FIA explain why Max Verstappen/Charles Leclerc decision at Austrian Grand Prix took three hours

F1 Grand Prix of Austria

The Mercedes stranglehold was finally ended at the Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday, but Max Verstappen was given an agonising wait for his first win of the season.

Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas had shared all of this year's victories between them heading into the weekend at Spielberg, but rivals Ferrari and Red Bull were thought to have a fighting chance this time around due to the nature of the track.

And so it proved, with Ferrari youngster Charles Leclerc excelling throughout practice, qualifying and the race.

In what could be a nod to the future, Red Bull's Verstappen climbed through the field after a poor start to emerge as another contender for the win, leaving current world champions Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel scrapping for fourth.

Verstappen timed his assault perfectly, overtaking Leclerc in the closing stages with his fresher tyres, but it was the manner of the manoeuvre that led stewards to investigate the incident after he had initially celebrated his win at his team's home race.

Having passed Leclerc coming out of turn three, the 21-year-olds banged wheels as Leclerc tried to get back on the track having been forced wide.

Though Ferrari felt that Verstappen had unfairly forced their driver wide, most fans and pundits thought the move was fair racing, and a dramatic incident that the sport had needed after mediocre races in recent weeks.

The stewards opened an investigation at the time, but did not deliver their verdict until after 7pm local time in Austria.

"The primary part was we didn't get going [with the hearing] until 6pm, [due to] the various media commitments, the [television] pen and the post-race press conference," said F1 Race Director Masi.

F1 Grand Prix of Austria

"The hearing itself, give or take, was about an hour with all parties involved. The stewards deliberated, looked at other cases, precedents, and spoke between themselves.

"By the time you write the decision and then make sure there are no typos or anything in it and so forth, and then summon the teams back, delivering the decision to them, it quickly [adds up].

"So it was just one of those things, they were considering absolutely everything."

Masi does not believe that the current process could be changed to make similar incidents in the future be decided quicker.

F1 Grand Prix of Austria

"It's just one of those nuances in this sport," he said. "We can't blow a whistle and freeze everything, make a decision, and play on.

"We try wherever possible to have the podium be the podium, but when it's the last two or three laps of the race, it does make it quite difficult.

"If it was something that happened on lap three I would have thought that if the stewards felt they had everything, they would have made a decision and it would have been 'play on'."

Despite Masi's reasoning, F1 fans will still want quicker conclusions in future races, though most will agree that the right decision was made on this occasion.

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