With the sprint race being the Hamilton and Perez show, it may have been expected that the race would be a similar affair with not much to note. It was the opposite, as Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen battled over the lead and the midfield battle was thoroughly entertaining.
Verstappen grabbed pole in qualifying with Leclerc alongside, Carlos Sainz took third behind them. George Russell qualified fourth giving Mercedes a decent chance at a podium.
The race started out with several drivers going off track at turn 1, including Sainz who lost third to Russell, by turn 3 he managed to take the place back. This gave Sergio Perez the opportunity to attempt an overtake on Russell in which he tried to go around the outside of turn 4.
With Russell still on the inside, he hit Perez with his front left tyre, Perez went off and spun into the gravel, but managed to keep going, however he ended up at the back of the field after he stopped for hard tyres.
Mick Schumacher did what he could not in the sprint and overtook Hamilton for eighth on lap five, showing that the Haas cars had good pace around the Red Bull Ring.
By lap seven, Leclerc had gotten himself back within a second of Verstappen after being beyond that gap since the start. This gave him DRS and was looking threatening for the overtake the Red Bull.
On lap ten Leclerc attempted an overtake down into turn 3, Verstappen just stayed within track limits on the exit and into turn 4 he was able to defend the lead on this occasion.
For the incident with Perez, Russell received a 5 second time penalty. Two laps later he served the penalty as he came into the pits for hard tyres and ended up coming out in nineteenth. While that happened, Leclerc made his move on Verstappen and dived down the inside of turn 4, thus taking the lead.
Throughout the beginning stages of the grand prix, Hamilton was still close behind to Schumacher and managed to get back in front of the Haas on lap fifteen through turn 8. The following lap Pierre Gasly got past Valtteri Bottas, and Verstappen made his way up overtaking Kevin Magnussen.
Lap seventeen Esteban Ocon and Schumacher pit onto the hard tyres, they came out in tenth and fourteenth respectively. Verstappen gets past Hamilton on lap nineteen, with Mercedes yet to pit, along with the Ferrari’s who also had yet to pit.
With Ocon having his new tyres he makes his way through the field first passing Vettel on lap twenty-one, in which Vettel pitted at the end of the lap, then getting up to eighth by passing team-mate Alonso, then on the next lap, he tried to get the overtake on Zhou Guanyu into turn 3, was unsuccessful, but Ocon got himself ahead into turn 5, lastly goes and overtakes Tsunoda into the same corner.
Alonso was chasing Zhou down on lap twenty-four but had Magnussen behind him, Magnussen passes both into turn 1, Alonso also passes Zhou in which Zhou gets the place back almost immediately on the exit. Alonso then in the slipstream of the Alfa pulls out for an overtake, but behind them are the duo of Norris and Schumacher. Norris tries around the outside of Alonso into turn 3. Norris then with DRS tries to get himself past Magnussen into turn 4, he does not, but stays behind him followed by Alonso, Schumacher and Zhou who lost out big time in this battle.
As Leclerc pits on lap twenty-six onto the hard tyres, Perez who suffered damage in his collision with Russell on lap one, is forced to retire because the damage on the car is too much to continue. Leclerc was out in third. The following lap Sainz pit and came out in fourth.
Lap twenty-nine with the good Haas pace Schumacher got himself past Norris up into eighth. Hamilton comes into pit on the same lap and due to a slow stop, it caused the Brit to come out just behind Ocon and lose time. All while his team-mate Russell had made his way to tenth by this point.
The following lap Hamilton overtook Ocon into turn 3 and was now able to better his pace. Stroll also pitted, coming out in fourteenth. With Russell again making moves, he got into ninth passing Ricciardo.
With track limits being punished throughout the race, Gasly received a 5 second time penalty for exceeding track limits too many times. While that happened Leclerc was once again making a move on Verstappen for the lead, this time into turn 3. Schumacher also put himself in sixth passing his team-mate.
Norris was the next driver to receive a penalty for track limits, meaning a 5 second penalty for him as well on lap thirty-five. Alonso made his way up to sixteenth passing Tsunoda.
By the time lap thirty-six rolled around Sainz was now within a second of Verstappen, with the Dutchman struggling to match the Ferrari’s pace. The next lap Verstappen pitted for another set of hard tyres.
Yet another driver suffered a penalty because of track limits with Zhou being the recipient this time on lap forty. In a similar incident to the Perez/Russell lap one incident, Vettel spun out with Gasly on the inside.
