Two weeks after the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix - which saw the victory of Perez, followed by teammate Max Verstappen who, despite starting from fifteenth position, narrowly missed out on victory but kept first position in the championship by winning the fastest lap, Formula 1 lights up again and flies to the other hemisphere, to the luxuriant and always rich and bizarre fauna: Australia. Melbourne's Albert Park street circuit hosts the third round of the longest Formula 1 calendar to date ever built. Like last year, and before in 2006, the Australian Grand Prix is held in April, reconfirming itself as the third round of the calendar. The Australian Grand Prix is the first of two races scheduled for the month of April, the next one being the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. In the past, the Australian race has been the first round of the season for twenty-two times. At the stipulation of the calendar, the return of the Chinese Grand Prix should have taken place between these two races for the first time since the 2019 championship, before being canceled for the fourth consecutive year due to the problems dictated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Sponsor of the Grand Prix, as already happened from 2013 to 2019, is the Swiss manufacturer of Rolex watches. The Grand Prix precedes a three-week gap before the next race, the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. The most successful driver at the Melbourne grand prix is Michael Schumacher, with four cups (2000, 2001, 2002, 2004), while the most successful team was McLaren with eleven podiums against ten for Ferrari and five for Williams. For the second race weekend in a row, the race is held on a street circuit. The Melbourne circuit is approximately 5.278 km long: being characterized by many bends and few long straights, the circuit requires a high aerodynamic load, which above all entails considerable wear on the tyres. At the end of the main straight, you reach almost 315km/h before drastically reducing speed to take the Jones corner, right-hander which you go into third at 180km/h, you proceed in fourth towards Brabham and from here towards turn 3 (the point where Martin Brundle crashed off the track in 1996, fortunately without physical consequences). Turn 3 is the first in a sequence of three closed corners that need to be tackled carefully: to enter the third you need to exit the first two well. The last corner of the triptych is Whiteford which caused problems for several riders.
Before reaching Turn 6, you shift into sixth gear and after turning right, you decelerate to third gear, around 120 km/h. You have to go from fourth to sixth to take the Lauda, a long arcing curve on the right, until you get to the Clark. Clark is a closed right-hand bend to be taken in second gear at 100 km/h, which leads to the long left-hand bend near the lake. Then there's Waite, a right-hander that must be done in fifth gear at 200km/h. It then switches to sixth gear towards Ascari, veering first to the right into Hill, where speeds of 270 km/h are reached. Ascari is a right-hand bend, taken in third gear, which leads to Stewart, another right-hand bend which in turn leads to Prost (travelled in second gear). This is followed by turn 16, a right-hand bend to be done in third gear at 150 km/h which brings the cars back onto the main straight. Last year, the pit lane has been widened by two meters and the chicane comprising Turns 9 and 10 removed to make the section of the circuit faster via a new 1.3km straight, now the longest on the track. Other changes concern the widening of some corners, such as the eleventh in the third sector, which has been widened on entry. From the simulations carried out, the lap time is reduced by five seconds, with speeds exceeding 330 km/h in the new fast section. Due to the subsequent cancellation of the Grand Prix due to the issues dictated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the new changes are valid from the following season. The track now has a length of 5 278 m and winds its way through 14 bends, 9 to the right and 5 to the left. After these modifications, the track was initially characterized by four zones for the use of the DRS - the first circuit in Formula 1 to offer such a large number - and then subsequently returned to three for safety reasons. This year, however, the FIA backtracked and decided to reintroduce a fourth DRS zone to make overtaking easier. Therefore, for the first time in Formula 1 on a circuit there will be four zones in which it will be possible to exploit the mobile wing. After last season's doubts, the FIA has once again approved the use of the fourth DRS zone for the Australian round. The detection point of this new area will be the same that was initially planned for 2022 and will be found at the exit of curve 6, acting as a reference both for the area between curves 9 and 10 and the following one between curves 10 and 11.
The second detection point has been moved and is now no longer positioned at the entry to Turn 12, but at the braking point of Turn 13, the penultimate corner of the track. This will allow drivers to use DRS both on the main straight and between Turns 2 and 3 as in the previous years. As a temporary structure, the Albert Park circuit can be quite bumpy, although the resurface made in 2022 has undoubtedly improved things. The circuit at the start of the weekend is often slippery and gets tougher as the sessions progress. It's also a circuit that requires a well-matched chassis, with several points on the track where the riders require a responsive front end to corner well. Melbourne is also one of the fastest tracks on the calendar, with Lewis Hamilton's 2019 pole lap set at an average of over 235km/h. For this Grand Prix, Pirelli, the sole tire supplier, offers the choice between C2, C3 and C4 compound tyres, the type of tire that characterizes the central range of the type of tire made available by the Italian company, the same option chosen for the previous Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. The same choice was established in the 2019 edition of the Grand Prix, while in the previous edition of 2022, the Italian company designated the compound jump in the range of selectable tires. Mario Isola, Director of Pirelli Motorsport regarding the choice of compound this year says that it is the same one already used for the 2022 edition:
"We've made the same tyre choice as we did back in 2019 for the Australian Grand Prix. Following a two-year absence from the calendar due to the Covid pandemic, we went for a gap in the nominated compounds last year: selecting the C2, C3 and then the softest C5 compound. That race was a one-stopper won by Ferrari's Charles Leclerc, with all the teams using the hard and the medium tyre, while the soft was just used for qualifying. This weekend, the teams will have the C2, C3, and C4 at their disposal, which means that they have more options for the race in terms of strategy: on paper at least. We're expecting a high degree of track evolution throughout the weekend, as is normally the case in Melbourne, while the energy demands on the tyres are about average for the season. It's a flowing track with corners that are faster following last year's modifications, which benefit overtaking as well as the overall spectacle".
As anticipated, the FIA has established four zones for the use of the mobile wing: the first two zones are established on the pit straight and in the section between Turn 2 and Turn 3, with a single detection point set before Turn 13. The other two zones are established between Turn 8 and Turn 9, and between Turn 10 and Turn 11, with also in this case a single detection point set after Turn 6. The Albert Park circuit becomes the first track in Formula 1 to present no less than four zones for the use of the mobile device since its introduction in the top class during the 2011 season. The four zones were also initially designated for the previous edition of the Grand Prix, but before the start of the third free practice session on Saturday, the Federation, for safety reasons, removed the new DRS zone established in the new fast section between Turns 8 and 9, after changes to the layout of the track. However, during the F1 Commission last February it was decided to restore the fourth DRS zone. Compared to the previous year when four DRS zones were initially established, the detection point for the one established between curve 8 and curve 9 is changed, being positioned 40 meters after curve 6, as well as the zone activation point, being positioned 130 meters after light panel number 11. Compared to the 2022 edition, the track has some changes. A new access has been created between the trackside walls, to the left of the marshal post after Turn 8. The width of the pit lane exit lane has been reduced by four meters and the white line shortened. It now ends at the second safety car reference line. The crash barriers on the left hand side at Turn 11 have been realigned to maintain a height of one meter. The TecPro barriers are realigned on the right-hand side at Turn 2 and on the left-hand side at Turn 5. The track edge on the left-hand side at Turn 13 is levelled. Two concrete barriers at the end of the separation wall between the track and the pit lane were reduced. Before the start of the third free practice session on Saturday, the white pit lane exit line was shortened by a further ten meters, the numbers on the brake indicators were enlarged and the painting of the pedestrian and cycle lanes between Turn 8 and turn 9 was painted with the non-slip one.
The contract for the race to be held on the calendar - which was renewed last December - is valid until the 2037 season. 444.631 spectators attended this edition during the race weekend, which represents the absolute record for the Grand Prix in Melbourne. The previous record belonged to the previous edition of 2022, characterized by an attendance of 419,114 spectators. Present in the world championship calendar since the 1985 season, this year is in its eighty-sixth edition, the thirty-seventh valid for the world championship. Since its debut, the Grand Prix has been held in two main venues: the Adelaide circuit, venue from 1985 to 1995, and the current Albert Park circuit, venue since 1996. From the previous edition the race is held on a new and faster track layout, following the removal of the chicane that previously characterized Turn 9 and Turn 10, along with slight modifications at several other corners. The Albert Park circuit celebrates seventy years since the first race held in 1953, a race not valid for the world championship. The Australian Grand Prix was not held in 2020 and 2021, editions canceled due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic: in the first case, the Federation canceled the race a few hours before the first free practice session on Friday, after a McLaren mechanic tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, while in the second case the Grand Prix, initially postponed later in the season, was definitively canceled after the decisions taken by the government regarding the health emergency. At the end of the previous Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, the British manufacturer Aston Martin presented the stewards with a request to review the ten-second race time penalty inflicted on its driver Fernando Alonso for not serving correctly during a stop in the pits a five-second penalty following the incorrect positioning of the latter on the starting grid. Alonso, third on arrival, climbed one position. The right of revision was accepted by the Federation and the constructor was summoned by the race direction. After having examined what was presented by the team, the commissioners annulled the sanction to Alonso, who regained the third position conquered in the race. To avoid similar cases in the future, also regarding the wrong starting grid position of the French Alpine driver, Esteban Ocon, in the Bahrain Grand Prix, also penalized by the race directors, the Federation declares that what happened will be discussed on Thursday subsequent to the dispute of the tender and that clarity is provided before this appointment.
In order to orientate the drivers in the best possible way, there is now a line in the center of the pitch which helps them to correctly position the single-seater inside, thus reducing the risk of placing the front tires on the lines or outside them. Once the drivers approach their pitch, they will be able to line up in a square twenty centimeters wider than those of the first two races. It is clarified that, until further notice, physically touching the car or driver with hands, tools or equipment, including the front and rear jacks, in the event of a penalty served in the pits, is considered work. The use of cooling fans during a penalty is permitted provided that these fans do not physically touch the car. Multiple penalties can be served serially in a single pit stop. Local McLaren driver Oscar Piastri becomes the fifth Australian in the history of the category to race at his home Grand Prix after Alan Jones (1985–1986), David Brabham (1990, 1994), Mark Webber (2002–2013) and Daniel Ricciardo (2012–2022). In addition to Piastri, the US driver of Williams, Logan Sargeant, and the Dutch driver of AlphaTauri, Nyck De Vries, compete for the first time on the Albert Park circuit. The Austrian team Red Bull Racing contests its 350th Grand Prix in Formula 1. The manufacturer from Milton Keynes debuted in the first category in the 2005 season in the Australian Grand Prix and since then has achieved 94 victories, 83 pole positions, 85 laps plus fastest, 238 podiums, 6.475 points, six drivers' championships and five constructors' championships. Italian team AlphaTauri appoint Lars Stegelmann as new Head of Commercial, while former Belgian driver Jérôme d'Ambrosio becomes head of Mercedes' youth programme. David Sanchez, former aerodynamicist of the Italian team Ferrari, is appointed new technical director of the British team McLaren. The French engineer is one of three specialized technical directors, together with Peter Prodromou and Neil Houldey. McLaren have decided to drop the role of sole executive technical director, a position previously held by James Key, who has left the team. The Swiss Alfa Romeo team are entered in the Grand Prix as Alfa Romeo F1 Team Kick: the team were initially entered in the same way in the previous Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, before being registered as Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake. Former Formula 1 driver Enrique Bernoldi is appointed assistant commissioner.
The Brazilian has performed this function on several occasions in the past, the last time in the previous Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia. Also for this grand prix, the German car manufacturer Mercedes supplies the safety car and medical car. Before the start of the first free practice session on Friday, the German team Mercedes do not confirm the self-certification to be presented to the Federation that the British driver Lewis Hamilton is wearing jewellery, in the form of piercings, chains or metal watches. Hamilton is summoned by the stewards but receives no sanctions. The second gearbox and second transmission are installed on the car of George Russell and Hamilton. Both Mercedes drivers are not penalized on the starting grid as the new components installed are among those usable within the maximum number established by the technical regulations. The second unit relating to the internal combustion engine is installed on the car of Valtteri Bottas, Zhou Guanyu, Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hülkenberg. The second unit relating to the exhaust system was installed on the car of Russell, Hamilton, Oscar Piastri, Bottas, Lance Stroll, Fernando Alonso, Magnussen, Alexander Albon and Logan Sargeant, while the third unit was installed on the car of Lando Norris. All drivers are not penalized on the starting grid as the new components installed are among those that can be used in the maximum number established by the technical regulations. There are three young rookies who this year will experience the thrill of treading the Melbourne circuit in the top category for the first time. Among them, the twenty-two-year-old American Logan Sergeant appears, number 2 of Williams, the first American to race as owner of the Circus since 2007. Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance of Williams also expresses himself on the very young driver's first time:
"Following two evening races in the Middle East, the Melbourne event marks a return to daytime sessions. The weather can be variable as Victoria heads into autumn; rain is possible, and it is very likely to be cooler than at the opening races. The Albert Park circuit was modified ahead of last year's event and there are only minor adjustments to the track for 2023. However, Logan has never driven at this circuit and, although he has completed a lot of laps in the simulator, there is no substitute for real experience. He will need to get to grips with this physically demanding track early in FP1. The FW45 has shown some promise at the opening events and we are keen to keep pushing it hard in Melbourne. We have a couple of minor upgrades to try this weekend and we will also conduct some further set-up tests on Friday. The tyre compounds are the same as in Jeddah, but the different layout and track surface here will mean that their behaviour is slightly different. Nonetheless, they should be good tyres for this event and should provide the teams with some options ahead of qualifying and the Grand Prix".
