Verstappen wins chaotic Australian GP

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 02: Race winner Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing celebrates on the podium during the F1 Grand Prix of Australia at Albert Park Grand Prix Circuit on April 02, 2023 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202304020234 // Usage for editorial use only //

The Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix was a but of an odd affair with three red flags and a lot of on-track attrition. Despite losing the initial lead, Max Verstappen brought his Red Bull home in P1 followed by a spirited drive by Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso to round out the podium.

Win

A win for Red Bull and Max Verstappen for overcoming the slower starts they’ve had on standing restarts but they managed to hang on, use their pace and secure the win. They also managed to recover with Sergio Perez who started in the pit lane and came home in P5. The good news for the team is they didn’t hear much about a drive shaft making noises. The bad news is, there is something going on with Perez’s car.

A win for Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes for a terrific P2. The team said they brought no upgrades so this leaves one wondering a few things such as, has all the hard work on set up and configuration paid off and was the Australian track and temps a factor in complimenting their car and its ability to generate heat in their tires? Regardless, Lewis found the pace and capitalized on it by staying ahead of a feisty Alonso.

A win for Aston Martin with Fernando Alonso scoring his third podium in three races followed by Lance Stroll in 4th. A great result for the team and there was a brief moment that they seemed to be able to close the gap to Lewis but that never materialized. Still, a great result for the team.

A win for both McLaren drivers, Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri, for bringing the cars home in 6th and 8th respectively. McLaren benefitted by the count-back on the final starting order with both Alpine’s out but to be fair, both drivers were doing a great job to hover in the points most of the day. Points this team desperately needs.

A win for Haas F1 and Nico Hulkenberg in P7 but the team weren’t happy because they felt the final restart should have been in the order they ran which would have had Nico on the podium. An Appeal was rejected by the FIA but you still have to consider P7 a decent result.

A win for Yuki Tsunoda who managed to take the final point instead of finishing in 11th which he normally does.

Fail

A fail for Ferrari who saw Charles Leclerc clash with Lance Stroll and beach the car on first lap. Then, Carlo Sainz was having a cracker of a race but punted Fernando Alonso on the final restart garnering a 5s penalty and finished in 12th out of the points which made it a pointless weekend for Ferrari.

A fail for Alpine who had a great run going in the hands of Pierre Gasly but at the final restart, Gasly didn’t see Esteban Ocon and they both clashed taking them out of the race. The sliver of good news is that they had pace to run at the sharper end of the grid but they missed a massive points haul in Australia.

A fail for Williams with two driver errors from Alex Albon and Logan Sergeant taking both out of the race. Alex spun on lap 7 and Logan hit the back of Alpha Tauri’s Nyck de Vries. A shame for Alex because he was sniffing for a point all weekend long.

A fail for Haas F1’s Kevin Magnussen who hit the wall late in the race bringing out the red flag.

WTH

So the discussion is centered around the three red flags during the race and the final red flag for a green flag finish. The reality is, the red flag is for Saftey and the race stewards/control felt that both Albon’s crash and Magnussen’s crash warranted the red flag due to debris oh the track.

There are those who felt that the first or second red flag wasn’t needed as the track could have been cleared while the Safety Car was out and the field was controlled. The final red flag was to attempt a racing finish but the subsequent restart was mere formality to accomplish the total laps ran and contractually that’s probably a big deal concerning their contract with the host.

Many bemoan the lack of clear rules and I would direct you to the Max Mosely autobiography for more insight into why the regulations are broader on scope. You cannot anticipate every eventuality and the pressure the series is under to not finish under a red flag (as 2021 should prove) is what the series is shooting for. If people don’t like it, then they should move away from that effort but if they do so, people will hate that decision too so there really is no winning for F1 unless they do a complete race regulatory review and rule changes.

The fact is, this notion of finishing under green in late-race conditions is new to F1 and the drivers aren’t used to it like NASCAR and their green, white, checker concept. Drivers in F1 turned the final restart into a crash fest and it’s something NASCAR and Indycar drivers still struggle with but have gotten much better at as time has gone on. They know that bringing the car home and securing points is more important than trying to win or bin it.

I would argue the Albon incident could have been cleaned up under yellow, I do think there was a lot of debris on track after Magnussen incident and after the restart, the race probably could have been counted back and called at that point.

Also keep in mind that some of this may be impacted by the amount of resources they have at every part of a track. They deemed the red flag after Albon’s incident needed because it would have taken too many laps with too many people on track to be safe. There is also the issue of debris cutting tires as well.

I know what F1 was trying to do and I’m not upset about it but perhaps some tweaking of late-race red flag regulations might alleviate some of the confusion from teams.

