Two weeks after the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix - which saw the victory of Sergio Perez, followed by teammate Max Verstappen who, despite starting from fifteenth position, narrowly missed out on victory but kept first position in the championship by winning the fastest lap, Formula 1 lights up again and flies to the other hemisphere, to the luxuriant and always rich and bizarre fauna: Australia. Melbourne's Albert Park street circuit hosts the third round of the longest Formula 1 calendar to date ever built. For the second race weekend in a row, the race is held on a street circuit. Last year, the pit lane has been widened by two meters and the chicane comprising Turns 9 and 10 removed to make the section of the circuit faster via a new 1.3km straight, now the longest on the track. Other changes concern the widening of some corners, such as the eleventh in the third sector, which has been widened on entry. From the simulations carried out, the lap time is reduced by five seconds, with speeds exceeding 330 km/h in the new fast section. As a temporary structure, the Albert Park circuit can be quite bumpy, although the resurface made in 2022 has undoubtedly improved things. The circuit at the start of the weekend is often slippery and gets tougher as the sessions progress. It's also a circuit that requires a well-matched chassis, with several points on the track where the riders require a responsive front end to corner well. Melbourne is also one of the fastest tracks on the calendar, with Lewis Hamilton's 2019 pole lap set at an average of over 235km/h. For this Grand Prix, Pirelli, the sole tire supplier, offers the choice between C2, C3 and C4 compound tyres, the type of tire that characterizes the central range of the type of tire made available by the Italian company, the same option chosen for the previous Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. The same choice was established in the 2019 edition of the Grand Prix, while in the previous edition of 2022, the Italian company designated the compound jump in the range of selectable tires. Mario Isola, Director of Pirelli Motorsport regarding the choice of compound this year says that it is the same one already used for the 2022 edition:
"We've made the same tyre choice as we did back in 2019 for the Australian Grand Prix. Following a two-year absence from the calendar due to the Covid pandemic, we went for a gap in the nominated compounds last year: selecting the C2, C3 and then the softest C5 compound. That race was a one-stopper won by Ferrari's Charles Leclerc, with all the teams using the hard and the medium tyre, while the soft was just used for qualifying. This weekend, the teams will have the C2, C3, and C4 at their disposal, which means that they have more options for the race in terms of strategy: on paper at least. We're expecting a high degree of track evolution throughout the weekend, as is normally the case in Melbourne, while the energy demands on the tyres are about average for the season. It's a flowing track with corners that are faster following last year's modifications, which benefit overtaking as well as the overall spectacle".
The circus comes to Australia with hopes that the fight for the top spot can come alive after witnessing two devastating victories by Red Bull Racing in the first two World Championship apputnaments. But Ferrari is busy trying to find a solution that can make the car work at its best, while Mercedes has literallyalmetne wrong design, so it is already planning to bring a B version of its car to the track. At the end of the previous Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, the British manufacturer Aston Martin presented the stewards with a request to review the ten-second race time penalty inflicted on its driver Fernando Alonso for not serving correctly during a stop in the pits a five-second penalty following the incorrect positioning of the latter on the starting grid. Alonso, third on arrival, climbed one position. The right of revision was accepted by the Federation and the constructor was summoned by the race direction. After having examined what was presented by the team, the commissioners annulled the sanction to Alonso, who regained the third position conquered in the race. To avoid similar cases in the future, also regarding the wrong starting grid position of the French Alpine driver, Esteban Ocon, in the Bahrain Grand Prix, also penalized by the race directors, the Federation declares that what happened will be discussed on Thursday subsequent to the dispute of the tender and that clarity is provided before this appointment. Before the start of the first free practice session on Friday, the German team Mercedes do not confirm the self-certification to be presented to the Federation that the British driver Lewis Hamilton is wearing jewellery, in the form of piercings, chains or metal watches. Hamilton is summoned by the stewards but receives no sanctions. The second gearbox and second transmission are installed on the car of George Russell and Hamilton. Both Mercedes drivers are not penalized on the starting grid as the new components installed are among those usable within the maximum number established by the technical regulations.
The second unit relating to the internal combustion engine is installed on the car of Valtteri Bottas, Zhou Guanyu, Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hülkenberg. The second unit relating to the exhaust system was installed on the car of Russell, Hamilton, Oscar Piastri, Bottas, Lance Stroll, Fernando Alonso, Magnussen, Alexander Albon and Logan Sargeant, while the third unit was installed on the car of Lando Norris. All drivers are not penalized on the starting grid as the new components installed are among those that can be used in the maximum number established by the technical regulations. The Alfa Romeo Racing team arrive in Australia with big disappointments from Saudi Arabia. The two drivers started from twelfth (Zhou) and fourteenth (Bottas) position, and were unable to convert their positions into points, so the race was quite difficult. For the Australian Grand Prix, Alfa Romeo have brought a new package of updates, most notably a new front wing. The introduction of modifications to such a component should always be carefully evaluated, since the wing sorts and structures the flows which then invest the entire car. In detail, the nose fairing on the C43 has been redesigned, without involving the lower impact structure which would otherwise have required passing new crash tests. The nose now extends up to the main profile, whereas previously it stopped at the second flap. Alfa Romeo thus renounces part of the local load and the flow of air channeled under the body, however seeking a better compromise with the cleanliness and energy of the flows that run over the chassis. In addition to having been lengthened, the nose also appears more rounded. The front wing has also been redesigned around the new nose. To be revised are above all the main profile and the one immediately above it. In the Melbourne version, the car's profiles are more regular, with fewer sudden dips or rises. The impression is that the team is looking for greater flow consistency, without abrupt changes in behavior at various speeds and heights from the ground. Finally, it should be noted that in the center of the car Alfa Romeo has reduced the string of the rear-view mirror supports, refining the local flow. After the first two races of the World Championship, Aston Martin appears to be a very fast car to be feared. Fernando Alonso at the end of Jeddah takes back the third position - an always complicated and complex race management which had first penalized him by relegating him to fourth position and then the podium was returned to him at the expense of the young Russell - and once again confirms himself as the old lion of the track:
"We head to Australia feeling good having scored back-to-back podiums and we hope to build on these results this weekend. The car has performed quite well on two different circuits so far. However, our feet remain on the ground and we are realistic that in order to keep scoring strong results we need to deliver in all areas of the team.Australia is always a fun race to go to and I am curious to see how the track differs to previous years.It is going to be even faster than last year and hopefully we will see more overtaking.But as ever Qualifying will likely be pivotal at Albert Park, so we need to make sure we have a strong Saturday to put us in the best possible position to score as many points as possible".