Sergeant declares himself excited to compete on one of the most exciting tracks in the championship, after finishing the first race in twelfth position, behind his teammate Albon:
"I'm really excited to head to Australia for the first time. It's a track and place I've always wanted to visit, so I'm excited to be here in Melbourne. I also think it's another great opportunity for us as a team to keep building on what we've done so far. It's another challenging circuit but I'm really looking forward to the weekend".
For his part, Alexander Albon has more pulse on the circuit having already ridden it in 2019, 2020 and 2022:
"I have great memories from last year's race here and I love coming to Melbourne; it's a great city and the fans create an amazing atmosphere. It looks like it might be a wet weekend so that'll be something we'll be keeping an eye on, but I'm looking forward to it".
The Alfa Romeo Racing team arrive in Australia with big disappointments from Saudi Arabia. The two drivers started from twelfth (Zhou) and fourteenth (Bottas) position, and were unable to convert their positions into points, so the race was quite difficult. For the Australian Grand Prix, Alfa Romeo have brought a new package of updates, most notably a new front wing. The introduction of modifications to such a component should always be carefully evaluated, since the wing sorts and structures the flows which then invest the entire car. In detail, the nose fairing on the C43 has been redesigned, without involving the lower impact structure which would otherwise have required passing new crash tests. The nose now extends up to the main profile, whereas previously it stopped at the second flap. Alfa Romeo thus renounces part of the local load and the flow of air channeled under the body, however seeking a better compromise with the cleanliness and energy of the flows that run over the chassis. In addition to having been lengthened, the nose also appears more rounded. The front wing has also been redesigned around the new nose. To be revised are above all the main profile and the one immediately above it. In the Melbourne version, the car's profiles are more regular, with fewer sudden dips or rises. The impression is that the team is looking for greater flow consistency, without abrupt changes in behavior at various speeds and heights from the ground. Finally, it should be noted that in the center of the car Alfa Romeo has reduced the string of the rear-view mirror supports, refining the local flow. Alessandro Alunni Bravi, Alfa Romeo’s Team Representative, is lucid in recounting that the difficulty of the team after Jeddah is evident but the team does not lose heart and will try to fight for the points:
"We approach the race in Melbourne with confidence, knowing we have all it takes to fight for points again. We used the time since Jeddah to understand how we can extract more performance from our current package. On top of that, we will also have some new parts on the car, which we are eager to evaluate, as the team back home keeps pushing to bring more performance to the C43. All things considered, we are looking forward to Australia: it’s a modern classic of Formula One and it’s always a special feeling to be there. The fans on the Melbourne Walk are a great sight and everyone makes us feel at home - even on the other side of the world".
The Alfa Romeo drivers, for their part, did not give up after the difficult weekend in Jeddah. Valtteri Bottas, in particular, has always loved the Melbourne circuit: here he has always scored points, except once, with a podium in 2017 and a victory over Mercedes in 2019, at the end of which he launched his most famous team radio:
"To whom it may concern".
For his second time in Melbourne he can't wait to forget his 18th place from the previous race:
"I don’t think it’s a surprise that I love it here in Australia - everyone knows that by now! I consider this almost a home race: I was at the Adelaide Motorsport Festival last weekend, where I drove an Aussie V8 and a classic Alfa Romeo touring car - so I’m already in the mood for racing. I am really keen on scoring a good result for the team on a track I like: I strongly believe our car has the potential to do well, and leave the tough weekend we had in Saudi behind. We have seen how close everyone is this season, but if we put out a strong performance from the very start of the weekend, we’ll be able to get back in the points".
Also for Zhou Guanyu the Australian Grand Prix gives off many positive vibes, also because the Chinese community will be very large:
"Last year's race in Melbourne was one of my favorite races of the season and I'm looking forward to going back. The Chinese community here is quite big, and it was great to feel their support from the grandstands from day one: I am sure there will be just as many fans cheering for us this season.After the strong performance in Bahrain, we expected more from Jeddah, but the race in Saudi didn't shake our belief in being capable of fighting at a high level again in Melbourne We know what we need to do to bring home the points: we also have some updates to test, and we're confident we can have a successful weekend".
The Haas team, after Magnussen's beautiful tenth place in Jeddah, has the desire to conquer everything. And that's what Guenther Steiner, Team Principal, declares in no uncertain terms: they want to improve themselves in the final championship standings, and they also want to get the best out of Melbourne. The little point obtained in Jeddah, therefore, is not an exception but something that can be replicated and improved:
"This year we started off with a clear target in mind to better our position in the Constructors' Championship from last year. Obviously, we didn't score in Bahrain but as we all found out there are four very strong teams now in Formula 1 and the points that are up for grabs are not many. In Bahrain, we didn't score but now we've scored one point in Saudi Arabia, and it was done pretty well. By saying that, I mean we didn't luck into the point, we fought well for it. Getting points is the biggest motivation for the team, if you get points the team is happy and motivated to get up and go to the next race".
Kevin Magnussen has the Melbourne circuit in his hands and feet already after the 2022 run-in, an aspect that puts him in an advantage position over Nico Hulkenberg, who has been missing since 2019, and therefore does not know the modified track:
"It's a special vibe because Melbourne was the first race of the season for many years. It's always more exciting because it's the first race, everyone gets to see new cars and because of that it's a special vibe. Australia is an awesome place to go , it's often just a really nice trip overall. When I look back, I feel like I was a child back then. It's basically a third of my life since then and a lot of stuff has happened since. It was a very intense weekend because having your first Formula 1 race weekend in itself is a big thing, a great experience on its own. Then, getting on the podium made it that much more special and certainly one of the weekends in my life that I'll remember forever".
Nico Hulkenberg returns to the Australian track after several years, but the enthusiasm is always the same. He is aware of the changes to which the track has undergone in the years of his absence, but is not afraid of the difficulties; he will study everything carefully, ready to face the circuit in the best possible way:
"Melbourne is a cool, vibrant place and although it's a big journey for us all to get there, it's always fun to travel and I've made lots of friends over the years. I'm looking forward to coming back. The track has been modified slightly since I raced there la it's much more highst in 2019, they've opened up some of the corners, so I think speed now.There's a lot of DRS zones as well so I'm looking forward to highspe ed Melbourne characteristics".
McLaren's season does not seem to be going better than how 2022 ended. Although new updates were brought to Jeddah for a car that had already been announced at the presentation heavy development delays, these did not have positive results, also due to the so many bad lucks both in qualifying and in the race that befell both drivers. Even in Melbourne, the English team will bring some new updates, but only small ones, while the incisive changes will be seen in Baku. Andrea Stella, McLaren’s Team Principal, is happy to arrive in Melbourne for the first time in this role, and is also excited to actually see the potential of the car in the race, given Jeddah's misfortunes: not only did the car prove to be slower than expected , but Piastri, who started from the eighth position on the grid, had a contact with Pierre Gasly at the second corner of the first lap; an apparently harmless collision on the track but which caused damage to the rookie's car which lost a piece of wing, thus compromising his race. Bad luck also affected him and the same piece of wing ended up on Norris' car, which in turn suffered damage to the car due to the debris.
Both drivers were thus forced into a long pit stop at the start of the race, an event which conditioned the final result, relegating them to the last positions and then leading Piastri to finish 15th and Norris 17th. But the season is long and anything can always happen; the important thing is to keep working on the car to give the best:
"We are pleased to be returning to Melbourne and the Australian Grand Prix. This will be Oscar's first home race in his Formula 1 career, and we look forward to getting back to the passionate Australian fans and scoring the first points of this 2023 season. It was a bittersweet experience last time out. We were pleased to see Oscar make Q3 in Jeddah, and we could have been again competitive in the race. However, we had to change the front wings on both cars after one lap, which put us in a difficult position. We're determined to improve the car and unlock as much performance as possible throughout the season. The season is long and there will be plenty of opportunities, starting from the next round at Albert Park".
For Lando Norris, Melbourne has a very sweet taste as here there was his debut race in Formula 1 in 2019. The misfortune of Jeddah must be left behind, focusing on the next few meters ahead:
"I'm looking forward to being back in Melbourne for the Australian Grand Prix this weekend. I made my Formula 1 debut at Albert Park in 2019, so it's a special race for me and one I scored points at last year on the new circuit layout.After a frustrating weekend in Jeddah,I've been looking forward to getting back on track to make some positive steps forward.I've spent time at the factory working hard with the team to prepare myself and the sessions we've put in on the sim have been beneficial. The focus is on improving race by race and we're going to fight hard with the aim of securing a successful result this weekend".
For Oscar Piastri this is the first home Grand Prix. He already savors the welcoming and festive atmosphere that will surround him, full of indescribable memories and emotions:
"It's great to be heading to Melbourne for my home grand prix. I grew up in the suburbs of the city and it is a special feeling to be returning as an F1 driver. It's set to be a fantastic atmosphere and I can't wait to get there and be a part of it. I'm really looking forward to seeing all of the home crowd and all of the papaya fans. This will be the first time that I've raced at Albert Park and I'm sure it will be an experience that I remember.The weather is usually changeable here so it could be an interesting one.Securing a starting position of P8 in my second-ever F1 quali and ticking another box by finishing a full grand prix was extremely satisfying in Jeddah, although Sunday was not seamless. There is a long way to go this season. We'll keep on pushing hard as a team and my learning curve continues".
For the AlphaTauri drivers Jeddah wasn't an optimal race, but the car gave what it could and the pit wall strategy was effective in helping them improve from the starting position just that little bit. But there is still a lot of work to do. The car from Faenza for this weekend presents some significant updates that make it look like a completely different car from the one seen in previous Grands Prix.
In the final analysis of last weekend, Nyck de Vries had been very strict with himself, but the days of rest allowed him to evaluate that the car has improved, but there is still a lot to do. Nyck's commitment is really a lot; following Jeddah he threw himself back into the simulator to give his best, to prepare for one of the most beautiful and important Grands Prix on the Formula 1 calendar:
"Looking back at Saudi, obviously I’m not satisfied, but let’s say content with the progress I felt on my side of the garage. I think the two race weekends so far have shown strengths and weaknesses and overall, Saudi was a more competitive and performant weekend, even if missing FP3 didn’t help. After the race, I was critical of my own performance and I meant what I said - I think I need to improve in those scenarios. At the start and the restart, I should have been a little bit more aggressive, while the end of my race was very strong. Of course, you can find a million excuses in your own defence, but I look at myself and I feel like we’re progressing. We are realistic and smart enough to understand that, at the moment, we won’t be fighting for race wins with Scuderia AlphaTauri, so we just look for our own little victories within the championship. Obviously, as a team, we want to be further up the grid and be more competitive in going for points, and we will continue to strive and push for that. Whatever situation a team is in, I think the work is still very similar. The kind of commitment and desire to excel is exactly the same. We will have some updates in Australia, but it’s impossible to say what effect that will have, as other teams are also pushing and developing, so it will be an ongoing process that will hopefully allow us to be a little bit more competitive within the midfield but until qualifying, we won’t know. Obviously, there is always a little bit of optimisation to do with the car as it is, but it’s also a moving target. If you add performance to the car, then we might need to reassess or rethink how we execute the best performance out of it, but we clearly need more points of downforce, so we will have to see what the upgrades deliver. After Saudi, I spent two days in the simulator preparing for Australia. I see the value in it as part of our preparation and hopefully therefore performance on track, I do it with joy because ultimately, I believe it can help us on track and it’s also good to continue to practice your driving techniques and skills. I’ve never been to Melbourne, never been to Australia, so it’s going to be a completely new experience for me. I’m very much looking forward to travelling to the other side of the world and to see what it’s like over there. As a kid, I always remember watching Melbourne because it used to be the first race of the season. I’d be waking up very early to watch qualifying and the race. It’s just nice after all those years, to actually travel out to Melbourne myself and race there. Everyone tells me it’s a great place, so I’m keen to experience it for myself".
