Chaotic. This is the adjective that is needed to describe the epilogue of the Australian Formula 1 (F1) Grand Prix (GP), Sunday April 2, at the Albert Park circuit in Melbourne. Two red flags – synonymous with interruption of the race – in quick succession; two, then one lap, from the finish. And this question: what decision will the authorities take?
After a few minutes of hesitation, the International Automobile Federation (FIA) decided: a final start, on 4e of this GP, was therefore given and it was the reigning double world champion, Max Verstappen, who finally won.
The Dutch driver of Red Bull offers a second victory in three races, after winning in Bahrain at the start of the championship. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), 2eand Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin), 3ecompleted the podium of an event, where only twelve cars crossed the line out of the twenty entered.
After two fifth places, Lewis Hamilton takes his first podium of the season; Fernando Alonso, he gets on the box for the third time since the recovery, and signs the 101e career podium.
Another abandonment of Charles Leclerc
This Grand Prix will have lasted barely a few turns for the Monegasque Charles Leclerc. After a collision with Lance Stroll (Aston Martin), on the first lap, the Ferrari rider was forced to throw in the towel.
It’s over for Charles Leclerc ❌ The Ferrari driver already out of the race from the first lap 😣 #AusGP #F1 https://t.co/upSd7numwJ
The reigning vice-world champion had already had to retire during the first Grand Prix of the year, in Bahrain, due to an engine problem. He has only finished one race out of the three already contested.
“It must not happen too often, it was a disaster between Bahrain, the penalty in Jeddah and now a DNF [“Did not finish”, “abandon”]. It’s definitely not the start of the season I was hoping for.”reacted the interested party on Canal +.
In Saudi Arabia, a fortnight agoCharles Leclerc signed a modest 7e place. He had started in 12e position, after being given a ten-place penalty for replacing an electronic component.
Ferrari had a nightmarish day: its second driver, Carlos Sainz, having been penalized five seconds after causing Fernando Alonso to leave the track on the third start with two laps remaining. The Spaniard tumbles from fourth to twelfth place: the Scuderia scored no points this weekend.
Multiple interventions of the safety car
Accidents, collisions and “safety car” were all key words for this meeting at the antipodes. After Charles Leclerc, the Thai Alexander Albon crashed on lap 7, causing the first red flag and the first ten-minute interruption of this race.
On lap 18, Briton George Russell had a problem with his engine and his car gradually caught fire. The Mercedes driver gives up, he who had signed the 2e qualifying time.
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Things got worse on lap 56, two laps before the finish: Dane Kevin Magnussen hit the wall and lost one of his tires a little earlier. Due to the debris on the track, another red flag, another ten-minute interruption.
Rebelote from the first corner of the recovery. After a first spin from Fernando Alonso, linked to contact with Carlos Sainz, the Alpines collided violently: several single-seaters found themselves in the gravel. Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon will remain in the pits. A hard blow, while the two drivers were in the points.
The last start of the race will be given behind the safety car. The last twelve single-seaters set off for a final loop. Under the blazing Melbourne sun, Max Verstappen crossed the line in slow motion, for the first victory of his career on the Albert Park circuit.
Following the cancellation of the Chinese Grand Prix, the Formula 1 World Championship will experience a four-week hiatus and will resume at the street circuit in Baku, Azerbaijan on April 30.