Two weeks after the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, in which we saw Max Verstappen triumph after a not very successful start to the World Championship, the FIA announces a new race on the calendar. The Grand Prix represents the third round of the season two weeks after the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, the second race of the championship. The Australian Grand Prix returns to the Formula 1 World Championship calendar for the first time since the 2019 season, when it characterized the opening of the world championship. The 2020 and 2021 editions, also scheduled as the opening races of the championship, were cancelled due to issues dictated by the Covid-19 pandemic: in the first case, the Federation cancelled the race a few hours before the first Friday free practice session, 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 later cancelled after decisions made by the government regarding the health emergency.
Present in the Formula 1 World Championship calendar since the 1985 season, the return of the Australian Grand Prix, unlike previous seasons in which it represented the opening of the world championship, an occurrence that took place until 2019 before the 2020 and 2021 editions were cancelled due to the pandemic, is placed by the Federation in April, at the third round of the championship. It is the second time, after the 2006 edition, that the Grand Prix is held in this month. Also in 2006, the race characterized the third round of the championship. The contract for the race in the world calendar is valid until the 2025 season. Sponsor of the Grand Prix for this edition is, for the first time, the Dutch beer company Heineken.
China's Zhou Guanyu of Alfa Romeo, Japan's Yuki Tsunoda of AlphaTauri and Germany's Mick Schumacher of Haas are competing at Melbourne's Albert Park circuit for the first time in their careers. Sixty percent of the drivers entered in the championship made their Formula 1 debuts at this track, except for Zhou, Tsunoda and Schumacher, who debuted at the Manama circuit, AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly of France at the Sepang circuit, Williams' Nicholas Latifi of Canada at the Red Bull Ring, Alpine's Esteban Ocon of France at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, McLaren's Daniel Ricciardo of Australia at the Silverstone circuit and Aston Martin's Sebastian Vettel of Germany at the Indianapolis circuit. The Las Vegas Grand Prix, absent from the calendar since 1982, will return to the Las Vegas Strip in November 2023, making it the third United States Grand Prix after Miami and Austin.
The race will take place at night, on a Saturday in November, on the famous Las Vegas Strip with the track sweeping past some of the world’s most legendary landmarks, hotels and casinos. The incredible neon lights of Las Vegas will be the backdrop for Formula 1’s third race in the US and highlights the huge enthusiasm and excitement in the US for Formula 1 as the sport continues to grow its global fan base. Formula 1 and Liberty Media will work together to promote the race in partnership with Live Nation Entertainment and the LVCVA, as well as Founding Partners Caesars Entertainment, MGM Resorts International, and Wynn Las Vegas and Presenting Partners MSG Sphere, Resorts World Las Vegas and The Venetian Resort.
The track design is 3.8 miles (6.12km) long from start to finish with top speeds estimated to be over 212 mph (342 km/h). There will be 50 race laps with three main straights and 14 corners, including a highspeed cornering sequence and a single chicane section. On Wednesday 30th March, Liberty Media President and CEO, Greg Maffei and Formula 1 President and CEO, Stefano Domenicali will be in Las Vegas for the official announcement of this deal and will be joined by local stakeholders including Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak, CEO and President of the LVCVA, Steve Hill and President and CEO of Live Nation Entertainment, Michael Rapino. Greg Maffei, Liberty Media President and CEO, said:
"Iconic Las Vegas and Formula 1, the pinnacle of motorsport, is the perfect marriage of speed and glamour. Our confidence in this unique opportunity is evident in our decision to assume the promoter role for the Las Vegas Grand Prix in partnership with Live Nation. We could not be more excited to work with our local partners to create a marquee event. The potential of Formula 1 has been well demonstrated over the last several seasons and the Las Vegas GP will only take it to the next level".
Stefano Domenicali, President and CEO of Formula 1, said:
"This is an incredible moment for Formula 1 that demonstrates the huge appeal and growth of our sport with a third race in the US. Las Vegas is a destination known around the world for its excitement, hospitality, thrills, and of course, the famous Strip. There is no better place for Formula 1 to race than in the global entertainment capital of the world and we cannot wait to be here next year. I want to thank everyone who helped deliver this event, especially Governor Sisolak, the Clark County Commission, Steve Hill at the LVCVA, and our local partners".
Steve Hill President and CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA), said:
"We eagerly anticipate the moment when the history, energy and momentum of Formula 1 will culminate in an unforgettable Saturday night on the Las Vegas Strip. Spectators will experience the unrivaled thrill of watching these world-class drivers race through what is sure to become one of the most iconic racetracks in the world. Formula 1 and Liberty Media have been incredible partners, and we look forward to November 2023 when we once again showcase that Las Vegas is ‘The Greatest Arena on Earth".
April 5, 2022, Formula 1 is pleased to announce that Salesforce, the global leader in customer relationship management (CRM), will join as a Global Partner to power and grow fan engagement for the most prestigious motor racing competition. In addition, Formula 1 will work with Salesforce to gain actionable insights from Formula 1's carbon footprint, helping to accelerate our mission to reach net zero emissions by 2030. Both efforts will further strengthen F1 fans’ connection to the sport and sustainability efforts, creating long lasting and loyal relationships worldwide. Throughout the partnership, F1 and Salesforce will work together to expand our already growing global fan base and deepen the engagement of our existing fans. Salesforce Customer 360 will provide greater insight into and understanding of the F1 global fanbase and help inform behaviours, communication, and actions with our fans as they engage with the sport, while bringing them closer to the action than ever before.
F1 will work with Salesforce, a proven leader in sustainability, as it looks to deliver against its Sustainability Strategy. Salesforce has net zero emissions today across its full value chain and achieved 100% renewable energy for its global operations. With Net Zero Cloud, Salesforce enables organisations to easily track, analyse, and report on carbon emissions and waste management data across their business ecosystem. In addition to a richer understanding of fan data, the multi-year deal is also focused on bringing unique experiences to fans. This will include new broadcast graphics, designed to bring fans closer to Formula 1 and Grand Prix activations; starting with Driver of the Day in Melbourne. Salesforce will utilize F1’s marketing and B2B platforms through trackside signage, digital content, and hospitality at Grand Prix races. By leveraging the technology and expertise from Salesforce to create innovative digital experiences and accelerate sustainability efforts, F1 will build and develop the most engaged fanbase in sports. Brandon Snow, Managing Director, Commercial, Formula 1, said:
"We are delighted to welcome Salesforce to F1 as a Global Partner, further strengthening our roster of toptier industry leaders. Using their industry-leading technology products, we will work together to create a new era of fan experience and engagement for our ever-growing fanbase. The fans are at the heart of everything we do and both we and Salesforce will be working together to continue to improve the experience for the fans and insight we have to tailor our approach even better".
Colin Fleming, Executive Vice President, Global Brand Marketing for Salesforce, said:
"Salesforce is excited to join the fast-paced world of Formula 1, partnering with them to connect with their global fanbase in a whole new way. Working with F1 to transform their approach to fan engagement and sustainability will give existing fans even more to love, and open doors for new audiences as the sport continues its rapid growth. It’s an exciting time for F1, and we’re thrilled to be a part of it".
On the eve of the Australian Grand Prix, there are many innovations that animate the life of the paddock, Ferrari signs a new contract with Mission Winnow, which is one of the minor partnerships of the team, without therefore taking on the role of title sponsor of the team. as in the first contract signed during the 2018 season. McLaren, on the other hand, is awarded three stars by the FIA. The Woking-based team receives for the ninth consecutive year the highest recognition for practices aimed at environmental sustainability. For this Grand Prix, like the previous one, the FIA appoints the German Niels Wittich as race director, together with the former Formula 1 driver Enrique Bernoldi, appointed assistant commissioner. The steward selected for the competition are Gerd Ennser, Dennis Dean and Matthew SeIley.
Gerd Ennser has successfully combined his formal education in law with his passion for motor racing. Since 2006 he has been a permanent steward at every round of Germany's DIM championship. Since 2010 he has also been a Formula 1 steward. Dr Ennser, who has worked as a judge, a prosecutor and in the legal department of an automotive-industry company, has also acted as a member of the steering committee of German motor sport body, the DMSB, since spring 2010, where he is responsible for automobile sport. In addition, Dr Ennser is a board member of the South Bavaria Section of ADAC, Germany's biggest auto club. Dennis Dean has been involved in motor sport since becoming a scrutineer with the Sports Car Cub of America (SCCA) in the late 1970s. He has served at national level as a scrutineer, steward, and race director, including 10 years as either assistant chief steward or chief steward (race director) of the SCCA's National Championship Runoffs. He has scrutineered at 10 US Formula 1 races, in Las Vegas, Indianapolis and Austin. He was also vice president of Cub Racing and Rally/Solo for SCCA. He currently serves as a member of the FIA's International Sporting Code Review Commission.
Brazilian driver Enrique Bernoldi had a stellar junior career, winning the Formula Renault Europe title in 1996, before twice finishing on the podium in Macau, and runner-up in the 1998 British F3 Championship. He combined F3000 with a stint as a Sauber test driver in 1999 and 2000, before making his F1 debut with Arrows in 2001. He made 29 appearances for Arrows over the next season and a half, with a best result of eighth. He followed this with spells as a test driver for BAR and Honda, then moved on to US open-wheel racing, Brazilian stock cars and sportscars. A lawyer by profession, Matthew SeIley's motorsport career encompasses both competition - he was a regular competitor in the South Australia Rally Championship from 2009 to 2011 and in 2010 finished WRC's Rally Australia in 15th place overall - and officiating. He has filled various roles in the South Australia Rally Championship since 2009, as well as acting as a steward at the International Rally of Queensland in 2015. He began officiating in circuit racing at selected rounds of the 2016 Australian Supercars Championship and the following year took on the role of Co-chair of the Panel of Stewards for the series. He has served as a member of the Australian Rally Commission since 2014.
April 8, 2022, Red Bull Racing's chief engineer, Guillaume Rocquelin, leaves the Austrian team at the end of this Grand Prix. The Frenchman had started his adventure with the team in 2008. He was first track engineer to former British driver David Coulthard and then, from 2009 to 2014, to Sebastian Vettel. With the German, he brought home four world drivers' titles. Since 2015 he occupied the current role. Inheriting part of his duties will be Gianpiero Lambiase. The Italian will receive a promotion but will still retain the function of Max Verstappen's track engineer. Their collaboration has lasted since Verstappen's arrival at Red Bull Racing in the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix. He previously occupied the same role with Russian Daniil Kvjat.
The Melbourne circuit is one of the most important, especially on an emotional level, for almost all the drivers on the track. In fact, 60% of the drivers entered in the championship made their Formula 1 debut on this track, except for Zhou, Tsunoda and Schumacher, who made their debut on the Manama circuit, the French Pierre Gasly of AlphaTauri at the Sepang circuit, the Canadian Nicholas Williams' Latifi at the Red Bull Ring, the French Esteban Ocon of Alpine at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, the Australian Daniel Ricciardo of McLaren at the Silverstone circuit and the German Sebastian Vettel of Aston Martin at the Indianapolis circuit. An important race therefore for Zhou, Tsunoda and Schumacher who will compete in their first Australian Grand Prix. On the weekend of 8-10 April, Formula 1 then returns to Australia, on the Albert Park circuit, after three years of absence due to the pandemic. For the Melbourne race, Pirelli, global partner, opted for the compound jump by proposing the compounds: C2, C3 and C5. Mario Isola, Pirelli Motorsport Director, in this regard supports Mario Isola, Pirelli Motorsport Director declares:
"Compared to previous occasions, and with the drivers not having raced there for two seasons, this year there are a few unknowns to the Australian Grand Prix: first of all the circuit layout has been heavily revised to improve overtaking and, as a result, there's also new asphalt that should be quite smooth. This means the track is likely to offer very low levels of grip at the start, with a high degree of evolution expected over the weekend and an extremely slippery surface if it rains. We will also head to Melbourne a couple of weeks later compared to previous seasons, when autumn has already started in the southern hemisphere, so conditions could be more variable. Last but not least, there is a completely new generation of cars and tires that the drivers are still trying to learn about. All these factors mean that there will be a lot of work to do for teams and drive rs in the free practice sessions. We decided to opt for the step in the compound nominations because we noticed that there was a relatively small performance gap between the C3 and C4 compounds during development testing, and we believe that Albert Park - with its new asphalt and layout - is a good place to try out this option".
This year there’s an unusual tyre nomination for Melbourne’s famous street track, with a bigger gap than normal between the medium and softest compounds. The P Zero White hard is the C2 compound and the P Zero Yellow medium is the C3 compound, but rather than the C4, it’s the softest C5 compound as the P Zero Red soft. This will be the race debut for the softest tyre in the 2022 Pirelli range, marking a change from the aborted 2020 race and the 2019 Australian Grand Prix, when the C2, C3, and C4 compounds were selected. The track has undergone significant modifications for the first time since 1996, when it made its championship debut, now featuring a new layout and asphalt. Seven corners have been modified with two removed entirely, bringing the total number of turns down to just 14 and shortening the track by 28 metres.
The most significant modification is the removal of the Turn 9-10 chicane, which is replaced by a long, sweeping bend. Turns 1 and 3 have been widened on the inside, as has Turn 6, which is now significantly faster. Later in the lap, what was Turn 13 (now Turn 11) has been realigned to tighten the angle. The penultimate corner (now Turn 13) is another to have been widened, and also one of several to have its camber adjusted to allow for different lines to be taken. As a temporary facility, Albert Park used to be quite bumpy but the new asphalt may have reduced this. This new surface should offer low grip (scoring two out of five) and reasonably contained levels of asphalt abrasion, which is set to result in moderate wear. The whole track is likely to be very ‘green’ and slippery at the start of the weekend, with a high degree of evolution expected (marked four out of five in Pirelli’s classification). Traction is important to get a good drive out of the short straights and corners, while braking and lateral forces are average. The severity of the loads is also average, with overall tyre stress again scoring three out of five.
Starting from this edition of the Grand Prix, the race is run on a different configuration of the track, in order to facilitate overtaking. The previous configuration, to be run clockwise for 58 laps, equal to 307.574 km, and which presented a length of 5.303 km, winding through 16 corners, 10 right and 6 left, used since 1996, when the top category moved from the circuit of Adelaide to that of Albert Park in Melbourne, until 2020, before the cancellation of the Grand Prix due to the problems dictated by the Covid-19 pandemic, has been modified in several places. The changes were supposed to come into effect starting from the 2021 edition of the race, but due to its subsequent cancellation also due to the health emergency, the new changes are usable starting from this edition of the race. The changes concern turn 1, which has been widened by 2.5 meters to the right of the driver, turn 3, widened by 4 meters, turn 6, widened by more than 7.5 meters to the right of the driver, allowing now to cross it with greater speed, turn 11, widened by three meters on the inside, and turn 13, widened on the inside.
The most significant change was the removal of the chicane that included the old turns 9 and 10, in order to make the section of the circuit faster through a new straight of 1.3 km, now the longest of the track, and probably the subject of a fourth zone for the use of DRS, after the three already in use in the old configuration. From the simulations carried out, the lap time is reduced by five seconds, with speeds of over 330 km/h in the new fast section. The entire track was resurfaced for the first time in 25 years, and the pit lane widened by two meters, raising the speed limit in the pit lane from 60 to 80 km/h. All the protection barriers installed in the areas of the track subject to changes have been realigned and some have been lengthened to follow the new layout. The track, which must always be driven clockwise, now has a length of 5.278 km and winds through 14 curves, 9 right and 5 left. The first intermediate is now located 120 meters before turn 6, while the second intermediate is 140 meters before turn 9. The speed trap, or the point where the maximum speed is measured, 120 meters before turn 1. The new race distance is still planned to be 58 laps, but equal to 306.124 km.