Yuki Tsunoda in Jeddah faced a two-stroke race. But after finishing 11th for the second consecutive race, the Japanese driver could only sum up his Grand Prix in one word: frustration. On the threshold of the third Grand Prix of the season, Yuki reflects on the great work that still needs to be done to improve, to fight with the other cars. It is the second time that he will ride the Melbourne circuit:
"Another eleventh place in Saudi after the same result in Bahrain was a bit frustrating as I was so near to getting in the points. The car was more suited to Jeddah than to Sakhir and overall, the team did a good job with the package we had, making a step forward in terms of race pace. I was happy with my own performance, fighting for points, and also with how the team worked. We knew the car’s limitations, and these are more visible when you are having to fight with other cars in the actual race, as the limitations are exaggerated in that situation. We struggled for straight line speed, so I was quite pleased that I could hang on until the last four laps in my battle with Magnussen for P10. I enjoyed the fight, it was good fun. This weekend will be my second time racing in Melbourne and last week I drove it in the simulator, when we also went over some aspects of the Saudi race that we wanted to look at again, such as items we couldn’t do in race week, or set-ups that could have worked better before moving on to the next race and track. We will have some aero updates for this race and my focus will be on giving the team good feedback about them. If they work well, I hope it means I can extract as much performance as possible from the car and fight for points again. Last year, I didn’t have a particularly good weekend in Melbourne, but I enjoyed the overall experience of being in Australia, in Melbourne, where the atmosphere is really good around the circuit. I like the track and so this time, I came out to Melbourne quite early to get over the jet lag and acclimatise, but also to enjoy the city and the beach for a couple of days before starting work".
After the first two races of the World Championship, Aston Martin appears to be a very fast car to be feared. Fernando Alonso at the end of Jeddah takes back the third position - an always complicated and complex race management which had first penalized him by relegating him to fourth position and then the podium was returned to him at the expense of the young Russell - and once again confirms himself as the old lion of the track:
"We head to Australia feeling good having scored back-to-back podiums and we hope to build on these results this weekend. The car has performed quite well on two different circuits so far. However, our feet remain on the ground and we are realistic that in order to keep scoring strong results we need to deliver in all areas of the team.Australia is always a fun race to go to and I am curious to see how the track differs to previous years.It is going to be even faster than last year and hopefully we will see more overtaking.But as ever Qualifying will likely be pivotal at Albert Park, so we need to make sure we have a strong Saturday to put us in the best possible position to score as many points as possible".
For his part, teammate Lance Stroll is unable to put in a convincing performance at the start of the World Championship - also due to a sad retirement in Saudi Arabia even before the halfway point. His pace was really good, so expectations for Australia are really high given Alonso's impressive performances:
"It was disappointing to end the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix with a retirement, so I am looking forward to getting back out on track in Australia. It is another very different circuit to the two we have experienced so far this season which means no expectations; we will take it day by day. Albert Park is a cool track which evolves throughout the weekend as we lay down rubber. I especially like the very fast Turn Nine-10 chicane; it is always good fun to drive. Melbourne itself is a great city which I enjoy getting to visit. The fans are awesome too, so I hope we can put on a good show for them".
Mercedes team certainly cannot complain about its fourth and fifth position in Saudi Arabia, confirming itself as the third power behind Red Bull and Aston Martin. For Toto Wolff, Mercedes’ Team Principal, the progress seen in Saudi Arabia is encouraging, but there is still a lot of work to do. This year's Red Bull is extremely competitive and it will be difficult to match them. The characteristics of the Australian circuit are unique and there will be a lot of work to be done inside the German garage to adapt the W14 to what the track requires, trying to maximize the car's performance:
"The progress we saw in Saudi Arabia was encouraging. We maximized the package we had and scored some solid points. More importantly, we continued to learn and understand more about the W14 and our development direction. Everyone back at base has been hard at work to turn these learnings into performance. The signs we are seeing back at the factory are promising. We have got to take it step by step, though, and won't get carried away until we see performance translated into lap time on track. The competitive order behind Red Bull is tight, with small margins having a big effect on points scored. There remains a significant gap to the front and that is ultimately what we are interested in closing. We are looking forward to Australia. It's a country serious about its motorsport with a great racing tradition, and the fans are super passionate. Albert Park is a circuit with unique characteristics, which we will have to work hard to adapt to with the W14. As always, we will look to maximize the car we have , and score as many points as our potential currently allows. We are not where we want to be - but that won't stop us from racing hard and giving it everything we've got".
The Alpine team is proving to be a really nice car on track. In Jeddah, Ocon and Gasly finished eighth and ninth respectively right behind the Ferraris, improving on their qualification. Esteban Ocon, like the other drivers in the paddock, appreciates and loves the Albert Park circuit, which is fun not only as a track but also for the rich group of fans who follow Formula 1. It will be necessary to maximize what has been learned in the previous weekends to bring a good result also in Australia:
"Australia is always a favorite for drivers and teams. Melbourne just has a special vibe when F1 is in town and the fans are so passionate. It's well worth the long trip and the jet lag! The track itself is fun and the changes made last year I think really improved the circuit with better overtaking opportunities. It's still a challenging track, both technically and physically, with a lot of changes of direction at low and high speeds. We know braking stability, kerb riding and car agility will be important to the set-up of the cars. It was good to have a week to recover and prepare, but I know the team is ready to go again and we can't wait to start our weekend in Melbourne".
Pierre Gasly finished the previous race without bringing a great performance, but clinging to a clean ninth position. The race was solid, but he finished almost two seconds behind his teammate. It is necessary to put all the best in Australia:
"Albert Park is a great circuit and another different challenge for us this year. We've seen how we are at a conventional circuit in Bahrain, a fast street circuit in Saudi Arabia, and now we will see how we are at Albert Park, which is different in characteristics.It's a fun circuit, quite bumpy in places and we have to be immediately on it if we're to come away with a satisfactory feeling and points on the board.Australia is a place where I've not scored as many points as I'd have liked in my Formula 1 career, so it's time to put that right this weekend".
Jack Doohan, a very young third Alpine pilot of Australian origins, can't wait to experience the weekend in Melbourne as an almost protagonist.
"I'm feeling pretty good for my home race. I think it's going to be an awesome experience to race at home and racing in front of an Aussie crowd is going to be something I've never experienced before. To see fans that follow what you're doing around the rest of the world and then be able to come back into my home country and have their support, is going to be an amazing experience".
Red Bull are the team to beat. Jeddah saw the victory of the Mexican Perez ahead of a Verstappen who conquered the podium starting from the fifteenth position and overtaking all the other riders with disarming ease. Two races from the start of the championship and for both rounds the podium lead was entirely Red Bull. It's a solid, fast, unparalleled machine. If in qualifying it can possibly be defeated by other teams, in the race it has no rivals: not only does it win, but it annihilates the other riders, eliminating any possibility or desire for a climb. Sergio Perez arrives in Melbourne with a big dream: to beat the unbeatable and iron Verstappen, who leaves no room for anyone but covers every kilometer of asphalt as if it were the last. When the Dutchman has a perfect car, he doesn't give his opponents a chance to speak. While Perez is not contentedly as bright as his teammate, Saudi Arabia's clean weekend has given him a strong boost:
"I had a complete weekend and that was one of my aims this season, to be consistent across all three days. But we are only two races into the season and have to keep pushing to make sure we continue this great start to the season. Bahrain and Saudi are very different tracks to each other and Australia will be another challenge for us and this car. We have great pace and are working so hard together to make sure our reliability is there too. It's been a fun start to 2023 but that won't matter if we don't maintain our high level".
The Ferrari of early 2023 doesn't shine like the single-seater we left last year. The Jeddah grand prix showed a car that was too slow compared to what was expected after the pre-season tests. Furthermore, tire degradation was obvious and too incisive, especially on the hard tyres. Both drivers struggled to manage a complex and complicated single-seater; difficult to understand how it will evolve in the next Grand Prix. Unfortunately, the two drivers know that there will also be suffering at Albert Park, but there is confidence in the team's work on the track and in Maranello. In these days of break between one race and another, Sainz worked to be fit and physically face the Melbourne weekend in the best possible way:
"If it wasn’t so far away, I’d come here much more often. I’ve had time for a few outings over the past few days and now I’m in top form, with no jetlag and a relaxation and training programme under my belt. The target for this weekend is to find the right compromise between qualifying performance, which has been pretty good so far and our race pace, which in the first two Grands Prix has not lived up to our expectations. The medium-term goal is to develop the SF-23 with updates aimed at fixing the weak points we have identified. Obviously, a lack of performance in the race has impacted our results and we definitely have to make a step forward. I am convinced we can do so. The team is in agreement on the direction to take and this gives us confidence that we can get where we want to be over the course of the year. So far this season, our guys have always produced very good pit stops, our race starts have been better and our strategies have been spot-on. These are all important elements which could prove useful over the course of the season".
Charles Leclerc is undoubtedly the most disappointed of the two Ferrari drivers so far. Bahrain retirement and a new control unit already in Jeddah seem to have already negatively affected this year's Formula 1. The Monegasque knows very well that there is really a lot of work to be done on the SF-23, but trust in the team is central and he wins on every doubt and perplexity:
"We know we have a lot of work to do, but we also have a clear idea of what is needed. As we have seen, the car is competitive in qualifying, while in the race, we lose performance because the car is sensitive to changing external conditions.The team is motivated and determined to fight and there is still a long way to go this season.From our side, I think it will be important to make the most of this time to optimize the current package and develop updates that will allow us to make the necessary step forward.We need a strong and consistent car that allows us drivers to push in the race.We are working in this direction and I am confident that, over the season, we can succeed in reaching our goals".
On Friday, 31st March 2023, when in Europe it is late night, the twenty Formula 1 drivers start their weekend on the Melbourne circuit in the Albert Park, located in Victoria, Australia. The Red Bull seem to be unrivalled at the moment, while the surprise of the moment, Aston Martin, is the main candidate to be the runner-up, taking advantage from the negative moment of Ferrari and Mercedes. There are some news concerning the use of common parts: a new ICE for Ferrari clients, Haas and Alfa Romeo, a new gearbox for the two Mercedes, as well as a new exhaust system from Mercedes-powered teams. Norris will use his third unit, as well as Magnussen, while Verstappen goes back using the first gearbox, put aside after Saudi issues. Red Bull has a new front wing endplate, additional front wing changes and a tweak to rear-end bodywork to aid cooling. Mercedes brought new floor edge vanes, waiting for bigger updates for the Imola weekend, while Aston Martin and Ferrari did not bring any major changes. Alfa Romeo gets a new nose, longer and slimmer, as well as four elements of the wing redesigned for better aero. The track’s features require a very high average speed, similar to Jeddah, so the cars’ setups will be less loaded; however, Red Bull choose a more loaded upper plane for a better use of DRS. All teams are running a gurney flap on the upper plane trailing edge, except for Aston Martin and Haas, which removed it to reduce drag further, and McLaren runs a barn door.
Another news concerns Liberty Media, that wants to change the qualifying system in the sprint races, adding a second qualifying session for the Sprint Race starting grid, which will consist of a single flying lap, while the normal qualifying session will decide the grid for the Sunday race. For putting this in place, 28 votes are necessary in the Commission, so at least eight teams should agree. Controversies ensued after the statement by Domenicali about abolishing free practices, which are considered to be boring for common fans, and only liked by engineers, but some drivers, such as Russell, Gasly and Hulkenberg, partially agree with the CEO of Liberty Media, and declare that one free practice session may be enough. Instead, Max Verstappen, who is not even in favour of sprint races, completely disagrees. After Alonso’s case in Jeddah, the FIA announces that teams cannot touch their cars while serving a penalty, not even with carts. Grid box dimensions are enlarged, from 2.4 m to 2.7 m, after Ocon’s and Alonso’s mistake in placing the car on the starting grid, respectively in Bahrain and in Jeddah. The tyre compounds used for this weekend are C4 (soft), C3 (medium) and C2 (hard). The weather forecast for this weekend is not the best: rain is expected, the temperatures are 17 °C at the start of the first session and 16 °C at the start of the second session, while a strong wind will hit the cars. The sky at the start of FP1 is partly cloudy, and it is not certain whether rain will hit the circuit already in this session. The practice starts regularly, with only few drivers complaining about issues, such as Sargeant and Hamilton who complain about bottoming and bouncing, or Verstappen unhappy about the gear shifts. Despite this, the reigning World Champion is the fastest driver with soft tyres and a time of 1'19"332, while Perez, Hamilton, Stroll and Russell follow him with medium tyres and the Ferraris are behind with hard tyres. After 11 minutes, Kevin Magnussen goes off track at Turn 3 and finishes in the gravel, forced to slow down. After 15 minutes, Perez sets the fastest lap with 1'19"293, on medium tyres. Shortly after, Verstappen gets back on the first place with 1'18"790, on soft tyres. On minute 33, Tsunoda spectacularly goes off track at Turn 1 and almost hits the wall, without consequences. The Japanese will change the gearbox before FP2. After 37 minutes, the session is red-flagged due to a GPS issue, which fails to detect the cars on track and starts to cause some traffic problems. The session restarts fifteen minutes before the end.
