Charles Leclerc is back in the winner’s circle after the Austrian Grand Prix at Spielberg, to give Scuderia Ferrari its fourth win of the season, the second in a row, after Carlos Sainz finished on the top step in Silverstone last Sunday. Unfortunately, today the Spaniard had to stop with a power unit problem 15 laps from the finish. A brilliant drive left him on the verge of passing Max Verstappen to take second, to secure what would have been a very well-deserved one-two. It was a good way to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the first appearance of the Prancing Horse emblem on the Scuderia’s cars way back in 1932, with the old-style badge displayed on both F1-75s here in Austria.
An attacking race. The Scuderia went for a decidedly aggressive strategy, based on the cars’ excellent race pace. Charles overtook Verstappen on track three times and Carlos was equally aggressive. Both men pushed hard right from the start which forced their rival into quickly wearing out his tyres and making an earlier than planned pit stop. This gave Charles the edge, running a different strategy to the Dutchman, always catching his rival on fresher tyres so that he was able to pass him relatively easily. After the second pit stop, Leclerc was back in the lead. Then, as Carlos came up behind the Dutchman, he had to retire with a power unit problem that brought out the Virtual Safety Car. The team reacted immediately, bringing Charles in for a set of Medium tyres, as did his rival, who despite a throttle pedal problem on Charles’ car, was unable to get close enough to the number 16 F1-75 to pass. This is the Scuderia’s 242nd win, the sixth in Austria. It is the fifth of Charles’ career which, on the list of Ferrari winners, puts him equal with Gerhard Berger, Carlos Reutemann and Alain Prost.
Brief pause. The Scuderia returns home having enjoyed a very successful pair of races, reducing the gap to its rivals in both the Constructors’ and Drivers’ championships. The world championship resumes in a fortnight with another pair of back-to-back races, the French Grand Prix at Le Castellet on 24 July, followed by the Hungarian race at the Hungaroring, after which comes the summer break.
Charles Leclerc #16
Every win is special, but this one feels just amazing. The last 15 laps were on the limit with the issue we had, but we brought it home.
Today, we had a really strong pace and some great battles. I worked hard last night to find where I could still improve and it made the difference today. I’m very happy!
Carlos Sainz #55
It’s difficult to find the right words today, as it was clear that a one-two was pretty straightforward. I had strong pace today, especially on the hard tyre. Degradation was very high but we managed it well. On the last stint the car felt really good on track until we obviously had the issue and we had to retire.
Today’s result is a hard one to take as it cost the team and myself an important number of points for both championships. On the positive side, I’m feeling better and better in the car, more comfortable every race, and this keeps me motivated. We are fast, and this is what’s matters the most. Congrats to Charles for the win! We’ll keep pushing!
Mattia Binotto, Team Principal & Managing Director
There are a lot of positives we can take home from today’s race. We have secured our second consecutive Grand Prix win, which confirms that we are doing a good job with a car that is proving to be competitive at every track. Our management of all aspects of this race went well, from our detailed preparation, even after yesterday’s Sprint and I think we made all the right decisions in terms of strategy, running an attacking race right from the start. That meant we were able to put Verstappen under pressure, forcing him into a defensive race. The mechanics carried out five very quick pit stops and the drivers executed everything we asked of them prior to the race and managed the tyres very well.
Charles drove like a lion, overtaking Max on track no fewer than three times and Carlos looked like doing the same which would have resulted in a well-deserved one-two finish. Of course we are very disappointed for him, but I’m sure he will fight back in the upcoming races. We are still suffering with reliability problems, we know what they are and we must make every effort to solve them as soon as possible. I am sure we can do it, but after a performance like today's, I want to congratulate the whole team, here at the track and back in Maranello, where all the departments did such a great job over the winter.