Mercedes team certainly cannot complain about its fourth and fifth position in Saudi Arabia, confirming itself as the third power behind Red Bull and Aston Martin. For Toto Wolff, Mercedes’ Team Principal, the progress seen in Saudi Arabia is encouraging, but there is still a lot of work to do. This year's Red Bull is extremely competitive and it will be difficult to match them. The characteristics of the Australian circuit are unique and there will be a lot of work to be done inside the German garage to adapt the W14 to what the track requires, trying to maximize the car's performance:
"The progress we saw in Saudi Arabia was encouraging. We maximized the package we had and scored some solid points. More importantly, we continued to learn and understand more about the W14 and our development direction. Everyone back at base has been hard at work to turn these learnings into performance. The signs we are seeing back at the factory are promising. We have got to take it step by step, though, and won't get carried away until we see performance translated into lap time on track. The competitive order behind Red Bull is tight, with small margins having a big effect on points scored. There remains a significant gap to the front and that is ultimately what we are interested in closing. We are looking forward to Australia. It's a country serious about its motorsport with a great racing tradition, and the fans are super passionate. Albert Park is a circuit with unique characteristics, which we will have to work hard to adapt to with the W14. As always, we will look to maximize the car we have , and score as many points as our potential currently allows. We are not where we want to be - but that won't stop us from racing hard and giving it everything we've got".
Red Bull are the team to beat. Jeddah saw the victory of the Mexican Perez ahead of a Verstappen who conquered the podium starting from the fifteenth position and overtaking all the other riders with disarming ease. Two races from the start of the championship and for both rounds the podium lead was entirely Red Bull. It's a solid, fast, unparalleled machine. If in qualifying it can possibly be defeated by other teams, in the race it has no rivals: not only does it win, but it annihilates the other riders, eliminating any possibility or desire for a climb. Sergio Perez arrives in Melbourne with a big dream: to beat the unbeatable and iron Verstappen, who leaves no room for anyone but covers every kilometer of asphalt as if it were the last. When the Dutchman has a perfect car, he doesn't give his opponents a chance to speak. While Perez is not contentedly as bright as his teammate, Saudi Arabia's clean weekend has given him a strong boost:
"I had a complete weekend and that was one of my aims this season, to be consistent across all three days. But we are only two races into the season and have to keep pushing to make sure we continue this great start to the season. Bahrain and Saudi are very different tracks to each other and Australia will be another challenge for us and this car. We have great pace and are working so hard together to make sure our reliability is there too. It's been a fun start to 2023 but that won't matter if we don't maintain our high level".
The Ferrari of early 2023 doesn't shine like the single-seater we left last year. The Jeddah grand prix showed a car that was too slow compared to what was expected after the pre-season tests. Furthermore, tire degradation was obvious and too incisive, especially on the hard tyres. Both drivers struggled to manage a complex and complicated single-seater; difficult to understand how it will evolve in the next Grand Prix. Unfortunately, the two drivers know that there will also be suffering at Albert Park, but there is confidence in the team's work on the track and in Maranello. In these days of break between one race and another, Sainz worked to be fit and physically face the Melbourne weekend in the best possible way:
"If it wasn’t so far away, I’d come here much more often. I’ve had time for a few outings over the past few days and now I’m in top form, with no jetlag and a relaxation and training programme under my belt. The target for this weekend is to find the right compromise between qualifying performance, which has been pretty good so far and our race pace, which in the first two Grands Prix has not lived up to our expectations. The medium-term goal is to develop the SF-23 with updates aimed at fixing the weak points we have identified. Obviously, a lack of performance in the race has impacted our results and we definitely have to make a step forward. I am convinced we can do so. The team is in agreement on the direction to take and this gives us confidence that we can get where we want to be over the course of the year. So far this season, our guys have always produced very good pit stops, our race starts have been better and our strategies have been spot-on. These are all important elements which could prove useful over the course of the season".
Charles Leclerc is undoubtedly the most disappointed of the two Ferrari drivers so far. Bahrain retirement and a new control unit already in Jeddah seem to have already negatively affected this year's Formula 1. The Monegasque knows very well that there is really a lot of work to be done on the SF-23, but trust in the team is central and he wins on every doubt and perplexity:
"We know we have a lot of work to do, but we also have a clear idea of what is needed. As we have seen, the car is competitive in qualifying, while in the race, we lose performance because the car is sensitive to changing external conditions.The team is motivated and determined to fight and there is still a long way to go this season.From our side, I think it will be important to make the most of this time to optimize the current package and develop updates that will allow us to make the necessary step forward.We need a strong and consistent car that allows us drivers to push in the race.We are working in this direction and I am confident that, over the season, we can succeed in reaching our goals".
On Friday, 31st March 2023, when in Europe it is late night, the twenty Formula 1 drivers start their weekend on the Melbourne circuit in the Albert Park, located in Victoria, Australia. The Red Bull seem to be unrivalled at the moment, while the surprise of the moment, Aston Martin, is the main candidate to be the runner-up, taking advantage from the negative moment of Ferrari and Mercedes. There are some news concerning the use of common parts: a new ICE for Ferrari clients, Haas and Alfa Romeo, a new gearbox for the two Mercedes, as well as a new exhaust system from Mercedes-powered teams. Norris will use his third unit, as well as Magnussen, while Verstappen goes back using the first gearbox, put aside after Saudi issues. Red Bull has a new front wing endplate, additional front wing changes and a tweak to rear-end bodywork to aid cooling. Mercedes brought new floor edge vanes, waiting for bigger updates for the Imola weekend, while Aston Martin and Ferrari did not bring any major changes. Alfa Romeo gets a new nose, longer and slimmer, as well as four elements of the wing redesigned for better aero. The track’s features require a very high average speed, similar to Jeddah, so the cars’ setups will be less loaded; however, Red Bull choose a more loaded upper plane for a better use of DRS. All teams are running a gurney flap on the upper plane trailing edge, except for Aston Martin and Haas, which removed it to reduce drag further, and McLaren runs a barn door. Another news concerns Liberty Media, that wants to change the qualifying system in the sprint races, adding a second qualifying session for the Sprint Race starting grid, which will consist of a single flying lap, while the normal qualifying session will decide the grid for the Sunday race. For putting this in place, 28 votes are necessary in the Commission, so at least eight teams should agree. Controversies ensued after the statement by Domenicali about abolishing free practices, which are considered to be boring for common fans, and only liked by engineers, but some drivers, such as Russell, Gasly and Hulkenberg, partially agree with the CEO of Liberty Media, and declare that one free practice session may be enough. Instead, Max Verstappen, who is not even in favour of sprint races, completely disagrees. After Alonso’s case in Jeddah, the FIA announces that teams cannot touch their cars while serving a penalty, not even with carts.
