Formula 1

Formula 1: Verstappen wins eventful Australian Grand Prix

Feature Image Credit: @Formula1 Twitter

Max Verstappen took his 2nd win of the season in a chaotic Australian Grand Prix which saw 4 safety cars and 3 red flags.

The race was ultimately one that Verstappen would go on to control, though it wasn’t without some early troubles.

It was a great start for Mercedes as Russell was able to jump Verstappen at turn 1, with Hamilton overtaking the Dutchman at turn 3. Further behind Leclerc had made contact with Lance Stroll, causing the Ferrari to get beached and taken out of the race.

This brought out the safety car, which a few drivers make an opportunistic pit stop. Ocon, Zhou, Sargeant, Perez and Bottas all boxed onto new hard tyres,  hoping to gain later in the race.

On the restart George Russell managed to get away well from the lead, with Hamilton following behind. Verstappen was himself chasing Hamilton closely, but was unable to overtake.

Then on lap 8, Alex Albon crashed from an impressive 6th place, as he loses the rear end. This initially brought out the safety car, causing Russell and Sainz to pit. Hamilton, Verstappen and Alonso all stayed out, which ultimately turned out to be the correct decision as the red flag got brought out. This was due to the debris that was brought onto the track because of the crash.

On the restart Hamilton manages to have a better getaway than Verstappen and maintains his lead. Alonso also puts some initial pressure on Verstappen but settles back into third. A little further behind Russell goes from 7th to 5th, whilst de Vries makes a bit of contact with Ocon.

Lap 12 was the first lap with DRS since the red flag and Verstappen would take this opportunity to pass Hamilton for the lead, having piled on the pressure for the previous two laps. Though overtaking into turn 11,Verstappen managed to build a two second gap over Hamilton by the end of the lap.

A lap later Russell moved into fourth over Gasly, whilst Sainz would overtake Hulkenberg on lap 14, and then Stroll on lap 15. Alonso began pressuring Hamilton as he entered DRS range on lap 17. However this was short lived as at the end of the lap Russell’s engine gave up, causing a virtual safety car.

The race settled down once green flag running resumed. Alonso wasn’t able to get consistently close again to Hamilton, though flirted with entering DRS range every so often.

Due to how early everyone pitted because of the red flag, this became a very management-heavy race. However with Red Bull’s Sergio Perez so far down the order he was still providing overtakes. Lap 21 saw him overtake Ocon, and he enters the points by overtaking Piastri on lap 22.

Gasly had done well defending against the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz behind, though lap 25 saw the Spaniard pull of a nice dummy move on Gasly for fourth place. Despite this the Alpine driver would manage to stay within Sainz’s DRS for much of the race afterwards.

The gap to Norris took Perez a little while to close down, though the Red Bull driver was able to get a move done on the McLaren on lap 43. He would then follow that up with an overtake on Hulkenberg just one lap later for 7th.

Image credit: @redbullracing Twitter

This would open up the door for a battle for 8th between Norris and Hulkenberg, which Norris would eventually win out on with a move on lap 51.

Lap 53 is when the chaos began. Magnussen hits his right rear tyre on the wall at the exit of turn 2, causing it to completely separate. This in turn brought out a second red flag for the race, providing some potential jeopardy to Verstappen’s lead.

The race would resume on lap 57, but only for a few corners. Gasly and Perez both struggle to turn in and go wide at turn 1. Logan Sargeant goes straight on and spins de Vries. Sainz hits Alonso’s rear and spins his compatriot round. Gasly, attempting to get back onto the racing line, forces his teammate Ocon into the wall and takes both of them out of the race. Stroll also locks up going into turn 3.

The pandemonium causes yet another red flag to come out, and rearranges the running order completely. Hulkenberg is in 4th, Tsunoda is in 5th, and Piastri entering into the points.

The commotion had caused confusion as to how the race would end, and in what order. The FIA decided that the cars would finish the race with one lap under safety car, and the race order would be taken from before the restart. This is because no one had completed a full sector of the lap before the red flag was brought out. This returned Alonso back to 3rd after his spin, Hulkenberg back to 8th and Tsunoda back to 11th.

Sainz was penalised for his incident with Alonso. Though he was 4th at the chequered flag, the safety car finish meant he was demoted down to 12th.

Verstappen now leads by 15 points over teammate Perez, who finished the race 6th. Oscar Piastri scored his first points in F1 at his home race with an 8th place finish.

There is now a four week gap to the next grand prix, taking place in Azerbaijan.



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