The Federation establishes four zones for the use of DRS, thanks to the changes in the layout, one more than in the last edition of the race, the 2019 edition. The first two zones are established, as in the previous layout, 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, i.e. the new section of the circuit, and between Turn 10 and Turn 11, as in the previous layout, with again a single detection point, set after Turn 6. The Albert Park circuit becomes the first track in Formula 1 to have four zones for the use of the mobile device since its introduction in the top category during the 2011 season. The Federation announced that at the end of the previous Saudi Arabian Grand Prix race, Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes was drawn among the top ten cars for technical inspections. The inspections concerned the components of the entire front suspension. All the components inspected were found to comply with the technical regulations.
Prior to the Grand Prix, the Federation reminds drivers that it is forbidden to wear jewelry during sessions, ensuring that safety standards are met, preventing a driver from exposing themselves to further risk of injury in the event of a heavy accident. Should a driver be found to be in violation of this rule, they may face a penalty. The FIA also decided to shorten the crash barrier by 20 meters at turn 5 after two accidents occurred in the Supercars championship, one of the race's side categories. The detection point for the DRS zone established between Turn 10 and Turn 11 is moved before Turn 9. In addition, the FIA distributes a note underlining the conduct to be adopted under safety car conditions, when the safety car turns off its lights to signal the imminent restart.
Drivers cannot drive alongside the car in front and they can only stay behind it or on another trajectory, making sure that the front axle does not invade the rear one of the car in front. The note is not limited only to those who follow, but also to those who, being leaders, have the task of managing the restart. Any sudden braking or acceleration from the moment the safety car turns off the lights is judged as a dangerous maneuver for the other drivers. However, before the start of the third free practice session on Saturday, the Federation, for safety reasons, removes the new DRS zone established in the new fast section between turns 8 and 9. On Wednesday, Haas uses the first of eight curfews granted during the season to perform operations on its cars. The U.S. team receives no penalties. The penultimate corner (now Turn 13) is another to have been widened, and also one of several to have its camber adjusted to allow for different lines to be taken.
As a temporary facility, Albert Park used to be quite bumpy but the new asphalt may have reduced this. This new surface should offer low grip (scoring two out of five) and reasonably contained levels of asphalt abrasion, which is set to result in moderate wear. The whole track is likely to be very 'green' and slippery at the start of the weekend, with a high degree of evolution expected (marked four out of five in Pirelli's classification). Traction is important to get a good drive out of the short straights and corners, while braking and lateral forces are average. The severity of the loads is also average, with overall tire stress again scoring three out of five. The drivers were not indifferent to the new characteristics of the track and in the course of the pre-race interviews many spent words of satisfaction in this regard. Ahead of the Australian Grand Prix, which will boost the hopes of the Mercedes team, team principal Toto Wolff talks about his expectations for this appointment:
"We are in a learning race and the first two weekends have shown we still have plenty to learn. At the moment, our track performance is not meeting our own expectations, but everyone at Brackley and Brixworth is focused on understanding the problems and finding the right solutions. There won't be a magic fix for the next race weekend, but we're pushing to steadily bring gains over the up-coming races, to hopefully move us closer to the front of the pack. Until then, we need to maximise each opportunity and make the most of the package we have. So, there are various challenges ahead of us, but that's something we relish and is when a team really shows its true spirit. Lewis and George are making an important contribution to the overall effort, providing feedback, spending time in the simulator and working together to help push us forward. Now we head back to Melbourne for the first time since 2020 and will be racing in Australia for the first time in three years - that's too long for a city and country that are so passionate about F1. We're looking forward to seeing the fans and the new track layout which promises more overtaking opportunities and faster lap times".
Also the Alpine team is called to a redemption, after a good start as performance, but less good as reliability. Esteban Ocon says:
"For sure it has been a very positive start for me. The more I drive the new car, the more I understand it and I think as a team we are moving in the right direction. We are showing we are competitive early on and that’s a good sign for everyone. Last time we were in Australia we left under very bizarre circumstances and the world has changed in many ways since. I’ve personally always enjoyed racing there and the atmosphere is always great. I think that despite the distance, everyone genuinely enjoys going back. Melbourne is such a cool city and I am glad we can finally return and hopefully we can put on a good show for the passionate Aussie fans".
And Fernando Alonso adds:
"I like the track and whilst it’s quite difficult to overtake the changes have been made to encourage this, so we’ll see how it all plays out. We deserve to be much higher in the standings after two races. Our car has been good and the performance has also been good over the weekends. Last weekend was a disappointment as we looked comfortable and set for sixth position until we had our retirement. It was frustrating but we can be pleased with our overall pace so far. Sundays is where the points are scored so we just need to make sure we score points then. The whole team is working hard to make sure we keep on top of our development. We had some fair and exciting racing in Saudi and also in Bahrain".
Alpine's third driver Oscar Piastri states:
"It’s going to be a big old week, that’s for sure! Obviously, this is the first time back for the Australian Grand Prix in the last couple of years. It’s going to be a massive crowd and a big event, which I’m looking forward to. Being able to see my family on top of everything else going on; it’s very special for me. I don’t know how much quicker the lap times will be but I’ve driven the circuit on the simulator and it’s significantly quicker. The back section where they’ve removed the chicane, it’s now basically a massive straight leading into the right hander. There could be some interesting overtaking moves into there and cars side by side at very high speeds".
The Australian Grand Prix will also be important for AlphaTauri in order to return to competing for positions in the middle of the standings. Pierre Gasly says:
"It was a shame we could not score points with both cars in Saudi, and it was not at all a straightforward weekend for the team. But from my side we should look at the positive aspects: a second Q3 in a row and eighth on the grid, which is proof we have a car with which we can fight for points. We have to make sure we can capitalise on any opportunity we get as the battle between the teams is very intense already this year with two more teams than last year now seeming able to fight in the midfield. After two races we can already say that the new Regulations have succeeded in making overtaking easier than before. It’s a very good thing that you can generally follow another car more closely and we saw the result of that with nice battles through the field, I think that’s a trend that will continue throughout the season. As for the tyres, the bigger ones do not seem to have changed much compared to the old ones, from what we can see so far. It’s a bit complicated to understand, because in Bahrain there were a lot more pit stops than we expected, while in Saudi it was just a one stopper. So, I think it’s a bit too early to get a clear picture of tyre behaviour. The Albert Park track layout in Melbourne has been changed significantly and very few corners are the same as before, so it will be slightly new for everyone. It seems much faster than before because of the many corners that have been widened and opened up so there are more straight sections. We will need a car that works efficiently and is quick down the straights but still keeps enough downforce for the corners. Personally, I’m really happy to be racing here again. The last time I was there was 2020, when it was the first race to be cancelled because of Covid, so we haven’t raced in Melbourne since 2019. It’s a track I like a lot and the same goes for the country. The only downside is having to spend 48 hours in a plane in the space of a week! It’s incredible to be going back there. I’m looking forward to it".
And Yuki Tsunoda adds:
"The Saudi Arabian weekend was a disappointing one for me, as I was unable to qualify or race. But my performance in free practice alongside the way Pierre performed in Qualifying and the race is a positive sign. Our pace was definitely better than in the first round in Bahrain and we were competitive right from the start of FP1. I built up my confidence and it was just a shame what happened after that. Overall, I feel positive and I’m looking forward to Australia. After two race weekends, we are beginning to see the effect of the new Technical Regulations. It is definitely easier to follow someone in front of you with these new cars. But with the tyres, I felt it was easier to overheat them than before, which means you still want to overtake as soon as possible, before the tyres get too much heat in them. As we develop our car, we will be looking for more downforce without sacrificing top end speed. The most important thing at this point is that our understanding of the car and what we are learning about it is getting better and better, even if we have a long way to go. The team has a clear picture of where we need to improve. Bahrain and Saudi were two very different tracks and hopefully we can perform even better in Australia, to fight at the front of the midfield. The Melbourne circuit will be completely new for me, and I’ve driven it just once on the simulator. The layout has changed from previous years and will make for a faster track. I will take my usual approach with a new circuit and build up my speed over the free practice sessions. I’ve been to Australia once, when I was 12 years old: it was a school trip to the Gold Coast, nowhere near Melbourne. I really liked the country and the atmosphere, and I still remember the first time I ate Aussie beef. I thought the taste was really good so I’m looking forward to doing that again. Food is always my first priority in a new country".
Lance Stroll hopes to be able to redeem himself in Australia, after a somewhat difficult start:
"It’s fantastic to be able to return to Australia. Melbourne is such a great sporting city, and the Albert Park track is always fun to drive. I’m looking forward to sampling the revised layout and the resurfaced track, which will hopefully improve overtaking - especially into Turn 13, which has been tightened. In fact, it will be very interesting to see how these new ground-effect cars perform here, as they should also hopefully make racing closer and more exciting".
While as for Sebastian Vettel, the Australian Grand Prix represents the first of the current season:
"After testing positive and missing the first two races, it feels a bit like arriving late to school, so I’m really keen to get going again! Starting my season in Australia is something I’ve done before, of course, and it’s also great that Formula One is returning after a difficult couple of years. For me, after nearly a month out of the car, it will be important to learn throughout the practice sessions, and I hope we can take some steps forward in what is usually an exciting and unpredictable race".
Started well Zhou Guanyu, but the championship is long and the Chinese driver is called to repeat itself:
"Melbourne is one of those special races - I remember watching the opening Grand Prix of the season over the years and the special feeling that gave me. I am really excited about being here and I can’t wait to get to know the track, as this is somewhere completely new to me. The first practice session will be very important to get full confidence around the new layout but I am not too concerned about it - my main focus is to extract the most out of the car, as in every other weekend. We come here on the back of two strong races but we have seen how executing the weekend well is key to bringing home the points: I am confident we will have another performance at the level we expect and fight towards the front. I am feeling really at ease within the team, working with the crew and Valtteri, and this confidence translates into bigger expectations. To bring home a good result in Melbourne, a city with such a big Chinese community, would be sweet".
Valtteri Bottas comes to Melbourne with the hope of being able to get back into the fight of the top ten:
"I love coming to Australia: I have been spending quite a bit of time here lately, most recently over the winter break, as my partner is from South Australia, and it’s one of my favourite places, with so many things to see and do. For this and many other reasons, I am happy we get to race in Melbourne again: Albert Park is a very interesting circuit and the work done ahead of this year’s race, as well as the new-gen cars, should make the racing a lot more exciting. We are keen to show our pace here as we know we can fight most cars on the grid: we are confident we can bring home points but it’s important we do our job properly as we have seen how competitive the whole grid is".
The Alfa Romeo' team principal, Frédéric Vasseur, obviously hope for a good result:
"It’s great to be back in Melbourne after all this time: it’s a place that always gives the warmest welcome to our sport and our team, and it’s proof of the global appeal of Formula One. We approach the Australian Grand Prix with confidence and a little bit of excitement: the changes made to this track are some of the most radical to have happened to Albert Park and we’re eager to discover how they will affect the racing. Of course, we travel to Australia with the aim to get back to scoring ways: we know we can compete to be the towards the front but we also know how every race is an opportunity for all the teams to make another step forward. The development race will have a huge impact this year and we want to find out if the work we have done since Jeddah has paid dividends when it comes to the track".
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance Williams Racing, says:
"Racing again in Melbourne is a fantastic indication of a progressive return to pre-pandemic normality. Not being at Albert Park for two years has been a real shame and we are so pleased to be back and sampling the new circuit layout. Traditionally, the street circuit nature of Melbourne has made for a fantastic technical and physical challenge for the drivers, but also led to difficulty in overtaking. The revisions to the layout and DRS zones should improve this, potentially making it one of the very best circuits on the Formula One calendar. With the removal of the old Turn 9/Turn 10, there is one fewer chicane in the layout, but nonetheless, changes of direction at low and high speed still dominate the circuit. Braking stability, kerb riding and car agility therefore remain critical to the car setup. The much faster section between Turn 8 and Turn 11 will alter the trade of downforce and drag, but with driver confidence also at a premium, taking off too much downforce could be detrimental, and we can expect to see all teams experimenting on Friday. Adding to the complexity of the weekend is a courageous compound choice from Pirelli, with the C2 and C3 compounds being the Prime and Option as they were in Jeddah, but C5 being the Qualifying compound here in Melbourne. This may place significantly different demands on the car setup for qualifying and the race, but with no opportunity to change the setup on Saturday night, this compromise could be crucial. Following our difficult weekend in Jeddah, we are looking forward to a clean event here as we look to extract a little more potential from the FW44. The challenges here are different to Bahrain and Saudi Arabia and so we will be open-minded and pragmatic with our approach".
And Alex Albon adds:
"Melbourne is a very cool city so I'm really excited to go back after a long time away. The fans know how to have a good time in Australia which means the atmosphere at Albert Park is always great; I’m sure it’ll be even better after a couple of years without us racing there. There are a lot of changes to the circuit this year, so I'm excited to see how we get on and how the FW44 handles the track. I know the whole team will be hoping to bounce back after a tricky event in Jeddah, so we'll be pushing hard to maximise performance and do the best we can".
Nicholas Latifi concludes:
"I'm really excited to get my first taste of racing at Albert Park. I've not yet driven there with Formula One, although I did get to explore the venue in 2020 and I thought Melbourne was an incredible place. The circuit itself looks really fun, so to experience the whole event will be great. The new track changes look promising; I really hope it'll improve the racing so we’re able to put on an exciting Grand Prix for the fans after they’ve waited for so long".
Lando Norris states:
"I'm looking forward to getting out on track in the new car in Melbourne, especially with the changes they've made since we last raced there 3 years ago. I'm excited to see what progress we can make. It's a special race for me, as I made my debut there in 2019 and with the pandemic, we haven't raced there since, so I've been working hard in the sim to get back up to speed with the track, especially with the new changes. The race in Jeddah showed the small steps we've made but we've still got a long way to go. The points were a nice reward for the team's hard work. As a team, at track and back at the factory, we're working hard to develop the car and unlock more performance, but we know we've got a long way to go".
Enthusiasm also shared by his teammate Daniel Ricciardo:
"It's good to be home! I am beyond excited to get back out on track in Melbourne. Nothing beats a home crowd, and the Australian fans are some of the best in the world. I've been back in Perth since the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, and I feel rested, prepared and excited to get stuck into one of my favorite weekends of the year. It will also be great to try out the new layout for myself, particularly the sweeping right hander as it seems fast. The end to my race in Jeddah was frustrating but it was encouraging to see how the team's hard work is starting to pay off bit by bit. There were a lot of positives to take out of the weekend and I'm a lot more comfortable in the car. We still have a long way to go, and we're focused on the task at hand. Let's get back out there, fight as hard as we can and hopefully put on a bit of a show".
At McLaren the only ones to be enthusiastic about the layout of this renewed circuit are not only the drivers, the McLaren' team principal Andreas Seidl declares:
"The team and I are excited to be back in Australia after a few years, especially with the significance of it being Daniel's first home race with McLaren. There have been some significant changes to the track since we last raced here back in 2019, with the widening of the entry to some corners and changing the old chicane to a fast-flowing right hander. It will be great to see how the new regulation cars respond to this as it should make for exciting racing and good on-track battles. The Australian Grand Prix is always a great but trickier race when taking into consideration the jet lag and logistics of racing so far from our base in Woking. But the global stage is one of the reasons why F1 is so exciting. We'll keep giving everything and do what we can to maximise our result in Melbourne".
Guenther Steiner, Haas F1 team principal allows himself a long interview in the pre-race phase, during which he does not overbalance himself on the forecasts of the World Championship:
"I think it's realistic that we can aim for points in every race, at least for the first half of the season and then we will see if teams make big upgrades or if they gain a lot of pace. I'm optimistic that we can keep this form, we just have to try to score points with both cars ". On the new partnership Kevin and Mick Steiner states. I think the relationship between them is pretty good. For Mick, he can have a reference now with Kevin, and Kevin is trying to help Mick with his experience which he got from driving Formula 1 cars for six years in his career. Internally, the team works very well together on both sides of the garage - with engineers and mechanics - it's a very good atmosphere at the moment".