Grid box dimensions are enlarged, from 2.4 meters to 2.7 meters, after Ocon’s and Alonso’s mistake in placing the car on the starting grid, respectively in Bahrain and in Jeddah. The weather forecast for this weekend is not the best: rain is expected, the temperatures are 17 °C at the start of the first session and 16 °C at the start of the second session, while a strong wind will hit the cars. The sky at the start of FP1 is partly cloudy, and it is not certain whether rain will hit the circuit already in this session. The practice starts regularly, with only few drivers complaining about issues, such as Sargeant and Hamilton who complain about bottoming and bouncing, or Verstappen unhappy about the gear shifts. Despite this, the reigning World Champion is the fastest driver with soft tyres and a time of 1'19"332, while Perez, Hamilton, Stroll and Russell follow him with medium tyres and the Ferraris are behind with hard tyres. After 11 minutes, Kevin Magnussen goes off track at Turn 3 and finishes in the gravel, forced to slow down. After 15 minutes, Perez sets the fastest lap with 1'19"293, on medium tyres. Shortly after, Verstappen gets back on the first place with 1'18"790, on soft tyres. On minute 33, Tsunoda spectacularly goes off track at Turn 1 and almost hits the wall, without consequences. The Japanese will change the gearbox before FP2. After 37 minutes, the session is red-flagged due to a GPS issue, which fails to detect the cars on track and starts to cause some traffic problems. The session restarts fifteen minutes before the end. On minute 54, Max Verstappen loses the control of his car between Turn 3 and 4 after hitting the kerb, but manages to resume his run. The session stops four minutes before the end with a red flag caused by Sargeant, who stops his Williams on the right side of Turn 11, due to a loss of power. Max Verstappen ends this first free practice session on top, with 1'18"790, followed by Lewis Hamilton, who after struggling with hard and medium tyres manages to set a decent lap with soft tyres, but still four tenths behind the Dutchman and five tenths behind his teammate, Sergio Perez. Leclerc and Sainz with Ferrari are fifth and sixth, behind Fernando Alonso on Aston Martin. Few hours later, the weather progressively worsens, as clouds of rain loom on the next session. The FP2 session starts with Lando Norris coming out of the box sideways, probably because the tyres are not yet at the right temperature. The teams need to be fast in collecting data about dry tyres before the rain starts.
The wind causes many problems, especially for the Mercedes cars, which do not give the confidence that Hamilton and Russell need; even Verstappen makes a mistake by cutting the corner at Turn 1-2. After ten minutes, Alonso is the fastest, on medium tyres, with 1'18"887, eight tenths faster than Sainz and Verstappen, both on medium tyres as well. Perez, after setting two purple sectors, fails to set the fastest lap due to traffic. The rain eventually starts on minute 14, so all cars return to the pits. On minute 27, Sainz comes out with soft tyres while Russell is on intermediate tyres, but the track is still pretty dry. DRS is disabled, so the drivers cannot try the qualifying pace. Few minutes later, rain intensifies so the drivers with dry tyres have to return to the pits. The track stays wet for the rest of the session so all drivers have to go with intermediate tyres and no one improves his times. Lance Stroll is the driver who struggles the most in these conditions, going off track few times during the wet session. At the end of the session, Alonso is the fastest driver, followed by Leclerc and Verstappen. The rest of the drivers are in the following order: Russell, Sainz, Ocon, Perez, Norris, Hulkenberg, Gasly, Tsunoda, Bottas, Hamilton, Piastri, Zhou, Stroll, De Vries, Albon and Magnussen. Sargeant does not join the session after the issues he had in FP1. A positive day for Red Bull overall, despite some missed occasions in FP2. Max Verstappen is not completely happy, anyway:
"The conditions weren't great out there today, we had low grip and the tarmac seemed to be slippery. It was quite tough to switch the tyres on, so that was difficult when you want to push immediately. There were also quite a few interruptions with the red flags, so we never really got into a rhythm. It was difficult to tell how the car felt as we never got a window where I thought we were on top of the tyres. We’ll look over the data tonight and see what we have to do tomorrow. The conditions should be clearer for the rest of the weekend, so we can focus on that".
His teammate Sergio Perez also feels like there is still a lot of work to do:
"There were some issues with the GPS in FP1 and it felt like a lot of us still had issues with it in FP2. We made some good changes from FP1 that I could feel in sector 1 and sector 2 but I couldn’t get a full lap in the afternoon with the traffic in sector 3. I was a bit surprised in the damp conditions that I couldn't get a good sense of the track, but in the dry it was great and the car felt good. There is plenty to do tomorrow, but we still take a lot of confidence from today. Tomorrow we will see where we really are".
Ferrari is still behind and never stood out during the sessions, despite a good second place for Leclerc in the FP2 hit by the rain. The Monegasque opens up about the team’s growth and the comparison to the rivals:
"We explored quite a few set-up variations today, which was interesting as it felt like we were going in a right direction. That doesn’t mean that we have the same pace as our competitors, as they still seem to have the upper hand for now. There is still a lot of work to do before we can get back in a proper fight but we will put all our energy in making further steps forward".
His teammate Carlos Sainz says that the work will be more intense on Saturday, due to the bad weather:
"This Friday was a bit compromised by the rain in FP2, so we decided not to do many laps in the rain, choosing instead to start preparing everything for tomorrow. On the other hand, FP1 was very useful for the team. We went through very different set-up configurations trying to improve the feeling with the car and to get to understand the current package a bit more. We are pushing hard to maximise everything and I look forward to the rest of the weekend".
Mercedes’ drivers are unhappy as well, as the weather did not help them collect enough data. Lewis Hamilton, who came second in FP1, states this:
"This morning was good, but this afternoon wasn't as good. We made some changes after FP1 that didn't quite work and we will look to revert this evening. It also rained in FP2, so it wasn't the greatest of sessions. You don't tend to learn a huge amount in those mixed conditions. It's more about keeping the car safe. As we saw this morning, traffic is always an issue here. Everyone had troubles in FP1 with the GPS so hopefully that won't happen again, and we won't get in each other's way. We won't be competing against the Red Bulls tomorrow. We will be trying to get up as high as possible though; I think we've got similar pace to the last race in Saudi Arabia".
