Leclerc wins the Australian Grand Prix in an emphatic manner

Charles Leclerc drove to his second win of 2022 FIA Formula 1 World Championshipafter an emphatic display at the Australian Grand Prix where the Monegasque rider seemed untouchable while some of the favorites Down Under ran into trouble.

Second place was claimed by Oracle Red Bull Racing but not by the driver many predicted would challenge Leclerc for victory, Sergio Perez then stood on the second step of the podium Max Verstappen retired late from the race. George Russell rounded out the podium, the first of his career as a Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula 1 Team Driver.

Leclerc untouchable Down Under

When the lights went out, Leclerc was in complete control of the Grand Prix after starting from pole position. The Monegasque rider claimed all the awards at the race Albert Park Race Track, After claiming pole, win, fastest lap and driver of the day, he extended his championship lead to an impressive 34 points from Russell, who is second overall.

Despite winning by just over twenty seconds, Leclerc was kept busy at times during the race. At the first race in Melbourne since 2019 there were two safety cars and a virtual safety car. That Scuderia Ferrari The driver almost screwed up the second safety car restart after coming into power early from the last corner, Verstappen, who was second at the time, tried to challenge Leclerc but it was in vain.

However, things did not go well for Ferrari on Sunday Carlos Sainz Jr became the first retirement of the race, having spun across the grass between turns nine and ten before being stranded in the gravel on the exit of turn ten. It summed up a disastrous weekend for Sainz after being surprised by the red flag in final qualifying. Sainz, who started ninth, decided to start the race on the hard compound. That decision saw the Spaniard get swallowed up by the pack on the first lap after struggling to get heat into the hardest tyres.

Sainz deployed the first safety car of the race on the second lap in front of a sold-out crowd. The incident happened after the Spaniard went deep into turn nine in an attempt to overtake Guanyuzhou.

Leclerc got off to a great start unlike Sainz who was swallowed up by the pack – Photo credit: Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

Red Bull reliability issues are getting worse

What looked like an undisputed double podium for Red Bull quickly turned into a disaster. Verstappen, who was second for the entire race, went off the track suddenly on lap thirty-nine, the Dutchman angrily flipping the wheel of his RB16 as the World Champion suffered his second reliability-based retirement of the season. Verstappen radioed the team that he could smell something before being immediately told to stop the car.

The race had been uneventful for Verstappen before his retirement, the Dutchman sitting five seconds behind Leclerc for most of the race with no apparent response to the Championship leader’s pace. Verstappen was even forced into an early pit stop after locking up at Turn 11 on lap twelve, severely gritting his front left side. The result leaves Verstappen sixth in the championship and forty-six points behind Leclerc.

Sergio Pérez thankfully didn’t suffer from the same reliability issue as his teammate, in fact the Mexican fought hard throughout the race after getting pinched on the first lap and knocking him back Lewis Hamilton. Pérez made easy work of the seven-time world champion with an excellent maneuver on the way down at turn nine. After the Mexican was a few seconds behind Hamilton, he finally came under pressure from the Briton. Both Verstappen and Pérez seemed to struggle with tire management while Mercedes excelled.

Pérez was pulled into the pits on lap twenty-one while the Brit, under tremendous pressure from Hamilton behind, actually managed to pull the overcut onto the Mexican, but was then easily passed again. However, Pérez was also overtaken by George Russell’s other Silver Arrow. Russell pitted as the second safety car of the race was deployed to clean up the chaos that had left Sebastian Vettel. The German, who has had a nightmare weekend on his return to the sport since contracting COVID-19, suffered a bizarre crash on the entrance of turn five after going over the curbs on the exit of turn four.

After the restart, Pérez managed to work his way past Russell and into third place, the Mexican staying there for the rest of the race and inheriting second after Verstappen’s unfortunate retirement.

Leclerc and Verstappen ran close together early on – Source: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images/Red Bull Content Pool

Mercedes is making progress

It was arguably the strongest race of the season for Mercedes so far, with both Russell and Hamilton making excellent starts in the race before eventually settling into fourth and fifth in the Grand Prix. Overall, Hamilton showed better pace than his new teammate and was ahead until the second safety car. Hamilton eventually lost his place on the podium after pitting the lap before Vettel’s crash. The British driver expressed his frustration over the team radio.

