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Charles Leclerc is back in the circle of the winners.
Leclerc overcame mechanical issues in the late race to hold off Max Verstappen and win the 2022 Austrian Grand Prix.
The win is his third of the season and brings him back to second in the points standings behind Verstappen. Lewis Hamilton, George Russell and Esteban Ocon rounded out the top five finishers.
“I definitely needed it. The last five races have been incredibly difficult for myself and for the team,” Leclerc said after the race. “To finally show that we have the pace in the car and that we can do it is incredible. We have to persevere until the end.”
Leclerc started the 2022 season piping hot, winning in Bahrain and Australia and finishing in the top two in four of the first five races. Mechanical problems led to a significant setback in the season for Leclerc as he had to leave the race early in Spain and Azerbaijan. After looking like a championship contender early in the season, Leclerc dropped to third in the standings and found himself looking for answers.
Sunday’s race was not without mechanical problems for Ferrari. Leclerc spent much of the latter part of the race with a gas problem and his teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. left the event early.
“Weird [the throttle issue] was more or less the same time [as Sainz’s retirement], so I had it in my mind,” said Leclerc. “I knew it wasn’t a problem with the bike because it was the pedal that felt weird. Fortunately it lasted until the end of the race.”
Meanwhile, the scoreless season of misery continued for Hamilton, who finished third for the third race in a row. Hamilton’s car had to be rebuilt on Saturday after crashing in the qualifying session, so this third place finish serves as a bit of a morale victory.
That said, we are now 11 races into the 2022 season and Hamilton still hasn’t committed a race. This is the longest Hamilton ever without a win to start a season in his Formula 1 career. He has watched as Verstappen has taken on his mantle as the sport’s most dominant driver and seemingly doesn’t know how to change things.
Verstappen’s current “cold” streak is already two races without a win, the first time this has happened to the reigning champion all season.