Pirelli Tire Story:

  • Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won the Australian Grand Prix for the first time in his career. In an action-packed race, the reigning world champion led two other world champions past the chequered flag: Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton and Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso. All the podium finishers ended the race on the P Zero Red soft, following a tyre change one lap from the finish.
  • The Australian Grand Prix was interrupted by three safety car periods and three red flag periods, including a red flag just a lap from the finish, leading to two standing starts and a final rolling start. The virtual safety car also made an appearance, due to a car stopped on the exit of the pitlane.
  • The race strategies were largely influenced by the frequent safety car periods and other race interruptions. The top three started on the P Zero Yellow medium and then went onto the P Zero White hard at the first neutralisation. The last three laps were instead run on two different sets of soft tyres.
  • A total of 10 drivers completed the longest stint on the hard tyre, covering 47 laps on this compound, including all three podium finishers. Alpine’s Esteban Ocon kept the same set of hard tyres that he had fitted on lap one without changing them during the first red flag period, completing 54 laps on the same tyres. Alfa Romeo drivers Valtteri Bottas and Guanyou Zhou, also used the same set of hard tyres for more than 50 laps.
  • AlphaTauri’s Nyck De Vries was instead the driver to complete the most consecutive laps on the two other available compounds: 37 on the medium and nine on the soft.
  • Red Bull’s Sergio Perez set the fastest lap of the race, using the hard tyre (1m20.235s), and was also one of the drivers to complete the longest stint on this compound. Alonso and De Vries were instead fastest on the medium and soft tyres, setting times of 1m22.603s and 1m21.183s on these compounds respectively.

 

Australian Grand Prix Results:

PosNameCarLapsLaps LedTotal TimeFastest LapPitstopsPts
1Max VerstappenRed Bull58462h32m38.371s1m20.342s325
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes5812+0.179s1m20.613s318
3Fernando AlonsoAston Martin-Mercedes580+0.769s1m20.476s315
4Lance StrollAston Martin-Mercedes580+3.082s1m20.934s312
5Sergio PérezRed Bull580+3.32s1m20.235s511
6Lando NorrisMcLaren-Mercedes580+3.701s1m21.173s38
7Nico HülkenbergHaas-Ferrari580+4.939s1m21.124s36
8Oscar PiastriMcLaren-Mercedes580+5.382s1m21.335s44
9Guanyu ZhouAlfa Romeo-Ferrari580+5.713s1m21.819s52
10Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Honda RBPT580+6.052s1m21.789s41
11Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo-Ferrari580+6.513s1m22.233s60
12Carlos SainzFerrari580+6.594s1m20.467s40
Pierre GaslyAlpine-Renault560DNF1m20.995s20
Esteban OconAlpine-Renault560DNF1m21.203s30
Nyck de VriesAlphaTauri-Honda RBPT560DNF1m21.183s40
Logan SargeantWilliams-Mercedes560DNF1m21.456s60
Kevin MagnussenHaas-Ferrari520DNF1m21.685s20
George RussellMercedes170DNF1m22.68s20
Alex AlbonWilliams-Mercedes60DNF1m23.349s00
Charles LeclercFerrari00DNF0s00
REVIEW OVERVIEW
Overall Race
verstappen-wins-chaotic-australian-gpYes, a chaotic race but I enjoyed it and it was good to see Lewis and Merc back up front. Hate it for George but still a good race.
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Fred

If F1 wants to be like NASCAR then they should do like they do, use GPS to record location of every car and sync it with the red flag. But, in my opinion, too many “green white checkers” or restarts is not good. Like basketball where the last 5 minutes of play takes half an hour. At some point you got to just give it up and finish the race.

Fabio

It was an emotional roller-coaster being there let me tell you.
Still perplexed at how Sergio couldn’t keep his car on track all weekend and yet after quali and parc ferme rules he can drive through the field without a problem.
As for all the red flags, the F2 and F3 were both the same, not sure if it was the additional DRS zone or the changeable conditions, but I wasn’t really surprised to see the F1 red flags.

Worthless Opinion

I felt all the way through practice etc that his car wasn’t working quite right and i think they sorted it. I think the presenters during practice were dropping the ball just going on and on about him being a klutz the braking looked way off to me.

Worthless Opinion

I always feel like that would be a great race to attend, is it?

Fabio

It was a great atmosphere, always good when there’s an AUS driver involved. The crowd was well-behaved (except for the premature track invasion). I went to Monza a lifetime ago and that was great too.

Worthless Opinion

Races can be bad for lots of reasons, this one had them all. The early red flag meant everyone switched to a ‘make this set last to the end’ philosophy so even before the mess at the end the rest was just processional. Seeing the winner protest the race he won and the Sainz penaltiy weirdness just made it seem petty and random. This was a collossal waste of fuel.

Worthless Opinion

CONSPIRACY THEORY WARNING i actually do believe its probably just a coincidence but am i the only one who’s noticed whenever George is about to stamp ‘final’ on his ascent to team leader Merc make an uncharacteristic blunder to reëstablish Lewis with the top team result for the day when he really needs the boost?

Xean Drury

I do hope you guys discuss Lewis’ red flag drive to the grid slowdown and the chaos it caused. ~X8

Neil Clarke

Was there actually any difference in what he did at the restart, to what they do on any formation lap, which is exactly what this was?