George Russell, who ended FP2 in fourth place, seems more confident:
"Overall, it wasn't too bad a day. We've been making good steps with the car on Fridays. We've been changing a few things and getting the car in a nice window as the weekend progresses. That's quite satisfying from the driver's seat, knowing that the car feels better and as a team we have contributed towards that. FP2 was frustrating for everybody with the rain. It was still a reasonable session for us though, as we made a step forward from FP1. Let's see what tomorrow brings with the weather. The rain came in quite suddenly today and there may be some around tomorrow so I would be happy for things to be spiced up. The difference in tarmac race-to-race has a substantial effect on the car and the feeling of driving it. Jeddah and Melbourne have similar tarmac so you can really push the tyres hard. You can do numerous push laps which is unique; in Qualifying we're going to be doing lots of laps. That's different to the norm so it could be exciting. We know we've got more performance to come in future races, but we need to maximise our chances this weekend. We will keep trying our best to maximise the potential of the car".
Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes’ Trackside Engineering Director, comments about the direction taken in the evolution of the car in this weekend:
"This track is similar to Jeddah in several respects, and we've not made significant changes to the car. We therefore came here expecting to have to manage the same issues as we've been dealing with at the last two races. It's been a bit of a messy day with the red flag in the first practice when the GPS systems failed and the rain in the afternoon. We've found some good directions in terms of setup, but we didn't necessarily get all the good bits on the car all at the same time. As such, we've got a bit of work to do piecing together the findings from the various experiments but that's just a normal part of a Friday evening. The conditions are going to be even colder tomorrow so getting temperature in the tyres could be a challenge in Qualifying. We should have relevant conditions in the final practice session to understand the issues however".
Aston Martin confirm their positive moment, with Alonso claiming the FP2. The two-time World Champion is pretty happy after the two sessions:
"It was a good Friday for us and nice to be back in Australia. In FP1 we concentrated on some test items and ran through our programme smoothly. The afternoon was obviously impacted by the rain, so there is still some work to do tomorrow. We need to learn more about the tyres and the long run pace of the car because there was not much time for that today. So far though the car seems to behave well. The forecast tomorrow looks dry for now, and we would welcome that given we only experienced these conditions in the previous two races".
Mario Isola, Pirelli Motorsport Director, analyses the tyre situation in the Australian Grand Prix:
"It's been a variable day. As always at Albert Park, the asphalt conditions change very quickly, especially in the early sessions, and today was no exception. It started raining shortly after the start of FP2 in the afternoon and that complicated the picture even more, as it wasn't possible to carry out the long runs needed for a full assessment of the tyres. This means that all the preparation work done before Melbourne takes on extra significance, especially when it comes to strategies. From what we can see up to now this weekend's trio of compounds are behaving as we expected, also in terms of performance gaps. All three types of tyre are valid options for the race, offering a wide range of possible strategies. We saw a bit of graining on the medium and soft in FP1, with a 'green' track and relatively low temperatures, while FP2 meant that the drivers were able to get at least an initial impression of the intermediates. There's one free practice session left before qualifying that will give drivers a chance to carry out the long runs that have been missing so far, in weather conditions that should be better. That's another interesting factor to consider as the Australian Grand Prix weekend continues".
In short, everyone hopes that bad weather will not affect the last session of free practice and qualifying so that all the programmes for car testing can be completed and the teams can understand their true potential. It’s 1st of April and still there are grey clouds round the racetrack. Everyone is nervous because a few hours before there has been a morning drizzle that has further washed away the rubber that has been built up over, but fortunately the Albert Park circuit of Melbourne is now dry for the Saturday's final practice session. Verstappen is opening his account with a 1'19"664. on medium tyres but then the Ferrari representative Carlos Sainz is passing him for a minimal short time. However, the reigning World Champion claims his early P1 with 1'18"741. At the only medium lap from the frontrunners, the other Ferrari man Charles Leclerc beats him with a 1'18"731. on softs. After being on top with a 1'18"731., he goes down to a 1'18"691. Meanwhile, Sergio Perez stays in the garage for the opening stages because the mechanics are working on the rear of his RB19. It seems that not only Friday's session was messy for the Red Bull man because this loss of track time is being even more costly for Perez than usual. After 15 minutes of the mark Fernando Alonso is setting a 1'18"329. riding his Aston Martin and fortunately Perez is joining the session: his car’s problem has been resolved! But something unexpected for him happens, as his rival from Hass Nico Hulkenberg puts him into the wall on his first push lap but he manages to get away. Soon, a Red-Flag is triggered because of a large piece of debris from Nyck De Vries’ AlphaTauri’s sidepod, which lands near the racing line near the fast Turn 9 kink. Suddenly a drizzle starts to fall and that condition near Turn 1 causes Perez and Leclerc to run wide. Meanwhile, Verstappen demotes Alonso with 1'17"565s. while the second grabs top for a while with 1'17"727. Esteban Ocon is also moving up the order, taking third 0.373s and 0.017s ahead of George Russell.
Pierre Gasly’s Alpine takes the fifth place, followed by Perez in sixth and Sainz in seventh. Lewis Hamilton gets blocked on his final flyer and that causes him to be eighth, while Aston's Lance Stroll and Zhou round out the top 10. Hulkenberg is 11th for Haas and is followed by Alex Albon (Williams). Behind them is coming Leclerc, who can’t get a final lap in. The list continues with 14th Oscar Piastri for McLaren, followed by Valtteri Bottas (Alfa) and AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda. Last of all arrive Logan Sargeant (Williams), Kevin Magnussen (Haas), Nick De Vries (AlphaTauri) and Lando Norris, who only ran 12 laps because of a clutch problem on his McLaren in the final part of the session. In the afternoon, it’s time for qualifying. Despite the official risk of rain at 90%, the drivers are moving forward on slick tyres to make use of dry conditions at the start of Q1. Six minutes past and Williams' Logan Sargeant brings out a yellow flag by going off track out of Turn 13. Unfortunately, Red Bull’s Sergio Perez locks up at Turn 3 and goes in the gravel. Nico Hulkenberg is top of the timesheets and there are 10 drivers yet to set a flying lap. The Q1 is resumed and the cars’ soft tyres must hold up in the cool conditions. Laps are thick and fast but drivers are also fuelled up for multiple more laps. Max Verstappen holds the top spot with an effort of 1'17"384. while George Russell is 0.270s off in P2 and his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton third by 0.305s. Esteban Ocon is 0.386s off with Alpine and leaves the Aston Martins fifth and sixth with Fernando Alonso ahead of Lance Stroll. Alex Albon is on the pace throughout in his Williams but Carlos Sainz takes P7 first. Hulkenberg improves and takes P9 ahead of his Haas teammate Kevin Magnussen.
The Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc has bad luck with an error that places him 11th, ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris and Alpine’s Pierre Gasly. Then, both AlphaTauris with Nyck de Vries ahead of Yuki Tsunoda in a top 15 split by 1.087s. Oscar Piastri takes the P16 ahead of Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu P17 and Williams’ Sargeant is not far back in P18. A traffic issue makes Valtteri Bottas 19th while Perez 20th. The first drivers to be knocked out are: Piastri, Zhou, Sargeant, Bottas and Perez. It’s time for Q2 and Verstappen immediately leads Alonso by 0.064s while Leclerc goes third by 0.341s; all drivers continue their constant lapping on soft tyres to take advantage. But suddenly there is an incoming discussion: drivers have to decide whether to continue on their used softs or invest their time into scrubbing a set of new softs. Verstappen doesn’t doubt and takes a new set of softs. This decision is beneficial and helps him to improve by a tenth with a lap of 1'17"056. In counterpart, Alonso declines doing the same and now retains P2. Sainz claims his P3 with 0.293s off the pace, ahead of teammate Leclerc. Meanwhile, Hulkenberg is surprising for P5. Albon takes P10, being continued by Ocon, who is 0.08s off safety in P11. Tsunoda is furious at being held up in the weighing station during Q2, something that puts him 12th. Norris is 13th, Magnussen 14th and De Vries 15th. The second list of knocked out is: Ocon, Tsunoda, Norris, Magnussen and De Vries. Final Q3 arrives and Verstappen puts in a representative lap taking provisional pole with a time of 1'17"262. Behind him is Hamilton with 0.009s off and Alonso 0.041s in P3. Verstappen may have been top but he reports gearshift and battery issues after his flying effort. The Red Bull man tries again and sets the fastest times in sectors 1 and 3, improving to 1'16"732 and taking by the way his first pole position in Australia. He is drawing level with Alonso with his 22nd F1 career pole position. 0.236s takes Russell at the pace in P2 ahead of Hamilton in P3. Meanwhile, Alonso is 4th ahead of Sainz and Stroll is 6th, followed by Leclerc. The podium is complete with Albon in P8 (Williams), Gasly 9th (Alpine) and Hulkenberg 10th (Haas). The star of the day, Max Verstappen admits:
"Overall, it was a pretty good qualifying. It’s been tough this weekend to get the tyres in a good window to push straight away, but it all worked out in Q3 and the last run was good. I’m very happy with the lap and to be on pole position here in Australia. I’m looking forward to tomorrow, it’s going to be an interesting race that’s for sure. We need a clean start, and after that, hopefully we can do a good job. I’ve been on the podium here before but this time I want to be on a different step".
Obviously, it was an awful workday for Sergio Perez, who confesses:
"Today was a day to forget. We have a technical issue that we’re trying to get to the bottom of, we had the same issue this morning and we thought we fixed it, but as soon as I hit the braking zone it was clear we hadn’t. It’s very unfortunate what happened today but together as a team, we’ll do our best to fix it ahead of tomorrow’s race. On a track that is hard to overtake, it will be tough, but I will do what I can to get some good points for the team and work hard to get us into a good position".
Christian Horner, Red Bulls’ CEO and Team Principal, is happy about Max’ result and then explains the problems Perez had:
"Max did an outstanding job in qualifying, particularly in these conditions and on this track. Our strategy was slightly different today, we weren’t doing the build and push laps, so it was all about getting the optimum out lap, getting the temperature he needed into the tyres then nailing the lap which he managed perfectly. It’s hugely disappointing for Checo that he’s not up there with Max. We suspect an engine setting issue contributed to a lockup that he had on his first lap in qualifying but obviously we need all the data back to analyse and ensure that if there is an issue, it’s resolved for tomorrow. It’s incredibly frustrating for him and the team, but he’s proven himself to be a great racer and we’ll be looking to make as much progress in the race as we can".
Fernando Alonso celebrates his 4th place:
"I am happy with fourth position today after a busy qualifying session. The circuit was difficult to judge at times, with changeable temperatures and weather. We seemed to improve in every session though and the car felt good to drive. Overall, I think it was probably our best qualifying session so far this season and our closest gap to pole position. We will see what we can do tomorrow because our race pace seems to be one of our strengths. We are expecting it to be difficult to overtake, but in these cooler conditions it will be an interesting race with lots of unknowns. The target is to score as many points as possible".
George Russell saying with enthusiasm:
“What a session that was for us. The car felt alive today and we weren't expecting that result at all. The lap at the end was right on the limit; I'm a little bit disappointed that we didn't get pole position. But that's one of those things in this sport. Your expectations change so quickly; we probably would have been happy with a top five result yesterday but today the car felt awesome. It goes to show we've got potential still to come. There is a lot of hard work going on back at the factory and here in Melbourne. I'm excited for tomorrow - it's going to be tough against Max, but we're definitely very happy to be lining up P2".
Lewis Hamilton is happy about getting back to the front row:
"This was a totally unexpected result and I'm so happy and grateful for P3. My second lap wasn't as good as the first one. I did gain a little bit of time in the last sector, but ultimately lost out a little bit at the beginning of the lap. I'm not disappointed though and I'm going to work as hard as I can to try and move forwards tomorrow. I'm proud of the team. We're all working as hard as we can to get right back up the front, so to be this close to the Red Bull is incredible. Hopefully tomorrow we can give them a bit of a run for their money. And we hope the weather will be good".
Toto Wolff, Mercedes’ Team Principal & CEO, shows himself glad:
"We're happy with how today went. We needed a little bit of happiness and at least for Saturday, we've got some of that. We have been grinding away with extracting performance from the car by getting the right mechanical setup. We brought it all together in Qualifying; we learned through the session, and we were open-minded. We changed the plan from doing a third or fourth push lap, to only doing two and then down to one in Q3. Starting second and third is a good place to be. It's been a while since we've had no-one really in front of us by starting P2. We'll try to make the best out of it tomorrow. Verstappen is clearly in a league of his own but hopefully we can slot in behind".
Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes’ Trackside Engineering Director, talks about the weather and its influence in the race:
"It's been a tricky weekend due to the cool conditions but a solid job by the team and drivers to land the tyres in the right window when it counted. We'd seen some good laps by the Ferraris and Astons across the weekend, so we're ahead of our own expectations to be starting second and third. The sessions have been a bit messy with red flags and rain so there's a real lack of long run data for everyone. That will make it difficult to know what the tyres will do. The softer compounds do seem very fragile in the cool conditions; we've tried to create a setup that is going to look after the tyres in the race, but we'll find out tomorrow if we've achieved that. Max has shown incredible pace in both races so far. Assuming that carries into tomorrow he'll be able to manage the tyres and build a gap all at the same time. However, our fight at the moment is with Ferrari and Aston and if we can stay ahead of them, we'll be very happy".
Carlos Sainz Jr. is satisfied with the result and declares:
"We had decent pace in qualifying today. Unfortunately there was a bit of confusion during the last preparation lap with other cars and that cost us a couple of tenths in Turn 1, as I arrived at it with the tyres a bit too cold. We have worked on different set up configurations during the weekend and tomorrow we’ll see what we can do during the race. It won’t be an easy one, but we will try to move up from our grid positions and bring home a good result".
The demanding Charles Leclerc shows dissatisfaction:
"It hasn’t been the best of qualifyings. I was confident that I could put it all together on our last lap in Q3, but things did not go as planned as I didn’t do the prep lap and we lost time. We will make sure we improve this as a team for the future. We have tried different configurations of set-up and worked on our race pace, so I look forward to fighting for some positions tomorrow".
Ferrari’s Team Principal Frédéric Vasseur explain his drivers’ situation:
"Today's qualifying was very close and unfortunately, things did not go to plan for us. In Q3, we were on the limit in terms of time at the end of the session so we didn’t do a preparation lap with Charles. Carlos didn’t manage to put a lap together, losing a few tenths in the first corner on what would have been his best lap, otherwise he could have been second or third".
He is hopeful for tomorrow as the team worked on the car after the last Grand Prix:
"However, the points are given out tomorrow and, since Jeddah, we have worked on getting consistent and strong performance from the SF-23 in race trim. Now we will prepare for the race as well as possible with the intention of moving up the order. Overtaking is not easy here, but it can be an unpredictable race".
Mario Isola, Pirelli Motorsport Director, talks about the condition of the track and the tyres and strategies used by the teams:
"This was a particularly intense Saturday. Yesterday's rain largely prevented the teams from gathering tyre data over long runs, which meant that there were two jobs to do in FP3 today: preparing for qualifying and carrying out some long runs on full fuel. From what we have seen over the two days so far, the three available compounds are performing as we expected. Both the soft and the medium showed a little bit of graining on a track that still isn't rubbered in, with low temperatures, while the hard demonstrated itself to be very consistent and not so far from the other two compounds in terms of performance. There was a threat of rain throughout qualifying, but with the exception of a couple of drops in Q3, the session was run entirely on dry-weather tyres. Leaving aside Verstappen's final run, today was very close, with barely four-tenths of a second covering P2 to P7 on the grid. A one-stopper remains the optimal strategy, with medium-hard being theoretically fastest and soft-hard slightly slower. This validates the decision to bring the C4 this year, offering a wider range of strategies compared to last year. Since 2022, it's clear to see how much performance has evolved, with the latest generation of cars going nearly a second a half faster here. Verstappen's pole time was 1.1 seconds faster than the equivalent from Charles Leclerc last year - but that was set with the softest C5 compound, which is around 0.4 seconds faster than the C4: the softest option in Australia this weekend".
It's Sunday, April 2, 2023, and it's finally race day. In the starting grid there is a change as both Perez, who slid out of Q1 in qualifying, and Bottas swap their starting slots for the pit lane, having made various car changes under parc ferme conditions. Quite everyone is on medium compound, except for the Alpines and Alfa Romeos on softs, while De Vries’s AlphaTauri, Sargeant’s Williams and Perez’s Red Bull are on hards. The track is clear and at 3:00 p.m. o'clock local time the race starts. Russell gets a run on Verstappen into Turn 1, which he converted with some late braking and smart car positioning. Also Hamilton passes the Dutchman, who complains over the radio that:
“He pushed me off the track".
After only three turns the Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc is out of the race, as he goes into the gravel after a contact with Stroll. A quick stewards’ investigation settled on no further action.Safety car is deployed and five drivers (Ocon, Zhou, Bottas, Sargeant and Perez) do a pit stop after lap 1 to change the tyres. After the restart, it is Russell the leader of the Grand Prix.
Just three laps later, Alex Albon crashes and another Safety Car is out. Russell, who was under pressure from Hamilton and complained that Mercedes were:
"Asking me to manage and I’m being attacked".
Pits for hards, followed by Sainz. After only one lap the red flag goes out and the race is stopped. Hamilton is now in first position, with Verstappen behind. Then come Alonso, Stroll and Gasly, as Hulkenberg, Russell, Tsunoda, Norris and Piastri round out the top 10 positions.
Sainz is now P11, and shoutes:
Over the radio several times. The race resumes at 3:33 p.m. local time with a standing start. Hamilton gets away well to keep the lead from Verstappen into Turn 1, with Alonso holding third from Gasly, Russell, Stroll, Hulkenberg and Tsunoda. Sainz quickly recovers some places, passing first the McLaren drivers, then Tsunoda, Hulkenberg and Stroll for P6. In the front, Verstappen closes in on Hamilton and with DRS takes back the lead of the race. Meanwhile, Russell passes Gasly for P4 with an impressive move around the outside of Turn 11. But here comes another problem. On lap 17 flames suddenly come out from the back of George Russell’s car. The British driver is out of the race and a virtual Safety Car is triggered. On lap 25 Carlos Sainz overtakes Gasly and is in P4, Oscar Piastri overtakes Tsunoda and takes P11. In the meanwhile, Max Verstappen is 8 seconds ahead of Hamilton, who takes the fastest lap on lap 38 and fights against Alonso to keep his second place. On lap 43 Perez overtakes Norris and takes P8, but some laps later Magnussen stops on the track as he has hit the wall and lost his right rear tyre. Safety Car is out but there is too much debris on the track so for the second time the race is stopped. All the drivers go into the pit lane and swap to soft tyres, preparing for a 2-laps race. The race starts for the third time but ends soon, as Sainz hits Alonso’s car, the two Alpines hit the wall and are out, and out are also Sargeant and De Vries. The red flags are out again and the restart procedure is under investigation. At 5:33 p.m. local time, the Safety Car is out to complete the final lap of this crazy race. The order of the drivers is the one that was before the third standing start, but at the end of the race Sainz is given a 5-seconds penalty for the contact with Alonso. Max Verstappen wins for the first time the Australian GP, while Lewis Hamilton finishes second and Fernando Alonso is third, getting the third podium of this year. In P4 there is Lance Stroll, followed by Sergio Perez and Lando Norris.
