Race Report: Sainz leads Leclerc for Ferrari 1, 2 in Australian GP

MELBOURNE GRAND PRIX CIRCUIT, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 24: Charles Leclerc, Scuderia Ferrari, 2nd position, Carlos Sainz, Scuderia Ferrari, 1st position, and Lando Norris, McLaren F1 Team, 3rd position, on the podium during the Australian GP at Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit on Sunday March 24, 2024 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Zak Mauger / LAT Images)

Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc gave Ferrari their first 1, 2 victory in Australia in 20 years as they led the McLaren of Lando Norris to the checkered flag.

If you were wondering what F1 would be like without Max Verstappen and his Red Bull, you just got a taste of it this weekend but to be fair, the Ferrari’s looked competitive all weekend long and it may have been a good battle even if Max’s right rear brake wasn’t stuck leading to an early retirement.

Carlos, just two weeks after an appendectomy, was quick all weekend and took command of the race leading his teammate, Charles Leclerc, home for a Ferrari 1, 2. McLaren had a strong team program running as well with Lando Norris leading Oscar Piastri home in 3rd and 4th respectively.

Win

A big win for Ferrari who were quick all weekend and seemed to have long-run pace with limited tire degradation and graining. This means that they were looking for a battle, on merit, with Red Bull as Max and Sergio seemed to struggle all weekend with the tire wear. As it turned out, Ferrari were able to make the most of Red Bull’s misfortune and deliver a much-needed result with Carlos winning the driver of the day vote.

A win for McLaren with a good team strategy that brought Lando Norris home in 3rd. There will be some who are upset a the team orders to swap drivers but Lando had the fresher tires and was undercut by the team boxing Oscar first to cover George Russell. Still, a big point haul for the team and that bodes well for their season against Mercedes, Aston Martin and Ferrari.

A win for Yuki Tsunoda who finished in P7 for RB Honda. Yuki knows the pressure he’s under and he delivered in spades on Sunday for some nice points for the team which moves them into 6th in the championship.

Also a win for Haas with dual-point finishes for Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen in 9th and 10th respectively. Another indicator that they have solved their rear tire wear issues from last year.

A win for Lance Stroll who finished in P6 while his teammate, Fernando Alonso dropped down to P8.

Fail

A fail for red Bull and Max Verstappen for a mechanical DNF due to a stuck brake which caught fire and ended their race. It’s also a fail for Sergio Perez who needed to pick up the baton and win the race but his pace simply vanished in the second half of the race and he never factored for a podium.

A fail for Mercedes as Lewis and George struggled finding the sweet spot for their car all weekend only to see Lewis suffer a DNF early in the race and George crash out on the final lap. The crash was a bit odd as he was trying to overtake Fernando and the stewards took a long look at that incident.

A fail for Fernando who was deemed to have engaged in inappropriate driving by lifting off throttle and slightly braking much earlier than he had at this corner for the entirety of the race. Stewards didn’t agree with Alonso’s excuse that he was trying something different in that turn and handed him a 20-second penalty.

A fail for Sauber with continued wheel nut issues as well as Daniel Ricciardo and Alex Albon who failed to score points.

WTH

Not sure what Sauber’s issue is exactly with the wheel nut but clearly it’s a re-design issue that is taking time to accomplish.

A bit odd that Alonso would virtually brake-check George and that is not a good look for the veteran driver.

Surprised they didn’t red flag that last slap of the race with George strewn across the track.

Pirelli Report:

All three compounds chosen by Pirelli for this Grand Prix were in use on the starting grid: 14 drivers went for the Medium, three (Hamilton, Ricciardo and Zhou) opted for the Soft and two (Alonso and Hulkenberg) the Hard. As predicted the most popular strategy was the two-stop, running Medium-Hard-Hard. Ocon was the only driver to make three stops but that was forced on him by the need to make a very early first pit stop to remove a visor tear-off from a brake duct.

After making the briefest of appearances in FP3, only for scrubbing-in purposes, the C3 was the most popular choice today, used for almost 80% of the race distance by the 19 drivers on track with this compound. Graining continued to be an important factor and, as expected, this phenomenon did not diminish even though it was much hotter than in previous days and on a track that got increasingly rubbered-in. Significant graining was also evident on the Hard which was never used on the first two days, but nevertheless it was manageable. In terms of stint length, George Russell’s second stint ran to 37 laps on the C3 and Fernando Alonso did 24 on the C4.

Australian GP Results:

POSNODRIVERCARLAPSTIME/RETIREDPTS
155Carlos SainzFERRARI581:20:26.84325
216Charles LeclercFERRARI58+2.366s19
34Lando NorrisMCLAREN MERCEDES58+5.904s15
481Oscar PiastriMCLAREN MERCEDES58+35.770s12
511Sergio PerezRED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT58+56.309s10
618Lance StrollASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES58+93.222s8
722Yuki TsunodaRB HONDA RBPT58+95.601s6
814Fernando AlonsoASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES58+100.992s4
927Nico HulkenbergHAAS FERRARI58+104.553s2
1020Kevin MagnussenHAAS FERRARI57+1 lap1
1123Alexander AlbonWILLIAMS MERCEDES57+1 lap0
123Daniel RicciardoRB HONDA RBPT57+1 lap0
1310Pierre GaslyALPINE RENAULT57+1 lap0
1477Valtteri BottasKICK SAUBER FERRARI57+1 lap0
1524Zhou GuanyuKICK SAUBER FERRARI57+1 lap0
1631Esteban OconALPINE RENAULT57+1 lap0
1763George RussellMERCEDES56DNF0
NC44Lewis HamiltonMERCEDES15DNF0
NC1Max VerstappenRED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT3DNF0
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Worthless Opinion

Nice to see max lash out at the crew who’ve given him a flawless car and pit stops for years. At least success hasn’t changed him.

I love watching this Ferrari team operate. They treat their drivers like men and the drivers deserve it – they race each other when its ok, work as a team when it’s necessary. Giving a rookie a seat, letting their drivers call strategy, they look like racers not engineers or a marketing team. Very cool.

Chris

Lash out? He explained it was (in his words) “stupid” to have him come into the pits with his car on fire. Apart from his choice of words, pretty reasonable. No need to be judgemental.
Ferrari, especially Sainz, did great today.

Worthless Opinion

If you believe any of these guys’ packaged later explanations of their behavior i don’t know what to tell you. He’s driving the car and there’s a procedure for where you park in the entry in that situation no one made him do anything and to me at least that’s obviously not what the conversation was about. I hope that’s not the body language people use at your workplace when they explain things, if so i feel bad for you.

Worthless Opinion

I just read his ‘explanation’ he didnt know why they were pitting him. He has mirrors, the brake EXPLODED on the pit in. Does it make sense to you he didnt know?

Fabio

Little bit early to tell, but I wonder if the internal RBR issues are starting to affect the on-track performance, going by their normal very high standards, they were a bit scrappy all weekend
If you managed to catch any of the F3, I’m curious to hear your and Paul’s view on the Tsolov and Dunne incident, I didn’t think the penalty was enough.

speedinian

When Verstappen was interviewed during the broadcast he was saying the brake was binding right from lights out. If that’s true, he got a hell of a launch. Speaks volumes as to how dominate this car/driver. Figuratively one wheel behind his back.
Also.. I wonder if the wheel telemetry held together long enough to record that final tire pressure.

Last edited 18 days ago by speedinian