On minute 54, Max Verstappen loses the control of his car between Turn 3 and 4 after hitting the kerb, but manages to resume his run. The session stops four minutes before the end with a red flag caused by Sargeant, who stops his Williams on the right side of Turn 11, due to a loss of power. Max Verstappen ends this first free practice session on top, with 1'18"790, followed by Lewis Hamilton, who after struggling with hard and medium tyres manages to set a decent lap with soft tyres, but still four tenths behind the Dutchman and five tenths behind his teammate, Sergio Perez. Leclerc and Sainz with Ferrari are fifth and sixth, behind Fernando Alonso on Aston Martin. Few hours later, the weather progressively worsens, as clouds of rain loom on the next session. The FP2 session starts with Lando Norris coming out of the box sideways, probably because the tyres are not yet at the right temperature. The teams need to be fast in collecting data about dry tyres before the rain starts. The wind causes many problems, especially for the Mercedes cars, which do not give the confidence that Hamilton and Russell need; even Verstappen makes a mistake by cutting the corner at Turn 1-2. After ten minutes, Alonso is the fastest, on medium tyres, with 1'18"887, eight tenths faster than Sainz and Verstappen, both on medium tyres as well. Perez, after setting two purple sectors, fails to set the fastest lap due to traffic. The rain eventually starts on minute 14, so all cars return to the pits. On minute 27, Sainz comes out with soft tyres while Russell is on intermediate tyres, but the track is still pretty dry. DRS is disabled, so the drivers cannot try the qualifying pace. Few minutes later, rain intensifies so the drivers with dry tyres have to return to the pits. The track stays wet for the rest of the session so all drivers have to go with intermediate tyres and no one improves his times. Lance Stroll is the driver who struggles the most in these conditions, going off track few times during the wet session. At the end of the session, Alonso is the fastest driver, followed by Leclerc and Verstappen. The rest of the drivers are in the following order: Russell, Sainz, Ocon, Perez, Norris, Hulkenberg, Gasly, Tsunoda, Bottas, Hamilton, Piastri, Zhou, Stroll, De Vries, Albon and Magnussen. Sargeant does not join the session after the issues he had in FP1. A positive day for Red Bull overall, despite some missed occasions in FP2. Max Verstappen is not completely happy, anyway:
"The conditions weren't great out there today, we had low grip and the tarmac seemed to be slippery. It was quite tough to switch the tyres on, so that was difficult when you want to push immediately. There were also quite a few interruptions with the red flags, so we never really got into a rhythm. It was difficult to tell how the car felt as we never got a window where I thought we were on top of the tyres. We’ll look over the data tonight and see what we have to do tomorrow. The conditions should be clearer for the rest of the weekend, so we can focus on that".
His teammate Sergio Perez also feels like there is still a lot of work to do:
"There were some issues with the GPS in FP1 and it felt like a lot of us still had issues with it in FP2. We made some good changes from FP1 that I could feel in sector 1 and sector 2 but I couldn’t get a full lap in the afternoon with the traffic in sector 3. I was a bit surprised in the damp conditions that I couldn't get a good sense of the track, but in the dry it was great and the car felt good. There is plenty to do tomorrow, but we still take a lot of confidence from today. Tomorrow we will see where we really are".
Ferrari is still behind and never stood out during the sessions, despite a good second place for Leclerc in the FP2 hit by the rain. The Monegasque opens up about the team’s growth and the comparison to the rivals:
"We explored quite a few set-up variations today, which was interesting as it felt like we were going in a right direction. That doesn’t mean that we have the same pace as our competitors, as they still seem to have the upper hand for now. There is still a lot of work to do before we can get back in a proper fight but we will put all our energy in making further steps forward".
His teammate Carlos Sainz says that the work will be more intense on Saturday, due to the bad weather:
"This Friday was a bit compromised by the rain in FP2, so we decided not to do many laps in the rain, choosing instead to start preparing everything for tomorrow. On the other hand, FP1 was very useful for the team. We went through very different set-up configurations trying to improve the feeling with the car and to get to understand the current package a bit more. We are pushing hard to maximise everything and I look forward to the rest of the weekend".
Mercedes’ drivers are unhappy as well, as the weather did not help them collect enough data. Lewis Hamilton, who came second in FP1, states this:
"This morning was good, but this afternoon wasn't as good. We made some changes after FP1 that didn't quite work and we will look to revert this evening. It also rained in FP2, so it wasn't the greatest of sessions. You don't tend to learn a huge amount in those mixed conditions. It's more about keeping the car safe. As we saw this morning, traffic is always an issue here. Everyone had troubles in FP1 with the GPS so hopefully that won't happen again, and we won't get in each other's way. We won't be competing against the Red Bulls tomorrow. We will be trying to get up as high as possible though; I think we've got similar pace to the last race in Saudi Arabia".
George Russell, who ended FP2 in fourth place, seems more confident:
"Overall, it wasn't too bad a day. We've been making good steps with the car on Fridays. We've been changing a few things and getting the car in a nice window as the weekend progresses. That's quite satisfying from the driver's seat, knowing that the car feels better and as a team we have contributed towards that. FP2 was frustrating for everybody with the rain. It was still a reasonable session for us though, as we made a step forward from FP1. Let's see what tomorrow brings with the weather. The rain came in quite suddenly today and there may be some around tomorrow so I would be happy for things to be spiced up. The difference in tarmac race-to-race has a substantial effect on the car and the feeling of driving it. Jeddah and Melbourne have similar tarmac so you can really push the tyres hard. You can do numerous push laps which is unique; in Qualifying we're going to be doing lots of laps. That's different to the norm so it could be exciting. We know we've got more performance to come in future races, but we need to maximise our chances this weekend. We will keep trying our best to maximise the potential of the car".
Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes’ Trackside Engineering Director, comments about the direction taken in the evolution of the car in this weekend:
"This track is similar to Jeddah in several respects, and we've not made significant changes to the car. We therefore came here expecting to have to manage the same issues as we've been dealing with at the last two races. It's been a bit of a messy day with the red flag in the first practice when the GPS systems failed and the rain in the afternoon. We've found some good directions in terms of setup, but we didn't necessarily get all the good bits on the car all at the same time. As such, we've got a bit of work to do piecing together the findings from the various experiments but that's just a normal part of a Friday evening. The conditions are going to be even colder tomorrow so getting temperature in the tyres could be a challenge in Qualifying. We should have relevant conditions in the final practice session to understand the issues however".
Aston Martin confirm their positive moment, with Alonso claiming the FP2. The two-time World Champion is pretty happy after the two sessions:
"It was a good Friday for us and nice to be back in Australia. In FP1 we concentrated on some test items and ran through our programme smoothly. The afternoon was obviously impacted by the rain, so there is still some work to do tomorrow. We need to learn more about the tyres and the long run pace of the car because there was not much time for that today. So far though the car seems to behave well. The forecast tomorrow looks dry for now, and we would welcome that given we only experienced these conditions in the previous two races".
Lance Stroll talks about the new components, the data collecting and his relationship with the Australian circuit:
"Albert Park is a track we all look forward to driving so it was good to get back out there today. The car was feeling good and we used FP1 to test various new parts which gives us plenty of data to look through this evening as we continue to learn about the AMR23. We did not log as many laps as we would have liked during FP2 because of the rain, but it is something that all teams will have struggled with so I do not think it puts us at a disadvantage for the weekend ahead. Thankfully, the weather looks like it will improve tomorrow, but it has been fairly unpredictable today so you never know".
In Alpine, Esteban Ocon describes his day, which improved in the FP2, where he ended in a good sixth place:
"It's always nice to be back driving in Melbourne although it's fair to say that it was a tricky Friday for everyone today. After some decent laps on Hards, Free Practice 1 was interrupted by a GPS issue, which impacted the whole grid and made running on the Soft compound very tricky. We saw heavy traffic and the session was red flagged very quickly. Thereafter, the afternoon session saw us completing one good run before rain hit the track, making it impossible to run dry tyres ahead of what looks to be a dry Qualifying and Race. It will be up to us to use the limited learning from today and maximise it ahead of tomorrow and Sunday's Grand Prix".
Pierre Gasly seems satisfied after today’s sessions and is hopeful for tomorrow:
"It's been a reasonable Friday for us today and I've been pleased with the running we managed to complete. It was not a smooth day in terms of being on-track due to the red flag in the first session and then the rain in the second session, so we definitely have a lot of work to do ahead of tomorrow and we will need to be decisive in the car set-up. I felt good in the car, and I think we're in a decent position ahead of the rest of the weekend. It looks like it will be dry tomorrow and Sunday, so we'll need to maximise tomorrow's Free Practice 3 to be in good shape for Qualifying in the afternoon".
Pat Fry, Alpine’s Chief Technical Officer, is unhappy about the short time that has been available throughout the two sessions:
"Today's on-track running was severely limited with the red flags in Free Practice 1 and the rain in Free Practice 2. It means our run programme was impacted and the data on car set-up and tyre behaviour on different fuel loads is more limited than usual, though, that is the same for all teams. Free Practice 3 tomorrow afternoon will be a crucial session to fine tune the cars. Given today's interruptions, every lap in Practice will certainly be important and we must maximise our time on track and our learning during the session".
McLaren, after two difficult weekends, start to see some light at the end of the tunnel. Lando Norris sounds positive after the Friday’s sessions:
"I think it's been a decent day. I struggled a little bit with my overall feeling in FP1 but it was still productive. We used the whole of FP1 to do some more aero testing for the future, so, I never got the best read initially. FP2 felt like it was really my first proper session, and I got a little more comfortable. So, it was a good day. We got through all of our tests, got through what we wanted to do, got a good reading on the car and can make some changes for tomorrow - and I got a bit of wet testing in as well. So, a productive day, and we'll try to go better tomorrow".
Oscar Piastri is also confident on a positive weekend:
"It was great to be out on track here in Melbourne and see all the fans. It was nice to have a bit of wet weather in FP2 as it was the first time running on the Intermediate tyres for me, so it was some really useful learning. I think the first day was good and we're in a decent place for tomorrow. There's still prep to do overnight into tomorrow but I'm adjusting to the track and getting used to it. All-in-all a pretty solid day".
Andrea Stella, McLaren’s Team Principal, says that this was a good moment for testing rain tyres, given that it was the first time for Oscar Piastri in his Formula 1 career:
"We've had a decent day of practice in Albert Park. The car ran reliably and smoothly. Much of the dry first session was spent working through aerodynamic test items. The rain in FP2 cut the dry running short, but at the same time it presented us with an opportunity to test the car on Intermediates. This was particularly useful for Oscar, being the first time he's ran these tyres on an F1 car. In terms of competitiveness, we seem to be in a position similar to that we had in Saudi, which means we'll be giving it a good go to get into Q3 tomorrow and to score points in Sunday's race".
AlphaTauri did not get their best results in these free practice sessions, with Yuki Tsunoda thirteenth in FP1 as best placement, but the Japanese driver seems satisfied anyway:
"We started with a difficult FP1 as I struggled with the rear, but I'm happy with our FP2 performance. There was traffic in FP1 caused by GPS issues which caused me to slow down a lot in the last sector, meaning the tyres were not up to temperature when I started my quick lap and I experienced a lack of grip. We don’t know exactly where we are compared to the rest of the field, but we will concentrate on what we have to do as a team to be able to put it together for tomorrow. It will be close and we are aiming for Q3, but first through to Q2. The midfield is tight so any small mistakes are costly, but the car is better than last year, so once we’ve reviewed the data, we see what we can do about tomorrow".
Nyck de Vries says that these sessions were useful for understanding the car and the novelties on it:
"Today’s sessions were certainly different in terms of conditions but also as for learning and trying various things. The GPS issue didn’t help, especially due to the nature of the track in which the tyre warm-up also plays an important role. We had a good FP1, after which we made some changes for FP2 to better understand what our new upgrades are doing. Because there is a small bit of grass between the track and the wall, it is a tricky street track where there's no margin for error. After today, there are a few unknowns about the new upgrades, but we will find out more after the analysis we do tonight. We will need to continue to put things together and build on them during FP3 tomorrow".
Jonathan Eddolls, AlphaTauri’s Chief Race Engineer, does not hide some bitterness in his interview:
“We didn’t have the most straight-forward of Fridays in Melbourne. FP1 started according to plan with both cars running the Medium tyre and Yuki testing some new aero components. As is always the case here, the level of grip was improving significantly during the session and the lap times were improving lap by lap. Our performance looked respectable, so we fitted the Soft tyres expecting to find another step in grip, but both drivers struggled to make it work and did not improve. In fact, Yuki had an unexpected snap entering Turn 1, lost the car, and in hitting the kerb on the outside he damaged the floor, which meant the end to his session since there wasn't enough time to repair it. We carried out a number of setup changes for FP2 and moved Nyck to the new aero components".
"We could see rain on the radar about 30 minutes into the session, so we thought we could get out for a couple of short runs beforehand, with the Hard first followed by the Soft. However, we had a drizzle 15 minutes in so we didn’t get a short run on the Soft tyre on either car. The rain intensity increased so that was it for dry running. We did a few laps on intermediates at the end of the session with Yuki just to increase our understanding of that tyre, but we stayed in the garage with Nyck after spotting a small mechanical issue on his car. We have quite a bit to think about overnight in preparation for tomorrow and the race. We didn’t get to cover all of the work planned, so I expect a busy FP3 session tomorrow to help fill the gaps we have".
