Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc admits he was relieved to win the dramatic Austrian Grand Prix after witnessing team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr retire with engine failure.

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc admitted he was relieved to win on Sunday Austrian Grand Prix.

Having failed to finish on the podium in five races, Leclerc was under pressure to beat the championship leader Max Verstappen on Red Bull Ring.

When Verstappen started from pole, the odds were not in his favor, but Leclerc was able to overtake the Dutchman on the 10th lap.

This move gave Ferrari the initiative Carlos Sainz Jr also showing better pace compared to Red Bull and a situation arose where a one-two for Leclerc and Sainz looked a real possibility.

However, with 14 laps to go, Sainz’s engine blew as he looked set to pass Verstappen, the Spaniard retiring in the race to get out of his car, which was engulfed in flames.

After the restart, Leclerc had a throttle problem as he tried to defend the lead, but the finish came to his rescue as he took his first win since the opening race in Australia.

Speaking after the race, Leclerc said: “It was a really good race, the pace was there and the end was incredibly difficult with the throttle problem, but we managed to keep it going until the end.

“It’s strange that my problem happened at the same time as Carlos, but I knew it was a problem with the pedal and not with the engine. I definitely needed it. The last five races have been tough for me and the team and it’s great to finally get one.”

In the drivers’ standings, Leclerc closed to within 38 points of Verstappen, ahead of Sergio Perez who took early retirement due to a clash with George Russell.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton – Russell’s teammate – was the man to benefit from Sainz’s departure, securing third place for the third race in a row.

However, the seven-time world champion remains in sixth position in the standings, 61 points behind second-placed Leclerc.

Russell still finished fourth despite a five-second penalty in the early stages of the race, with Esteban Ocan and Mick Schumacher on the fifth and sixth respectively.

Lando Norris, Kevin Magnussen, Daniel Ricardo and Fernando Alonso finished in the top 10.

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