While Mercedes had no answer to Ferrari’s pace, the Silver Arrows appeared to have a package that Red Bull could challenge once the tires were up to temperature. In addition, both Brits were able to manage their tires better than the two Red Bulls. This was clearly visible leading up to the first stop lap as Hamilton quickly caught up with Pérez before the Mexican pitted.

Once Pérez was on fresh rubber, neither Hamilton nor Russell could do anything about the Mexican’s pace, although Russell then brilliantly defended third place for a few laps. After Verstappen retired, Russell rode in third and Hamilton in fourth for the remainder of the race, with no battle erupting between the two. The result for Mercedes meant they remained second in the constructors’ standings, with Russell moving up to second in the championship after taking his first Mercedes podium.

Russell took his first podium for Mercedes – Photo credit: LAT Images

What about the rest?

Behind the usual leaders were both McLaren F1 Team Driver. Lando Norris finished fifth with Daniel Ricciardo He finished sixth at his home Grand Prix, McLaren’s best weekend of the season by far as they performed at a level seen on most weekends in 2021.

Esteban Ocon from Alpine F1 Team finished seventh ahead Valtteri Bottaswho made up several places on the final laps after getting stuck lance walk for multiple rounds. Stroll actually received a five-second penalty that was applied to his time after the race for going down the main straight while defending his position. Pierre Gasli finished ninth but should have finished eighth, the Frenchman went too far late in the penultimate corner, allowing Bottas to take the position with ease.

Tenth place went to arguably the best artist of the day, as Alex Albon scored a single point in just his third race Williams Racing after one of the best drives of his Formula 1 career. Albon, who had started last, made his only stop early on the last lap of the race after completing fifty-seven laps on the hard compound. Albon’s lap times have been consistently competitive as the Thai driver showed Williams have a car capable of scoring points this season.

Zhou just missed out on points in 11th, Stroll’s five-second penalty dropped him to 12th. The Canadian finished in front Mick Schumacher, Kevin Magnussen, Yuki Tsunoda and Nicholas Latifi.

Fernando Alonso as the last of the running drivers to cross the finish line, the Spaniard finished seventeenth after grouting his tires with medium compound while trying to fight his way through the midfield. It summed up a disappointing weekend for Alonso, who might have started from pole had he not crashed in the final qualifying session. Verstappen, Vettel and Sainz all retired from the race.

Albon scored his and William Racing’s first point of the season – Credit: Williams Racing

What’s next for Formula 1?

Round four of the championship is in two weeks Imola for the Grand Prix of Emilia-Romagna. The Tifosi will come into effect, with the venue being closest to the Ferrari factory on the calendar. The next round also sees the first sprint qualifying session of the year, with Red Bull hoping to get a handle on their reliability issues.

2022 Australian Grand Prix full results:

1 Charles Leclerc MON Scuderia Ferrari 58 rounds
2 Sergio Perez MEX Oracle Bull Racing + 20.524s
3 George Russell GBR Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula 1 Team + 25.593s
4 Lewis Hamilton GBR Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula 1 Team + 28.543s
5 Lando Norris GBR McLaren F1 Team + 53,303s
6 Daniel Ricciardo OUT OF McLaren F1 Team + 53,737s
7 Esteban Ocon FRA BWT Alpine F1 Team + 61,683s
8th Valtteri Bottas FIN Alfa Romeo F1 Team Orlen + 68.439s
9 Pierre Gasli FRA Scuderia AlphaTauri + 76.221s
10 Alexander Alban THAT Williams Racing + 79.382s
11 Guanyuzhou CHN Alfa Romeo F1 Team Orlen + 81.695s
12 lance walk CAN Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula 1 Team + 88,598s
13 Michael sSchumacher ENG Haas F1 Team + 1 round
14 Kevin Magussen THE Haas F1 Team + 1 round
15 Yuki Tsunoda JPN Scuderia AlphaTauri + 1 round
16 Nicholas Latifi CAN Williams Racing + 1 round
17 Fernando Alonso ESP BWT Alpine F1 Team + 1 round
DNF Max Verstappen NEED Oracle Red Bull Racing
DNF Sebastian Vettel ENG Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula 1 Team
DNF Carlo Sainz ESP Scuderia Ferrari

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