So the Austrian Grand Prix saved the 2019 F1 season from becoming a Mercedes rout. For one race at least. Mercedes were unable to compete due to overheating issues. That left the spoils of victory to Charles Leclerc and Mad Max Verstappen. Leclerc dominated the 2019 Austria Grand Prix weekend, victory was all but guaranteed for the Ferrari young gun. But the F1 town isn’t big enough for two and during the closing stages of the race, Leclerc had facedown a recovering charging Red Bull Honda.
On fresher tyres, Verstappen hunted down Leclerc like a dog and inevitably caught the Ferrari which by now was on older tyres and struggling for grip. A wheel to wheel tussle ensued from lap 67 until lap 69 when Verstappen used DRS to slingshot past Leclerc going into turn three.
Turn three is a right-hand hairpin chicane. There is really only one route to take, it’s almost impossible for two cars to go side-by-side. Verstappen had the inside line, but he missed the apex, a deliberate decision, to force Leclerc wide.
Verstappen’s wider line made it impossible for Leclerc to mount a cutback. It also allowed Verstappen to close the door without appearing to “open” the steering wheel.
For his part, Leclerc did initially concede the inside line to Verstappen. But it was too late for the cut-back which would have given Leclerc a faster exit out of turn three. But Leclerc did attempt to go for the cut-back, however, he was far too wide to make a successful attempt.
The Ferrari was pushed wide as a consequence, monetarily side-by-side with the Red Bull. Inevitably Leclerc ran out of room and had nowhere else to go, the two touch wheels and LeClerc and was forced over the rumble strip.
Verstappen took the lead and won the race. Did the stewards need to investigate the incident? No. It’s a racing incident Leclerc made the wrong decision and that’s why he and Verstappen made contact.
We’re not here to defend any one driver, both are experienced racers and have excellent race craft. Verstappen is definitely the more aggressive of the two. Verstappen’s overtake on Leclerc to win the Austrian Grand Prix was planned and executed perfectly. But was it fair? the debate will rumble on for some time.