The Alfa Romeo team seem to have made a step forward, placing both their drivers in the top ten in FP1, and Zhou Guanyu in tenth place in FP2. Valtteri Bottas feels that some progress has been made in the second session and is positive about the rest of the weekend:
"We showed some progress from the first to the second session, both in terms of feeling with the car and of pace. It is a little tricky here with the traffic, as it’s a narrow track and there aren’t many places where to give way, but it has been the same for everybody this morning. Both sessions have been a bit mixed; I wasn’t entirely happy with the balance of the car during FP1, but we changed the setup ahead of FP2 and tested the new nose and front wing with positive results. Overall, I am feeling good ahead of the weekend: there is still some work to do and some time to find, but we are on the right path".
Zhou Guanyu understands that the car has improved but needs more time to understand if this impression can be confirmed:
"The initial feeling today is quite positive and I think we’re in a better place than the times would show. We had some good preparation and feedback from the car, and I was able to try the new updates which seem to be a step forward. Of course, we need a little more running in dry conditions to have a clearer idea: the rain changed our plans a little, and even in FP1 it was difficult to have a clean run. My run on softs was interrupted by the red flag and traffic was much of an issue, but that’s just how it is in Melbourne. We will make the most out of FP3 and be as prepared as we can be for qualifying".
Haas surprisingly reached the top ten in both sessions with Kevin Magnussen, who does not care much about positions anyway:
"Sometimes in practice you don’t get your lap when you need it and on new tires - the soft tires - I just got traffic with that GPS failure. In FP2, it started raining when we went out so I’m not too worried about the positions, I’m happy about the feeling in the car. Given all the stuff that happened today, I don’t really think we can see who is where. I’m just going with the feeling and that’s positive, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow and seeing what we can do".
Nico Hulkenberg is a bit behind his teammate but he says that predictions are difficult to be done at the moment:
"It’s what they say about Melbourne, four seasons in one day. Today was one of those days and it was a bit short with limited running in FP2 because of the rain. I have a positive feeling, the car felt good and the balance wasn’t too far off so now it’s the usual optimizing the set-up for tomorrow. It’s hard to tell about tomorrow from today, but I’ll stay openminded and give it everything as always".
Guenther Steiner, Haas’ Team Principal, seems happy, despite the weather, the GPS problem and some minor issues:
"FP1 was good for us today. There was a little bit of confusion when the GPS didn’t work therefore you can see Kevin at the end of the classifications because he couldn’t put a proper lap in - Norris was out there, and Norris didn’t know we were around, and we didn’t know Norris was around. Otherwise, good progress was made in FP1. For FP2 there was a little bit more confusion, this time with the rain coming. We had a telemetry issue on Kevin’s car where he lost some time so he couldn’t put a lap in when it was dry. We learned a lot today, so we just need to do a good job in FP3 and we’ll be ready for qualifying".
In Williams, Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance, comments that it was not the best day for Sargeant, given the issue at the end of FP1 that pulled him out from the following session, but Albon was able to complete his programme:
"Another mixed Friday with plenty of positives but also a problem that cost Logan a lot of track time. His car stopped towards the end of FP1 with an electrical issue. Despite a lot of work in the garage, we were unable to repair his car in time for FP2. Unfortunately, this cost him track time at a circuit that is new to him and also denied him a chance of trying the Intermediate Pirelli tyres. Alex enjoyed a much more straightforward day with promising pace throughout the day. He was pretty happy with the car in both the dry and wet conditions and was able to run his intended programme. We were able to try a few new parts on the car today and we will assess their performance tonight before deciding whether to commit to them for the rest of the weekend".
Alex Albon knows that it will be hard to fight against the midfield but thinks that this year’s car improved a lot compared to last year’s one:
"It's tricky to know where we stand today with the weather conditions. I think we're in a decent place and I felt very happy with the car during FP1. It's going to be tight out there but let's see; I'm positive and feel like compared to last year the car feels much better and we're in the fight".
Logan Sargeant is clearly disappointed, but is happy about his pace:
"A bit of a messy first day here in Australia. I think generally, the pace isn't too bad, and I felt comfortable with the track right away, so there's plenty of positives to take into tomorrow. I think if we can make the most of FP3, we can set ourselves up for a good qualifying".
Mario Isola, Pirelli Motorsport Director, analyses the tyre situation in the Australian Grand Prix:
"It's been a variable day. As always at Albert Park, the asphalt conditions change very quickly, especially in the early sessions, and today was no exception. It started raining shortly after the start of FP2 in the afternoon and that complicated the picture even more, as it wasn't possible to carry out the long runs needed for a full assessment of the tyres. This means that all the preparation work done before Melbourne takes on extra significance, especially when it comes to strategies. From what we can see up to now this weekend's trio of compounds are behaving as we expected, also in terms of performance gaps. All three types of tyre are valid options for the race, offering a wide range of possible strategies. We saw a bit of graining on the medium and soft in FP1, with a 'green' track and relatively low temperatures, while FP2 meant that the drivers were able to get at least an initial impression of the intermediates. There's one free practice session left before qualifying that will give drivers a chance to carry out the long runs that have been missing so far, in weather conditions that should be better. That's another interesting factor to consider as the Australian Grand Prix weekend continues".
In short, everyone hopes that bad weather will not affect the last session of free practice and qualifying so that all the programmes for car testing can be completed and the teams can understand their true potential. It’s 1st of April and still there are grey clouds round the racetrack. Everyone is nervous because a few hours before there has been a morning drizzle that has further washed away the rubber that has been built up over, but fortunately the Albert Park circuit of Melbourne is now dry for the Saturday's final practice session. Verstappen is opening his account with a 1'19"664. on medium tyres but then the Ferrari representative Carlos Sainz is passing him for a minimal short time. However, the reigning World Champion claims his early P1 with 1'18"741. At the only medium lap from the frontrunners, the other Ferrari man Charles Leclerc beats him with a 1'18"731. on softs. After being on top with a 1'18"731., he goes down to a 1'18"691. Meanwhile, Sergio Perez stays in the garage for the opening stages because the mechanics are working on the rear of his RB19. It seems that not only Friday's session was messy for the Red Bull man because this loss of track time is being even more costly for Perez than usual. After 15 minutes of the mark Fernando Alonso is setting a 1'18"329. riding his Aston Martin and fortunately Perez is joining the session: his car’s problem has been resolved! But something unexpected for him happens, as his rival from Hass Nico Hulkenberg puts him into the wall on his first push lap but he manages to get away. Soon, a Red-Flag is triggered because of a large piece of debris from Nyck De Vries’ AlphaTauri’s sidepod, which lands near the racing line near the fast Turn 9 kink. Suddenly a drizzle starts to fall and that condition near Turn 1 causes Perez and Leclerc to run wide. Meanwhile, Verstappen demotes Alonso with 1'17"565s. while the second grabs top for a while with 1'17"727. Esteban Ocon is also moving up the order, taking third 0.373s and 0.017s ahead of George Russell. Pierre Gasly’s Alpine takes the fifth place, followed by Perez in sixth and Sainz in seventh. Lewis Hamilton gets blocked on his final flyer and that causes him to be eighth, while Aston's Lance Stroll and Zhou round out the top 10. Hulkenberg is 11th for Haas and is followed by Alex Albon (Williams). Behind them is coming Leclerc, who can’t get a final lap in. The list continues with 14th Oscar Piastri for McLaren, followed by Valtteri Bottas (Alfa) and AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda. Last of all arrive Logan Sargeant (Williams), Kevin Magnussen (Haas), Nick De Vries (AlphaTauri) and Lando Norris, who only ran 12 laps because of a clutch problem on his McLaren in the final part of the session. In the afternoon, it’s time for qualifying. Despite the official risk of rain at 90%, the drivers are moving forward on slick tyres to make use of dry conditions at the start of Q1. Six minutes past and Williams’ Logan Sargeant brings out a yellow flag by going off track out of Turn 13. Unfortunately, Red Bull’s Sergio Perez locks up at Turn 3 and goes in the gravel.
"We need to sort out the issue. It was the same ******* issue again".
Says Pérez on the radio to his team. 11 minutes and 44 seconds remain of Q1 and the clock is paused. Nico Hulkenberg is top of the timesheets and there are 10 drivers yet to set a flying lap. The Q1 is resumed and the cars’ soft tyres must hold up in the cool conditions. Laps are thick and fast but drivers are also fuelled up for multiple more laps. Max Verstappen holds the top spot with an effort of 1'17"384. while George Russell is 0.270s off in P2 and his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton third by 0.305s. Esteban Ocon is 0.386s off with Alpine and leaves the Aston Martins fifth and sixth with Fernando Alonso ahead of Lance Stroll. Alex Albon is on the pace throughout in his Williams but Carlos Sainz takes P7 first. Hulkenberg improves and takes P9 ahead of his Haas teammate Kevin Magnussen. The Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc has bad luck with an error that places him 11th, ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris and Alpine’s Pierre Gasly. Then, both AlphaTauris with Nyck de Vries ahead of Yuki Tsunoda in a top 15 split by 1.087s. Oscar Piastri takes the P16 ahead of Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu P17 and Williams’ Sargeant is not far back in P18. A traffic issue makes Valtteri Bottas 19th while Perez 20th. The first drivers to be knocked out are: Piastri, Zhou, Sargeant, Bottas and Perez. It’s time for Q2 and Verstappen immediately leads Alonso by 0.064s while Leclerc goes third by 0.341s; all drivers continue their constant lapping on soft tyres to take advantage.
But suddenly there is an incoming discussion: drivers have to decide whether to continue on their used softs or invest their time into scrubbing a set of new softs. Verstappen doesn’t doubt and takes a new set of softs. This decision is beneficial and helps him to improve by a tenth with a lap of 1'17"056. In counterpart, Alonso declines doing the same and now retains P2. Sainz claims his P3 with 0.293s off the pace, ahead of teammate Leclerc. Meanwhile, Hulkenberg is surprising for P5. Albon takes P10, being continued by Ocon, who is 0.08s off safety in P11. Tsunoda is furious at being held up in the weighing station during Q2, something that puts him 12th. Norris is 13th, Magnussen 14th and De Vries 15th. The second list of knocked out is: Ocon, Tsunoda, Norris, Magnussen and De Vries. Final Q3 arrives and Verstappen puts in a representative lap taking provisional pole with a time of 1'17"262. Behind him is Hamilton with 0.009s off and Alonso 0.041s in P3. Verstappen may have been top but he reports gearshift and battery issues after his flying effort. The Red Bull man tries again and sets the fastest times in sectors 1 and 3, improving to 1'16"732 and taking by the way his first pole position in Australia. He is drawing level with Alonso with his 22nd F1 career pole position. 0.236s takes Russell at the pace in P2 ahead of Hamilton in P3. Meanwhile, Alonso is 4th ahead of Sainz and Stroll is 6th, followed by Leclerc. The podium is complete with Albon in P8 (Williams), Gasly 9th (Alpine) and Hulkenberg 10th (Haas). Yuki Tsunoda is looking forward to tomorrow’s race:
"Qualifying was good, we built the pace well throughout and maximised the performance. Q1 was ok and we ended up in P15, but we were able to take another step each lap. For Q2, we had planned to do two push laps, but unfortunately, the weighbridge stopped me from completing my second lap. Considering I only had one flying lap, I'm pleased with it and the increase in performance by my team. I'm looking forward to the race tomorrow, we haven’t done any long-run testing, but we will aim to extract the maximum out of the car to be able to score points".
Nyck de Vries adds:
"It's been a positive session and it’s nice to get into Q2, especially with the new upgrades we brought this weekend. The changing conditions were quite tricky, in particular for the tyre warm-up, and in the last run in Q2, we didn’t adapt enough to what needed to be done. In practice, the tyres continued to improve, but as the track evolved, there was a little drop-off where you needed to make sure the tyres were ready for the last lap. I am a little gutted because we didn’t optimise the last run, but overall, it was a happy session. For tomorrow, we didn’t get much of an opportunity to test our long runs, but I am looking forward to racing and hopefully scoring points".
Jody Egginton, AlphaTauri’s Technical Director, knows there is still a lot to do:
"There is still a lot of work to improve the car, but we can see that the floor update we brought to this event has delivered a step in aero performance broadly in line with our expectations. This is definitely positive, as it represents the first step of the rolling aero development programme and forms a good basis to progress. Although we didn't have the pace for Q3 today, Yuki put together a good qualifying, finishing in P12 and not leaving much on the table. Nyck also had a solid qualifying session but did not quite manage to put together his best sector one, meaning he ended Q2 in P15. In summary, there were positive signs, but there's a long way to go to get the car established in the midfield. Our focus now switches to the race, but it’s clear that we'll need to be ready to take advantage of any potential opportunities that may occur to get our cars moving forward as quickly as possible".
Fernando Alonso celebrates his 4th place:
"I am happy with fourth position today after a busy qualifying session. The circuit was difficult to judge at times, with changeable temperatures and weather. We seemed to improve in every session though and the car felt good to drive. Overall, I think it was probably our best qualifying session so far this season and our closest gap to pole position. We will see what we can do tomorrow because our race pace seems to be one of our strengths. We are expecting it to be difficult to overtake, but in these cooler conditions it will be an interesting race with lots of unknowns. The target is to score as many points as possible".
