Charles Leclerc held off local crowd favourite Max Verstappen despite throttle issues to win the Austrian Grand Prix, although the Scuderia was denied a 1-2 finish following a scary fire for Carlos Sainz.
Leclerc, who had not been on the podium since Miami, passed Verstappen three times on track as the Ferrari and Red Bull drivers were placed on different strategies.
A late throttle pedal worry did threaten to derail Leclerc, but he held on for his third victory of the 2022 Formula 1 season.
However, he was not joined on the podium with his teammate Sainz, who showed similar speed and was set to follow Leclerc over the finishing line but was eliminated by a late engine fire to hand Lewis Hamilton third position.
Verstappen led a fast formation lap in a bid to generate tyre temperature and on the medium tyres, enjoyed a tidy launch to hold the middle line and consolidate the lead into Turn 1.
Leclerc maintained position in second as third-starting Sainz was squeezed on the outside to rejoin side-by-side with George Russell, before he fought back past on the inside into Turn 3.
Sergio Perez, from fifth, could then have a sniff at the Mercedes with a drag race out of the right-hander, which left him on the outside for the Turn 4 left.
But Russell made contact with the right-rear of Perez’s Red Bull with his front-left to send the RB18 spinning into the gravel, albeit he rejoined by finding the asphalt run off by the barrier.
Ahead, Verstappen found a 0.985 seconds over Leclerc at the end of lap one of 71, with Sainz a further one second back while Perez eventually recovered to the pits for hards although would retire on lap 17.
Unlike the sprint race Verstappen won, the defending champion was not able to break away in the early laps as Leclerc within the one second window to keep hold of DRS.
On the sprint out of Turn 1 to Turn 3, the gap fell to as little as 0.5 seconds and with Perez heading for an early exit, Ferrari had the potential to splits its strategy to jump Verstappen.
Leclerc had his first tentative look up the inside of Verstappen into Turn 3 on lap 8 but thought better of it for the next three laps.
Then on lap 11, Leclerc made his move – diving down the inside into Turn 3. Verstappen, slower in the opening phase, gave his title rival room and barely put up a fight.
Verstappen tried to offer an attack on the outside of Turn 4 but locked up to fall behind.
Despite a big moment of oversteer and then a couple of lock ups for Leclerc, setting the fastest lap of the race at that stage allowed Charles to break free of DRS.
That prompted Verstappen to put for a set of hard tyres at the end of lap 13 but he was delayed with a 3.2 seconds stop courtesy of a slow front-left change to emerge in traffic.
That left Leclerc to lead over Sainz by 2.5 seconds as Verstappen had to carve his way past Mick Schumacher for fifth around the outside of the Turn 2 kink before demoting 2021 arch-rival Hamilton with relative ease by cutting back to get a good exit from Turn 3.
The Ferraris kept pounding round without stopping, Leclerc holding a 4 seconds advantage over Sainz before the race leader hit the pits at the end of lap 26 for a slick 2.6 seconds switch to hards.
Sainz immediately pitted the lap after for hards, the Scuderia duo returning to the track behind Verstappen but with the upper hand on race pace – Leclerc setting a new fastest lap.
On lap 33, Leclerc closed within DRS range of Verstappen before another cleanly decided move for first position at Turn 3. An early pass allowed Verstappen to fall back and gain DRS for the run to Turn 4 but he opted against a proper retaliation to confirm second place.
With Verstappen complaining of unpredictable grip levels, Red Bull pitted him again on lap 37 for another set of hards, which afforded Ferrari room for another stop 12 tours later.
Leclerc and Sainz both enjoyed quick changes to another set of hards but again faced the prospect of demoting Verstappen, the Dutch racer 2.5 seconds ahead with 20 laps left to play.
Again, Leclerc was quickly into a rhythm on the white-wall rubber to only two laps later gain DRS on Verstappen, the Ferrari moving to the outside for the run to Turn 3.
Leclerc smartly left Verstappen have the apex but turned sharper to jump on the throttle sooner and nail the exit to power back into the lead for the final time.
Sainz was then about to demote Verstappen for a Ferrari 1-2 but on the run to Turn 4, running in the Red Bull’s wake, a wisp of smoke started to waft out of his engine cover.
The Ferrari’s engine then failed spectacularly, with Sainz trying to pull up on the exit as flames burst but the slope of escape rolled meant he struggled to stop the car and jump out.
As flames crept towards the cockpit, Sainz was eventually able to hop out as the virtual safety car was triggered, Leclerc then holding 5.4 seconds over Verstappen.
At the end of lap 58, Leclerc used the slower conditions to stop for mediums and was followed by Verstappen for the run to the line.
Leclerc then complained about as throttle issue, the pedal not retracting fully to make the run through Turn 3 particularly challenging as the margin at the front came down.
A 4.1 seconds lead when the VSC ended began to fall, but Leclerc would hold on to seal the victory – his first since the Australian Grand Prix – by 1.5 seconds over Verstappen to chip away six points.
Hamilton was a distant third, crossing the line 40 seconds behind the top two. But he was placed on a two-stop strategy rather than three and delivered a remarkable surge up the order from ninth. The Mercedes driver’s race was notable for an entertaining battle with both Haas cars and then a DRS pass on Esteban Ocon.
Russell landed fourth ahead of Ocon, while Schumacher completed back-to-back points finishes in sixth after surging past McLaren’s Lando Norris and teammate Kevin Magnussen.
Daniel Ricciardo ran to ninth while Fernando Alonso completed the top ten, having survived a squeeze onto the grass by Yuki Tsunoda that prompted the two-time champion to wag his finger out the cockpit as he continued to fight for position.
Valtteri Bottas landed P11 for Alfa Romeo over Alex Albon, Lance Stroll and Zhou Guanyu.
A difficult weekend for Pierre Gasly ended with P15, the AlphaTauri again in the wars – this time gaining a 5 seconds penalty for catch Sebastian Vettel at Turn 4 and spinning the Aston Martin into the gravel. Vettel too was reprimanded by 5 seconds due to exceeding track limits.
Seb finished in P17, behind Tsunoda, to only head retirees Sainz, Nicholas Latifi and Perez.
So another Ferrari victory in the space of two weeks. The Scuderia beat rival Red Bull at their home track and it was a brilliant drive by Charles Leclerc despite throttle issues. Three overtakes on Max Verstappen reveal the extreme pace and strategy which sealed this win. Roll on the next Formula 1 racing event.
Austrian Grand Prix, race results:
1 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:24:24.312
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1.532
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 41.217
4 George Russell Mercedes 58.972
5 Esteban Ocon Alpine 68.436
6 Mick Schumacher Haas +1 lap
7 Lando Norris McLaren +1 lap
8 Kevin Magnussen Haas +1 lap
9 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren +1 lap
10 Fernando Alonso Alpine +1 lap
11 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo +1 lap
12 Alex Albon Williams +1 lap
13 Lance Stroll Aston Martin +1 lap
14 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo +1 lap
15 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri +1 lap
16 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri +1 lap
17 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin +1 lap
– Carlos Sainz Ferrari DNF
– Nicholas Latifi Williams DNF
– Sergio Perez Red Bull DNF