Lap forty-one saw Russell pit again. At the same time Norris overtook Magnussen into turn 3 giving McLaren hope for a points finish. Gasly then received a penalty for causing a collision with Vettel.
Magnussen then pit on lap forty-three, Russell getting back up the field passing Zhou for eleventh, then Norris pits two laps later, promoting Russell to tenth, in which he then passed Schumacher for ninth, then get eighth by passing Stroll through turn 7.
Stroll lost another place to Schumacher into turn one the next lap but regained it into turn 3 a matter of moments after. Norris up to twelfth passing Tsunoda as well.
With the two Haas cars behind Stroll, it seemed like a matter of time, which it was when on lap forty-eight, Stroll lost eighth and then ninth in quick succession to Schumacher and Magnussen respectively.
Leclerc once again pits, on lap forty-nine, Sainz a lap later similar to their pitstops earlier. So, the lead was now Verstappen, Leclerc then Sainz. Latifi retired on lap fifty-two.
Hamilton came into the pits, and put the medium tyre on, with Mercedes thinking they could take the final podium spot.
As it was twice before in this race, Leclerc passed Verstappen on track for the third time to take the lead of the race on lap fifty-two. Ferrari had the pace and were on for a 1-2, Sainz was within a second of Verstappen by lap fifty-six looking like he would make the overtake. Then Sainz had his engine fail, forcing his retirement from the race. This then caused a Virtual Safety Car deployment.
With the VSC deployed, both Leclerc and Verstappen took the opportunity to pit for medium tyred until the end. The race was resumed on lap sixty.
With the race now resumed Russell wasted no time grabbing fourth from Ocon, passing him on the exit of turn 3 down to turn 4.
Norris got himself into seventh passing the Haas for Magnussen on lap sixty-three. Bottas grabbed tenth on lap sixty-five from Alex Albon who almost was able to get another points finish for Williams but was not to be. Three laps later he was overtaken by Alonso for eleventh.
Then on the final lap, Alonso does a last lap overtake on Bottas to get himself into the points and grab tenth right at the end of the race.
Leclerc managed to push through throttle issues he was having during the final few laps to take the win at the Austrian GP, his first since Australia, with Verstappen taking second and Hamilton taking third for a third consecutive race. His team-mate Russell in fourth with Ocon fifth in a good finish for Alpine, Schumacher sixth with his second points in a row, Norris seventh. Magnussen took eighth making it a double points finish for Haas and Ricciardo ninth, taking his first points since Azerbaijan, and Alonso rounding out the points scorers.
Bottas, Albon, Stroll, Zhou, Gasly, Tsunoda and Vettel were the rest of the finishers. With Sainz, Latifi and Perez not finishing.
With Leclerc taking victory and Perez not finishing, Leclerc is back in second in the driver’s championship, with Verstappen having a 38-point lead, Perez is now 57 points behind Verstappen.
Ferrari close the gap slightly on Red Bull now being 56 points behind in the constructor’s championship. Mercedes is still sitting in third comfortably on 237 points being 66 points behind Ferrari. The midfield is heating up with McLaren and Alpine both on 81 points. Alfa Romeo remain sixth on 51 points, but Haas getting good results could creep up on them as they are only 16 points behind in seventh. Alpha Tauri goes down to eighth on 27 points, 7 points behind Haas. Aston Martin are ninth on 18 points and Williams remains on 3.
Officially now halfway through the season and as we go into the second half of the season, teams will be looking to get the upper hand going into the mid-season break. With France and Hungary coming up before the break, will Ferrari continue their form, or will Red Bull stretch the gap to the Scuderia? It is still all to play for in the second half of the season.
F1 Austrian GP 2022 Results
1 – Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 2 – Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 3 – Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 4 – George Russell (Mercedes) 5 – Esteban Ocon (Alpine) 6 – Mick Schumacher (Haas) 7 – Lando Norris (McLaren) 8 – Kevin Magnussen (Haas) 9 – Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren) 10 – Fernando Alonso (Alpine) 11 – Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) 12 – Alex Albon (Williams) 13 – Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) 14 – Zhou Guanyu (Alfa Romeo) 15 – Pierre Gasly (Alpha Tauri) 16 – Yuki Tsunoda (Alpha Tauri) 17 – Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) DNF – Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) DNF – Nicholas Latifi (Williams) DNF – Sergio Perez (Red Bull)