The return to Australia after years of absence due to Covid-19 is certainly a reason for great enthusiasm, shared by Haas' team principal:
"The outstanding thing is that we were lucky and FOM and all the teams did a good job in 2020 after the pandemic hit. were back on the road after four or five months of thinking how to do this best, had a good calendar that year and we just kept on going. It could've had a big impact but obviously I think Formula 1 made an opportunity out of a challenge which was given to us. Formula 1 is in a good place at the moment with fans and exposure, so I think in bad times everybody did a good job to get to where we are now".
This weekend marks the milestone of Haas F1 Team’s 125th race in Formula 1, coming at the same location as its very first start. It’s been a rollercoaster of a ride but what are your enduring memories of not only that first remarkable race weekend - which included Romain Grosjean’s sixth-place finish - but of the team and its people across the past six seasons?
"First of all, yes, it was a rollercoaster and we’ve had a lot of downs on the rollercoaster ride over the six years but quite good ups as well. I’d say more than 50 percent of the people that were there at the first race are still with us, so that for me is an achievement. It’s been a very good ride, there’s been some challenges in the ride, but it’s been fantastic. The most memorable moment for sure was the sixth-place finish in our first race and second, the fifth-place finish in the championship in 2018 which we will try to replicate hopefully soon".
Kevin Magnussen himself shares the team principal's thoughts and does not deny the great pleasure of being back in one of his favorite circuits:
"I don't know if there's anything about the track that clicks as such, but I've obviously had some really good weekends there. Not only the sixth place, but also, we were due to finish fourth and fifth in 2018. It's always been a good race to us somehow, I think it's more by coincidence than anything else but I love being there, it's a great race to go to. I really like Australia and Melbourne. There's something about that race - for so many years it used to be the first race of the year - so there's always a special feeling there, so let's hope we can keep it going and have another good weekend".
The Haas driver devotes himself to a reflection on this year's single-seater:
"We've got a pretty good all-round car this year. We're still learning about it but I have a feeling we're stronger in low-speed and medium-speed than high-speed. Not that we're bad at high-speed but I feel our strengths are towards low and medium, so that should be ok for Albert Park".
The time difference from Europe to Melbourne is nine hours. As an athlete, how do you acclimatize quickly and what tips do you have for the personnel, media and fans making the journey down under?
"We always go quite early to Australia because the time difference is so big, at most other places you don’t need to go too early but for this one you do. It’s important to get straight into it and get up in the morning even though you’ve only slept two hours. You need to get up when it’s time to get up, do some training, eat your meals at the right times and just get into a rhythm as much as possible. You can plan a little bit ahead on the flight on whether you need to go to sleep or stay awake".
This is an important weekend for Haas as they celebrate their 125th Grand Prix and the same Kevin Magnussen in this regard states:
"I feel that this team is a very pure racing team. The reason this team exists is because Gene (Haas) is a passionate racer, and it just so happens that he's also got this big corporation that he's able to promote via this great sport. It's a simple structure in this team and it's a small, little, intimate team. It's very unique in Formula 1 terms to be this intimate and to know the names of that many people within the team, it's kind of cool. The structure is different to other teams - we outsource a lot of stuff - but it just means it's very straight communication throughout the whole team and I think that plays to some advantages. When you have a problem, you can easily address it and once you address it, you can easily adjust whereas with bigger teams I think it takes longer to turn things around".
Team mate, Mick Schumacher, comments on his first time in Melbourne:
"It will be the first time for me to go and race in Melbourne, and Australia in general, so I'm quite excited. I'm looking forward to getting to know the track and getting to know the city as well. I've been there with my dad and have watched him race in Melbourne, that was really cool, and I'm excited to drive there myself and make my own experiences of driving in Formula 1 in Australia".
The son of the great champion, he lets himself go to a memory of one of his father's many records:
"I think we have a car that we can fight with and a car that is competitive, which is great. Yes, the track is like most other tracks where it needs bedding in, especially when they're driven by road cars all year round. My dad holds the lap record in a 2004 Ferrari - I got the chance to drive that car - and it's an amazing car. We'll make our own laps in a similar looking car actually, the cars have turned back in time and they're looking a bit more like they used to with the high front wing, so it will be interesting. Obviously, very different compared to 2004 but still great to drive with the VF-22".
Like Kevin Magnussen, Mick Schumacher celebrates the 125th Grand Prix record with the rest of the team:
"I think my standout moment with the team would definitely be the Austria weekend from last year as we all went cycling, had a BBQ together, played football together and it was just a really nice time spent all together. What's really special about this team is everybody is so friendly but also so open to embedding you into their conversations, into their lives, so to be able to get to know every single person is something quite special. It's also turning out to be more than only working relationships, it's something quite special and is something that I'll hold with me for a very long time".
The first two races of this world championship have lifted the spirit at Ferrari, giving the Maranello team and all its fans an engaging and unstoppable enthusiasm.
Enrico Gualtieri, Ferrari F1 engine manager claims:
"It was difficult to foresee such a good thing after two races, which were an important reward for all of us. There is satisfaction and desire to do. So many people have worked with passion for this project and to get these results right away has been fantastic, but we know that the road is still very long: we will have positive or difficult moments, we must remain united, without relaxing. I hope for a team that fights in all circumstances and with the right attitude, in every grand prix weekend. This year would be significant, to honour the history of the Scuderia on its 75th anniversary. Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz are both very attentive and sensitive, they have great analytical skills and are very good at picking up and feeding back to the engineers their feelings, particularly the way they deliver power, driveability and feedback on the individual changes we propose. That sensitivity is really valuable to us. We put thermodynamic efficiency at the heart of the project, i.e. the efficiency of converting energy from fuel to mechanical energy that reaches the crankshaft. The contribution of our innovation partner Shell was invaluable in the process, given the introduction of the new E10 fuel this year. We have pushed the introduction of innovations, pushed programmes to the limit and taken all the necessary risks to reach the targets we set ourselves. On this point I cannot answer. The improvement in reliability, the limits of which we are still understanding, is continuous. Work will also continue on the ERS, which will be homologated in September ahead of its regulatory freeze until 2025: "The increase in performance will be less than in 2021, when we changed the architecture of the system. Today we are working on optimising the package already in the car".
Statements, those of Gualtieri, followed by those of the Monegasque Charles Leclerc:
"Overall, I think the track characteristics here are not fitting very well with [our car]. Everything is to play for, and I still think we will be in the mix; it will still be very close, it is not like it is going to be a big gap so if we do the perfect weekend anything is possible. I think the old track would have suited us better, but it is the way it is now, and we will try to maximise everything this weekend as always and hopefully Imola will probably be a track that suits us a bit better. It's always quite tricky, but I always try to do the best job possible and obviously with the weakness that we have with the straightline speed against Red Bull, we need to try and play it smart. We've seen the past two races this strategy with the DRS, and I am pretty sure that we will see it even more here because basically all the straights have a DRS zone. So overtaking will be a thing and being clever can ma ke a big difference here".
Like Charles, Carlos Sainz also states:
"I would like to get a win, for the rest let's see. I continue to pursue my dream in Formula 1, which is to win the first race, and then a championship. But to win a World Championship, you must first win races. I'm not saying it's going to happen, but it's the thought I fall asleep with every night and wake up every morning, it's a fixed nail. To win a championship, you need constant wins and podiums , and in recent years I have shown that I can use every opportunity to go to the podium. As for the victory, I only had a real chance once or twice and I almost made it: I'm confident, if I have the right car I think I can play it".
Finally, also David Sanchez, head of vehicle concept Scuderia Ferrari, in anticipation of this new race weekend declares:
"The Albert Park track is fairly close to what we call an average downforce track in terms of aero efficiency. It has a blend of low and high-speed corners with some relatively long straights. It is also a track where having good traction is critical. Compared to the old layout the new one will be significantly faster by a few seconds per lap. Most of the corners have been reworked, making them more open, which should allow the cars to carry more apex speed than they used to. T1-2, 6-7 and 11-12 are relatively high speed corners and it will be very interesting to see how these new generation cars perform in these sections. Here too, we're expecting tire management to be a key topic for the race. Lastly, the old track used to be very bumpy and so it will be important to see in free practice where we are with the phenomenon, seen with these new 2022 cars, of porpo ising, to see if the cars are bouncing up and down along the high speed straights".
How useful is the data from the last time we raced there (2019) in preparing for this race given that the new cars are very different?
"Although the layout is faster the underlying nature of the track remains the same. It is still a track which rewards good aero efficiency and traction. This allows us to look back into the data from the last few times we raced there with a critical eye to ensure we consider all the key elements as we tackle free practice. We also spent a large amount of time running the new car in the simulator, so when it hits the ground in FP1 in Albert Park the car should hopefully feel pretty good from the drivers' perspective".
What impressed you the most about our start to the season?
"Right from winter testing it was reassuring to see that our time on track was pretty much trouble-free. Although visually simpler, these new cars happen to be extremely complex and are posing significant challenges. It seems we managed to anticipate many of them with relative success and the team reacted very swiftly to manage unexpected ones such as porpoising. The other impressive aspect is how both ourselves and our main competitor are closely matched on track, having developed brand new cars from scratch".
Last race winner and current reigning champion, Max Verstappen, told reporters from the early pre-race days that he was particularly excited to be back in Australia.
"I'm looking forward to racing in Australia again, it's been a while since we last raced in Melbourne, the atmosphere is always good at Albert Park. It will be interesting to see the track updates, I think they will make a big difference, especially at Turn 6 where I think the most significant change has been made. There should be more overtaking opportunities now, which is always good. It will be interesting to see how the car performs in Australia, the track is usually very dirty. I hope to have another trouble-free weekend and we'll see what happens on Sunday".
So also his teammate Sergio Perez who returns to reflect on the heated challenge with Ferrari which seems to be the main element of the show for this new Formula 1 World Championship:
"The challenge between us and Ferrari is a close one, to say the least, and I've had a bit of bad luck in these first few races, I'm confident that won't be the case in Melbourne. We have a very competitive package and I'm curious to measure myself against the Albert Park circuit again, two years after our last visit. I did some simulator work earlier this week on the track and I think the changes should be good for the show, they will make racing fun".
Before the start of the first free practice session on Friday, the second gearbox and the second transmission are installed in the car of Daniel Ricciardo and Mick Schumacher. Both drivers are not penalized on the starting grid as the new components are among those usable in the maximum number established by the technical regulations. No penalty also for the Haas team, which on Wednesday uses the first of eight curfews granted during the season to carry out operations on their cars. All the teams seem to want to make the most of this change in regulation, making the most of up to the last second to be able to make changes to the cars in the hope, sometimes certainty, of being able to be more competitive in the race. The second unit relating to the internal combustion engine, the turbocharger, the MGU-H, the MGU-K and the exhaust system is installed on Lando Norris' car.
The third unit relating to the internal combustion engine, turbocharger, MGU-H, MGU-K and exhaust system is installed on Fernando Alonso's car, and the second unit relating to the energy recovery system and to the electronic control unit. The third unit relating to the internal combustion engine, the turbocharger, the MGU-H and the MGU-K is installed on the car of Yuki Tsunoda. The second unit relating to the energy recovery system, the electronic control unit and the exhaust system is installed on Mick Schumacher's car. The second unit relating to the exhaust system is installed on the car of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz. Free practice for the Melbourne Grand Prix begins on the morning of April 8, 2022, the first practice session sees Carlos Sainz at the top with half a second behind Charles Leclerc. Ferrari, although immediately demonstrating that it can be extremely performing on this new track, however, had to face unexpected events with Sainz who started the session slightly late, due to a sensor problem, while Leclerc also ended up in the gravel. after a starting attempt. Subsequently, the car, stopped in the pits, fell from the stands without being damaged.
Behind the two red drivers we find once again the two Red Bulls of Perez and Verstappen, Lando Norris is fifth, with more than a second behind Sainz's time. The McLaren driver preceded Esteban Ocon and Lewis Hamilton; while Sebastian Vettel, returning after two races, suffered the failure of the engine of his Aston Martin, also having to help the marshals to put out a fire in his car. At the end of the first free practice session, several drivers are summoned by the stewards for having been an obstacle to the other drivers on the track. This Friday it is Carlos Sainz's turn and Zhou Guanyu, the Spaniard obstructed the Chinese driver at turn 14 and consequently received a reprimand, the first of the season. Same fate for Lance Stroll and Kevin Magnussen, the Canadian driver hindered the Danish driver at turn 3 but this time he receives no penalties. Sebastian Vettel drove a scooter on the track within the five-minute window after the end of Free Practice 1.
"The Stewards heard from the driver of Car 5 (Sebastian Vettel) and team representatives and examined video evidence. The Stewards determine that Car 5 stopped on the circuit due to a mechanical issue. At the end of the session, VET sought a way to return to his pit. A marshal was at the location with a scooter. VET asked if he could drive the scooter in order to return to his pit. The marshal assented. VET got on the scooter, expecting the marshal to get on behind him. When he didn’t get on, VET departed alone for the pit, without the prior approval to do so. Meanwhile, the marshal was trying to contact Race Control for instructions. In driving on the track to his pit, instead of the designated route, VET breached Article 26.7 of the Formula One Sporting Regulations, which prohibits anyone from being on the track in the five-minute period after the end of a session, with the exception of specifically identified personnel, which makes no provision for drivers to have such access unless specifically authorized. Competitors are reminded that they have the right to appeal certain decisions of the Stewards, in accordance with Article 15 of the FIA International Sporting Code and Chapter 4 of the FIA Judicial and Disciplinary Rules, within the applicable time limits".
Ferrari confirms its competitiveness, even in the afternoon session. In this case, the best driver was Leclerc, who was the only driver to drop under one minute and 19 seconds. Sainz is third, while Fernando Alonso has moved up to fourth, ahead of Sergio Pérez and Esteban Ocon. The Mercedes found themselves, once again, in difficulty in the search for the fastest lap, but they proved to be faster in the race simulation. Vettel, after the engine problems of the first session, was unable to lap in the afternoon session. Before the start of the third free practice session on Saturday, the Federation, for safety reasons, removes the new DRS zone established in the new fast section between curves 8 and 9.
The detection point for the DRS zone established between curve 10 and curve 11 is shifted before curve 9. Furthermore, the FIA distributes a note underlining the conduct to be adopted under the safety car regime, when the safety car turns off the lights to signal the imminent restart. The drivers cannot join the car in front and can only stay behind or in any case on another trajectory, making sure that the front axle does not invade the rear axle of the car in front. The note is not limited only to those who follow, but also to those who, being the leader, have the task of managing the restart. Any sudden braking or acceleration from the moment the safety car turns off the lights is deemed to be a dangerous maneuver for other drivers.
This year's regulation allows you to make changes to the single-seaters even after free practice has begun, this allows the different teams to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the single-seaters on the track with respect to the characteristics of the individual tracks and weather conditions. This weekend, just before the third free practice session on Saturday 9 April 2022, they take advantage of it at Aston Martin with Sebastian Vettel's car, on which the second unit relating to the internal combustion engine, the turbocharger, the MGU is installed. H, MGU-K and the exhaust system. At Mercedes, the second unit relating to the exhaust system is installed in the car of Valtteri Bottas. Verstappen is only seventh, having aborted three quick attempts. The Dutchman still preceded Lewis Hamilton, who is eighth. Mercedes has changed the aerodynamic structure, now more exhaust, but more subject to hopping.
