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F1: Controversial Verstappen win at Austrian Grand Prix opens up the season

Formula One franchise has had a lot of controversies in a couple of weeks. Austrian Grand Prix was once again caught in it where a technical call by the stewards decided the fate of the race.

Abhranil Roy
Last updated: 01.07.2019
Controversial Verstappen win at Austrian Grand Prix opens up the season | Sports Social Blog

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It has been a controversial couple of weeks for the Formula One franchise, both on and off the field. A technical call by the stewards decided the fate of the Canadian Grand Prix a couple of weeks back, and once again it threatened to disrupt the result of the Austrian Grand Prix. However, the stewards decided against a penalty and awarded Red Bull racer Max Verstappen the win over Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. Mercedes’s Valtteri Bottas got the last stand at the podium.

What was the Verstappen vs Leclerc controversy about?

Verstappen had a dreadful start to the race, dropping from second to the seventh spot but his pitstop changed the game. He recovered right after the stop, gradually improving his pace and started challenging Leclerc who was leading the table at that point.


After tailing the Ferrari racer for a while, Verstappen attacked him at both Lap 67 and Lap 68. However, his moves were foiled. In Lap 69, Leclerc did not defend his inner line when the Red Bull racer attacked him again. On cue, Verstappen dove inside and pushed Leclerc outwide, momentarily banging wheels with the other car. It was this moment that has generated a lot of controversy among the fans, some of whom have questioned the technical legality of Verstappen’s move.

What did the racers think?

As expected, Verstappen defended himself after the race. The Austrian said,” I don’t think we should get a penalty for that. I never opened [the steering wheel] but the problem is that in that corner there is a crest, so when you then go a bit deeper at such a tight angle you just understeer because of that crest.”

Leclerc, however, did not see it in the same way as his counterpart. According to the Frenchman,” I don’t know. I was on the outside, like the lap before, the lap before was completely fine, he left the space for a car width on the exit of the corner but he didn’t on the other lap so we touched and I had to go wide, and then obviously I didn’t have any chance to pass back so it’s a shame.” He also added,” I’ll let the stewards decide but for me, it was pretty clear in the car.  I don’t know how it looked like from the outside.”

What was the final decision?

After three hours of lengthy deliberations, the FIA finally came to the conclusion that the move did not warrant a penalty, and thus Verstappen would be crowned as champion of the Austrian Grand Prix 2019. A statement read: "In the totality of the circumstances, we did not consider that either driver was wholly or predominantly to blame for the incident. We consider that this is a racing incident."

Author’s take:

Hands down I support the decision taken by the stewards. As Verstappen put it, it was a bit of “hard racing” that makes the sport attractive to the fans. You cannot penalize a bit of spirit shown by a promising young talent.

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