Lance Stroll describes today’s qualifying as an enjoyable point in his career:
"It was fun out there today; it is a great track to push hard at and the car was handling well. I think the team put in a good performance to qualify fourth and sixth despite fairly challenging circumstances. It was tough to understand at which point the tyres would be in their peak operating window given the changing temperatures and we only had one set of tyres left for Q3, so there may have been a little more lap time in there. That being said, the field is incredibly tight and so we are lining up in a strong place to fight hard for the top positions tomorrow".
Aston Martin’s Team Principal, Mike Krack, seems to be pleased with the final results and the teamwork:
"It was a tricky session with the threat of rain present throughout the whole of qualifying and especially during the final moments of Q3. We also saw an incredibly close field with every tenth of a second making a difference in Q1, Q2 and Q3. That was why we had to try and find the balance between saving tyres and making sure we did not miss the cut with quite significant track evolution. We were sensible and played it safe to ensure we progressed with both cars, but it meant Lance had just one set of new Softs for Q3. He made the best of them with two timed laps and starting from sixth gives him a great opportunity to score well tomorrow. Fernando's session was strong, too, with clean and tidy laps putting him on the second row. We head into tomorrow's race feeling confident with our race pace and ready to fight once again".
Esteban Ocon is a little bit disappointed with his qualifying result:
"Unfortunately, what was shaping up to be a good day ended in some frustration. We had the pace for a strong Q3 showing but unfortunately met some traffic in the final two corners on my last Q2 push lap and that meant I lost some time. It's on me for losing a couple of tenths in that case, after what was an otherwise good session for us. There are plenty of positives to take, though, as the performance is there, and we are starting just outside the top ten. It's all very close between cars at the moment so it should be an exciting race. It's definitely still all to play for and I'm now focused on maximising tomorrow's race".
On the other hands, Pierre Gasly is excited:
“I would say it wasn't a bad outcome to take ninth place in Qualifying today even if I felt there was a tenth or two left on the table. We did a good job to improve lap after lap and to reach Q3 - the first time for me in Melbourne - which is pleasing. It was very difficult to get the tyres into a good enough window and we had to keep improving on each lap. Tomorrow's race will be interesting as most teams won't have much knowledge on long run pace. We'll see what we can do starting from ninth and we'll give it our best to score as many points as we can".
Alpine’s Sporting Director Alan Permane expresses his point of view about the afternoon:
"We definitely had the pace today to have both cars in Q3, so it's disappointing not to have achieved that with Esteban out in Q2. We had a strong Free Practice 3 with the cars steadily improving. The main challenge was getting the tyres into an optimal operating window with the cool conditions making that particularly tricky. It seemed we could improve lap after lap as the tyres increased in temperature and that played a part in our strategy today to fuel the cars for three push laps with the aim of decreasing lap-time on each attempt. Of course, we're striving to secure higher positions than ninth and eleventh and we'll keep working hard to understand how we can maximise the package. Our immediate focus, though, is tomorrow's race where there's no doubt we have the potential to have both cars well into the points", says.
George Russell saying with enthusiasm:
“What a session that was for us. The car felt alive today and we weren't expecting that result at all. The lap at the end was right on the limit; I'm a little bit disappointed that we didn't get pole position. But that's one of those things in this sport. Your expectations change so quickly; we probably would have been happy with a top five result yesterday but today the car felt awesome. It goes to show we've got potential still to come. There is a lot of hard work going on back at the factory and here in Melbourne. I'm excited for tomorrow - it's going to be tough against Max, but we're definitely very happy to be lining up P2".
Lewis Hamilton is happy about getting back to the front row:
"This was a totally unexpected result and I'm so happy and grateful for P3. My second lap wasn't as good as the first one. I did gain a little bit of time in the last sector, but ultimately lost out a little bit at the beginning of the lap. I'm not disappointed though and I'm going to work as hard as I can to try and move forwards tomorrow. I'm proud of the team. We're all working as hard as we can to get right back up the front, so to be this close to the Red Bull is incredible. Hopefully tomorrow we can give them a bit of a run for their money. And we hope the weather will be good".
Toto Wolff, Mercedes’ Team Principal & CEO, shows himself glad:
"We're happy with how today went. We needed a little bit of happiness and at least for Saturday, we've got some of that. We have been grinding away with extracting performance from the car by getting the right mechanical setup. We brought it all together in Qualifying; we learned through the session, and we were open-minded. We changed the plan from doing a third or fourth push lap, to only doing two and then down to one in Q3. Starting second and third is a good place to be. It's been a while since we've had no-one really in front of us by starting P2. We'll try to make the best out of it tomorrow. Verstappen is clearly in a league of his own but hopefully we can slot in behind".
Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes’ Trackside Engineering Director, talks about the weather and its influence in the race:
"It's been a tricky weekend due to the cool conditions but a solid job by the team and drivers to land the tyres in the right window when it counted. We'd seen some good laps by the Ferraris and Astons across the weekend, so we're ahead of our own expectations to be starting second and third. The sessions have been a bit messy with red flags and rain so there's a real lack of long run data for everyone. That will make it difficult to know what the tyres will do. The softer compounds do seem very fragile in the cool conditions; we've tried to create a setup that is going to look after the tyres in the race, but we'll find out tomorrow if we've achieved that. Max has shown incredible pace in both races so far. Assuming that carries into tomorrow he'll be able to manage the tyres and build a gap all at the same time. However, our fight at the moment is with Ferrari and Aston and if we can stay ahead of them, we'll be very happy".
Lando Norris confesses his disappointment with his performance:
"Today wasn't quite as good as I was hoping. The cooler conditions just made us struggle a little bit more to be consistent and get the maximum out of the car. I'm not quite driving the way I want and to the level I want so I struggled to put everything together. But it's still not a bad position to start and we can hopefully try to get into the points".
Oscar Piastri was one of the first drivers to be knocked out during his home weekend:
"Obviously not quite what I wanted in Melbourne. The field is extremely tight and there's not a lot in it. I was reasonably happy with my lap, unfortunately, it just wasn't quite quick enough by the smallest of margins. It is what it is and we've got tonight to look at everything to put us in the best position to make up some places tomorrow. Hopefully we will have a clean grand prix".
McLaren’s Team Principal Andrea Stella coincides with Shovlin about the tricky conditions:
"We're aware that making it through to Q3, with our current car performance, requires us to absolutely maximise every single corner. Today the car was tricky to drive and there was a little bit of lap time left here and there for both Lando and Oscar. However, the reality is that we don't have enough underlying performance on the car and that we have a lot of work ahead to improve that. That's no different from what we have been saying since the start of the season and we stay determined to deliver the upgrades required to improve. For this weekend, we're fully focussed on tomorrow's race. Albert Park can be eventful, and we enter the race with the mindset that we want to score points".
Kevin Magnussen admits:
"The car was good but I messed up the lap when it counted unfortunately, so P14".
He seems to be hopeful with his colleague Hulkenberg:
“It’s not too far away from the top 10 so there’s still hope for tomorrow and Nico has shown what the car can do. It’s a shame on my side but I’m still looking forward to the race - we can fight".
Nico Hulkenberg seems happy with the result:
"It was definitely a positive qualifying and Q2 was especially very good. In Q3, I only had one new set of tires when some others maybe had two, but either way it wasn’t quite there. I wasn’t able to produce a lap like in Q2 but nevertheless, another top-ten finish which is positive and we’ll take that into tomorrow. I’m feeling pretty confident and feeling good about the race".
Guenther Steiner, Haas’ Team Principal shows mixed feelings:
"I’m unhappy and happy today. There could’ve been more for us today because on the last run with Nico it wasn’t an ideal lap, down to a few circumstances. There was no need for Hamilton to be so close to Nico at the start of his last fast lap - and trying to get past him - as Lewis wasn’t on a fast lap. Then again, I’m happy because tomorrow we start P10 and P14 and everything seems to be going to plan and I think our race pace is good. Tomorrow, the mission is to get points".
Alessandro Alunni Bravi, Alfa Romeo’s Team Representative, doesn’t hesitate to express himself sad about the result:
"Our indications from practice and the evaluation of the upgrades were rather positive, so it’s certainly disappointing to have both cars out in Q1. We have to look at the data and understand why the drivers’ feel for the car changed so dramatically between FP3 and qualifying, and figure out the best possible plan for tomorrow’s race. This track is not the most conductive to overtaking, but we’re going to put up a fight and try and recover as much ground as possible. The gaps are still small so hopefully we can be in a few battles: with a good start and the right calls from the pitwall, we can hopefully get away with something from this race".
Valtteri Bottas reflects about his final position:
"The upgrades we brought to Melbourne seem to be working as we expected, so there’s no denying we expected more from qualifying. This is, of course, not where we wanted to be, and there are definitely a lot of questions about this qualifying session. We seemed to lack pace, and on top of that, I also encountered a bit of traffic on the final lap, when I felt the best grip from the tyres, so there wasn’t much more we could do. At least, starting from the back opens some more opportunities with the strategy, so let’s see what we can achieve during the race. These are far from being ideal starting positions, but we’ll investigate what went wrong and regroup to go for it again tomorrow".
Zhou Guanyu is on the list of the first knocked out and his discontent is evident. He wisely explains:
"It was a strange session for me, since I found some good pace in FP3 and then the car felt completely different in qualifying, quite the opposite to what we were aiming for. It’s frustrating, of course, not being up there, but I think I tried the best I could: it just was not enough to find these few tenths more in order to get into Q2. We did not really change the car from FP3 to Qualifying, and yet the difference I felt was significant, enough for me to have to change my driving. With regard to the race, you never know what might happen here: I obviously would prefer to start from further up the grid, but all we can do is giving our best and pull off a good strategy in order to make some places up".
The star of the day, Max Verstappen admits:
"Overall, it was a pretty good qualifying. It’s been tough this weekend to get the tyres in a good window to push straight away, but it all worked out in Q3 and the last run was good. I’m very happy with the lap and to be on pole position here in Australia. I’m looking forward to tomorrow, it’s going to be an interesting race that’s for sure. We need a clean start, and after that, hopefully we can do a good job. I’ve been on the podium here before but this time I want to be on a different step".
Obviously, it was an awful workday for Sergio Perez, who confesses:
"Today was a day to forget. We have a technical issue that we’re trying to get to the bottom of, we had the same issue this morning and we thought we fixed it, but as soon as I hit the braking zone it was clear we hadn’t. It’s very unfortunate what happened today but together as a team, we’ll do our best to fix it ahead of tomorrow’s race. On a track that is hard to overtake, it will be tough, but I will do what I can to get some good points for the team and work hard to get us into a good position".
Christian Horner, Red Bulls’ CEO and Team Principal, is happy about Max’ result and then explains the problems Perez had:
"Max did an outstanding job in qualifying, particularly in these conditions and on this track. Our strategy was slightly different today, we weren’t doing the build and push laps, so it was all about getting the optimum out lap, getting the temperature he needed into the tyres then nailing the lap which he managed perfectly. It’s hugely disappointing for Checo that he’s not up there with Max. We suspect an engine setting issue contributed to a lockup that he had on his first lap in qualifying but obviously we need all the data back to analyse and ensure that if there is an issue, it’s resolved for tomorrow. It’s incredibly frustrating for him and the team, but he’s proven himself to be a great racer and we’ll be looking to make as much progress in the race as we can".
Dave Robson, Williams’ Head of Vehicle Performance, explains:
"Alex had an excellent qualifying session today. He was able to keep out of traffic and prepare his tyres well and consistently. As a result, each lap he did was strong, and he was able to build his confidence and finish the session in a good position Once again, the sessions were tight with several teams completing similar lap times. This was good for Alex as he was able to just beat Gasly and Hulkenburg to take a very promising P8 on the grid. Conversely for Logan, a small mistake at the end of his final lap in Q1 cost him a place in Q2. Given that he lost valuable time in the car yesterday, his pace today was very good, and he can look forward to a positive race tomorrow".
Optimistic, Alex Albon declares:
"Today is pretty special; we optimised everything we had with a very good car, so I'm feeling really happy. We were struggling in the practice sessions to get the tyres to work but we went into qualifying and executed our plan which paid off, the tyres worked, and everything else fell into place. Looking at the progress the team has made in 12 months, knowing we're able to fight for points each weekend, myself and the team live for that and motivation is high. We have a job to do tomorrow but we're in the fight".
Logan Sargeant of course is a bit disappointed. However he trust he can fight the people ahead of him during the race:
"It wasn't the smoothest of qualifying sessions and I did struggle to find those last couple of tenths. I felt like I was building up nicely and the session was coming to me - I was getting quicker and quicker - and was on a definite good enough lap for Q2 there at the end and just made a mistake in sector 3. We'll start to see results improve when I put everything together. We haven't had many laps this weekend with the electrical issues in FP1 and missing out on FP2 because of that, but we were capable of Q2 today. It's hard to tell what car we have for tomorrow as we haven't done any consecutive laps but generally, we have a pretty quick car in race trim, especially on the straights, so we know we can fight the people around us. Tomorrow is about being procedurally perfect, having a good start, good race pace and we'll look to make some moves".