However, the session was interrupted by two red flags, both caused by Aston Martin drivers. The first to finish on the wall is Sebastian Vettel, the German loses his car at turn 11. Still in the same corner, but a few minutes from the end of the session, Lance Stroll also crashes into the barriers at high speed but luckily both drivers exit unharmed by their cars. At the end of the free practice the opinions of the drivers are extremely heterogeneous but united by the same desire and hope to fight for everything during qualifying and the race on Sunday 10 April 2022. Pierre Gasly dedicates himself to a comment not only on the performances recorded on the track but also on the new track layout:
"I must say this new track layout is pretty cool, it's definitely a lot faster which is always personally something I like, as you can definitely feel the potential of an F1 car when you're going through a corner at 200-250 kph, that is a really unique experience. It's obviously quite challenging getting to grips with a new layout and definitely bumpier than we expected, but it's been a good day. There's a couple of things to improve for tomorrow, to unlock some more potential, but generally speaking I've enjoyed today. I think we struggled a bit this morning and didn't start the session off in the best way, but we made a lot of improvements for FP2 which was really positive. Alpine are looking strong this weekend, especially with Fernando, but we'll focus on ourselves ahead of Qualifying and try to extract the most from the car. Personally, I don't know if there w ill be more grip coming tomorrow but I hope so, from past experience that’s what we’ve seen on new tarmac, but let’s wait and see".
Yuki Tsunoda despite various investigations during the tests states:
"I really enjoyed driving around this track. I don't know the difference from previous years, as it's my first time, but I felt confident around here straight away. We had good pace early on and I'm pretty happy with how the day went. We know our limitations and we're heading in the right direction in finding the right setup for the car. There are still a few areas where I can improve myself as well, so we will see how we can put everything together to maximise the performance of the car ahead of tomorrow".
Jonathan Eddolls, Chief Race Engineer, of the AlphaTauri states:
"It's great to be back in Melbourne after a three-year break. The changes made to the circuit appear to be positive, with the realignment of several corners and complete resurfacing making a notable difference. The focus of the day was to understand how the tires work on the new tarmac, and what setup changes we needed to make to extract the maximum performance. The compound allocation skips the C4 here this weekend and instead we have the C5 soft tire, which is a true Qualifying tire, and one which we haven't used at races so far this season. So, there was an amount of learning to complete on the short runs on this compound. We also had a matrix of aero component test items to complete in FP1, the results of which steered the FP2 setup. Performance overall was in line with expectations, and we are in the midfield mix. Given all of the tests completed today, it made it more difficult than normal for the drivers to get into a rhythm, which is very important around here, so we will aim to work on this during our Qualifying preparation in FP3 tomorrow".
At Aston Martin Lance Stroll claims:
"I think we have a made a good start to our weekend and the car is in a decent starting place, although we always want to find and extract more pace from it. We will work hard tonight to see if we can find more gains. It has been really fun to take on the challenge of a revised Albert Park Circuit. It is much faster and more exciting, and the four DRS zones should help cars get closer and improve overtaking, so let us see what the rest of the weekend has in store for us".
Statements followed by those of his teammate Sebastian Vettel, fresh from not particularly lucky free practice sessions:
"It was a shame to have to finish FP1 earlier than we would have liked - and then not be able to take part in FP2 - because today was an important day for me in terms of getting back up to speed with the car and learning a new layout. The positives are that I felt I was able to get comfortable quite quickly and that we had a good balance in the car, too. It is a shame, however, not to have completed more laps, but it was a power unit issue and that meant we had to replace it. The car will be fine for tomorrow and we will continue to work hard and make progress".
Subsequently, the first statements come from the McLare team. Lando Norris, who finally managed to get one of the best times since the start of the world championship, says:
"Today was one of our better days so far this season. I think we started off the day well with a good balance and just made further improvements, moving in a decent direction. So far it looks similar to Jeddah, which is a good thing for us, because that was a decent weekend. Things are looking reasonably good, there's still a bit more to improve, so that's our job going into qualifying tomorrow".
His teammate Daniel Ricciardo, home driver for this Australian Grand Prix, says:
"It was a good day, just getting back into the groove here in Melbourne, and I enjoyed it. The layout has always been fun, but it now has some additional changes to it and for the most part, I like them. Both cars ended in the top ten in both sessions today, so hopefully it's a sign of things to come for the weekend. We're in a decent place with the car and we'll just keep at it. We will try to adapt with the track in terms of changes for the rest of the weekend to stay on top of it. I have good confidence and hopefully it turns into better days to come".
Andrea Stella, Executive director, racing McLaren closes the team's statements claiming:
"We've had a very productive Friday in Melbourne. Despite several interruptions for red flags, we could work through our program without problems. Understanding the tires was a significant part of that: they look interesting this weekend. In terms of competitiveness, we seem to have taken a small step forward. We'll have to work hard tonight to try and consolidate our position with the aim of being in contention for a position in Q3 tomorrow , and hopefully fighting for some points on Sunday".
At Alpine, Fernando Alonso feels happy though not fully satisfied:
"We had some minor things that delayed us a little in Free Practice 1, but we still managed a pretty normal day for us. We completed a good amount of running and got a lot of information from both sessions. There are some balance issues that we need to solve, especially on the higher fuel runs. I obviously saw the track yesterday, but I think the changes are positive and the lap is obviously much quicker now. I'm not sure if there will be more overtaking on Sunday, but let's see. It's definitely great to be back here in Melbourne".
Teammate Ocon follows who says:
"First of all it was great to be back driving here in Albert Park and also getting a real-life look at the changes that have been made. Overall, a very positive day for the team where both cars finished in the top ten in both free practices. But we know it's all about tomorrow and Sunday and we can already see that it's going to be very tight like it was in Bahrain and Jeddah. The competition is close, especially in the midfield , so we will be working hard to put it all together for qualifying. It should be pretty exciting and hopefully the team can have another solid day tomorrow to be in a good position for the race".
Concludes Alan Permane, Sporting Director Alpine:
"It's great to be back in Melbourne as it's certainly one of the highlights of the Formula 1 calendar. The recent resurfacing and track modifications have transformed Albert Park from one of the bumpiest to a smooth and flowing circuit . In terms of our performance today, we can be reasonably pleased with the cars in both practice sessions, there's still work to do, especially in extracting the most from the Soft tire on the first timed lap for qualifying. We ran the Medium and Hard tires with high fuel to assess race performance and this looked in line with our simulations. Overtaking will be difficult on Sunday so it's essential to extract the maximum from all elements in qualifying".
At home Hass Kevin Magnussen argues:
"I didn't feel great when I woke up this morning but we still managed to get some laps in and get a feel for the car. Hopefully I'll be a bit better tomorrow, build from there and have a good qualifying again. It looks like we have a bit of work to do on the low-fuel balance whereas high-fuel balance seems more in the window, so that's the focus".
Mick Schumacher continues:
"It's a great track, a flowy track and it's quite quick so it was interesting to drive. We had a few issues here and there and we're still trying to figure it out and be 100 percent sure with what we have as an issue but we're getting there and tomorrow will be better".
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal Haas F1 Team, concludes:
"Not a perfect day for us today with various issues but FP2 was already better than FP1, so we just need to work a little bit more. The team is trying hard for FP3 to get to the next step and then we'll be where we want to be. There were a few things, starting with Kevin not feeling very well this morning, and then maybe some suspension problem which we couldn't fix for Mick which we'll now try to investigate. There was a little bit of everything - not a perfect day but we'll come back tomorrow".
Mercedes also for this weekend seems to be experiencing the same difficulties that have been making this World Championship the least favorable of the last 10 years since the first race. George Russell argues:
"We're not in a position where we want to be, there are quite a few midfield cars ahead of us and we're obviously a long way off the pace from the front. We need to work hard tonight and understand the limitations. The car actually felt alright, we're porpoising pretty bad into turn nine but I think that's something we just have to deal with for the time being. We believe how we set the car up was the fastest way around the track but maybe it's not, so we'll be working hard tonight to understand more. Driving is always cool, especially driving round a circuit like this - it's just more fun when you jump out of the car and see your name near the top of the timesheets".
Lewis Hamilton adds:
"FP2 was a difficult session, we tried a few changes but the car didn't seem to want to improve. FP1 was better but it's just a tricky car to get working. It's frustrating because you're pushing and pushing, and even when you pull off a good lap, you look at the times and we're over a second down. We've got lots of work to do to close the gap".
Andrew Shovlin cnclude:
"We're finding it hard to generate tire temperature here so that's the big thing we need to work on overnight. We were clearly more competitive in the first session than in the cooler conditions of the afternoon session, and the data we're seeing from the car is supporting the fact we're just not hot enough. If we can improve that then it's quite possible to find a good amount of grip but at the moment, we're in a vicious circle where the drivers don't have the confidence to carry the speed through the faster corners, and it's that speed that will generate the temperature we desperately need. So, not an easy day overall but we're getting used to those this year. We already have some ideas of which direction we can go with the setup and will do more work overnight in Brackley to understand those changes better, so fingers crossed we can move forward overnight".
At Alfa Romeo Valtteri Bottas declares:
"I am pretty happy about where we are and I think I have a realistic chance to keep my Q3 streak going - I don't want to give up on that! That's our goal, if we set the car up right tonight we should be fighting for a place in the top ten. We were able to run with different compounds today and the way they work reflect pretty much what we expected, so we are confident we can use them well, and I didn't suffer from too much degradation, which is a positive. Overall, I am pleased - I also really like the new track layout. It's fast, overtaking should be easier but not too easy: I think they did a good job".
Zhou Guanyu, at his first Grand Prix in Australia claims:
"The first impact with this track was quite interesting, probably not quite what I imagined it would be. I did a lot of running in the simulator, but it's only when you're actually here that you notice how close you are to the grass and how tiny and narrow the track is. It's a tricky layout but I am enjoying it: it's nice to drive and I'm getting into a rhythm. I am still learning about the car , about the engineering, and how to get the most out of everything throughout the weekend: to also have to learn a new track is an added challenge, but I like it - it's not a big issue. Our pace looks competitive, I am optimistic for tomorrow. We still have a lot of work to do with the engineers, so hopefully we can find something more overnight. If we put our lap together, we should be in a good place".
Red Bull Racing confirms itself as one of the two teams fighting for the 2022 World Championship, Max Verstappen, current world champion, claims:
"Today has been quite positive, the grip on track was good and the bumps have definitely improved, it's a bit smoother and it makes the track nicer as well because you can actually attack the corners a bit more, I enjoyed my laps today. I think in FP1 and at the beginning of FP2 we were lacking a bit of balance, then for the final run we changed the car around a little bit and I felt a lot happier. We are still a tiny bit off Ferrari, but I think this weekend we can maybe make it a little bit closer. In the long run I think everything worked well, so I am happy about that, and we've made some good improvements today. We are heading in a good direction and we'll try to build from there tomorrow".
Sergio Perez adds:
"It was a fairly challenging Friday for us. We made some changes going into FP2 that we must analyze because a few things aren't working as expected. The car felt better in some ways from FP1 into the second session and in other ways not, there is plenty to work on to try to understand the direction we have taken. It has been a very difficult day in terms of mileage, starting in FP1 and we lost some track time in FP2 but I think we have some good data to go over tonight. If we can find a few tenths then that would turn things in our favor this weekend, we just have to understand where we are at the moment with the car".
The Red Bull collides with a very good performing red Ferrari, Charles Leclerc argues:
"For me, today was a bit of a harder Friday. FP1 was a bit tricky, I improved in terms of driving in FP2, but there is still quite a bit of work to do. I don't think that anyone really put their lap together. Qualifying is tomorrow, when hopefully we'll have a good run. Let's push".
Similarly, Carlos Sainz confirms the good impressions experienced during the rehearsals:
"It has been an interesting Friday as we had to deal with a lot of new things compared to the last time that we raced here. The track is completely different from what it used to be: it's definitely faster and the new tarmac feels totally different in terms of grip as far as I can remember. We need to keep working on understanding how the tires behave but, in general, I think we have a good baseline to start preparing for tomorrow's qualifying".
Laurent Mekies Ferrari engineer and sports director, concludes:
"There are areas to improve in. The track is complicated and difficult, and if we take only the comments tonight it's not such an easy car, we will have to work. We found the performance faster than Red Bull, but they are very strong, and if we look at Max at the end of FP2 he was there. Red Bull is strong both in the long run and on the dry lap, we have to make a step in the car so that we can give the drivers a chance to improve again. What will make the difference? A thousand details, it won't be individual things, that's the beauty of this sport".
At home Williams Alex Albon claims:
"It's a cool circuit here in Melbourne; the track is a lot of fun to drive and the fans have been incredible. Today could have gone a little better, but we made a good step up between FP1 and FP2 so we're going in the right direction and we know what we need to focus on. We'll continue the work tonight, and hopefully we're in a stronger place for Qualifying tomorrow".
Nicholas Latifi continues:
"It was a pretty fun first day getting to experience the Albert Park track as it's my first time driving here. It's very fast, especially where they've made changes to the track; it's got a street track vibe in some corners , and a little more technical than I was expecting, but I think lap by lap we were gaining confidence. Still a lot of gains to be made with the driving and the car. Hopefully we'll make some good changes overnight to put us in a better position for tomorrow".
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance Williams team, concludes:
"We have spent today concentrating on the new circuit layout and the behavior of the tire on the new surface. The track remains challenging and exciting, with plenty of fast corners and changes of direction. The tire behavior was quite good in FP1 but changed a little in FP2 as the track grip improved and the temperature dropped. We haven't made the most of the Qualifying compound yet and so we certainly have some work to do with that. Otherwise, the balance wasn't too bad by FP2 and each driver has only some fine tuning to do overnight".
Finally, Mario Isola's technical commentary in anticipation of the race on Sunday 10 April 2022:
"Today was an interesting day as we saw the new track layout in action for the first time and also the teams trying out the bigger step in the compounds between medium and soft. This has turned out to be the right nomination this weekend so far, given the performance gaps we measured between the tires today, so that's something we might do again at other races in future. We observed some graining on the medium and soft in particular during both sessions. As this obviously has a direct effect on degradation, managing it will be a key element to the race strategy; although we'd probably expect the teams to focus on the two harder compounds, using the soft for qualifying. With the track evolution here, we've not quite seen the full picture yet so the final data we get from FP3 tomorrow will also be important in terms of strategy".
Saturday 9th of April starts the qualifying for the Heineken Australian Grand Prix 2022 in Melbourne. It is the third qualifying for this season. During this season, Charles Leclerc conquered the first pole position, while Max Verstappen the second. None of them has ever gained the pole position in Australia. The current air temperature is 23 degrees, with a humidity rate of 54% and wind from the northwest at 2.8 km/h. While the track temperature is around 31-32 degrees. From turns 8 and 9, within the central sector, DRS will remain closed for security reasons, a decision which was strongly requested by Fernando Alonso. During the last session of free practices, the two Mclarens were faster than the other teams and the Alpines were quick. However, there had been problems within the Aston Martin team, as both cars crashed into the wall. Therefore, the engineers and the mechanics have been working tirelessly on Vettel’s car to make him take part in qualifying but it is unsure whether they will succeed to fix the car or not because the left rear is broken.
At 3:00 p.m., the green light starts the Q1 and Kevin Magnussen, Mick Schumacher and Alex Albon are the first to get on track. All the teams opt for starting with the soft tyres. Mick Schumacher takes first place (1'21"125), followed by Alex Albon (1'21"152) and Kevin Magnussen (1'21"243). Charles Leclerc starts his first lap and records 27.539 in the first sector, and 45.494 in the second. He finishes his lap in 1'19"391, taking first place e places himself ahead of Yuki Tsunoda (1'20"600), Mick Schumacher (1'21"125), Alex Albon (1'21"152), Kevin Magnussen (1'21"243) and Pierre Gasly, who has a +1.919 gap from Charles Leclerc. Carlos Sainz seems to have started his first lap when, after passing the second sector, he raises his foot from the accelerator and decides to make just a warming lap. It is the turn of Lando Norris. He manages to take the second place behind Leclerc by scoring 36.0 in the first sector, 45.727 in the second and finishing in 1'19"764. Sainz is finally ready to start his first real lap but he scores 1'40"343 behind Nicholas Latifi, who is at +13.077. Zhou Guanyu is fourth at 1.458 and at Yuki Tsunoda’s back. Max Verstappen gets on track to start his first lap: in the first and second sectors, he is faster than Charles Leclerc of some tents (-0.074 and -0.032), while in the third he scores +0.227.
