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Carlos Sainz, The Fire Incident Could Have Being Avoided…It Was Deliberate To Favour Some Elite Drivers

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Charles Leclerc got back on the top step of the podium for the first time since April as he won the Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday. Having won two of the first three races of the season, the Ferrari driver has struggled for consistency since then, but he produced a textbook drive to see off Max Verstappen at the Red Bull Ring.

 

 

Verstappen had to settle for second, and remains top of the championship, while there was late heartbreak for Carlos Sainz as his engine exploded when he looked set for a podium finish. Instead, Lewis Hamilton came through to finish third, with team-mate George Russell just behind him in fourth. After finishing second in the sprint race on Saturday, Leclerc’s message was clear on the team radio: ‘We are quick. We can get them tomorrow.’

 

 

He was true to his word. From the outset of Sunday’s race it seemed that Ferrari had a slight pace advantage over Red Bull, but Leclerc still had to make the most of this, and he did. He had to overtake Verstappen three times due to Ferrari’s pit-stop strategy, but he executed each move perfectly to move into the lead. He was concerned in the final laps of the race after complaining about issues with his throttle pedal, and that is no surprise given that he has already had two DNFs this season.

 

 

Yet he held on and managed to maintain the gap between himself and Verstappen to claim an important win. Leclerc is now 38 points behind Verstappen in the standings, which is still a significant gap, but there was a steeliness to his performance on Sunday that suggests he is willing to take the fight to the Dutchman, and he has no intention of rolling over in this year’s title race. Sainz could not have done a lot more in Sunday’s race.

 

 

Having started third on the grid, he just about held off Russell on the opening lap, and then set about chasing down Leclerc and Verstappen. After watching Leclerc breeze past Verstappen, Sainz looked set to do exactly the same heading into the final 15 laps. A Ferrari one-two was on the cards. The perfect day for the team. Or perhaps not. With Verstappen in his sights, disaster struck for Sainz as his engine suddenly failed him, instantly ending his race.

 

 

Cracks appeared in his car, and it was soon up in flames. Luckily, he managed to get out of the vehicle quickly and was unharmed. In the moments afterwards, Sainz sat on the grass by the side of the track looking utterly dejected. A certain podium position had been taken away from him. It was hard not to feel sympathy for the Spaniard after such a cruel blow.

 

 

The first two days of the Grand Prix weekend did not go to plan for Hamilton at all. On Friday, he spun out in Q3 after some promising signs in Q1 and Q2, meaning that he started the sprint race down in ninth place. He then spent most of the sprint stuck behind Mick Schumacher, and he finished in a disappointing eighth spot. He needed to put in a big performance on Sunday to salvage his weekend, and he pulled through at the vital moment.

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