Carlos Sainz is satisfied with the result and declares:
"We had decent pace in qualifying today. Unfortunately there was a bit of confusion during the last preparation lap with other cars and that cost us a couple of tenths in Turn 1, as I arrived at it with the tyres a bit too cold. We have worked on different set up configurations during the weekend and tomorrow we’ll see what we can do during the race. It won’t be an easy one, but we will try to move up from our grid positions and bring home a good result".
The demanding Charles Leclerc shows dissatisfaction:
"It hasn’t been the best of qualifyings. I was confident that I could put it all together on our last lap in Q3, but things did not go as planned as I didn’t do the prep lap and we lost time. We will make sure we improve this as a team for the future. We have tried different configurations of set-up and worked on our race pace, so I look forward to fighting for some positions tomorrow".
Ferrari’s Team Principal Frédéric Vasseur explain his drivers’ situation:
"Today's qualifying was very close and unfortunately, things did not go to plan for us. In Q3, we were on the limit in terms of time at the end of the session so we didn’t do a preparation lap with Charles. Carlos didn’t manage to put a lap together, losing a few tenths in the first corner on what would have been his best lap, otherwise he could have been second or third".
He is hopeful for tomorrow as the team worked on the car after the last Grand Prix:
"However, the points are given out tomorrow and, since Jeddah, we have worked on getting consistent and strong performance from the SF-23 in race trim. Now we will prepare for the race as well as possible with the intention of moving up the order. Overtaking is not easy here, but it can be an unpredictable race".
Mario Isola, Pirelli Motorsport Director, talks about the condition of the track and the tyres and strategies used by the teams:
"This was a particularly intense Saturday. Yesterday's rain largely prevented the teams from gathering tyre data over long runs, which meant that there were two jobs to do in FP3 today: preparing for qualifying and carrying out some long runs on full fuel. From what we have seen over the two days so far, the three available compounds are performing as we expected. Both the soft and the medium showed a little bit of graining on a track that still isn't rubbered in, with low temperatures, while the hard demonstrated itself to be very consistent and not so far from the other two compounds in terms of performance. There was a threat of rain throughout qualifying, but with the exception of a couple of drops in Q3, the session was run entirely on dry-weather tyres. Leaving aside Verstappen's final run, today was very close, with barely four-tenths of a second covering P2 to P7 on the grid. A one-stopper remains the optimal strategy, with medium-hard being theoretically fastest and soft-hard slightly slower. This validates the decision to bring the C4 this year, offering a wider range of strategies compared to last year. Since 2022, it's clear to see how much performance has evolved, with the latest generation of cars going nearly a second a half faster here. Verstappen's pole time was 1.1 seconds faster than the equivalent from Charles Leclerc last year - but that was set with the softest C5 compound, which is around 0.4 seconds faster than the C4: the softest option in Australia this weekend".
It's Sunday, April 2, 2023, and it's finally race day. In the starting grid there is a change as both Perez, who slid out of Q1 in qualifying, and Bottas swap their starting slots for the pit lane, having made various car changes under parc ferme conditions. Quite everyone is on medium compound, except for the Alpines and Alfa Romeos on softs, while De Vries’s AlphaTauri, Sargeant’s Williams and Perez’s Red Bull are on hards. The track is clear and at 3:00 p.m. o'clock local time the race starts. Russell gets a run on Verstappen into Turn 1, which he converted with some late braking and smart car positioning. Also Hamilton passes the Dutchman, who complains over the radio that:
“He pushed me off the track".
After only three turns the Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc is out of the race, as he goes into the gravel after a contact with Stroll. A quick stewards’ investigation settled on no further action.Safety car is deployed and five drivers (Ocon, Zhou, Bottas, Sargeant and Perez) do a pit stop after lap 1 to change the tyres. After the restart, it is Russell the leader of the Grand Prix.
Just three laps later, Alex Albon crashes and another Safety Car is out. Russell, who was under pressure from Hamilton and complained that Mercedes were:
"Asking me to manage and I’m being attacked".
Pits for hards, followed by Sainz. After only one lap the red flag goes out and the race is stopped. Hamilton is now in first position, with Verstappen behind. Then come Alonso, Stroll and Gasly, as Hulkenberg, Russell, Tsunoda, Norris and Piastri round out the top 10 positions.
Sainz is now P11, and shoutes:
Over the radio several times. The race resumes at 3:33 p.m. local time with a standing start. Hamilton gets away well to keep the lead from Verstappen into Turn 1, with Alonso holding third from Gasly, Russell, Stroll, Hulkenberg and Tsunoda. Sainz quickly recovers some places, passing first the McLaren drivers, then Tsunoda, Hulkenberg and Stroll for P6. In the front, Verstappen closes in on Hamilton and with DRS takes back the lead of the race. Meanwhile, Russell passes Gasly for P4 with an impressive move around the outside of Turn 11. But here comes another problem. On lap 17 flames suddenly come out from the back of George Russell’s car. The British driver is out of the race and a virtual Safety Car is triggered. On lap 25 Carlos Sainz overtakes Gasly and is in P4, Oscar Piastri overtakes Tsunoda and takes P11. In the meanwhile, Max Verstappen is 8 seconds ahead of Hamilton, who takes the fastest lap on lap 38 and fights against Alonso to keep his second place. On lap 43 Perez overtakes Norris and takes P8, but some laps later Magnussen stops on the track as he has hit the wall and lost his right rear tyre. Safety Car is out but there is too much debris on the track so for the second time the race is stopped. All the drivers go into the pit lane and swap to soft tyres, preparing for a 2-laps race. The race starts for the third time but ends soon, as Sainz hits Alonso’s car, the two Alpines hit the wall and are out, and out are also Sargeant and De Vries. The red flags are out again and the restart procedure is under investigation. At 5:33 p.m. local time, the Safety Car is out to complete the final lap of this crazy race. The order of the drivers is the one that was before the third standing start, but at the end of the race Sainz is given a 5-seconds penalty for the contact with Alonso. Max Verstappen wins for the first time the Australian GP, while Lewis Hamilton finishes second and Fernando Alonso is third, getting the third podium of this year. In P4 there is Lance Stroll, followed by Sergio Perez and Lando Norris.
An incredible P7 for Nico Hulkenberg and P8 for the home hero Oscar Piastri. Last drivers to take points are Zhou Guanyu and Yuki Tsunoda. Valtteri Bottas finishes P11 and Carlos Sainz is 12th due to the penalty. It’s the third win of the year for the Red Bull, who lead the Constructors Championship as well as the Drivers one. For the first time this year Ferrari gets no points. Max Verstappen is really happy, even because it’s his first win in Australia. On this chaotic race and on the three red flags, the Dutch driver comments:
"My start today wasn’t amazing and then on lap 1 I was very careful as there was a lot on the line, I had a lot to lose and a lot to win. But after that restart, we had good pace and a decent gap for the majority of the race. Perhaps we didn’t need all of those red flags today, it was frustrating, but everyone was safe and we won which is the most important thing. It’s my first win in Australia which feels really good, it’s also been a while for the Team so it means a lot to us all, especially as Checo also had a good recovery drive today. It’s been a chaotic day but it’s great to see that the fans had a great time despite the long wait".
His teammate, Sergio Perez, has finished the race in 5th position, getting the fastest lap, after a terrible qualifying session on Saturday:
"Generally, it was a good result today. Yesterday, I obviously lost a bit of confidence with the car, but we made a lot of changes overnight so that helped heading into the race. I had a really good restart the first time, I jumped 3 or 4 places but then it was a bit of a mess with the DRS train. I was frustrated later in the race because I couldn’t advance any further, but it was so difficult to get through the field with tyre deg low and everyone going on to the hard tyres quickly. Maybe if I’d been a bit more aggressive earlier on, I could’ve finished higher, but I’m happy we finished P5 and even managed to secure the fastest lap. Overall, this race gives us confidence heading to Baku in a few weeks and we look forward to the challenge that it brings".
Red Bull’s CEO and Team Principal Christian Horner thanks his team for the amazing work they have done and on this difficult race he says:
"It was a complicated race made up of three parts. The first start didn’t go our way but in the restart Max was able to hold position, battle Lewis for the lead and really control the race from there. While the marshals are always acting in the interest of safety, and driver safety is paramount, the restart at the end of the race was a little frustrating. Thankfully, it didn’t cost us anything, we had great pace with the car and Max was on great form. For Max to claim the victory was testament to his driving, but equally, credit must go to the Team both here and at home, all of whom worked together to deliver a great race. Checo also drove phenomenally well, bringing home the fastest lap and securing P5 in the end. It was a great recovery, from the back of the grid, in the pits, on a track where it is very difficult to overtake. All in all we are very happy with our performance and thrilled to bring home a win on our 350th race at a track we haven’t won at in 10 years".
It has been a good weekend for Lewis Hamilton, who finished in second place. The British driver talks not only about his race, but also about Mercedes’ performance and reliability, as George Russell retired from the race:
"To get a podium today is amazing; I definitely didn't expect to be second this weekend, so I am super grateful. Considering we're down on performance, to be fighting with the Aston Martins is amazing for us at this point in the season. We've just got to keep fighting. A big thank you to all the people back at the factory. We can close that gap; it's going to be tough but not impossible. It was very unlucky for George today. Our reliability has generally been pretty good so that was unfortunate. Finally, I want to say a huge thank you to everyone here in Melbourne and Australia. I've had the best week here and this town continues to put on a great show".
George Russell is disappointed by the way his race ended, but he says he’s satisfied with the job the team have done:
"We did everything right this weekend. We had a great Qualifying yesterday and today, the start was perfect. We managed the first stint well and I could have extended it quite a lot more. I've felt comfortable and strong in the car on all three days. I see no reason why we couldn't have fought for victory today, so it's disappointing. As soon as I came through the high-speed turn 10, I felt something go. Three corners later, I was stopped. When it's not your day, it's not your day. We've still got a lot of work to do to catch Red Bull, but we can take the positives from this weekend. Every time we've taken to the track, we couldn't have done any more. We maximised everything and I'm proud of the job that we have done".
Toto Wolff agrees with his drivers on the fact they have maximised everything and on the step forward they have made he says:
"We had strong pace today and it was really close with the Aston Martins and the Ferraris. That is good news for us, and I think we have made a step forward this weekend, both on one-lap and race pace. We maximised what we have, and we need to now comb through the data and continue to learn about the car. This will help bring the upgrade packages and that will be the key in challenging the leaders more often. It was unfortunate with George; he had a great stop from the lead and changed onto the hard tyre. It was absolutely the right call, and he would have been very much at the front. With the red flag his race was not so good anymore. He still could have made it to the front though, so he was unfortunate to have a Power Unit failure".
Mercedes’ Trackside Engineering Director Andrew Shovlin adds:
"It's great to get the first podium of the year with Lewis, but it was a day of mixed fortunes for the team. Lewis drove a difficult race well and had to find a fine balance between tyre management and defending. George had put together a strong weekend and was unfortunate that the Safety Car became a red flag. Things then got worse with the Power Unit issue. The pace of the car has been better than at the first two races; we've made some changes to the setup for the circuit but hopefully we can take some of that learning into the upcoming races".
It’s a wonderful day for Aston Martin. Fernando Alonso has taken his third podium this year and on the battles he has done he comments:
"It was a rollercoaster of emotions today with the red flags and incidents. It was probably my craziest race here in Melbourne but it's great to come away with another podium. There were many things going on all afternoon and we had an interesting battle with Lewis [Hamilton] for second. The pace of the car was good and we kept up the pressure on Lewis, but he did a good job and didn't really make any mistakes. On the contact with Carlos [Sainz] after the restart I'm sure he didn't mean to do it so I think the penalty for him was quite harsh in the end. We have to be pleased with this start to the season and three podiums in as many races".
Very good day for Lance Stroll as well. The Canadian finished P4 after some problems due to the restart of the race after the red flag:
"I think we should be pleased with the result we've come away with today: third and fourth is great for the team. It was a heavily disrupted race with red flags and a few big accidents, and neither Fernando nor I managed to stay clear of the drama. I had a little bit of contact on the first lap, but we were running well until the first red flag was thrown. As we've seen across the weekend, it takes a while for the tyres to get up to temperature here and so on the second restart I locked up at turn three and ended up in the gravel. Thankfully, the red flag had been waved before that point and I was able to retake my position for the final restart. This sport is a rollercoaster of emotions sometimes. Overall, we've come away from a chaotic race with a solid haul of points for the team and to be second in the Constructors' Championship after three races is very positive".