The World Champion takes third place behind Carlos Sainz, who in the meantime tried to record a new best, scored 1'19"179, and took the lead. Sergio Perez, who started his lap together with his teammate, records -0.091 than Charles Leclerc in the first sector, -0.159 in the second, +0.128 in the third and finishes his lap in 1'19"307. He puts himself in second place between the two Ferraris, followed by Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen. However, the yellow flag starts to wave in the third sector because Nicholas Latifi passed on the curbs, lost grip, slipped on some gravel and risked spinning. Although some gravels finished on the track, in a few moments, everything comes back to normality. Pierre Gasly gets in seventh place (1'20"087), followed by Alex Albon, Mick Schumacher, Kevin Magnussen, Yuki Tsunoda, Zhou Guanyu and Nicholas Latifi. The two Mclaren are in fifth (Lando Norris +0.585) and sixth places (Daniel Ricciardo +0.619). Fernando Alonso starts his lap while Charles Leclerc is approaching the finish line of a new lap. Leclerc records 1'18"881 and takes the first place ahead of Carlos Sainz, Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen.
Currently, there are two Ferraris, two Red Bulls e two McLarens in the top six positions. Meanwhile, with ten minutes to go, Fernando Alonso scores a record time under 40 seconds in the first sector, +0.260 in the second, opens the wing on the final straight and finishes his lap in 1'19"653, taking fifth place, ahead of McLaren. Fernando Alonso scored absolute best in the second sector and this happened after the DRS’ removal that he strongly asked for. Max Verstappen tries again and records +.0.025 in the first sector, +0.045 in the second and +0.044 in the third, conquering the second place (1'18"925) beyond Carlos Sainz and at four tents to Charles Leclerc. His teammate Sergio Perez is under 30 seconds in the first sector, scores +0.193 in the second and +0.547 in the third and maintains the fourth place ahead of Valtteri Bottas (+0.760) and Fernando Alonso (+0.772). However, Lando Norris finishes his lap in 1.19.280, taking the fourth place from Sergio Perez.
Lando Norris is not able to remain fourth longer because Fernando Alonso drives faster, especially in the second sector and takes the fourth (+0.311) beyond Lando Norris, Sergio Perez, Esteban Ocon, and Valtteri Bottas. Carlos Sainz gets into the track again while Hamilton finally starts his first lap in Q1. In the first sector, Lewis Hamilton records -0.361 from the last driver classified for Q1 - Tsunoda at the fifteenth with 1'20"600 - and he closes the second in -0.553. While he was finishing the third sector, he passes on the curbs and risks to lose the car. However, Hamilton is able to steer his car, finishes his third sector with +1.185 and takes the tenth position (1'20"066). His teammate Geroge Russell started his lap a few moments after Lewis Hamilton. Russell scores in the first sector -0.387 from Yuki Tsunoda, -0.552 in the second and +0.821 in the third, ousting Lewis Hamilton from the tenth place.
Daniel Ricciardo finishes his lap at 1'19"665 and takes the ninth position, while Bottas climbs to the fifth with 1'19"251. Max Verstappen decides to try again. The Red Bull car seems more balanced than the Mercedes and it is faster, especially in the third sector. Indeed, as speed increases, the bouncing effect increases too. In addition, in turn, the car suffers many height variations at the vehicle set-up. As the height varies, consequently the car experiences a level variation of downforce. Max Verstappen finishes in 1'18"580, in 0.301 less than Charles Leclerc and now he is leading the Q1. While Carlos Sainz is complaining of the bouncing in turn 9 because of the elimination of DRS with his team, the FIA race control noticed an incident involving cars 22 (Yuki Tsunoda) and 44 (Lewis Hamilton) in turn 1. For the Aston Martin team, Lance Stroll starts his lap at 4.33 to the end of Q1, while the floor of Sebastian Vettel’s car still lacks.
Kevin Magnussen and Michael Schumacher, who now are 14th and 15th respectively, try again to gain their best laps. However, Magnussen scores +0.768 in the first sector, +1.139 in the second and +1.674 in the third, finishing just 14th (1'20"254). His teammate does better than Kevin Magnussen. Mick Schumacher records +0.261 in the first sector, +0.668 in the second, +1.524 in the third and takes the thirteenth place (1'20"104). Yuki Tsunoda finishes the first sector at -0.501, the second at +0.477 and the third at +1.162, taking the twelfth (1'19"742). Meanwhile, Pierre Gasly and George Russell are finishing the third sector. Both have done better in the first and second sectors. Pierre Gasly places himself in thirteenth place with a +1.507 gap from Max Verstappen and in 1'19"775, eliminating Kevin Magnussen from Q1. George Russell conquers the ninth with 1'19"405. Nicholas Latifi finishes his lap in 1'23"570 and remains excluded in the 18th place. Zhou Guanyu does better and takes the 14th (1'19"910). Bottas is sixth ahead of Lando Norris and the Mercedes cars.
While the first seven drivers are waiting for the beginning of Q2 in their boxes, Lewis Hamilton continues to drive on the track and scores 1'19"401. Unfortunately, Sebastian Vettel will not take part in these qualifying and start from the last position because he did not score any time. Suddenly, an incident happened in turn 5 causing a collision and red flag regime at 2 minutes to Q1. It seems that this incident involves Lance Stroll and Nicholas Latifi. The Aston Martin' driver overcame Nicholas Latifi but it seems that Lance Stroll would have let him go first. Then, Latifi tried to overtake Stroll, who did not see him and collided with Latifi, who crashed into the wall. The Williams car went destroyed. It seems that Latifi stopped suddenly. The Q1 restarts after five minutes and the first to get on track is Daniel Ricciardo. Alex Albon and Kevin Magnussen start to overtake each other but since the general agreement must be respected Kevin Magnussen steps back and lets Alex Albon go first.
Currently, Max Verstappen is first (1'18"580), followed by Sergio Perez (+0.254), the two Ferraris of Charles Leclerc (+0.301) and Carlos Sainz (+0.403). Fernando Alonso is in the fifth place (+0.612), at his back Valtteri Bottas (+0.671) and Lando Norris (+0.700). The remaining drivers are still on the track, trying to score their bests. Daniel Ricciardo is not so fast this time because it is difficult to have good performances without warmed tyres. In the first sector, he gets +0.443. In the second sector, he is at 290 km/h and scores +0.745 and +1.351 in the third, closing his lap in 1'19"931 and taking the 11th place. Pierre Gasly climbs in the tenth place. Incredibly, Sebastian Vettel manages to start his first lap but he remains excluded in 18th place. The Q1 stops and Alex Albon in the sixteenth position, followed by Kevin Magnussen, Sebastian Vettel, Nicholas Latifi and Lance Stroll are excluded from Q2. Sebastian Vettel says to journalists that today was a good moment for the team spirit, even if they did not succeed to take better positions for Vettel and Stroll and things are not easy for the Aston Martin.
"Today is about the team: the boys and girls did an amazing job to get both cars out on track for qualifying. They did so well to get Lance’s car ready and it was great to see the team spirit when both sides of the garage came together to help finish getting my car ready. Just getting out to set a lap was a huge achievement. P18 may not look great on paper, but today it was the result of a little bit of magic. Things are not easy at the moment, but we know that the car has more potential and we are working very hard as a team to make progress. I have not had much running this weekend so hopefully we can have a clean race tomorrow and learn more about the car".
Lance Stroll agrees with his teammate:
"It was a messy day, unfortunately. More than anything, I want to say thank you to the team for their incredible hard work today. It was not easy to get the car ready for qualifying, but they managed it".
On the awkward incident that involved him and Nichols Latifi, Lance Stroll explains that:
"It happened at a narrow point of the track and I was following the curve of it to the right. As I went to the inside, he accelerated at the last second and made contact. It has been a day to forget, so we will regroup and come back tomorrow and try to take any opportunities that come our way in the race".
For the Team Principal Mike Krack this weekend is not going well for the team, but sometimes racing is like that. Then, He pays a tribute to both sides the garage who worked tirelessly to make the two damaged cars ready for qualifying in record time.
"This weekend is not going well for us so far - that much is obvious - but sometimes racing is like that. So what I want to do today is pay tribute to both garage crews, who were faced with the monumental task of getting two damaged cars ready for qualifying in record time. And they did just that. Mechanics are Formula One’s unsung heroes. Well done, guys".
On his side, Nicholas Latifi explains his point of view regarding the incident:
"I’ve seen the video so it’s very clear from my side who is at fault. I let Lance pass as I was told he was on a push lap, which he then must have aborted a corner or so before, which is why he was then going slow. I needed to carry on with my cool down lap and pick up the pace again and get my tyre preparation correct. There was a very big gap to overtake him and, when I got alongside, he turned in for whatever reason. The impact itself was a very small but, because of the way of the impact it has big consequences. There’s a lot of damage to the car so we’ll have to see what the guys can do and I know we have one of the best teams for that. This is the last thing I would have wanted; the goal here was to have a clean weekend and so this is extremely frustrating".
Kevin Magnussen complains about his performance because it is not representative of what the Haas car can do in the race:
"There is more to come. We’re not starting in a great position so we’ll see what we can do but I’m optimistic that we’ve got a good car for the race".
Says Alex Albon:
"It’s frustrating not to make it through to Q2 today. The team have done an amazing job overnight to maximise the performance of the car, so we were in a position to fight for more. We’re finding that we need to do a couple of push laps to get the tyres in the optimum window, and unfortunately, my second lap on the second set of tyres was interrupted by the red flag. I felt like we deserved a bit more today, but it’s all to play for tomorrow".
Dave Robson, the Head of Vehicle Performance, says:
"It was a frustrating afternoon for us having made some good progress with the car overnight and again during FP3. We know that getting into Q2 is a challenge for us currently and we need to get everything right to have a chance. The session was going well, and the tyres were working well. Alex was making steady progress with each pushing lap and had one attempt remaining when the session was red flagged. He was in a good position and had prepared his tyres well and so it is a shame that we didn’t get to see the final result. When the session restarted, we knew that there wasn’t time for everyone to get a final lap in and so we chose to queue in the pit lane to guarantee a good track position. The price we pay for this is loss of tyre temperature, but we had little to lose at this point. Sadly, the congested track and the cooler tyres meant that Alex could not improve, but it was a valiant effort in the circumstances. We had to stop Alex on his in-lap as he approached the pit entry as we could see a possible problem with the car".
On the incident between Nicholas Latifi and Lance Stroll says:
"Nicholas was very unlucky to collide with Stroll when preparing his tyres for another fast lap. It appears that Stroll didn’t see that Nicholas had moved alongside to pass him and continue his tyre preparation. We will need to assess the damage tonight, but there will be no problem getting the car ready for the race tomorrow".
At 4:40 p.m., the Q2 would start but it may be postponed because Alex Albon’s car turned off in turn 13 and it has to be removed from the track yet. Indeed, Q2 starts at 4:44 p.m., and the first to get on track is Max Verstappen, followed by Sergio Perez, Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz and the two Mercedes cars. All the drivers opt for new tyres, except Sainz who decides to start with used tyres. In this circuit, the track has little grip because the asphalt is new. Therefore, it is not abrasive and it is difficult to score the best lap on the first attempt, as drivers need to warm properly the tyres. Verstappen scores 27.110 in the first sector, 44.941 in the second and finishes in 1'18"611 taking the lead of Q2. Sergio Perez takes the second place, three tents from Verstappen, by finishing the first sector in 27.036, the second in 44.908 and finishing his lap in 1'18"961. George Russell in the first sector is faster than Max Verstappen (27.102). However, it takes the fifth position with 1'38"211, while his teammate Hamilton is completing his two warming laps. It is the Ferrari’s turn. The Ferraris run faster than Max Verstappen in the first sector - Leclerc scores 27.084 and Sainz 27.024.
Charles Leclerc finishes in the third place with 1'19"008, while Carlos Sainz in fourth with 1'19"207. The yellow flag starts to wave in the third sector as a pit lane incident happened and involved Gasly but it is removed a few seconds after. However, Hamilton manages to close his lap before the order to slow down in the third sector and he took the fifth place (+10.873). With 1'18"815, Fernando Alonso takes the second place ahead of Sergio Perez, Charles Leclerc, Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo’s cars, Carlos Sainz is seventh, Pierre Gasly eighth, Esteban Ocon ninth, followed by Valtteri Bottas, Lewis Hamilton, George Russell and Mick Schumacher. Lewis Hamilton tries again, improves in the first sector and in the second, he is three tents from Alonso’s time. He takes the eighth place (1'19"211), unseating Bottas who finishes in the eleventh. In turn 11, another incident involves Sergio Perez, who fail to slow under yellow flags, which will be investigated after the end of qualifying.
George Russell is the reason for this yellow flag because he went outside the track when he was approaching the turn and he risked touching the walls. Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez try again. Max Verstappen decides not to complete his lap and raises his foot from the pedal while Sergio Perez is almost flying in the first two sectors 26.946 and 17.834, and drives in 33.555 the third. He finishes in 1'18"340 and now is leading the Q2 - Leclerc is seven tents away from Perez - and gets his absolute best lap. George Russel takes the sixth at +0.736 from sergio Perez. However, the Red Bull driver is under investigation because he did not slow down during the few moments of the yellow flag. At five minutes to go, Carlos Sainz after a warm lap tries again a new best. He drives aggressively and in the first sector, Carlos Sainz scores +0.022 from Sergio Perez, 0.247 in the second and 0.399 in the third. He finishes his lap in 1'18"739 and climbs into the third position. Tsunoda and Gasly seemed to have started a new best but suddenly both of them raise their feet from the pedal to try again.
Meanwhile, Charles Leclerc is completing his lap in 1'18"606. He takes the second place, at two tents and a half to Sergio Perez, followed by Max Verstappen, Carlos Sainz and Fernando Alonso. Lewis Hamilton is on track for a warm lap while Esteban Ocon scores -0.124 in the first sector, -0.281 in the second and -0.090 in the third, taking the eighth place (1'19"136). Fernando Alonso is back on track together with Max Verstappen, Carlos Sainz and Pierre Gasly. Fernando Alonso takes the fifth. Pierre Gasly is not doing better in the first two sectors. He takes the eleventh place and is excluded from Q3. Daniel Ricciardo from the ninth place climbs to the eighth (1'19"130), unseating Esteban Ocon (10th), who is still qualified to Q3. Lewis Hamilton saves himself from the elimination zone and climbs to the eighth place at George Russell’s back and Lando Norris. The Q2 finishes and Pierre Gasly (11th), Valtteri Bottas (12th), Yuki Tsunoda (13th), Zhou Guanyu (14th) and Mick Schumacher (15th) are excluded from Q3. Says Pierre Gasly:
"It’s always disappointing to miss out on Q3, but I think this weekend has been tough for us. We saw that McLaren and Alpine have made a step forward, we just didn’t have the pace to do much better. We know what we need to work on and we’ve planned some upgrades in the coming races, but to miss Q3 by a tenth of a second is always painful. We’ve managed to improve on some areas, but some issues just remained throughout the weekend, so it’s a bigger picture we need to look at. I think we did what we could, I don’t think Q3 was on the cards today. It’s going to be a long race, there could be some mistakes made by others, so I need to keep focussed and make sure to see the chequered flag".
