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Australian Grand Prix: F1 Race Results

19 drivers lined up on Melbourne's grid for the third round of the 2024 championship, with Williams’ chassis shortage ruling Logan Sargeant out of the race

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Carlos Sainz took victory down under, with his teammate Charles Leclerc in P2 and Lando Norris in P3 joining him on the podium in Albert Park.

Ferrari Australia F1
Charles Leclerc is the first to congratulate his teammate, Carlos Sainz, after the race in Australia. (Image Credit: @F1 on Twitter)

Before racing started, the grid was already one man down because of Williams. Alex Albon’s FP1 crash and Williams’ lack of an available third chassis led to Logan Sargeant being ousted from his seat. The Grove-based team decided that Albon would take Sargeant’s car for the remainder of the weekend. Consequently, the team influenced the majority of news headlines this weekend.

As James Vowles, team principal of Williams, himself admitted:

“It’s unacceptable in modern day Formula 1 not to have a spare chassis, but it is a reflection of how behind we were in the winter period.”

The sidelined Sargeant said: “This is the hardest moment I can remember in my career and it’s absolutely not easy”; while Albon felt pressure to perform after the car swap.

This decision was likely the best choice for Williams but has undoubtedly created a tense atmosphere in the team and a difficult situation for both drivers to navigate.

A recap of free practice

Due to Albon’s crash causing FP1 to be prematurely red-flagged, many drivers’ plans for the session went out of the window. Managing to set a quick time before the end of the session, McLaren’s Lando Norris topped FP1 with a lap time of 1:18.564. Max Verstappen set the second fastest time, and George Russell the third.

Ferrari were strong in FP2. Charles Leclerc topped the times with a 1:17.277 lap and his teammate, Carlos Sainz, set the third fastest time of the session – despite still recovering from appendicitis surgery. They were split by Verstappen, who once again set the second-fastest time of the session.

The top three repeated for FP3. This time Leclerc improved on his time, setting a 1:16.714 lap time. The gap to Verstappen was +0.020 and his gap to Sainz was +0.077. Leclerc believed the prancing horses had their best shot at beating the Bulls in Melbourne, justified by their quick pace and strong performance in FP2 and FP3.

Some disappointment in qualifying

In Q1, Daniel Ricciardo had his lap time deleted due to exceeding track limits. He dropped from P12 to P18 and the elimination zone. A disappointing result for the Aussie in front of his home crowd, made more difficult by his teammate, Yuki Tsunoda, outperforming him again. This setback follows comments from Liam Lawson that Ricciardo needed to show improvement.

Daniel Ricciardo RB F1 Australia
Daniel Ricciardo is knocked out of Q1 at his home race in Melbourne. (Image Credit: @SkySportsF1 on Twitter)

Joining him in the elimination zone and out in Q1, were Zhou Guanyu, Pierre Gasly, and Nico Hulkenberg. In addition, Kevin Magnussen was saved from Q1 elimination by Ricciardo’s lap time deletion. Zhou suffered front wing damage and the loss of downforce cost him time.

Q2 brought a shock result for Lewis Hamilton. His fastest lap put him in P11, not making it into Q3. Because of this poor performance, the seven-time world champion’s worst Australian Grand Prix qualifying result in 14 years.

Also out in Q2, were Albon, Valtteri Bottas, Magnussen, and Esteban Ocon. Though eliminated, Ocon’s result was an improvement for Alpine after their poor form so far this season.

Williams revealed that they were preserving tyres for the race which was their priority for Albon over getting into Q3. Therefore, Albon did not exit the pits towards the end of the session to complete a final quick lap.

Leclerc, usually a strong contender for pole position, abandoned his final run in Q3 and went straight to the pits after a mistake on turn 12.

Also making an error, Fernando Alonso lost the car in turn six. He returned to the pits and qualified in P10 for the race.

Pre-race results

Verstappen set the fastest time in Q3 taking pole for the race – the 35th in his career. And Sainz, seemingly even quicker without an appendix, joined him on the front row in P2.

Max Verstappen Red Bull pole position Australia
Max Verstappen qualifies in pole position for the 2024 Australian Grand Prix. (Image Credit: @Max33Verstappen on Twitter)

Sergio Perez set the third-fastest time, but the stewards announced after the session that he was given a three-place grid penalty for impeding Nico Hulkenberg. This penalty took him from P3 to P6 and promoted Norris to P3, Leclerc to P4, and – F1’s other resident Aussie – Oscar Piastri to P5.

Starting grid

Following Perez’s penalty, the starting grid for the race was as follows:

There was a variety in tyre selection for the start. The first nine drivers on the starting grid opted for the medium compound. Fernando Alonso in P10 and Nico Hulkenberg in P16 opted for the hard compound. Lewis Hamilton in P11, Daniel Ricciardo in P18, and Zhou Guanyu – who started from the pits – in P19 selected the soft compound tyres.

It’s lights out down under

Max Verstappen led into turn one and all the drivers made it through the first turn unscathed. Early battles were between George Russell and Sergio Perez, and Nico Hulkenberg and Pierre Gasly. Fernando Alonso lost a couple of places on the hard tyres, whereas Lance Stroll made up a place on Yuki Tsunoda. Lewis Hamilton gained a place with the help of the soft tyres.

Carlos Sainz took the lead of the Australian Grand Prix on lap two, with the help of the second DRS zone. Verstappen told engineers on the radio that he had “lost the car” and it was “feeling weird” and “loose”.

