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Charles Leclerc Holds off Max Verstappen to Win 2022 Austrian F1 Grand Prix

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVJuly 10, 2022

JOE KLAMAR/AFP via Getty Images

Charles Leclerc is back in the winner's circle.

Leclerc overcame late-race mechanical issues to hold off Max Verstappen and win the 2022 Austrian Grand Prix.

The win is his third of the season and will move 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 that one. 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 we can do it is incredible. We need to push until the end.”

Leclerc started off the 2022 season red hot, winning in Bahrain and Australia and finishing in the top two in four of the first five races. Mechanical issues led to a significant downturn in Leclerc's season, as he was forced out of the race early in Spain and Azerbaijan. After looking like an early-season championship contender, Leclerc dropped to third in the standings and found himself searching for answers.

Sunday's race was not without its mechanical problems for Ferrari. Leclerc spent much of the latter part of the race dealing with a throttle issue, and his teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. bowed out of the event early.

“Weirdly [the throttle issue] was more or less the same time [as Sainz’s retirement], so I had it in my mind," Leclerc said. "I knew it was not a problem with the engine because it was the pedal that was feeling weird. Luckily it went until the end of the race."

Meanwhile, the winless season of woes continued for Hamilton, who finished third for the third consecutive race. Hamilton's car had to be rebuilt Saturday after he crashed out in the qualifying session, so this third-place finish serves as a bit of a moral victory.

That said, we're now 11 races into the 2022 season, and Hamilton still hasn't captured a race. This is the longest Hamilton has ever gone without a win to start a season in his Formula 1 career. He's watched on as Verstappen has taken his mantle as the sport's most dominating driver and been seemingly at a loss on how to turn things around.

Verstappen's current "cold" streak has been all of two races without a win, the first time all season that's happened to the reigning champion.

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