Verstappen pips Leclerc in Austria GP thriller

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Red Bull's Dutch driver Max Verstappen steers his car during the Austrian Formula One Grand Prix in Spielberg, Austia, June 30, 2019. (Xinhua/Guo Chen)

Red Bull's Max Verstappen became the first non-Mercedes driver to win a Formula 1 Grand Prix in 2019, after the Dutchman overtook Ferrari's Charles Leclerc with two laps to go in Sunday's Austrian Grand Prix.

In a thrilling race that stood in stark contrast to the pedestrian fare served up at last week's French Grand Prix, Leclerc led the majority of the race from pole position, but Verstappen recovered from a bad start to scythe his way through the field before finally taking the lead on lap 69 - though the Dutchman's pass on Leclerc was placed under investigation by race stewards after the two cars made contact.

"It's hard racing, otherwise we have to stay at home. If those things are not allowed in racing, then what's the point of being in Formula 1?" said Verstappen after the race. The Dutchman's victory marks Red Bull's first with new engine supplier Honda, and is also the Japanese marque's first win since its return to F1 in 2015.

Behind the front two, Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas finished third on an uncharacteristically challenging weekend for the Silver Arrows. Bottas' teammate and championship leader Lewis Hamilton was only fifth after having to pit for a new nosecone, as both cars struggled to manage car and tyre temperatures in the searing heat at Spielberg.

Splitting the two Mercedes was the second Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel, who overtook Hamilton in the closing stages after starting ninth following mechanical gremlins in qualifying. The German also had to endure a slightly slow first pit stop when his mechanics were seemingly not ready for him as he approached his pit box.

Lando Norris was an excellent sixth for McLaren ahead of Verstappen's teammate Pierre Gasly, who put in another anonymous performance and suffered the ignominy of being lapped by his victorious teammate, which will do nothing to quieten rumors that his position at Red Bull may be under threat.

Norris' teammate Carlos Sainz finished eighth after a fine drive from the back of the grid, while the Alfa Romeos of Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi took ninth and tenth on a better day for the Italian squad.

Despite a bad weekend, Hamilton still leads the drivers' championship with 197 points, ahead of Bottas on 166, while Verstappen's win vaults him into third place with 126. In the constructors' championship, Mercedes remain well out in front on 363, ahead of Ferrari on 228 and Red Bull with 169.

The next round of the 2019 Formula 1 World Championship is the British Grand Prix at Silverstone on July 14. 

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