Yuki Tsunoda thinks that he had the potential to be in the drivers’ top ten.
"Between Q1 and Q2 I lost performance from the car and it just felt different, the rear was gone and I struggled to adapt to it. I went off track in one of my runs and impeded Pierre, which I apologise for. We have to see what happened, hopefully we can put everything together and score points in the race".
The Technical Director Jody Egginton says:
"After a reasonable Friday, where both cars were not too far away from the pace, we made some changes overnight and had a decent FP3 with both drivers being pretty competitive. There was some fine-tuning made ahead of Qualifying, and although the Qualifying sessions went OK, we came up slightly short and couldn’t make it to Q3. The margins are small, but we just were not able to sneak in, which was disappointing. We will go away and focus on the developments coming through and re-target getting the car back into Q3 from race four onwards. Now our attention turns to the race and looking at what strategy options we have available tomorrow. Overtaking isn’t easy here, but we’ll see what we can do to score points like in previous races. I think we can finish in the top 10, it’s just a case of moving the cars forward as early as possible in the race and see if we can consolidate from there".
On the Haas side, Mick Schumacher complains about he could not reach Q3 because he ran into some traffic in the last sector and lost precious time.
"Unfortunately, I ran into some traffic in the last sector with four or five cars in front of me which wasn’t too nice, but these things happen. We did the best we could and we had the right approach to this session. After a poor Friday, we definitely managed to bring some pace back into the car. Hopefully we’ll be in a position to fight tomorrow as the car in the long run felt good and we were able to follow, so hopefully we can follow and pass".
Guenther Steiner, the Haas' team principal, recognies they had some difficulties this weekend with the car, especially with the tyres:
"We couldn’t get the tires to work properly and had little problems left, right and centre but we tried to get the best out of it. Now, we need to get ready for tomorrow - our long run times were not bad yesterday - and that is what we’re trying to do at this point, to get points".
Says Frédéric Vasseur, Alpha Romeo’s Team Principal:
"After two consecutive races in Q3, missing out on the top ten is a bit disappointing, but we are still confident in our chances for tomorrow. We took some decisions, in relation to the direction of our setup, that we knew would penalise us a bit today - but with a potential benefit for the race. Both drivers had a good performance today and I think we got most of the potential out of our car: if we can produce a clean race tomorrow, we stand in with a very realistic chance to fight for the points with both cars".
Valtteri Bottas is disappointed to have not reached the Q3 today because he thinks his perfomance went pretty smoothly and he got some good laps.
"We wanted to be in the top ten but we lacked a bit of one-lap pace: we took the decision to prioritise our setup for the race, with a smaller rear wing, so hopefully we can benefit from this decision tomorrow. The car felt good, we can see how fine the margins are in the midfield but I am confident we have a fast car, we have a car geared for overtaking and we have a good opportunity to score points. On the loss of his record of 103 consecutive, it’s sad to bring my streak of 103 consecutive Q3s to an end, but it’s good to know I had such a long run. It felt a bit weird watching the session on TV".
Zhou Guanyu is overall happy about his performance:
"We struggled a bit with the balance in qualifying, but we cleared a very tight battle with our rivals in Q1 and we still got into a position that will allow us to fight for the points tomorrow. This track is not an easy one to learn so I am pleased my performance was good, now our focus has to be on making up ground and finishing in the top ten tomorrow. I think our setup will help us, and our car has been good in race trim this weekend. Turn one and the opening lap will be key to do a good job tomorrow, and I am looking forward to it".
The sun is going down and the Q3 will start in a few minutes. For the first time this season, the two McLaren manage to be qualified for Q3, while Bottas is excluded from the top ten drivers after 103 qualifying in his career. It is 5:07 p.m.; the green light turns on and Q3 starts. Max Verstappen is the first driver to start his lap. He finishes in 1.18.399. His teammate Sergio Perez is slower than he is in the first sector (26.999 vs 26.762), and in the second he is three tents more than Max Verstappen (44.544 vs 44.885). However, he manages to get the first place with 1'18"398, a thousandth less than Max Verstappen. The two McLaren start their laps while the other drivers are doing their warming laps. Daniel Ricciardo finishes in 1'19"0 and he is in the third place, while Hamilton is sixth (1'19"294).
Charles Leclerc starts his first Q3 lap. He scores -0.161 in the first sector, -0.059 in the second and finishes in 1'18"239. Leclerc gets the temporary pole position and as he crosses the finish line, the red flag regime is established because Alonso crashed his car into a wall in turn 11. The time stops at 6.58 and Sainz’s lap is not valid as he was approaching the finish line when the red flag starts waving. Green lights again for this Q3 after 13 minutes and at six minutes to go. The two Mercedes get on track for a warming lap. George Russell starts complaining that Luis is going slowly. It seems that Hamilton does not need to go faster to warm his tyres, although the track temperature is going down, especially in the third sector, from 32 to 27 degrees. In addition, the air humidity is 67% and this affects negatively the grip on the track and favours the cars that have major weight. Sergio Perez starts his lap. In the first sector, he scores +0.007, in the second -0.221 and he finishes in 1'18"240, taking the second place at a thousandth to Charles Leclerc.
Meanwhile, Geroge Russell says to the boxes that time is running out and Hamilton should go faster. Therefore, the Mercedes team communicates to Hamilton to go faster. Lewis Hamilton and George Russell start their laps. Lewis Hamilton starts his first lap. In the first sector, he records 27.0, +0.308 in the second and +0.807 in the third, taking climbing from the seventh to the fifth position (1'19"406). His teammate Geroge Russell drives under 35 seconds in the first sector, scores +0.192 in the second and 0.765 in the third. He is 42 thousandths faster than Lewis Hamilton is. Indeed, he takes the fourth place (1'19"004). To minutes to go and Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen are completing their warming lap while Charles Leclerc opts for a different strategy: doing two warming laps instead of one. Max Verstappen starts the last best and scores -0.027 in the first sector, -0.169 in the second and -0.085 in the third. He is temporarily in pole position with 1'18"154.
Carlos Sainz is unlucky. He does better in the first two sectors -0.040 and +1.254 but in the third sector, he risks an incident as he passes on the curb and losses the car. Unfortunately, this causes him to finish his last lap in ninth place. Charles Leclerc driver faster than any other driver in the first and second sectors and finishes his best lap in 1'17"868. Therefore, he takes tomorrow’s pole position from Max Verstappen, who is second now. Lewis Hamilton, who went out for a new lap, is doing better and he manages to take the fifth place, followed by George Russell. However, it stands few because Norris stoles the fourth place. The countdown stops and the Q3 ends. Let’s go! nice job, says Charels Leclerc to his team. Max Verstappen gets off from his car and waves at Melbourne’s public. Charles Leclerc turns off his car and throws his gloves outside the car. He stands upon the car’s front and shakes to the public. Charles Leclerc is satisfied for his second pole position of this season.
"This circuit is really tricky and I've always struggled here in the past. It may not have seemed like it this weekend because we’ve been quite fast, but I’ve done a lot of work to optimise my performance. The team did a great job. We stayed calm at all times, despite red flags, yellow flags and traffic. The biggest limitation for me was the sun. It was low and at an inconvenient angle and it was almost impossible to see where I was in Q2 and most of Q3. I took a lot of risks and I’m glad that I managed to put together such a good lap in the end. It doesn’t look too bad in terms of race pace. It’s very close with our competitors so it will be a difficult but exciting race tomorrow".
Carlos Sainz was unluckly this time. Although the team had a good pace today, he says that his Q3 went wrong:
"We got the red flag right before the finish line of the first flying lap and on my second one, I was about to go out but there was a delay in firing up my car. We finally got going but I didn’t have time to do the preparation lap, which meant the tyres were far from ready for the push lap, sliding everywhere. Tomorrow I’ll obviously try to recover as much as possible, but without the fourth DRS zone the circuit hasn’t changed that much from the old one and it will be tricky to overtake. Anyway, tomorrow is another day and we’ll try to come back".
Laurent Mekies, the Racing Director says it was a busy weekedn for Maranello’s team because they had to do a lot of changes after Saudi Arabia.
"It's been a busy weekend so far and we have been ahead of our rivals in some sessions and behind them in others. We knew there would be a lot of work to do in qualifying and that tyre management would be tough on this track which, thanks to the modifications to the layout, is effectively a new track, throwing up very different challenges to those in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. The F1-75 has shown itself to be competitive here too and that’s down to all the hard work back in Maranello. Today in qualifying, we had to look at the smallest detail to find ways to continuously improve. In the end, Charles put together an amazing lap to take a great pole - not the first time we’ve seen him do that. It was a shame for Carlos, who is also very quick this weekend. First of all, he missed out on setting a time by just a few seconds because of the red flags and then on his final run, his performance was compromised when it unexpectedly took longer than usual to fire up the engine, which meant he left the garage a little bit late. There was no time for a preparation lap and inevitably, this had a not inconsiderable impact on his lap time. Tomorrow, every single lap of the Grand Prix will be very closely contested, so we still have a lot of work to do tonight to ensure we get the very best result we can".
Max Verstappen is overall satisfied with his second place. He says that his car has a lot of hidden potetianl that it has not shown yet, although there is a gap between Charles and him:
"I didn’t really feel 100% in the car today, so we tried to change a few things in the set up, but it didn’t quite make the improvements we hoped for and we’ll do the best we can tomorrow. I think we have a good race car and in race conditions everything stabilises a bit, so it is more consistent. Let’s hope we can have a good race tomorrow".
For his teammate, Sergio Perez, Q2 went especially good. However, the team was not able to exploit all the occasions they had during the qualifying:
"I think qualifying was going well, Q2 especially and then there were red flags on a couple of occasions which meant we didn’t get to experiment with the tyres, it is always hard with strategy when you get red flags. We went for three laps and carried that fuel just to find out at the end that the double push didn’t work any better than just setting one lap. It wasn’t the right thing to do and that costs us a couple of tenths, but Charles put in a tremendous lap, he put everything together and I didn’t. Hopefully tomorrow in the race we can be a lot closer, make it hard for them, have a strong race and enjoy it. I like this car, we are all learning every time we drive these new cars and tomorrow in the race I want to make a big step".
Says Christian Horner:
"That was a great performance by both our drivers. At certain points they both looked like they may be able to steal pole, but Charles put in a great lap and it was just out of reach for us, but we’ll come back and try to beat them tomorrow. Max’s lock up cost him about three-tenths and Checo had a small d-rate on his first lap and carried an extra tenth of fuel as well, because he wanted to do three laps, but we are still on the front row and P3, so we’ll take that. I still think under higher fuel we will be in better shape, and with these DRS zones it could be a really interesting race".
Esteban Ocon has mixed feelings on what happened today to Alpine team:
"Having both cars into Q3 is a decent result but it’s a shame that Fernando could not complete his lap as he was on for a mega one. I know the team is looking into exactly what happened but he has shown great pace all weekend. On my side it hasn’t been the smoothest of days, but I need to be happy in the end with eighth. We’re in the fight for tomorrow, and that’s what matters. There’s definitely plenty of work to do and I know there is pace to find so we’ll be leaving no stone unturned to try and put everything together to maximise our race tomorrow".
Fernando Alonso is of the same mind as it seems the team was very unlucky in these three races because they had the potential to take better positions on the grid.
"We had the pace for the top three or maybe even the front row today and on my Q3 lap I felt very fast. I’m not surprised to be this close to the leaders because we’ve been working hard as a team. Each weekend we have got better and better, so that is a positive. It’s been the best weekend for years for me personally, and it’s frustrating we weren’t able to deliver it today. Let’s see how the car is overnight and do our investigations. Hopefully we can aim to score some points tomorrow".
Otmar Szafnauer, the Team Principal, says that today’s qualifying are a missed opportunity for the team because they had the potential to be in the top five:
"It’s positive that we have both cars into Q3 for the second race in a row. That said, the potential was truly there to have both our cars in the top five today such was the strength of our package around this track. As it turns out, we’re starting in eighth and tenth, and we know we can still have a strong race from there. Our race pace looked positive on Friday, so we’ll certainly aim to convert this starting position into strong points. Fernando was certainly fast today. We will investigate the issue that caused his incident. It’s just unfortunate today as we were good enough to start much higher on the grid".
For Lewis Hamilton, today was a good day, compared to the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix and to yesterday’s the FP3.
"I’m really grateful for the work at the factory in turning the car around from yesterday and I almost got P4 which would have been cool but we'll be fighting for that position tomorrow".
He complains about porposing:
"if the ride height is going high/low, high/low, when you turn in you never know which position you'll catch it in and the car could oversteer or understeer depending where you catch it, so driving it is a real challenge - it's like a rattlesnake! We need to find the right balance in ride height to give us performance while controlling the bouncing tomorrow. George and I tried slightly different things on our cars today so hopefully that's good learning for the team to take into the race".
George Russell complains about the bouncing, which made him loose time:
"I've not been overly comfortable in the car this weekend so I was pretty happy qualifying where we did - I think we'd have taken P5 and P6 before the session. There's no reason why we can't finish ahead of the McLaren tomorrow, we have to try and also keep Sainz and Alonso behind, although they both looked very quick today. Tomorrow will be tricky but I think we've found the best compromise window for the limitations we have and it will be a long race so let's see what we can do".
Toto Wolff is satisfied with today’s result:
"We probably slightly over-performed with P5 and P6, because I think Alonso would have been ahead of us without his crash. But when you consider the challenges we are facing at the moment, the team worked very well to extract everything from the car after two difficult practice sessions yesterday. The drivers maximised their opportunities with the car that's under them right now, and it's great to see the positive approach they are bringing to each session as we continue learning. Tomorrow's race will be a different challenge again: protecting the tyres will be important, and nobody has had the opportunity to gather much data after the red flag yesterday in FP2. So it will be another trip into the unknown - and hopefully we have made the right choices to deliver our performance across the full race distance".
Andrew Shovlin recognised the good result of today as:
"We found a bit of pace overnight with the changes and were able to get the tyres in a better temperature region today but there wasn't much left in the car”.
However, he is aware of the large gap Mercedes has with Ferrari and Red Bull:
"We've known since Bahrain that we have a mountain to climb this year and the team is getting stuck into that challenge. We've focused on our race pace this weekend so hopefully we have good degradation but our hopes are quite realistic, we're wanting to be there to capitalise on any mistakes or issues for Red Bull and Ferrari but we know we won't be able to stay on the back of them".
Finally, for the Mclaren team was a good day with a P4 and P7. Andreas Seidl says:
"It was good to see that we could confirm the performance we could see throughout practice sessions. After the difficult start to the season, today’s result is a great boost for everyone in the team, both here at the track and back home. As always, points get distributed on Sunday, heads down and full focus on preparing for tomorrow’s race in Melbourne in front of all the Australian McLaren fans. Let's get some good points".
Lando Norris thanks his team for today’s results:
"It’s a good reward for the team and the best we could have done today by quite a long way. Big thanks to everyone here at track, and back at the factory, for their hard work, which made this possible. It’s good to be back in Q3 given where we’ve been over the last few weeks. Hopefully today sets us up for a good race tomorrow and some decent points".
Daniel Ricciardo is satisfied with today’s performance:
"I think it’s been a positive weekend so far. I've been really happy with the progress and the car has felt good, which I think shows. We had a strong qualifying, so that’s been good, and overall, I’m very pleased".
He adds he had some difficulties with the tyres in the last lap:
"I struggled on that last set of tyres but I’m not really sure why, so we’ll look into that. Other than that, it was a really good session. So, we’re in a good spot for tomorrow".
Mario Isola, Pirelli' Motorsport Director say:
“We witnessed a long but exciting qualifying session, with the frontrunners separated by just one-thousandths of a second on more than one occasion, and pole decided in the closing seconds".
