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Sainz happy with ‘bonus’ podium in Austria while Leclerc reflects on first-lap clash with Piastri and Perez

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SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA - JUNE 30: Charles Leclerc of Monaco and Ferrari looks on from the drivers

Ferrari endured mixed fortunes in the Austrian Grand Prix, with Carlos Sainz benefiting from the drama up ahead to claim a surprise podium while Charles Leclerc faced a difficult Sunday, having been caught up in a first-lap incident that damaged his front wing.

After engaging in an early battle with the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton over P4, Sainz had expected to finish in P5 given that McLaren’s Oscar Piastri – who had started slightly out of position in P7, having had his qualifying lap time deleted due to track limits – was looking fast behind.

READ MORE: Russell claims surprise win in Austria after Verstappen and Norris dramatically collide in battle for the lead

However, the order at the front shifted when Max Verstappen and Lando Norris collided during a fierce battle for the lead on Lap 64 of 71, prompting both to limp to the pits with a puncture. While Verstappen continued on in fifth, Norris was forced to retire from the race.

This promoted George Russell up into the lead for Mercedes, while Sainz found himself running in P2 before being overtaken by Piastri. The Spaniard ultimately crossed the line in third and was left satisfied with his overall performance throughout the weekend at the Red Bull Ring.

“Really pleased with the outcome of the weekend and the way that I’ve driven and have put together a solid weekend,” Sainz commented after the race.

Sainz: ‘We put a solid race together and we’re on the podium, so I’m happy’

“Obviously [it] comes [as] a bonus this podium, because if not I think we would have been probably P5 on the road, which is where we were expecting to finish, as Oscar sooner or later was always going to pass us in the McLaren.

“We were still that half a tenth [or] a tenth behind George in race pace. But, yeah, happy. We put a solid race together and we’re on the podium, so [I’m] happy.”

HIGHLIGHTS: Watch the action from Austria as Russell snatches victory after dramatic Verstappen/Norris clash

Asked if he had felt that Ferrari had made a step relative to their performance last time out in Barcelona, Sainz answered: “I think it’s very tight with Merc.

"In the last two weekends they’ve been – or at least the faster Merc – has been a little bit quicker than the faster Ferrari [in] both cases, so we just need to make a step going into Silverstone if we want to fight up there.

“And now we’re going to focus on that, see if we can put together a solid weekend in Silverstone and edge them out, and then bring upgrades to make sure that we try to get closer to McLaren and Red Bull.

“Earlier in the season, obviously we could have benefitted more, like George did from the fight up front. The reality is that, at this stage of the season, we are just trailing the Merc and a step behind McLaren and Red Bull. We’ve had some issues in the car the last couple of races, which we are looking forward to resolving soon.”

Leclerc brands Lap 1 incident ‘a racing incident’ after losing his front wing

On the other side of the Ferrari garage, it proved to be a tough day for Leclerc. The Monegasque sustained damage to his front wing after contact with Piastri and the Red Bull of Sergio Perez on the first lap, which forced him to make a pit stop and drop to the back of the field.

He went on to make a total of four visits to the pits throughout the race and, while the team had predicted that he could eventually reach a points-paying position, Leclerc ended the event in P11.

Giving his take on the Lap 1 collision, Leclerc remarked: “My view is that it was a racing incident, I couldn’t do anything.

READ MORE: ‘I feel let down’ – Norris says Verstappen ‘in the wrong’ as both drivers give their take on Austria clash

“I was in the middle of Oscar and Checo, Oscar didn’t know Checo was on the inside, Checo went for an overtake because there was the gap but maybe was a bit too optimistic – going into the first corner three-wide, it’s never going to work out, and that made me lose the front wing.

“That was not the end of our race, but then we had to recover so much, so… a big shame.”

Pushed on whether he ever felt that points were possible – and if it was frustrating to come away empty-handed – the 26-year-old responded: “We were very compromised once I did the whole stint behind Lando, I couldn’t overtake because of the blue flags and I just had to stay behind, but we had more pace. That compromised also our fight for at least one or two points.”

Race Highlights: 2024 Austrian Grand Prix

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