeaways from the race.
First Victory for Leclerc in 3 Months
Charles Leclerc has endured a torrid run of form over the past three months, and a lot of it has been down to reasons beyond his control. The Monegasque has seen some precious race results slip away from his grasp owing to issues such as reliability or strategic misjudgements. He last tasted victory at the Australia Grand Prix, at which point he had a comfortable lead in the championship. In the seven races between Australia and this week’s Austrian GP, he had only been on the podium once and witnessed Max take over the lead of the championship and build a gap himself. This weekend, however, Ferrari and Leclerc got it absolutely spot on as he hunted down Verstappen from P2 on the grid and showed superior pace throughout, to take his third win of the season. It was not all plain sailing though.
Race Won but Opportunity Lost For Ferrari
Since the initial stages of the season, Red Bull have bettered Ferrari more often than not, taking the lead of both drivers’ and constructors’ championship. While Silverstone was a hugely positive result for the Italian team, they had the opportunity to do one better here in Austria. Starting from second and third on the grid, the two Ferraris proved to be faster than the Red Bulls and were on course for a 1-2 finish. Considering Perez retired from the race early on, this was an excellent opportunity for the Scuderia to slice away a sizeable chunk off their rivals’ championship leads. However, when Carlos Sainz pulled up to the escape road on lap 58 with an engine issue, yet another solid result eluded Ferrari. With both Red Bull and Ferrari repeatedly suffering from mechanical issues, reliability could prove to be the deciding factor in this season’s championship.
Haas Gaining Momentum in the Midfield Battle
After their first double points finish in almost three years, last time out at Silverstone, Haas picked up from where they left off, with another double points finish as Mick Schumacher and Kevin Magnussen finished P6 and P8, respectively. This was another assured drive from Schumacher in particular, as he was consistently faster than his more experienced teammate and had some great track battles with the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris. Haas are now up to seventh in the championship, on a great run of form, and would be looking to trouble the likes of Alfa Romeo, Alpine and McLaren more often in the coming races.
A Weekend to Forget for AlphaTauri and Aston Martin
AlphaTauri came into this race weekend looking to arrest their recent slump in results, having scored points only once in the last four races. The weekend began on a promising note as Gasly put his car in Q3 to qualify tenth while Tsunoda qualified 14th for the sprint. However, it all went backwards from there as both cars lost positions in the sprint, while finishing P15 and P16 in the main race. Sebastian Vettel and Aston Martin also endured a similarly disappointing weekend as he qualified dead last and finished the race last of the classified runners. Lance Stroll finished the race, out of the points in P13, to compound a miserable outing for the British team. With other midfield teams such as Haas and Alpine enjoying an upturn in form, both AlphaTauri and Aston Martin would be keen to hit back themselves. Next up in two weeks’ time, is round twelve of the Formula One calendar at the Circuit Paul Ricard in France.