Hard work pays off for Leclerc in Austria but reliability woes leave Ferrari cause for concern

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Charles Leclerc's Austrian Grand Prix victory was a case of hard work paying off for the Ferrari driver on a day that saw his team face up to more reliability issues.

After he finished top of the pile in qualifying and Saturday's sprint, Red Bull's Max Verstappen was the clear favourite to claim triumph once again at the Red Bull Ring.

Although Verstappen led coming out of the first corner, it quickly became apparent Ferrari had superior pace, and Sergio Perez's retirement following a collision with George Russell left the Red Bull drivers' championship leader at the mercy of a Scuderia team that nailed their strategy.

Leclerc got past Verstappen for good on lap 53 but was left facing a nervous few final laps after team-mate Carlos Sainz's engine failed five laps later as he attempted an overtake of Verstappen, and the Monegasque soon began experiencing problems of his own with his throttle.

However, Leclerc was able to manage those issues to end a seven-race winless run that stretched back to the Australian GP and reignite his championship hopes, with Verstappen's lead still 38 points.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Leclerc explained the difference between the race and a sprint where Ferrari seemed well off the pace of Verstappen.

"I did some work on my driving yesterday night," he said. "I knew where to improve, especially on that medium stint.

"On the hard [tyre] we were quick, but there was no deg. I'm very happy that the hard work of yesterday paid off today."

On the throttle problem, Leclerc added: "It was really bad, especially turn three and four was a disaster because the car was pushing a lot with the throttle being extremely inconsistent. In the end, I got to the finish line in first position, so I'm really happy."

Leclerc saw wins taken away from him by engine failures in Barcelona and Baku and conceded it is a worry to see the same problem rear its head again with Sainz's car.

"As a team, it is a concern the reliability, and today it shows even more that it is a concern," said Leclerc. "We really need to look into that to make sure that it doesn't happen again during the season."

Sainz, who was prevented from claiming a fourth podium in five races and from trimming Verstappen's advantage by denying him second, made no effort to hide his disappointment.

"There was no feedback coming from the engine that this was about to happen. Very sudden," Sainz said of his fiery retirement.

"I am a bit lost for words because this is obviously a big loss of points and result for the team today, because I think it could have been an easy one-two.

"It is more difficult to take because we were about to cut the points to the leaders of the championship, both Max and Red Bull, to do a very big result for the team and one of the cars DNF.

"It is heartbreaking, but we will need to keep pushing, turn the page, and it is still a long season ahead."

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