He explains today strategies adopted by the team to use soft tyre:
"As expected, the drivers used the soft tyre from start to finish today to take advantage of its extra speed. Not only that, but the drivers were also able to complete more than one flying lap on it to extract the most performance: something they had previously established by running it extensively in free practice earlier this afternoon. It was quite windy then, with a change in the wind direction compared to Friday, which obviously affected aerodynamic performance by making the cars more snappy. What we have seen so far in qualifying shows that it was the right choice to come here with two steps between the soft and the medium compounds, which has enabled the performance gaps between hard, medium and soft to be about equal. Tomorrow should be a one-stop strategy using medium and hard, but as we saw today, the action here can be quite unpredictable".
On the face of it, the quickest strategy for the 58-lap race tomorrow is a straightforward medium to hard one-stopper. The characteristics of the soft tyre made it the default choice in qualifying while starting on the medium opens up the widest range of options, with warm and dry weather expected on Sunday. Now that the drivers are no longer obliged to start on their fastest Q2 tyres, there’s a lot more flexibility, which they are all keen to take advantage of. However, there’s still an element of unpredictability. We have an extensively revised circuit around Albert Park with smooth new asphalt, which is constantly evolving. And some of those revisions mean that there are unforgiving walls in close proximity with rapid corners. So a safety car is far from out of the question.
That could reset the strategies entirely, opening the door to a two-stopper with perhaps even the soft for a final run, depending on the timing of the pit stops and the race circumstances. Tomorrow Leclerc will start in pole position for the second time, followed by the two Red Bulls. Lando Norris is fourth at +0.835. George Russell is in the middle between the two Mclarens. Lewis Hamilton is seventh, Esteban Ocon eighth, Carlos Sainz ninth and the unlucky Fernando Alonso tenth with no time. The ex MotoGP champion Casey Storner gives Chareles Leclerc the poleman’s Pirelli little wheel. At 7:00 p.m. the judgement regarding the incident involving Lance Stroll and Nicholas Latifi was taken by the FIA:
"The Stewards heard from the driver of Car 18 (Lance Stroll), the driver of Car 6 (Nicholas Latifi) and team representatives and examined video evidence. LAT pulled off course to the left and slowed at the exit of turn 4 to let cars by, the last of which was STR. At the exit of turn 5, STR appeared to not accelerate and was in the middle of the track. LAT made the decision to accelerate and pass STR on the right as STR was moving right toward the right hand edge of the track where the track curves slightly to the right on the run to turn 6. Contact was made between STR’s right front wheel and LAT’s left rear wheel, with the subsequent damage putting both cars out of the session. The Stewards find that STR was predominantly to blame for the collision because of his lack of situational awareness of LAT’s passing manoeuvre. Competitors are reminded that they have the right to appeal certain decisions of the Stewards, in accordance with Article 15 of the FIA International Sporting Code and Chapter 4 of the FIA Judicial and Disciplinary Rules, within the applicable time limits".
Therefore, Three places penalty has been given to Stroll after the incident with Latifi. At 7:23 p.m., the FIA asks to the William team to report to the Stewards as they allege breach the article 6.5.2 of the FIA Formula One Technical Regulations because it could be that there was no sufficient fuel in Alex Albon’s car. This is why it stopped suddenly on the track. One hour later, the driver was disqualified but he obtained the consent to take part in tomorrow’s race. Leclerc was under investigation because of an alleged breach of article 33.4 of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulation because he drove unnecessarily slowly on an in-lap. The same is for Yuki Tsunoda and Zhou Guanyu. However, the judgement came late at 22.19 and claimed no sanction for Charles Leclerc because he did not breach the Sporting Regulations. Finally, the FIA decided not to punish Sergio Perez regarding the alleged accusation that he did not slow down when there was the yellow flag regime. According to the Stewards, he acted appropriately to the situation and take no further action.
On Sunday, April 10, 2022, Albert Park circuit hosts an immense crowd for the first Australian Grand Prix since 2019. For the third round of the Championship, Charles Leclerc is lined up on pole for Ferrari against two Red Bulls, Max Verstappen from the second position and Sergio Perez from the third, while team mate Carlos Sainz is ninth on the grid. Lando Norris lines up fourth position for McLaren ahead of the Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton in fifth and George Russell in sixth. Sainz, Fernando Alonso, Kevin Magnussen, Sebastian Vettel, Lance Stroll and Alex Albon are the only five to start on hards, the others beginning on mediums. With high track temperatures (more than 40 degrees Celsius), the lights go out. At the start, Max Verstappen looks to get a fractionally better start than Charles Leclerc, but the polesitter is able to sweep across his front row rival and defend the inside line on the run to Turn 1, while Hamilton sweeps into third at Sergio Perez’s expense and Geroge Russell into fourth in front of Lando Norris.
Leclerc pulls a 0.6-second lead by the end of lap 1. Meanwhile, Carlos Sainz, after dropping down to the fourteenth position on his hard tyres, tries to pass Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu around the outside of the ninth turn, and spins into the following corner’s gravel. The virtual safety car is briefly activated before the full safety car is called for, which stays out until the restart at the start of lap seven where Leclerc is easily able to maintain his advantage over Max Verstappen. Sergio Perez is soon loomed in Hamilton’s mirrors and on lap 10 he pass down the inside of the third turn for the third position. At the front, Verstappen suffers a lock-up at the penultimate corner on lap 12, and suffers graining on his medium starting tyres. Charles Leclerc goes long on his medium tyres, while on lap 19 Max Verstappen goes to the box for a set of hard tyres and emerges seventh.
Meanwhile, Sergio Perez is under pressure from the Lewis Hamilton. The Mexican is then called to the box at the start of lap 21, as is Norris. Leclerc, however, still has not pitted, while Max Verstappen is recovering positions. The Monegasque driver finally pits on lap 23 and is ahead of the world champion, although the gap between the two is now of 4 seconds. Lewis Hamilton is now just milliseconds ahead of Sergio Perez, and they go side by side into the run to the nith turn when the Red Bull driver makes a move around the outside. At this moment the Safety Car comes out, because Vettel has spun on power out of the fourth turn and hit the wall. George Russell choses lap 23 to pit and emerges third, ahead of Fernando Alonso. At the second restart on lap 27, Charles Leclerc's run onto the main straight is compromised by going too wide and so Verstappen is able to close in and get alongside on the run to the first turn. The Ferrari crucially holds on to the lead, allowing George Russell to attack the Red Bull; despite this, the top three remains unchanged.
Fernando Alonso is now the lead car of the group from fourth to ninth position, made up by Sergio Perez, Lewis Hamilton, Kevin Magnussen, then the McLarens behind. On lap 30, Sergio Perez takes the fourth position off the Alpine going into the fourth turn, with Lewis Hamilton trying to take a place off Fernando Alonso one lap later. Kevin Magnussen aspires to immediately follow but makes a mistake coming out of the final corner on lap 33 and loses out to the McLaren of Lando Norris. On lap 36, Sergio Perez makes the move on George Russell’s Mercedes going into the eleventh turn, while, in the lead, Charles Leclerc puts in a purple lap. On lap 39, on the inside of the second turn, smoke comes from the Max Verstappen’s RB18's airbox, suggesting an engine issue is the cause. So the car is forced to retire covered by a VSC and Leclerc's lead is now maintained.
Charles Leclerc is racing for victory from now on, the margin totalling to more than 20 seconds with fastest lap giving him another point. Perez takes the second position, five seconds ahead of Gereoge Russell, while Lewis Hamilton runs in fourth place. Esteban Ocon has an easy journey to the seventh position, for Alpine having pitted once on lap 18, but team mate Fernando Alonso runs a more difficult race. Running as high as eighth when Ocon pitted, the Spanish driver cooks his tyres and falls down the order. He pits for mediums with four laps left and he ends up last of the runners in seventeenth position. Valtteri Bottas, who started twelfth, finishes eighth: he briefly lost out to AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly but hit back on lap 40.
Gasly ends ninth from eleventh on the grid, ahead of Albon, who started last thanks to a grid penalty from Saudi Arabia and moved to seventh position, but lost three places with his late pit stop. Stroll, with a penalty for crashing into Nicholas Latifi in qualifying, started ends in twelfth position, after pitting for mediums on the lap 4 Safety Car and coming back to hards one lap later. Behind Stroll is Mick Schumacher, who passed Magnussen. Yuki Tsunoda battled for points, but ends up fifteenth as his pace was slow on hard tyres. This leaves Williams’ Nicholas Latifi sixteenth and Alonso last on the board. Verstappen, Vettel and Sainz are the three retirements. So Leclerc is the indisputable leader of this Gran Prix. He managed two Safety Car restarts and although he came under pressure from Verstappen at the second one, he managed to hold the lead and take the win, with the fastest lap bonus point:
"What a great victory this was for us! We managed our pace well and were extremely competitive. We didn’t suffer from tyre degradation, even when pushing hard. The car was just amazing and I’m very pleased with how my race went. On paper, this was a track that we expected to be tough for us, so we have to review our data because we were in fact very strong. It's a great way to start the season, but we have to keep in mind that we are only three races into a very long championship. We can’t afford to relax at any moment and have to stay on top of things, most of all on development.Congratulations to everyone on our team. What an amazing job you have all done! I’m very proud of how far we’ve come and can’t wait to continue fighting. Forza Ferrari".
What happened during Sainz’s qualifying led to the decision to try something different, so on Sunday he started on the hard tyre. But the Spanish driver struggled for grip off the line, dropped back and then lost control of his car, spinning off into the gravel for his first retire of the year:
"This is definitely a difficult weekend to digest. After all that happened yesterday, I was looking forward to the race but we hit problems even before the start. On the laps to the grid we had an issue with some switches on the steering wheel and we had to change it one minute before the formation lap. Unfortunately, at the start, the anti-stall kicked in.Trying to recover and overtake, I made a mistake as I pushed too early when the tyres were probably not ready. Up until Q3 the weekend was going ok but from then on everything just went wrong. We will analyse it carefully, learn and move on. The car felt good so congrats to the team and to Charles for the win. We’ll come back stronger in Imola".
Team principal Binotto is happy for the victory and Leclerc’s mature performance, but upset by Sainz’s race:
"I am very pleased. It’s always great to win and it also boosts the morale of the team who deserve all this, because they have all developed the right mentality to face difficult moments head on and make the most of any opportunity. We always say that you can only come out on top in Formula 1 if you do everything to perfection and I think today’s race proved that. Charles delivered a mature performance, something he is now making a habit of.It’s a shame for Carlos, because his weekend was complicated by a series of circumstances in both qualifying and the race, which affected his performance. I know him well enough to believe that he will turn the negatives to his advantage and come back stronger next time he’s in the car. The start of the season has been positive and the work of the past few months is paying off. We will continue to concentrate on ourselves and take it one race at a time. We have earned some time with our families over Easter, but then we will get back to it, working on the next race, which being at Imola, takes on even greater importance. We can’t wait to be there and we’re looking forward to seeing the circuit packed with our fans, to share this good start to the year".
Perez got a good start but in order to avoid Verstappen, wound up losing out to Hamilton. He fought his way back past the Mercedes, and then made a move to get around Russell:
"It was a good result but, unfortunately, we lost Max and it would have been great to have a double podium for the Team. On the other hand, it is a good result after so many unlucky moments in the first couple of races for me. It was a very complicated race with the start I had and the safety cars but we managed to overcome it. My first start was very poor, we struggled a lot with degradation on the medium tyre, we were a bit unlucky with the safety car and we lost two positions which we recovered later. We got a few things wrong across the weekend and we were battling more with Mercedes than Ferrari so the pace wasn’t where we want it to be, but we will work on it. There is some good analysis to be done from this weekend because yesterday we were close for pole but in the race we were a bit too far off the pace. The fastest guys out there are Ferrari, we want to be up there fighting with them and today that wasn’t the case. If we can improve the car a little, then we can be more confident".
Meanwhile, Verstappen ran a comfortable second, without being able to attack Leclerc for the lead. Then he was told to park up late on after smelling some strange odor, for his second retirement in three races:
"It’s of course very disappointing to not finish today’s race, I don’t really know what happened to the car yet, we’ll take it back to the factory and regroup. I already knew there was a possibility ahead of the race that we might not finish but I tried not to think about it. This is not what you need when you want to fight for the Championship, the gap is already pretty big. Of course, Checo did well to come second, he scored some good points. Overall it doesn’t look like there is an easy fix so we need to work hard as a Team, there are a lot of things to work on. We’ll wake up tomorrow and focus on the upcoming races and do the best that we can. It is of course a long season and a lot can happen; I think at this stage we need 45 races".
The Red Bull Racing' team principal Christian Horner is happy of Checo’s race and his overtakes, but unhappy of Max’s race:
“Checo drove an exceptional race today with some stunning overtakes to secure his first podium of the season and bag some solid Championship points. But it was very much a day of mixed emotions with Max not finishing. We think it was an external fuel leak and we need to understand exactly what has caused that failure, so it was a very frustrating race in that respect. But we are in this as a team and we will bounce back. We didn’t have the pace of Ferrari today, so congratulations to Charles. It’s a long season ahead and we have the basis of a quick and competitive car, but we need to get on top of these issues quickly and we will keep pushing".
Lewis Hamilton made a great start and jumped up to third, and from there was embroiled in an entertaining fight with Perez on track and through the pit stops. But he lost out to both the Mexican and his team mate, with Russell able to pit under the Safety Car. That Safety Car cost Hamilton the chance to come back at Perez too, and he had to settle for fourth position:
"It's a great result for us as a team, honestly. This weekend we have had so many difficult moments with the car and to get fifth and sixth in qualifying, to have progressed like we have, with the reliability we have, is amazing. We definitely didn't expect to be third and fourth today. George did a great job - I got to see a bit of the battle of him racing Perez and I wish could have been in it but nonetheless, we'll take these points and keep pushing. I couldn't fight for third because the engine was overheating so I had to back off and sit behind, but we bagged as many points we could as a team and that's great".
George Russell is happy of his first podium with Mercedes:
"You've got to be in it to win it and capitalise from other's misfortune, and the guys at Brackley and Brixworth have been working so hard on giving us a reliable car. We got a little bit lucky today, probably twice, but we take it. There's so much hard work going on back at base to try and get us back at the front so to be standing on the podium today is special a reward for all their hard work. We're never going to give up, we've got to keep on fighting. This weekend we were a long way behind our rivals but here we are standing on the podium. We've got to keep this up while we are on the back foot, maximise our points opportunities and I am sure we will get there after a few more races".
Mercedes' team principal Toto Wolff is satisfied of the points earned, even if he admits that their cars have not the pace to challenge Ferrari and Red Bull:
"We are leaving Melbourne in a better state than when we arrived- more lessons learned, more data to analyse and more points on the board. Clearly we haven't got the pace yet to challenge Ferrari and Red Bull but we know where we need to seek performance. One factor that leaves me very optimistic for the future is the mindset and strength of the team. Everyone in the UK, in Stuttgart and in the travelling race team is pulling together every ounce of effort we have to tackle the performance gaps with determination and a deep hunger. Seeing Lewis and George perform at an exceptionally high level today with a tool that is clearly not on the pace of the leaders is another example of the spirit of this team. We are optimistic yet realistic on the timeline for improvement and the advantage our competitors have, but P3 and P4 helps us leave Australia with a good feeling. Both drivers deserved the podium today, Lewis was unlucky with the timing of the Safety Car but the partnership between the two and how they work with one another epitomises the overall spirit of the team".