Team Principal Mike Krack is impressed by the race and the good job the team have done, especially with the tyres:
"What a race! There was just about everything you could imagine this afternoon so to come away with third and fourth places - and 27 points - is a brilliant reward for the team. It was not an easy race to navigate with the early red flag putting extra emphasis on managing the Hard tyres. Almost everyone was trying to run until the end and it was very close throughout the top ten. Fernando stayed close to Lewis, but with similar race pace we could not get close enough to challenge for second. Lance raced hard all afternoon, survived various battles, and did an excellent job looking after the tyres. Then there was the chaotic restart and I have to say it was a relief to see the starting order reinstated. I know some drivers and teams really lost out in the mayhem, but we got a bit lucky with both cars being largely undamaged allowing us to finish the race under the Safety Car. Big congratulations and thanks to the whole team at Silverstone and here at the track for another strong and faultless performance with both cars and our third podium of the year. Today we celebrate and enjoy this result, but tomorrow our attention turns to the next race in Baku".
McLaren has had a better weekend, after two without getting points. The British driver Lando Norris thinks it was a very good race with an incredible team work:
"A very good race. We had good pace throughout, stayed out of trouble with no mistakes. The team did a very good job. I think the pace today was stronger than our qualifying pace yesterday, so things came together nicely. Just a well-executed race. I'm happy with all of that, and it's the first points for us this season. It's nice to get on the board and it's a good end to the first few races before we have a bit of a break and then head into Baku and the next batch of races. I'm happy, so a big thanks to the whole team and everyone back at the factory for all the hard work as usual and we'll keep pushing".
Australian GP, Australian driver. Oscar Piastri finishes P8 and gets his first points in Formula1. He talks about his happiness and thanks the Melbourne fans:
"P8, I didn't expect that at the start of the day! I'll definitely take it. Obviously a crazy, crazy race but we stayed in there when it mattered. I'm so happy to get my first points in Melbourne and want to thank all of the home fans and papaya fans for all their support this week. Double points for the team is a great result and thank you to everyone who got us there".
Andrea Stella, McLaren’s Team Principal, thanks his colleagues for the job they have done and talks about their determination to improve the car’s performance:
"An eventful race today in Melbourne. We managed to stay out of trouble and were able to score our first points of the season. Even without the three red flags, it was good to see that we were in condition to race well and make good overtaking moves, so there's plenty of positives. At the same time, we know we have to stay realistic and have a lot of hard work ahead. Both trackside and back at the factory, we'll use the energy from this double points result to make us even more determined to deliver a quicker car. Thank you to everyone trackside, at the MTC and our colleagues at HPP for their hard work".
Big day for Nico Hulkenberg. The Haas German Driver finished P7 and this type of performances are what he and his team want to do in the next races:
"It was wild and a bit messy at times. We’ll have to look through everything that happened as there were a lot of things happening. I had a super start the third time around on softs and came through to P4, so it’s a shame there were a few incidents and then the race was red flagged. There are a lot of positive learnings again and I feel there are a lot of good things happening. I’m refreshed, in a very positive mindset and really enjoy working with the team and experimenting with the car. We have very good momentum and that’s what we want to take into the next races".
On the other hand, it hasn’t been a good weekend for his teammate Kevin Magnussen, who at least feels confident about the car's pace:
"I brushed the wall at the exit of Turn 2 and the rim broke, the tire came off and I had to stop. I didn’t even feel it so it definitely wasn’t something that felt big in the car, but it was enough to crack the rim and take the tire off. It’s unfortunate, we were in P12 I think at that time and it didn’t look like I was going to be able to score points. We got unlucky with the first red flag as we had just pitted from P11 and we seemed to be quicker than the next couple of cars so I was quite confident at that stage of the race. Then we pitted under the safety car and just afterwards, it turned to a red flag. Everyone put their tires on to go to the end of the race and we were last. It wasn’t my day but it seemed like the car had decent pace so I’m encouraged by that and we’ll push next time".
Zhou Guanyu has finished P9. On this first points of the season he comments:
"P9 at the chequered flag is a good result, especially considering where we started and the challenging weekend we had. There are positives to take – we had a really good start, which is something we worked really hard on, and we didn’t do any mistakes in a race where there were plenty of spills. We kept it clean, kept out of trouble, and I was able to keep the pressure on Magnussen in the later stages, which in the end allowed us to get points. The conditions out there were difficult, the track temperatures were very low but we didn’t do mistakes and it is what matters. These are my first points of the year, always a nice reward in a tricky place like Melbourne. Now we will need to keep improving and hopefully add more points to our name in Baku and beyond".
Valtteri Bottas feels happy for his teammate but not so much about his race and the risk they have taken at the start:
"I’m happy for Zhou and the team to come back with two points from what can only be described as a chaotic race. My afternoon had been quite lonely and without much action – until it all kicked off towards the end. We decided to take a risk at the start, and I pitted for hard tyres on lap one: the plan was to keep those tyres for the whole race, but then the red flag meant I couldn’t get much advantage from that. Later, when the safety car came out, we went for softs, but yet again the red flag messed up with my strategy. It’s been a hard weekend, we have been off the pace since the start, but we’ll make sure to look into that in the gap before the next race. I am actually glad to have some time before Baku, to get back to the drawing board and get back in a more competitive
Alessandro Alunni Bravi is satisfied with his drivers’ performances:
"Today’s race shows the importance of fighting until the very end of the race. We kept pushing, we executed the race well and we placed ourselves in the position to capitalise on the opportunities when they came our way: luck is only getting a chance, we had to seize it. We were actually quite unlucky with the timing of the first red flag: we had both cars on the right strategy to fight for the top ten, but the stoppage, and the free stop it gifted everyone else, effectively jeopardised our afternoon. Both Zhou and Valtteri had a solid race, without making mistakes, and on a track like this it meant they were there or thereabout at the chequered flag. Two points are a good return in what has been a challenging weekend: we need to make the most of this little break before Baku to understand how to recapture the pace we had in Bahrain, analyse the data from the car, especially with the new upgrades our team at home was able to produce for this race, and get back stronger for the next rounds".
Like Zhou Guanyu, also Yuki Tsunoda has scored his first points of the season:
"I have mixed feelings about today. We scored our first point of the season which is good, but to be honest, given our pace I didn’t expect to score any today. Considering how much we were struggling before the red flag, with warming up and getting the hard compound tyres in the optimum window, we should take this result and be happy with P10 as we maximised our performance. It's a shame we lost P5 because, going into Turn 1, I managed to overtake several cars. On the positive side we scored a point, so we will continue to work hard to score more in the coming races".
Nyck Devries talks about the incident he had with Logan Sargeant:
"Sadly, the racing incident with Logan meant the end of the race for us. We were struggling very much out there today but we did well at the beginning on the hard compound. Unfortunately, when the red flag came out, everyone who started on the mediums got a free pitstop to switch to the hard. I also damaged the front wing during the race, so I ended up with understeer and graining on the tyres. The midfield is still very tight, so we will continue to work and push, to be able to move up the ladder”.
AlphaTauri’s Technical Director, Jody Egginton, talks about all the difficulties of this race:
"It was a very difficult race for us. Both drivers pushed hard to extract all they could from the package, but we couldn't manage to get the cars moving forward as required. The pace of the car was not there on all compounds, and we struggled for straight-line speed, as such, we weren't able to attack nor hold position in some phases of the race. We leave Melbourne with a lot of data to go through and a lot of work ahead of us in order to be best prepared for Baku".
Let’s move on to Ferrari. A terrible weekend for the two drivers, who have both finished out of the points. Carlos Sainz talks about the race and the penalty he got:
"I had a good start and felt confident on the medium tyre but we were unlucky, pitting just before they brought out the first red flag and I dropped down to P11. From there I managed to pull off a good comeback with nice overtakes and solid pace, so for that I’m happy. It was a good race overall but the penalty ruined all the effort and I don’t agree with it. The frustration I feel right now will be difficult to digest, but I will try to think only of the positives from today and focus on the next race".
Charles Leclerc has done only three turns before ending his race:
"It was unfortunate to end the race this way today, but it was a racing incident and I don’t think that we could have done anything differently. Disappointing, but on to the next one where I hope things will run more smoothly again".
Frédéric Vasseur, says this performance doesn’t reflect the progress they have made:
"Today’s result, not scoring points, does not reflect the progress we have made as a team. We have taken a step forward in terms of pure performance and even more importantly, we had a decent and consistent race pace on the various tyre compounds, including the Hard. Only yesterday’s qualifying did not match our potential. Our initial reaction is one of frustration, with Charles clearly unlucky to be involved in a racing incident at the start. It was a good call to bring Carlos in under the first Safety Car, but following the red flag, he had to start again from P11, from which he recovered very well. The penalty had a devastating effect on the final result for him but despite this, we go back to Maranello knowing that we are moving in the right direction and we now have three weeks to keep working on optimising and updating the SF-23 for the coming races".
Another team with both drivers finishing without points is Alpine. Esteban Ocon says:
"It's a real shame for both cars not to finish today's race, especially after showing great pace all weekend. We had the performance to be fighting the Ferraris and the Aston Martins, so to walk away with nothing is a tough one for all of us. The restart at the end was very chaotic and everything went so fast. The clash with Pierre was unfortunate and I'm glad we're both OK. We've spoken about it, and we're all good and there's no hard feelings. We're both already looking forward to the next one and I know the whole team will want to put this weekend behind us".
Pierre Gasly feels disappointed by his race:
"I'm very disappointed in the outcome of today's race. We were in fifth place for most of it, chasing Carlos [Sainz] for fourth place and we showed really good race pace. For us to be so close to scoring ten points and leaving without any is a bitter one for us to take. Right now, we must focus on the positives and that is how we managed our race and how we were able to take the fight to our rivals ahead. I'm glad both Esteban and I are OK after the incident. As a team, we'll move on and keep focused for the next race".
Otmar Szafnauer, Alpine’s Team Principal, says:
"While it's disappointing to leave here with zero points, we can be satisfied and positive with the performance of our car today. We showed we can race with our close rivals ahead and, indeed, close cars down and be clinical when it counts. Pierre drove very well today, running much of the race in fifth place and in the fight for a podium alongside the Mercedes, Aston Martin and Ferrari. We must take the positives of this and use it as motivation going forwards. Esteban was certainly unfortunate with the sequence of events early in the race, but he did a good job to climb his way back into the points with some well-judged overtaking moves. It was unfortunate to have both our cars come together at the third standing start and I'm glad both drivers are OK given the nature of the incident. We'll keep moving forwards and these hard moments are what brings the team closer together. We're already looking forward to Baku where an upgrade is planned".
There has been an incident also for Alex Albon and that costed a lot as it provoked the first red flag of the race. Alex Albon comments:
"We're still looking at the data but there was nothing unusual in the corner itself. When I lost the car, I was going through slower than the previous lap; I went wide on the corner before and spiked the tyre temperatures, losing grip and going into the next corner a bit hot, so I think that's what happened but we need to look at it. With all the accidents, it was a good chance to score points this weekend, so I'm very sorry to the team. I'm disappointed, as we had a great car today and were really strong".
Logan Sargeant adds:
"The race in general just didn't quite fall our way, with it being a really tricky day. We pitted to the medium tyre following the first safety car, and it just wasn't the tyre to be on today and I really struggled with it. Once we got to the hard tyre, the pace wasn't too bad, so to end it like that is unfortunate. We tried to take some chances today and it just didn't pay off. I've learnt a lot from today, so hopefully can use these learnings going forward".
Williams’s Head of Vehicle Performance, Dave Robson, talks about the opportunity they have missed:
"It was a remarkable race but ultimately it was a missed opportunity for us. Alex built on his excellent qualifying display to make more positions at the start and was looking good for a comfortable top ten finish. Unfortunately, touching the kerb at high speed in Turn 5 led to a small snap and a spike in tyre temperature, which led him to lose the car at the next corner. We tried a different initial strategy with Logan, but the early red flag rendered that ineffective. Although he had some decent pace, he was unable to benefit from the unusual way that race developed ahead. We leave Melbourne frustrated that we couldn't take advantage of our good pace and turn it into points. However, the whole team can be heartened that the car worked very well this weekend and we will be able to put ourselves into similar positions in future races, starting in Baku in a few weeks' time".
There have been different strategies in this race, even due to incidents and red flags. Pirelli Motorsport Director Mario Isola comments:
"This was a truly eventful Australian Grand Prix, with three red flag periods as well as a safety car and a virtual safety car. All these occurrences effectively defined how the strategies shook out, while in terms of tyre behaviour, the compounds performed as we expected them to, with the hard C2 tyre playing a leading role. When the first safety car came out after Albon went off on lap seven, some drivers who had started on the mediums switched to the hard - followed by others once the red flag came out to allow the track to be cleaned. Despite not having much information over long runs - very few drivers strung together stints of longer than 10 laps or so in free practice - the C2 showed itself to be a very consistent tyre in terms of degradation and not far from the pace of other nominated compounds, fulfilling all the demands placed on it. The fact that we saw all three compounds on the starting grid highlights how bringing the C4 tyre to Melbourne this year was the correct choice, as it was judged to be a valid race tyre as well as becoming the protagonist of the final run to the flag, thanks to two red flag periods that were almost consecutive. Both this compound and the medium showed good performance today, albeit over relatively short stints, with higher temperatures and a more rubbered-in surface".
F1 will now head into an almost month-long break before reconvening at the Baku City Circuit from April 28-30 for the 2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, which will see the Sprint format make its first appearance of the season.