For the first time in three years, Formula 1 held the Australian Grand Prix, and it couldn’t have come any sooner for Charles Leclerc.
Leclerc dominated the race, leading every lap from the pole and comfortably driving away from any challenges on two safety car restarts. By virtue of recording the fastest lap of the race, Leclerc became the 26th driver in F1 history to record a Grand Chelem–earning the pole, the win, and the fastest lap–and the first for Ferrari since 2010.
“It’s the first one [race] where we controlled the gap,” Leclerc told Mark Webber following the race in the parc ferme interview. “What a car today. Of course, I did a good job all weekend but it was not possible without the car. And this week, especially in the race pace, we were extremely strong. Tyres felt great from the first lap to the last lap, we were managing the tires extremely well. I’m just so happy.”
On lap 39, Max Verstappen ran out of power in turn one and retired from second place, his second retirement of the season from a downed power unit. A virtual safety car was called but the safety crew were able to wheel the Red Bull behind the wall before needing to call for a full safety car. Verstappen was the only driver in the race able to keep up with Leclerc and his retirement secured the victory for the Monacan driver.
Sergio Perez finished second, 20 seconds back of Leclerc. It was a solid day for Perez, who is now fourth in driver points after securing 17 of his season tally of 30 points down under. George Russell led a Mercedes-powered brigade to third and last step on the podium, followed closely behind by Lewis Hamilton in fourth. Far behind the two were Lando Norris in fifth and home-country hero Daniel Ricciardo in sixth.
Next to Leclerc, the driver of the day was easily Alexander Albon. He drove 57 laps on hard tires that Pirelli had advised teams would last maybe 40, still able to post competitive lap times in seventh and at the end, then held on to tenth after changing tyres on the final lap to earn Williams’ first point of the season.
Carlos Sainz had an awful race, falling five positions on the start before going in too deep a backstretch turn and spinning into a gravel trap on lap 2. This incident brought a virtual safety car out a lap later before moving into a full-on safety car. Sainz was unable to continue and was the first driver out of the race.
On lap 24, Sebastian Vettel continued his awful comeback weekend from COVID-19 by hitting the tire barrier in turn four. Vettel has left the land down under after a weekend consisting of a blown engine in FP1, losing any time in FP2 as a result, a five thousand euro fine for driving back to the pit lane a few minutes after the practice ended on a moped, an FP3 crash the next day, and a retirement in the race. The second safety car ended up being deployed due to his crash.
About the author
Michael has watched NASCAR for 15 years and began covering the sport five years ago. He is a graduate of Salisbury University and a proud member of the National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA).
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