Analysis: Verstappen & Leclerc offer glimpse into F1 post-Hamilton/Mercedes

User Rating: 5 / 5

Star ActiveStar ActiveStar ActiveStar ActiveStar Active

After the doom and gloom post-Paul Ricard, Formula 1 reminded us that the future is still bright at the Austrian Grand Prix.

For once Mercedes couldn't stand the heat, and the result was the two drivers leading of the next generation shining in Spielberg, producing a race that will go down as one of the best all year.

We all know Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc have the talent to take on the establishment led by Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, they just need the machinery to do it.

And whether it was the Monegasque controlling the race pretty much throughout, to the Red Bull talisman producing an epic charge to snatch victory at the death, Sunday proved a changing of the guard is edging closer.

When that day comes, their duel at the Red Bull Ring will be remembered as the first salvo in a rivalry that may well continue for the next decade.

There was a tingle down the spine when the pair went wheel-to-wheel along the top straight between Turns 3 and 4 with no quarter asked and no quarter given.

This was the type of racing fans have been crying out for all year and how it ended is exactly how the next 10 years may well play out.

The gentlemen racer Leclerc versus the ruthless Verstappen, with the Dutchman producing a pass at Turn 3 which was straight out the Senna or Schumacher playbook of firm but fair.

Oh yes, don't be fooled, for years we have seen overtakes with the car on the inside using the racing line to ease the other car wide and this was no different to that.

The fact that the ongoing paranoia over penalties meant the stewards had to get involved just proves how miserable that aspect of F1 has become.

With this success, Verstappen solidifies himself as the top driver of the next generation and puts himself very close to the level of Hamilton as the top guy today.

In defeat, however, Leclerc will come back stronger and the lessons from fighting the Dutchman for the first time at the front will be invaluable for the rest of his career.

His performance was also another message to Ferrari that he is ready to lead the Italian team and certainly the days of Vettel favouritism should be long over at Maranello.

All that needs to happen now is Mercedes put their faith in Esteban Ocon and George Russell for the future with other young talents like Lando Norris and Alex Albon getting their big chance too.