Charles Leclerc handed championship boost as a result of Carlos Sainz’s engine blowout

Carlos Sainz retired from the 2022 Austrian Grand Prix in spectacular fashion.

Max Verstappen saw his World Championship lead reduced by six points at the Austrian Grand Prix, after having to settle for second at Red Bull’s home race.

However, despite not finishing on the top step, Verstappen was praised for his “professional” behaviour during the race, where he was overtaken by race winner Charles Leclerc three times.

Ex-F1 driver Martin Brundle, who is now an experienced co-commentator, sung the Dutchman’s praises in his Sky Sports F1 column.

Brundle is glad to see that the reigning World Champion has eliminated some of his dirty tactics, something which the 24-year-old was slammed for during his championship-winning year.

Verstappen made many unhappy in 2021, due to his over-ambitious defensive moves, which many labelled as “dirty”.

READ: Lewis Hamilton tells Charles Leclerc: ‘I don’t want to send you off’

The former racer thinks the Red Bull Racing driver has matured this season, following on from his title success last season.

For Brundle this is a good sign, with the pundit becoming increasingly concerned that Verstappen will see his legacy fall down a similar trap to some of the sport’s greatest drivers of all time.

Brundle explained how both Ayrton Senna and Mick Schumacher, had their “amazing legacies” become “partly diminished”, due to occasional dirty driving.

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“Max once again was very fair and professional in his driving and defence,” Brundle wrote.

“Generally he is this year, albeit very much pushing the limits in his defence against Mick Schumacher the week before at Silverstone.

“I remember commenting in Jeddah last year Michael Schumacher’s, and to an extent Ayrton Senna’s amazing legacies are partly diminished by some dirty driving, and that Max would do well to avoid that career reputation. It will be interesting to see how that goes if push literally comes to shove in the championship.”

Second could have very easily been third at the Red Bull Ring for the Dutch driver, who was on the verge of being overtaken by the other Ferrari of Carlos Sainz.

Unfortunately, for Sainz, the Spaniard suffered Ferrari’s fourth power unit (PU) failure of the season, and saw his Austrian GP end in fiery fashion.

PU reliability has been Ferrari’s downfall this campaign, with the team having already lost the lead of two races due to a PU failure, and now an all but certain second-place finish.

It’s seen Sainz drop 75-points behind Verstappen, with Brundle believing that it won’t be too long until the side have to prioritise Leclerc, who sits just 38-points behind.

“The Ferrari is fragile and Sainz’s power unit blow-up was bodywork shattering, followed by a very expensive fire in this cost cap era,” he added.

“Fresh from his inaugural victory at Silverstone, Sainz was absolutely gutted, a guaranteed at least second place gone up in smoke.

“As we move into the second half of the season the trailing Ferrari team must be close to calling off the battle between their two drivers and he will be aware of this. It was a very painful and sad moment for him championship wise.”

It was almost double-trouble for Ferrari, with Leclerc panicking late-on that he was suffering from an issue with his throttle pedal.

Whilst Brundle understands why Leclerc was so nervous, he believes the Monegasque driver needs to be careful over what he’s saying on the team radio.

“But Leclerc then suffered a throttle pedal issue in the closing stages during which he might have been better keeping some of the radio information away from Race Control and Red Bull, but sweet victory was his and he fully deserved it,” Brundle concluded.