Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc cruised to F1 Australian GP win from Red Bull’s Sergio Perez and Mercedes’ George Russell.
It was a clean start by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in F1 Australian GP at Albert Park circuit as he led Red Bull’s Max Verstappen well but his teammate Sergio Perez got caught behind him and lost third to Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in the first few corners.
Mercedes’ George Russell was fourth from McLaren pair of Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo, were the Brit lost couple of places. Alpine’s Esteban Ocon was eighth from AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly and Alpine’s Fernando Alonso in the Top 10.
Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz had a bad start on the hard compound and eventually beached himself in the gravel while trying to pass Haas’ Mick Schumacher. He passed him but went wide on the grass at the right-hander and spun onto the beach.
Despite trying, he couldn’t get going which ended a difficult weekend from qualifying. The re-start saw the new rule of not being alongside kicked-in as Verstappen stayed behind Leclerc, even though he did try to hustle the Monegasque still.
Behind, Perez finally found a way past Hamilton to retake third as the Brit then had Russell, Norris and Ricciardo close behind. It didn’t take long for Verstappen to complain about losing his tyre, with teammate also facing tyre degradation.
Verstappen eventually pitted on Lap 19 with Perez following him after Hamilton almost caught him to pass him. It kicked-in the pit stop game with the Dutchman’s exiting the pits unsettled Gasly who lost ninth to Alonso in the first part of the circuit.
The slower exit on the hard compound from Ricciardo also caught out Williams’ Alexander Albon who lost a place to Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll. The Canadian had a strange pit stop game under the safety car where he pitted for mediums and switched to hard again.
There was also a moment for Haas’ Schumacher, who went a bit wide at Turn 11 which allowed his teammate Kevin Magnussen to pass him along with Alfa Romeo’s Gunayu Zhou. The Dane also had a moment behind AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda.
He had to brake hard which sent him onto the grass for a moment. There was another safety car period when Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel lost out and smashed himself onto the barrier. Just before that, Perez breezed past Hamilton to take track position.
The Mexican lost the net third to Hamilton when the Brit performed an overcut. The safety car shuffled the order a bit with Leclerc leading Verstappen, Russell, Alonso, Perez, Hamilton, Magnussen, Norris, Ricciardo and Albon in the Top 10.
Among them, Alonso, Magnussen and Albon were the drivers who didn’t pit while Russell pitted under safety car to move himself ahead in the order. But post re-start, Perez not only cleared Alonso but also Russell to get back into third and onto the podium.
Replays showed a moment when Schumacher almost clouted the back of Tsunoda on the main straight, where the incident was put under investigation. The Japanese accelerated and slowed which caught out the German as he braked hard to not hit him.
As things started to settle ahead, Verstappen retired due to a suspected mechanical issue with flames blowing from the rear. It resulted in a VSC period where Alonso and Magnussen pitted after both lost places after the safety car re-start.
Both dropped outside the points but Albon stayed out ahead of Ocon. Behind that, it was a mighty scrap where Stroll forced Bottas off track but was left off. The Canadian was handed a 5s penalty for weaving on the main straight against the Finn before that.
After Bottas lost out, Gasly tried his hard to pass Stroll but couldn’t for laps. He eventually got it around the outside at Turn 1 with Bottas getting through him too. The Frenchman then had a wide moment, allowing the Finn to get through him for ninth.
Interestingly, Albon stood seventh without pitting as Ocon couldn’t get by him due to overheating issues. His teammate Alonso’s race started to drop which forced him to pits as the medium tyres gave way, much like for Magnussen who lost places too.
At the front, Leclerc cruised to F1 Australian GP win with the fastest lap and extended his points lead, while Perez was second from Russell who registered his first podium with Mercedes. Hamilton was on his tail but didn’t press on for the podium.
Norris and Ricciardo did well to be fifth and sixth for their first double points of 2022, as Ocon was seventh from Bottas and Gasly. The final point went to Albon who pitted on the last lap and still managed to retain a place in the Top 10 from Zhou.
Stroll was 12th with Schumacher 13th from Magnussen, Tsunoda, Williams’ Nicholas Latifi and Alonso – everyone from the German onward finished a lap down on the leaders.
DNF: Verstappen, Vettel, Sainz.
UPDATE: The FIA Stewards cleared Gasly, Tsunoda and Schumacher for the safety car infringement where they feel that they will have to discuss in future driver briefings, what’s best way to handle the 10 car length between the two F1 cars with the increasing speeds.
“Drivers were in line on the main straight behind the safety car with lights on. Cars were accelerating and decelerating to keep tyre and brake temperatures up in anticipation of the restart. GAS slowed in reaction to the car in front, TSU also slowed in reaction. MSC was closer to TSU as he slowed, while trying to maintain the ten car length maximum separation specified in the regulations, and had to move left and overtake TSU while braking to avoid colliding with him.
“The Stewards find no driver guilty of breaching the regulation, however, it is clear that the speed and braking capabilities of F1 cars, especially while trying to maintain required temperatures in tyres and brakes, are in tension with the ten car length separation behind the Safety Car traditionally specified in the regulations. This needs to be a point of emphasis in future driver briefings, to ensure the drivers collectively agree on how best to address this challenge before an unfortunate incident occurs,” said the report.
Like the above, there was no further action on the incident between Alonso and Magnussen too. “After MAG passed ALO at turn 3, ALO had a run and was attempting an outside pass on MAG going through turn 4. The cars went through turn 4 essentially side by side but at the exit ALO was off the track. The drivers agreed that this was hard racing with no clear breach of the regulations. The Stewards agree and take no further action,” it said.
— FIA (@fia) April 10, 2022