SPIELBERG, Austria -- Max Verstappen has kept his remarkable Austrian Grand Prix victory after a stewards' investigation into his wheel-banging move on Charles Leclerc three laps from the finish came to nothing.
Verstappen muscled his way past Leclerc at Turn 3, lunging down the gap the Ferrari driver had left on the inside. The pair then banged wheels, which forced Leclerc wide and prompted him to open his radio channel and ask "what the hell was that?"
Speaking straight after the race, Verstappen said: "It's hard racing, otherwise we have to stay home. If those things are not allowed in racing, what is the point of being in F1?"
Both men visited the stewards after the race, but a decision was not made public for almost two hours. When it came, it stated that the stewards found no driver "wholly or predominantly to blame".
That means Honda's first victory since returning to F1 in 2015 is confirmed. The result ends Mercedes' run of victories but means Ferrari is still waiting for its first win of 2019 despite two other near misses -- Leclerc was cruelly denied a maiden win in Bahrain due to late engine trouble, while Sebastian Vettel lost victory in Canada due to a controversial penalty decision.
The verdict on Verstappen's move read as follows: "The Stewards reviewed video evidence, heard from the driver of car 33 (Max Verstappen), the driver of car 16 (Charles Leclerc) and team representatives and determined the following. Car 33 sought to overtake car 16 at Turn 3 on lap 69 by out-braking car 16.
"When doing so, car 33 was alongside car 16 on the entry of the corner and was in full control of the car while attempting the overtaking move on the inside of car 16. However, both car 33 and car 16 proceeded to negotiate the corner alongside each other but there was clearly insufficient space for both cars to do so.
"Shortly after the late apex, while exiting the corner, there was contact between the two cars. In the totality of the circumstances, we did not consider that either driver was wholly or predominantly to blame for the incident. We consider that this is a racing incident."