An incredible P7 for Nico Hulkenberg and P8 for the home hero Oscar Piastri. Last drivers to take points are Zhou Guanyu and Yuki Tsunoda. Valtteri Bottas finishes P11 and Carlos Sainz is 12th due to the penalty. It’s the third win of the year for the Red Bull, who lead the Constructors Championship as well as the Drivers one. For the first time this year Ferrari gets no points. Max Verstappen is really happy, even because it’s his first win in Australia. On this chaotic race and on the three red flags, the Dutch driver comments:
"My start today wasn’t amazing and then on lap 1 I was very careful as there was a lot on the line, I had a lot to lose and a lot to win. But after that restart, we had good pace and a decent gap for the majority of the race. Perhaps we didn’t need all of those red flags today, it was frustrating, but everyone was safe and we won which is the most important thing. It’s my first win in Australia which feels really good, it’s also been a while for the Team so it means a lot to us all, especially as Checo also had a good recovery drive today. It’s been a chaotic day but it’s great to see that the fans had a great time despite the long wait".
His teammate, Sergio Perez, has finished the race in 5th position, getting the fastest lap, after a terrible qualifying session on Saturday:
"Generally, it was a good result today. Yesterday, I obviously lost a bit of confidence with the car, but we made a lot of changes overnight so that helped heading into the race. I had a really good restart the first time, I jumped 3 or 4 places but then it was a bit of a mess with the DRS train. I was frustrated later in the race because I couldn’t advance any further, but it was so difficult to get through the field with tyre deg low and everyone going on to the hard tyres quickly. Maybe if I’d been a bit more aggressive earlier on, I could’ve finished higher, but I’m happy we finished P5 and even managed to secure the fastest lap. Overall, this race gives us confidence heading to Baku in a few weeks and we look forward to the challenge that it brings".
Red Bull’s CEO and Team Principal Christian Horner thanks his team for the amazing work they have done and on this difficult race he says:
"It was a complicated race made up of three parts. The first start didn’t go our way but in the restart Max was able to hold position, battle Lewis for the lead and really control the race from there. While the marshals are always acting in the interest of safety, and driver safety is paramount, the restart at the end of the race was a little frustrating. Thankfully, it didn’t cost us anything, we had great pace with the car and Max was on great form. For Max to claim the victory was testament to his driving, but equally, credit must go to the Team both here and at home, all of whom worked together to deliver a great race. Checo also drove phenomenally well, bringing home the fastest lap and securing P5 in the end. It was a great recovery, from the back of the grid, in the pits, on a track where it is very difficult to overtake. All in all we are very happy with our performance and thrilled to bring home a win on our 350th race at a track we haven’t won at in 10 years".
It has been a good weekend for Lewis Hamilton, who finished in second place. The British driver talks not only about his race, but also about Mercedes’ performance and reliability, as George Russell retired from the race:
"To get a podium today is amazing; I definitely didn't expect to be second this weekend, so I am super grateful. Considering we're down on performance, to be fighting with the Aston Martins is amazing for us at this point in the season. We've just got to keep fighting. A big thank you to all the people back at the factory. We can close that gap; it's going to be tough but not impossible. It was very unlucky for George today. Our reliability has generally been pretty good so that was unfortunate. Finally, I want to say a huge thank you to everyone here in Melbourne and Australia. I've had the best week here and this town continues to put on a great show".
George Russell is disappointed by the way his race ended, but he says he’s satisfied with the job the team have done:
"We did everything right this weekend. We had a great Qualifying yesterday and today, the start was perfect. We managed the first stint well and I could have extended it quite a lot more. I've felt comfortable and strong in the car on all three days. I see no reason why we couldn't have fought for victory today, so it's disappointing. As soon as I came through the high-speed turn 10, I felt something go. Three corners later, I was stopped. When it's not your day, it's not your day. We've still got a lot of work to do to catch Red Bull, but we can take the positives from this weekend. Every time we've taken to the track, we couldn't have done any more. We maximised everything and I'm proud of the job that we have done".
Toto Wolff agrees with his drivers on the fact they have maximised everything and on the step forward they have made he says:
"We had strong pace today and it was really close with the Aston Martins and the Ferraris. That is good news for us, and I think we have made a step forward this weekend, both on one-lap and race pace. We maximised what we have, and we need to now comb through the data and continue to learn about the car. This will help bring the upgrade packages and that will be the key in challenging the leaders more often. It was unfortunate with George; he had a great stop from the lead and changed onto the hard tyre. It was absolutely the right call, and he would have been very much at the front. With the red flag his race was not so good anymore. He still could have made it to the front though, so he was unfortunate to have a Power Unit failure".
Mercedes’ Trackside Engineering Director Andrew Shovlin adds:
"It's great to get the first podium of the year with Lewis, but it was a day of mixed fortunes for the team. Lewis drove a difficult race well and had to find a fine balance between tyre management and defending. George had put together a strong weekend and was unfortunate that the Safety Car became a red flag. Things then got worse with the Power Unit issue. The pace of the car has been better than at the first two races; we've made some changes to the setup for the circuit but hopefully we can take some of that learning into the upcoming races".
It’s a wonderful day for Aston Martin. Fernando Alonso has taken his third podium this year and on the battles he has done he comments:
"It was a rollercoaster of emotions today with the red flags and incidents. It was probably my craziest race here in Melbourne but it's great to come away with another podium. There were many things going on all afternoon and we had an interesting battle with Lewis [Hamilton] for second. The pace of the car was good and we kept up the pressure on Lewis, but he did a good job and didn't really make any mistakes. On the contact with Carlos [Sainz] after the restart I'm sure he didn't mean to do it so I think the penalty for him was quite harsh in the end. We have to be pleased with this start to the season and three podiums in as many races".
