Charles Leclerc overcomes late throttle scare to win Austrian GP over Max Verstappen

Leclerc throttle win Verstappen
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SPIELBERG, Austria — Charles Leclerc revived his Formula One title challenge by overcoming Max Verstappen and a throttle problem Sunday to win the Austrian Grand Prix for his third victory of the season.

Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz’s hopes of a second-place finish ended when his engine blew as he was about to attack Verstappen’s Red Bull.

Leclerc was clearly stressed in the closing laps as his throttle was not working properly, making it more difficult to control his speed into turns.

“Yes. Come on!” Leclerc, who overtook Verstappen multiple times for the lead, screamed on team radio after crossing the line. “I was scared. I was really scared. Yessss!”

The Monaco driver held on to beat second-place Verstappen by 1.5 seconds.

“I definitely needed that win, the last five races have been incredibly difficult,” Leclerc said. “At the end it was really difficult, I had this problem with the throttle.”

Verstappen, the prerace favorite, picked up a bonus point for fastest lap to go with the eight points he took by winning Saturday’s sprint race.

Lewis Hamilton finished third for Mercedes and encouragingly gained a third straight podium place. His teammate George Russell placed fourth.

After cutting out on Lap 58 of 71, Sainz’s car was burning and started to slide backward in the gravel as a marshal rushed toward it with a fire extinguisher and urged the Spaniard to jump out. Sainz got out in time as flames were licking his race suit. He was unharmed, sitting on the grass to contemplate his bad luck.

F1 said prior to Sunday’s race that it has received reports from other fans who said they were reportedly subjected to slurs and abusive comments.

“We have been made aware of reports that some fans have been subject to completely unacceptable comments by others at the Austrian Grand Prix,” F1 said in a statement. “We take these matters very seriously, have raised them with the promoter and event security, and will be speaking to those who reported the incidents.”

The Red Bull Ring in Spielberg has been sold out with 300,000 fans attending over three days.

F1 said the abusive behavior of some fans “is unacceptable and will not be tolerated” and carried a message on its screens at the track saying “enjoy the racing, be respectful and have fun.”