Charles Leclerc took the number one spot at the Australian Grand Prix to move into a dominant place in the World Championship.
He took control of the whole race when his rival Max Verstappen had to retire due to a technical fault with his Red Bull car at two-thirds distance.
Currently, the Dutch driver is 46 points behind the French racer after just three races and there have been 2 races where the Red Bull has even failed to finish.
Red Bull’s Sergio Perez managed to get the better of George Russell and Lewis Hamilton to clinch the second spot.
Even though Mercedes has had a bad start to the season, their driver Russell is second in the driver’s championship and the team are positioned second in the constructor’s table.
Ferrari in pole position
Leclerc earned his second win of the season and it was a dominant performance on the track. The Ferrari driver achieved pole position with one of the biggest margins of the season so far.
Red Bull was looking to get a second victory with Verstappen to close the gap in the championship but the race for them was a disaster.
The other Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz caused an early disturbance in the race when he lost control of his car when trying to overtake a car on Turn Nine after a poor start from a low grid position.
The safety car had to be issued on the track but when the race resumed, Leclerc moved away from Verstappen and then created a significant distance between the drivers when the Red Bull driver’s car started to slightly slow down due to tyre problems.
Verstappen was able to close the gap from 1st place when a second safety car had to be put on the track when Sebastian Vettel crashed on a disappointing weekend for the Aston Martin team.
The Dutchman was able to challenge for Leclerc’s position in the restart when the Ferrari driver had slight problems with grip on his new wheels after his pit stop. He tried to overtake him on Turn One but Leclerc held him off and then managed to increase the gap before the World Champion had to pull off the track when he smelt some weird fluid coming from the car.
At that point, Leclerc was already seven seconds in front of Verstappen over 11 laps.
Red Bull concerns
The retirement of Verstappen will raise major concerns for Red Bull who have made a poor start to retaining their Championship against the Ferrari team who look to be back on track this season.
They had fuel systems problems in the first race which lead to both cars having to retire in the first race in Bahrain.
Verstappen has now lost a significant amount of points from another race he wasn’t able to finish and the team boss believes Christian Horner believes that the failure was an external fuel leak that will need to be investigated further.
He said “We can’t accept DNFs. We expected to be a lot closer to Ferrari in pace and they were untouchable today. We’ve obviously got some work to do.”
However, there are still 20 long races to go in the F1 season and the Red Bull will be very confident that they can gain ground, especially if they can out-develop Ferrari.
Rest of the Track
Mercedes managed to achieve a good finish even though there have been problems with their car.
Russell was able to clinch the third-place spot after battling it out with Hamilton at the end of the race. The Mercedes team will now focus on ways to solve their car problems which have left them a second off the pace at the start of the new era of F1.
McLaren drivers Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo managed to get fifth and sixth position ahead of drivers Steban Ocon from Alphine, Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas and Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly.
Alex Albon managed to earn the final point for Williams from the 20th grid position at the start of the race.
Fernando Alonso had some bad luck during the race as he had to enter the pit stop three times after he ran into some tyre troubles later in the race.
Williams Racing Performance
Alex Albon picked up Williams first point of the season, finishing in 10th, which was a great achievement as he started in 20th position. His bold one-stop strategy paid off, running an impressive 56 laps on the hard tyre before stopping for the soft compound on the penultimate lap of the race.
Nicholas Latifi finished 16th, and started in 18th. He pitted twice, making his first stop for hard compounds on lap 13, before taking a final new set on lap 23.
What they said:
Jost Capito, CEO & Team Principal:
To get a point early in the season is good for the team and I’m extremely happy for everyone – the team deserved this. We’ve had a difficult start to the season, and even yesterday was difficult, but that’s the good thing about racing – things can change on the Sunday and it’s not over until it’s over. If you keep pushing and always stay motivated, keep the team alive and believing in itself, then fortunes can change.
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance:
Alex drove brilliantly today and found a sweet spot on the Prime tyre, which gave him good pace and, crucially, much less degradation than many other cars. He completed a very long stint and we ignored several opportunities to pit under safety cars, hoping that something might happen to allow us to keep as many of the gains as possible. In the end, the degradation of cars behind and difficulty in overtaking gave us a small opportunity to run until the very end and pull a gap big enough for a pitstop. Under huge pressure, the pit crew were very good, and Alex was quick enough on the out-lap to secure tenth place. After the ups and down of the previous two days, this was an excellent result for the entire team.
