Image: Flickr / Robin Capper

An action-packed weekend in Melbourne: A round up of the Australian Grand Prix

The Australian Grand Prix was filled with action on and off track as we returned to the Albert Park circuit for the third round of the 2024 Formula One season. From the beginning of the weekend, which saw Alex Albon’s crash in FP1 and the return of Carlos Sainz, to the end, with a triumphant 1-2 victory for Ferrari, the Melbourne track didn’t fail to entertain.

Before lights out on race day, it was confirmed that not all 20 cars would be taking to the grid on Sunday; Alex Albon’s crash during FP1 on Friday caused damage to his chassis and there was no replacement to hand. Shortly after his crash and his lack of participation in FP2, it was announced that he would be driving the chassis of his teammate, Logan Sargeant, instead which meant that Sargeant had to withdraw from the weekend altogether.

With track temperatures reaching a high of 39 degrees, tyre degradation was a key talking point: all three tyre compounds were used at the start of the race

Red Bull emerged triumphant in the Saturday qualifying session; the current championship leader set the fastest lap in Q3. However, the excitement was dampened as Sergio Pérez faced a three-place grid penalty for impeding Nico Hülkenberg, dropping Pérez down from P3 to P6. As a result of Pérez’s penalty, McLaren’s Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri were promoted to P3 and P5 respectively – this was excellent news considering it was the latter’s home race. Also promoted was Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc who shared the second row with Lando Norris.

With track temperatures reaching a high of 39 degrees, tyre degradation was a key talking point: all three tyre compounds were used at the start of the race and all teams used the expected two stop strategy around this circuit. After early moves by Sainz which saw him take the lead in lap two, lap three saw the current world champion, Max Verstappen, retire from the race. The last time that Verstappen did not finish a race was in Australia in 2022.

Shortly after Verstappen’s DNF, seven-time world champion, Lewis Hamilton, also retired due to an engine failure. For what had already been a seemingly difficult weekend for Hamilton, after his first time missing out on Q3 at this track since 2010, the DNF was an unfortunate way to end his visit to Australia this year.

A mention for McLaren: the race saw Lando Norris taking up the final podium position and Oscar Piastri bringing it home in P4 for his home race. The race saw orders given for a swap to occur between the two drivers, with the justification given that Norris had the quicker pace as he looked to gain on Charles Leclerc to battle it out for P2, which ultimately wasn’t on the cards.

Unfortunately, this visit to Australia was a weekend of disaster for Mercedes

Another team sharing success in Australia this year was Haas who were able to score points with both cars as Nico Hülkenberg and Kevin Magnussen finished the race in P9 and P10 respectively. With these points, they are now only two points behind Visa Cash App RB in the Constructors’ Championship.

Unfortunately, this visit to Australia was a weekend of disaster for Mercedes; the early retirement of Lewis Hamilton paired with a last-lap crash for George Russell (which saw him emerge uninjured) was disappointing. Their lack of points in Australia will be something the team will no doubt be discussing in their post-race debriefs so they can regroup and understand where to go from here. A result of George Russell’s crash was a 20 second post-race penalty given to Fernando Alonso for potentially dangerous driving, causing him to drop in the final timesheet from 6th to 8th – thus promoting his teammate Lance Stroll and RB’s Yuki Tsunoda.

Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu were once again victims of slow pitstops, an unfortunate reoccurrence for the drivers as previous race weekends have seen them have similar issues. The drama in the pitlane was not finished there; Pierre Gasly was handed a five-second time penalty for crossing the end of the pit lane, an unlucky addition to a weekend which finally saw Alpine enjoy their first Q2 appearance in qualifying this season.

Without a doubt, the man of the weekend has to be the race winner, Carlos Sainz. After a phenomenal performance, perhaps the biggest question on everyone’s mind is what his future will look like following the announcement of Lewis Hamilton’s 2025 move to Ferrari which has left Sainz without a seat for next season. Rumours are never in short supply within the Formula One paddock; however, Sainz’s future is still up in the air and only time will tell about where the Spaniard will end up.

With Sainz having secured his victory in style this weekend, all eyes will be on Red Bull and Max Verstappen as they hope to return to winning ways in Japan for the next round of the 2024 Formula One season.

Comments (1)

  • Wow, what an epic weekend in Melbourne! I was glued to my screen the whole time, watching the Australian Grand Prix. The race was full of action and excitement, and the crowd was electric. It’s incredible to see the speed and skill of the drivers in person. Can’t wait to see what the next race has in store!

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