Very good day for Lance Stroll as well. The Canadian finished P4 after some problems due to the restart of the race after the red flag:
"I think we should be pleased with the result we've come away with today: third and fourth is great for the team. It was a heavily disrupted race with red flags and a few big accidents, and neither Fernando nor I managed to stay clear of the drama. I had a little bit of contact on the first lap, but we were running well until the first red flag was thrown. As we've seen across the weekend, it takes a while for the tyres to get up to temperature here and so on the second restart I locked up at turn three and ended up in the gravel. Thankfully, the red flag had been waved before that point and I was able to retake my position for the final restart. This sport is a rollercoaster of emotions sometimes. Overall, we've come away from a chaotic race with a solid haul of points for the team and to be second in the Constructors' Championship after three races is very positive".
Team Principal Mike Krack is impressed by the race and the good job the team have done, especially with the tyres:
"What a race! There was just about everything you could imagine this afternoon so to come away with third and fourth places - and 27 points - is a brilliant reward for the team. It was not an easy race to navigate with the early red flag putting extra emphasis on managing the Hard tyres. Almost everyone was trying to run until the end and it was very close throughout the top ten. Fernando stayed close to Lewis, but with similar race pace we could not get close enough to challenge for second. Lance raced hard all afternoon, survived various battles, and did an excellent job looking after the tyres. Then there was the chaotic restart and I have to say it was a relief to see the starting order reinstated. I know some drivers and teams really lost out in the mayhem, but we got a bit lucky with both cars being largely undamaged allowing us to finish the race under the Safety Car. Big congratulations and thanks to the whole team at Silverstone and here at the track for another strong and faultless performance with both cars and our third podium of the year. Today we celebrate and enjoy this result, but tomorrow our attention turns to the next race in Baku".
Let’s move on to Ferrari. A terrible weekend for the two drivers, who have both finished out of the points. Carlos Sainz talks about the race and the penalty he got:
"I had a good start and felt confident on the medium tyre but we were unlucky, pitting just before they brought out the first red flag and I dropped down to P11. From there I managed to pull off a good comeback with nice overtakes and solid pace, so for that I’m happy. It was a good race overall but the penalty ruined all the effort and I don’t agree with it. The frustration I feel right now will be difficult to digest, but I will try to think only of the positives from today and focus on the next race".
Charles Leclerc has done only three turns before ending his race:
"It was unfortunate to end the race this way today, but it was a racing incident and I don’t think that we could have done anything differently. Disappointing, but on to the next one where I hope things will run more smoothly again".
Frédéric Vasseur, says this performance doesn’t reflect the progress they have made:
"Today’s result, not scoring points, does not reflect the progress we have made as a team. We have taken a step forward in terms of pure performance and even more importantly, we had a decent and consistent race pace on the various tyre compounds, including the Hard. Only yesterday’s qualifying did not match our potential. Our initial reaction is one of frustration, with Charles clearly unlucky to be involved in a racing incident at the start. It was a good call to bring Carlos in under the first Safety Car, but following the red flag, he had to start again from P11, from which he recovered very well. The penalty had a devastating effect on the final result for him but despite this, we go back to Maranello knowing that we are moving in the right direction and we now have three weeks to keep working on optimising and updating the SF-23 for the coming races".
Another team with both drivers finishing without points is Alpine. Esteban Ocon says:
"It's a real shame for both cars not to finish today's race, especially after showing great pace all weekend. We had the performance to be fighting the Ferraris and the Aston Martins, so to walk away with nothing is a tough one for all of us. The restart at the end was very chaotic and everything went so fast. The clash with Pierre was unfortunate and I'm glad we're both OK. We've spoken about it, and we're all good and there's no hard feelings. We're both already looking forward to the next one and I know the whole team will want to put this weekend behind us".
Pierre Gasly feels disappointed by his race:
"I'm very disappointed in the outcome of today's race. We were in fifth place for most of it, chasing Carlos [Sainz] for fourth place and we showed really good race pace. For us to be so close to scoring ten points and leaving without any is a bitter one for us to take. Right now, we must focus on the positives and that is how we managed our race and how we were able to take the fight to our rivals ahead. I'm glad both Esteban and I are OK after the incident. As a team, we'll move on and keep focused for the next race".
Otmar Szafnauer, Alpine’s Team Principal, says:
"While it's disappointing to leave here with zero points, we can be satisfied and positive with the performance of our car today. We showed we can race with our close rivals ahead and, indeed, close cars down and be clinical when it counts. Pierre drove very well today, running much of the race in fifth place and in the fight for a podium alongside the Mercedes, Aston Martin and Ferrari. We must take the positives of this and use it as motivation going forwards. Esteban was certainly unfortunate with the sequence of events early in the race, but he did a good job to climb his way back into the points with some well-judged overtaking moves. It was unfortunate to have both our cars come together at the third standing start and I'm glad both drivers are OK given the nature of the incident. We'll keep moving forwards and these hard moments are what brings the team closer together. We're already looking forward to Baku where an upgrade is planned".
There have been different strategies in this race, even due to incidents and red flags. Pirelli Motorsport Director Mario Isola comments:
"This was a truly eventful Australian Grand Prix, with three red flag periods as well as a safety car and a virtual safety car. All these occurrences effectively defined how the strategies shook out, while in terms of tyre behaviour, the compounds performed as we expected them to, with the hard C2 tyre playing a leading role. When the first safety car came out after Albon went off on lap seven, some drivers who had started on the mediums switched to the hard - followed by others once the red flag came out to allow the track to be cleaned. Despite not having much information over long runs - very few drivers strung together stints of longer than 10 laps or so in free practice - the C2 showed itself to be a very consistent tyre in terms of degradation and not far from the pace of other nominated compounds, fulfilling all the demands placed on it. The fact that we saw all three compounds on the starting grid highlights how bringing the C4 tyre to Melbourne this year was the correct choice, as it was judged to be a valid race tyre as well as becoming the protagonist of the final run to the flag, thanks to two red flag periods that were almost consecutive. Both this compound and the medium showed good performance today, albeit over relatively short stints, with higher temperatures and a more rubbered-in surface".
Despite a somewhat questionable race finish, with results affected by the restarts ordered by the race director, the Australian Grand Prix also ended with a Red Bull triumph. Max Verstappen wins and increases his lead over his rivals. At this point, barring miracles performed by the opponents, the World Championship seems to be heading toward an internal struggle within the Anglo-Austrian team. Ferrari and Mercedes are currently too far away to think of challenging the current World Champions. The F1 circus will now head into an almost month-long break before reconvening at the Baku City Circuit from April 28-30 for the 2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, which will see the Sprint format make its first appearance of the season.