Nicholas had a more difficult race following a very different strategy to Alex. We wanted to spend a lot of the race on the Prime tyre with both cars, but we chose to get Nicky’s Option stint done early in the race rather than put him on the riskier strategy that Alex followed. Nicky found the opening stint on the Option difficult and showed degradation like most of the field. His pace on the Prime was better, but he still couldn’t quite match the degradation of Alex. We need to understand if differences in the car and driving style contributed to this, and this will be the main focus of our work as we prepare for the next race in Imola.
I am very pleased with how today went. We came in this morning, looked at our race predictions starting from last and felt pretty sad, so to end Sunday with a point is extremely rewarding. It was a race where we took risks and really allowed our tyres to get into a nice window, and from then they just felt better and better. I was putting in what felt like continuous qualifying laps for the last 25 laps of the race! For me, it really highlights the work that’s been done at the factory and at the track; this is the result of the team’s determination and motivation. It’s been a great day and I’m really happy to have played my part in this for the team.
It was definitely a tricky race, but we were expecting that after the FP2 high fuel running that we did. It seemed that we struggled with the tyres quite a lot, experiencing graining on both compounds and struggling to keep them in the right window. There was a lot going on with multiple safety cars and Virtual Safety Car periods. It was great to see Alex finish P10 in the end and I’m super happy for the whole team. It’s been a difficult start to the season and there’s still a lot to find on my side. If Alex is able to extract that performance out of the FW44 then there’s no reason why we can’t in the other car. We will now spend a lot of time looking through the data and understand how we can make it work.
Australia Grand Prix Results
|Track: Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, Australia||Weather: Hot & dry conditions|
|Lap Length: 5.303km||Temperature: Air: 26-28°C Track: 33-39°C|
|Pos||Driver||Team||Time/Gap (Fastest Lap)||Grid||Tyre Changes|
|1.||C. Leclerc||Scuderia Ferrari||1:27:46.548|
|2.||S. Perez||Oracle Red Bull Racing||+20.524|
|3.||G. Russell||Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team||+25.593|
|10.||A. Albon||Williams Racing||+79.382|
|16.||N. Latifi||Williams Racing||+1 LAP|
|18||2 (13, 23)|
2022 FIA Formula One World Championship Schedule
|1||20-Mar-22||Bahrain Grand Prix||Bahrain IC, Sakhir|
|2||27-Mar-22||Saudi Arabia Grand Prix||Jeddah Street Circuit, Jeddah|
|3||10-Apr-22||Australian Grand Prix||Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, Melbourne|
|4||24-Apr-22||Emilia Romagna Grand Prix||Imola|
|5||08-May-22||Miami Grand Prix||Miami International Autodrome, Miami|
|6||22-May-22||Spanish Grand Prix||Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona|
|7||29-May-22||Monaco Grand Prix||Monte Carlo, Monaco|
|8||12-Jun-22||Azerbaijan Grand Prix||Baku City Circuit, Baku|
|9||19-Jun-22||Canadian Grand Prix||Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal|
|10||03-Jul-22||British Grand Prix||Silverstone|
|11||10-Jul-22||Austrian Grand Prix||Red Bull Ring, Spielberg|
|12||24-Jul-22||French Grand Prix||Circuit Paul Ricard, Le Castellet|
|13||31-Jul-22||Hungarian Grand Prix||Hungaroring, Mogyorod|
|14||28-Aug-22||Belgian Grand Prix||Spa-Francorchamps, Francorchamps|
|15||04-Sep-22||Dutch Grand Prix||Zandvoort|
|16||11-Sep-22||Italian Grand Prix||Monza|
|17||02-Oct-22||Singapore Grand Prix||Marina Bay, Singapore|
|18||09-Oct-22||Japanese Grand Prix||Suzuka|
|19||23-Oct-22||United States Grand Prix||Circuit of the Americas, Austin|
|20||30-Oct-22||Mexican Grand Prix||Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Mexico City|
|21||13-Nov-22||Brazilian Grand Prix||Interlagos, Sao Paulo|
|22||20-Nov-22||Abu Dhabi Grand Prix||Yas Marina, Abu Dhabi|