Verstappen’s Red Bull started smoking on lap four and viewers were questioning whether his new power unit was to blame. Shockingly, the championship leader reported fire in his car. The right rear brake was on fire, melting the tyre. He slowed, dropping to P19, and entered the pits to retire the car.

Australia 2022 was the last time Verstappen retired his car. Speaking to Sky Sports during the race, Verstappen explained:

“At the start of the race the right rear brake just stuck on… it was like driving with the handbrake on.”

Game on

Game on for Ferrari and McLaren. For lap six, Sainz was still in first, Lando Norris in second, and Charles Leclerc in third within DRS of Norris. Pressure was on Perez to perform for Red Bull, now down to one car.

Hamilton pitted for hards on lap eight, rejoining in P14. His teammate, Russell, swapped his mediums for hards on lap nine. Valtteri Bottas had another slow pit stop with Sauber struggling again.

Leclerc and Oscar Piastri came into the pit on lap 10, covering off Russell. They both rejoined ahead of the Silver Arrow. Hamilton seemed to lack confidence in his car and was wrestling for control.

Due to early pit stops, Perez was promoted to P3 and Alonso to P4, but both were yet to pit. The gap from Sainz in P1 to Norris in P2, both yet to pit, was 5.9 seconds on lap 12. Perez reported low grip in his tyres on lap 13. The hard tyre started to look stronger than the mediums, aiding Russell.

Norris and Perez came into the pits on lap 15. Norris rejoined in P5 behind his teammate, Piastri. Perez rejoined in P10 behind Stroll. Hamilton was behind Perez and tried to use the slipstream to pass the Red Bull but was unsuccessful.

Another failure

On lap 17, Hamilton reported engine failure. He slowed on the track, attempting to limp home to the pits. Yellow flags were shown in sector three.

It was a virtual safety car for lap 17. Hamilton stopped in a run-off area and was removed from the track by marshals. Alonso and Gasly took advantage of the VSC in the pits.

Ferraris on top

On lap 19, Sainz was in P1 with his teammate, Leclerc, behind in P2. Leclerc was within DRS but a radio order to Sainz instructed both cars to “hold position”.

Ferrari Carlos Sainz F1
Carlos Sainz in the Ferrari took an early lead in Melbourne. (Image Credit: @ScuderiaFerrari on Twitter)

Esteban Ocon had a tear-off stuck in a rear duct, overheating his car. He had a slow pit stop while his team rectified the issue.

The remaining Red Bull of Sergio Perez got past Russell in the double DRS zone on lap 22.

The two Haas cars of Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen swapped positions on lap 24 due to differing strategies. This put Hulkenberg, on the mediums, in P11 and Magnussen, on the hards, behind in P12. Hulkenberg set his sights on the points positions, gaining on Albon in P10.

Sainz set another fastest lap of the race on lap 25 and opened up a gap of 4.3 seconds to Leclerc.

Halfway point

Perez overtook Alonso’s Aston Martin in the double DRS on lap 27, putting him in P5.

Norris was suffering from dirty air in P4 behind Piastri in P3. Though his tyres were newer than his Aussie teammate’s, they were suffering. On lap 29, Piastri was told to swap positions with Norris and ceded in front of his home crowd.

Another round of pitting

Leclerc reported that his tyres were going and on lap 35 they brought him into the pits. Both McLarens stayed out. Leclerc rejoined in P4 just ahead of Perez and Alonso.

Perez pitted on lap 36 to change tyres. Another slow stop for Sauber, this time for Zhou. The team seem to be struggling with a wheel nut.

Meanwhile, Hulkenberg and Albon were in a fierce battle for P11. The Williams driver in his borrowed car complained that Hulkenberg’s driving was “dangerous”.

On lap 38, Leclerc set a new fastest lap of the race. Shortly after this, Piastri locked up and ran wide, costing him a few seconds. Piastri then came into the pits on lap 40. He rejoined in P5 just behind Alonso and ahead of Russell.

On lap 41, the other papaya of Norris came into the pits, rejoining in P3. Straight after, Sainz was told to box. With a 25.8-second gap to his teammate in P2, Sainz rejoined and remained race leader.

Piastri overtook Alonso for P4. However, the Aston Martin then came into the pits at the end of that lap.

The final phase

Albon was defending against Magnussen. However, on lap 45, the Haas overtook the Williams, putting Magnussen in P11 with his teammate, Hulkenberg, in P10.

By lap 46, the entire field was on the favoured hard compound tyres.

On lap 47, Norris set a new fastest lap of the race, putting pressure on the two prancing horses ahead. He was now within 3.7 seconds of Leclerc in P2.

A five-second penalty was handed to Pierre Gasly on lap 49. The stewards reported that he crossed the line at the pit exit.

Struggling for pace in the closing stages, Perez was in P5 and failing to close any gap to the two McLarens in front.

Last few laps

On lap 53, Ricciardo in P13 was attacking Albon in P12, with a burst of pace towards the end of the race.

Russell was hot on the tail of Alonso, battling for P6 in the closing stages.

With just two laps remaining, Sainz reported that his tyres were not feeling great. Meanwhile, his teammate in P2 set a new fastest lap of the race but was still 3.8 seconds behind the race leader.

On the last lap of the race, Russell crashed out chasing Alonso for P6, triggering a virtual safety car. A double disappointment for Mercedes in Melbourne.

Finishing the race under the VSC gave Sainz his third career victory. Despite missing the previous race due to his appendix, and recently recovering from surgery, Sainz achieved P1 in Melbourne.

The race finished with a Ferrari 1-2 and a podium finish for Norris in P3 at Albert Park.

 Full race classification

 Featured Image Credit: @ScuderiaFerrari on Twitter

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