Andrew Shovlin, Merecedes' trackside engineering director, congratulates Russell who is working hard to improve the car, obtaining his first podium. The teamhas still a lot of work to do:
"Well done to George on his first Mercedes podium, he's working hard to help us improve the car and whilst we've not got the pace right now that he would hope for, the podium is some reward for his efforts. Lewis lost out with the timing of the Safety Car, he'd managed to put Sergio under pressure in that first stint and we exited from the stop ahead of him. But ultimately, we don't have the underlying car pace to race them, even if our degradation was probably a little better. At this stage of the championship, we're focused on just two things, damage limitation and learning. In both regards this has been a successful weekend but we know we have a lot to do, Charles was in another world today so it's likely a long road ahead but we're not short of opportunities to find lap time around the car".
Talking about McLaren, Lando Norris dropped backwards after a weak start, but once his tyres warmed up, he looked competitive:
"A decent race. We didn’t have the best of first laps but I think by the end we were still in good positions for us as a team, and we couldn’t have done a lot more. I think Mercedes had much better pace than us today, so we’re happy with where we ended up. Good points for us, a great pit-stop and good progress from the team. We’ll take what we’ve learned today and try to carry it with us into the next few races".
McLarens did not have the pace to chase down Mercedes today, but picked off everyone else in the midfield to place fifth and sixth. For Daniel Ricciardo these are the first points of the year:
"It has been a better weekend which is positive for the team. I’m happy with the progress and, as a team result, I think we executed everything we could. I think the first part of the race was positive but there is still a bit to work on. Probably in that second stint I lost a little bit of pace on the Hard tyre. It came back to me a little bit - but we still have a bit of understanding to do. I’ll keep working at it but generally, as a whole, the weekend’s been smooth. I’m happy to walk away with my first points of the year at home, which is also nice for the all the fans who came out here, so I’m feeling pretty content. We leave Melbourne in good spirits, which feels nice as it’s probably been four years since I left here in good spirits".
Andreas Seidl is satisfied of his drivers’ performance. It is a good result for the team, thanks to everyone:
"P5 and P6 today. Two cars home and our first double-points finish of the season. This is a great result for the team, thanks to everyone in the garage, back at the factory for all their hard work and to our colleagues at Mercedes HPP. It was good to see that we could confirm the progress we made in terms of car performance over the weekend also in the race. Special thanks to Lando and Daniel for their excellent work behind the steering wheel all weekend, extracting everything we have out of the car. I don’t want to forget to mention our pit-crew. Again, two excellent pit-stops today. We take this result as motivation to keep working hard to bring more performance to the car. Melbourne was, as always, a great place to come racing. Having Daniel on board meant we had an even bigger crowd cheering us on this weekend and it was a real pleasure to give them something to celebrate. The support we’ve felt from the fans has been incredible. Thank you Australia".
Fernando Alonso started on hard tyres and did not pit under the Safety Car. But after pitting for mediums he needed a second late stop:
"I am gutted with this weekend, to be honest. It’s hard to accept the result after the bad luck we had in Saudi and again here in Melbourne. Today we were looking good for possibly sixth place and of course the podium was even on the cards before yesterday’s issue in qualifying. The strategy was good today and the car felt strong on the Hard tyre. The pace was there with everyone stopping on the Mediums around us, but then the Safety Car regrouped the field and it effectively ended our race. Overtaking was difficult today and especially with the DRS train towards the end of the race. We degraded our Medium tyres in this train, so we needed to stop again. There are twenty more races to go and hopefully luck will shift in our favour for the rest of the season".
Esteban Ocon was the first of the midfield runners to pit and although he could not take advantage of the Safety Car, at least ended with points:
"This weekend has ended with some mixed feelings for us. Of course, finishing the race in seventh is a decent result, especially after what was a difficult weekend for me. Yesterday was not our strongest day and that definitely made a difference in how today played out. So, there’s lots of learning for us to do from the last couple of days with the team as we know we’ve got more potential to unlock. All in all, I’ve been in the points in three out of three races, and I am leaving Australia satisfied with how my season has started. I am hungry for more and excited for the next one".
The Alpine Ceo' Laurent Rossi is disappointed with today’s result, even if it shows that the team has progressed:
"We are generally disappointed with today’s result, however, it’s a good sign that we’re not satisfied as it underlines how far we have progressed as a team. We know that we had the speed, and the potential, for a much better result with both cars today but the race weekend just didn’t quite unfold in our direction. The track proved very difficult for overtaking, especially in comparison to the previous two races, and we knew that Saturday’s qualifying result would play a huge part in the outcome of Sunday’s race. With our cars starting in eighth and tenth, it was always going to be a challenge to make an advance on those places. After some early promise, the Safety Car was especially unfortunate for Fernando who was managing a quiet, but effective, reverse strategy on Hard to Medium. Overall, we’ve shown we are competitive, and we will keep building on the good base that we have, especially by bringing some upgrades to upcoming races to enable us to keep fighting higher up the grid. For that, we will work on consistency in order to get both cars into the points. I’m confident in everyone at Enstone and Viry to continue their hard work in pushing this team deservedly forwards. We move onto the next one when we race in Europe again in Imola. Our team is very much in the mix and it is up to us now to remain highly motivated in this championship contest".
Alfa Romeo Team obtained four points with Valtteri Bottas ending eighth after a thrilling race:
"I really enjoyed the race today, it was a good performance with close racing and battles from beginning to end. Of course, the most important thing is that we brought home some points, and that is due to a good job done by everyone in the team: I am happy with the calls that were made and how we raced – and, definitely, the thinner wing that penalized us yesterday turned out to be the right choice and helped us make progress. I had a fun day even though I had to work hard, pushing all the race: now hopefully we can continue to be strong and improve. We have upgrades coming in the next few rounds so we can continue fighting for points in every race".
Zhou Guanyu had a quiet race, but after Albon’s pit on the final lap, found himself right on the Thai driver’s tail. He tried his best, but he could not force his way past to grab that final championship point:
"I am proud of my race, but obviously I am a bit upset at missing out on the points for such a close margin. Our pace was good, but we lost a few positions with the safety car and that made our life a lot harder. I gave it all and pushed so hard at the end, but I had no tyres left when I got to battle Alex and I couldn’t make it in front. Still, we solved the problem at the start and the race was good: I am looking back at my first three rounds in Formula One and my worst result is 11th, so I can build on this positive start, aiming to score points in every race".
The Alfa Romeo' team principal Frédéric Vasseur is satisfied of his drivers’ performance, who did their best in difficult circumstances:
"Bringing home four points with another top ten finish is really good, especially to bounce back after the off-race in Jeddah. The team did a good job in difficult circumstances today: the timing of the first Safety Car wasn’t ideal and it cost us track position, especially with Zhou; we also got stuck in a couple of DRS trains that made progress hard, so we had to earn our place the difficult way. That we did, and we went so close to having two cars in the points again, is proof that we are going in the right direction. The whole team did well today, now we can focus on the race in Imola to continue our battle for a good position in the constructors’ championship".
It was a tough weekend for AlphaTauri at the Australian Grand Prix, but Gasly was able to fight, pulling off some overtakes on his way to ninth:
"I’ll take those two points today! It’s been quite an unfortunate race for me, I managed to pass two cars at the start, but then I got unlucky pitting right before the safety car and dropped to P14. I was pretty mad at the time, but I stayed focussed and managed to come back through to P9. I had a nice battle with Lance which I enjoyed, it was pretty intense on a track like this, but in the end I got the best of him. Objectively, it’s been a tough weekend for us, so I think we can be quite happy with the result and to leave with two points. I still feel like we’ve got a few things to improve on, we’ve got some new parts coming in the next few races, so we’ve got to keep up with the others if we want to keep fighting for these positions. We would like to be a bit further up in the order, so we’ll keep pushing".
Yuki Tsunoda was under investigation for an incident with Schumacher behind the second Safety Car, but the stewards took no further action:
"There wasn’t any pace today. We struggled for the whole race, so we need to work out why to avoid something like this happening again. It was very difficult to keep up with other cars and stay in their DRS, we just lacked performance overall and I didn’t expect it to be that bad. It is what it is, we have to stay positive and work on improving for the next race".
The AlphaTauri' technical Director Jody Egginton looks at the future, to improve their race’s performances:
"Today's race was not straight forward with, similar to the last race, Pierre losing track position with the safety car, meaning he had a lot to do to recover into a points-scoring position. These battles took a lot out of his front left tyre and, unfortunately, a small mistake meant we lost a position to Bottas in the closing laps, finishing P9. Yuki has had a tough day struggling for pace on both compounds, so we need to understand the factors behind this as he was reasonably happy with his car during the Friday and Saturday sessions. We have a lot of work to do ahead of the next race, but at the same time we are looking forward to the challenge".
Nicholas Latifi pitted early and could not make his hard tyres last the distance so was forced to pit again losing positions:
"It was definitely a tricky race, but we were expecting that after the FP2 high fuel running that we did. It seemed that we struggled with the tyres quite a lot, experiencing graining on both compounds and struggling to keep them in the right window. There was a lot going on with multiple safety cars and Virtual Safety Car periods. It was great to see Alex finish P10 in the end and I’m super happy for the whole team. It’s been a difficult start to the season and there’s still a lot to find on my side. If Alex is able to extract that performance out of the FW44 then there’s no reason why we can’t in the other car. We will now spend a lot of time looking through the data and understand how we can make it work".
Alex Albon started on the hard tyre, which last for 57 of the 58 laps, pitting for the softs on the final lap of the race and he managed to score a point:
"I am very pleased with how today went. We came in this morning, looked at our race predictions starting from last and felt pretty sad, so to end Sunday with a point is extremely rewarding. It was a race where we took risks and really allowed our tyres to get into a nice window, and from then they just felt better and better. I was putting in what felt like continuous qualifying laps for the last 25 laps of the race! For me, it really highlights the work that’s been done at the factory and at the track; this is the result of the team’s determination and motivation. It’s been a great day and I’m really happy to have played my part in this for the team".
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance, is happy of Albon’s race, even if the team ignored several opportunities to pit under safety cars. He also talk about Latifi, who followed a riskier stategy than Albon’s one:
"Alex drove brilliantly today and found a sweet spot on the Prime tyre, which gave him good pace and, crucially, much less degradation than many other cars. He completed a very long stint and we ignored several opportunities to pit under safety cars, hoping that something might happen to allow us to keep as many of the gains as possible. In the end, the degradation of cars behind and difficulty in overtaking gave us a small opportunity to run until the very end and pull a gap big enough for a pitstop. Under huge pressure, the pit crew were very good, and Alex was quick enough on the out-lap to secure tenth place. After the ups and down of the previous two days, this was an excellent result for the entire team. Nicholas had a more difficult race following a very different strategy to Alex. We wanted to spend a lot of the race on the Prime tyre with both cars, but we chose to get Nicky’s Option stint done early in the race rather than put him on the riskier strategy that Alex followed. Nicky found the opening stint on the Option difficult and showed degradation like most of the field. His pace on the Prime was better, but he still couldn’t quite match the degradation of Alex. We need to understand if differences in the car and driving style contributed to this, and this will be the main focus of our work as we prepare for the next race in Imola".
The Williams' team principal Jost Capito talks about the improvements made by the team:
"To get a point early in the season is good for the team and I'm extremely happy for everyone - the team deserved this. We've had a difficult start to the season, and even yesterday was difficult, but that's the good thing about racing - things can change on the Sunday and it's not over until it's over. If you keep pushing and always stay motivated, keep the team alive and believing in itself, then fortunes can change".
Sebastian Vettel had a difficult weekend on his return to the sport, spinning off into the barriers and bringing out the Safety Car:
"My lack of race experience with this car did not help today. I was pushing a little too hard and I lost the car on the kerbs at Turn Four and could not prevent the impact, which is very frustrating. Every lap in race conditions counts because this was my first time racing this car, so it is a shame not to have completed the race. We know that the car is challenging, but we are continuing to search for solutions to add more performance. Things did not go our way this week, but it is time to move on and I am confident that we can come back stronger at Imola".
Lance Stroll had a five-second time penalty and this together with his three pit stops, took him out of the points:
"We did not quite have the pace for points today, although we were able to defend a position inside the top 10 for a while late on. I think we had the right idea with our strategy by running the majority of the race on the Hard tyre, but we will look over the data and see what else we can learn. The five-second penalty was frustrating, even though it did not change our final race position. I caught Valtteri [Bottas] after the Virtual Safety Car and made up a place so it was frustrating to receive a penalty for weaving. I also want to say thank you to the team once again: everybody did a tremendous job to get the cars repaired this weekend. We will keep our heads up and dig deep to try to extract more from the car in the races to come".
Mike Krack, Aston Martin' team principal, defines this race a frustrating end to a weekend to forget, because of Vettel’s accident and Stroll’s wrong strategy:
"Sebastian had an accident on the exit of Turn Four, and was taken to the Medical Centre for precautionary checks, but I am glad to say he is OK. Our strategy team reacted cleverly to the lap-four Safety Car triggered by [Carlos] Sainz’s lap-three shunt, pitting Lance twice in quick succession. He had started on the Hard, which we expected to be a better race tyre than the Medium, so we gave him just a single lap on the Medium before pitting him again to put him back on the Hard. At one point we hoped that that strategy might lift him to a points finish, but in the end it did not quite do that. From here we will go home to Silverstone where we will work hard to prepare for Imola, where we want and expect to have a better race than we have had here. Nonetheless, I am pleased that the famously passionate Melbourne fans have had a Grand Prix to enjoy at Albert Park for the first time in three years".
Mick Schumacher says he learned a lot and hopes to be better in Imola:
"It was a very eventful one. Right from the beginning with Carlos coming around and cutting back across the track, I think we got missed by a few meters there, and obviously Yuki under the safety car coming quite close together. I think in terms of pace we were not too far off, it’s just unfortunate that there’s not a huge amount of passing opportunities here. Lots was learned, some positives, so we’ve just got to take it away with us and hopefully be better in Imola".
Kevin Magnussen started on the hard tyre and ran in the top ten before his pit stop dropped him backwards, and from there he had a fair tussle with his team mate who ultimately came out on top:
"It was good fun and a nice track. Disappointed not to get points today but we made a small gamble on the hard tire as we felt we were faster than our position, which we were, but the safety car came and ruined the strategy. The starting set-up that we had here wasn’t good and we were struggling a little bit with tires on this new tarmac but we were able to turn it around and get much closer to the pack in the race and have pretty decent pace. We were able to turn things around and we’ll score points next time".
Guenther Steiner says that the race did not work as they planned, even if the cars are strong and the drivers did a good job:
"We always make sure that the safety car is out at the wrong time - but seriously though - sometimes you get lucky and sometimes you get unlucky. The car was strong and the drivers did a good job so we know if we qualify better we can score points, and that is what we keep on trying to do. As I always say, this year we’ve got a car that can score points, we’ve just had a difficult weekend. It’s one of three which was difficult, here we go again in Imola".
Mario Isola, Head of F1 and Car Racing, comments about the race, strategies, and the modified track layout in Melbourne:
"The tyres performed in line with the expectations we had established from Friday’s free practice sessions, despite the much higher temperatures on race day and expected track evolution. Nearly all the drivers made just one pit stop, with many of them taking advantage of safety cars to minimise the time loss. The different characteristics of the medium and hard tyres, with deliberately higher degradation on the medium, also presented the drivers with a wide pit stop window. This allowed them to maximise strategic opportunities today. The modified track layout here in Melbourne helped to underline how the new car and tyre package for 2022 permits drivers to attack and overtake, with a high number of passing manoeuvres. We also saw some ingenious pit strategies, such as two consecutive pit stops from Lance Stroll to cycle through the medium tyre, and a very long hard stint from Alex Albon that enabled him to get from last on the grid into the points".
Now, Charles Leclerc leads the drivers' championship with 71 points, followed by George Russell's 37, while Max Verstappen has 24 points behind Carlos Sainz, Sergio Perez and Lewis Hamilton. All eyes right now are on Imola, where on April 24's will be held the Emilia Romagna Gran Prix.