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Clean Sweep in the F1 Melbourne GP but Not for Whom You Might Expect

A complete upturn at Melbourne as all expectations were swept aside. Red Bull instead of Ferrari took turns with mechanical problems, ruining Verstappen’s day even though he had looked to be sitting pretty on pole. Mercedes also had a day they would like to forget. Lewis Hamilton retired after 16 laps with engine failure. That left Ferrari and McLaren to fight it out with Ferrari prevailing in a one two win. Even within Ferrari, expectations were turned upside down as Carlos Sainz took first place momentarily reversing their driver rankings. 

This makes Sainz the spoiler of Verstappen and Red Bull’s dominance both this year and last when he also gave Red Bull a black eye by winning the Singapore Grand Prix. And he has just spoiled Verstappen’s chances of equalling his own record of winning 10 Grand Prix races in a row. 

Carlos Sainz has to draw a lot of satisfaction from this his last season with Ferrari when he, as good as, has been discarded. The press has been full of excitement about the prospect of Ferrari teaming Charles Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton in 2025 leaving Sainz somewhat of an orphan in the shadows. But not so in Melbourne where Sainz shone in the limelight. And that could build into a story of whose seat Sainz might take in the rival teams for 2025. 

Monegasque Charles Leclerc will still be happy notching yet another podium to his belt together with two handfuls of points and with his contribution to a Ferrari one two win. And he picked up the fastest race lap right at the end. Well done Charles! 

Norris led Oscar Piastri to a McLaren three-four ahead of Red Bull’s Sergio Perez.

As for Verstappen, his mechanical problems caused him to exit early from the race. It doesn’t happen often; he last retired at the Australian Grand Prix in 2022! 2022 also marks the year of Ferrari’s last one two win.

Sainz Stalks and Overtakes Verstappen Early

In front of a record Melbourne crowd of over 130.000 – and a weekend high of just short of half a million spectators at the grounds – Sainz tracked Verstappen around the opening lap. Following Verstappen making a mistake at Turn Three on the second lap, Sainz was able to pass the Red Bull down the curved ‘straight’ to Turns Nine and 10.

Verstappen radioed to pits he had lost the rear and a lap later, he cursed about the car being loose. And a lap after that smoke started to pour from his right rear wheel …and that was it with his brakes on fire.

Carlos Sainz’ Path to Victory

Sainz was never under threat in the race after he was past Verstappen. He took advantage of Leclerc being stuck behind Norris in the first stint to establish a solid lead. Ferrari brought Leclerc in for a relatively early stop on lap nine to help him successfully undercut past Norris; the McLaren stopped five laps later and emerged behind the Ferrari.

Sainz stopped on lap 16 and emerged just a second ahead of his team-mate Charles. Carlos slowly built an advantage that extended to nearly nine seconds before Leclerc made his second stop. The Spaniard then controlled the race until the race ended under a virtual safety car after a crash for George Russell. Russell’s crash meant Mercedes leave Australia pointless. 

George Russell had lost his rear and hit the wall after coming up behind Fernando Alonso who appeared to slow at turns six and seven on the final lap. The stewards investigated the incident afterwards and Alonso was given a drive-through penalty converted to 20-seconds for potentially dangerous driving dropping him to eighth from sixth.

Driver Championship Standings

With two wins under his belt Verstappen still holds the world championship lead from Leclerc by four points and he will be hell-bent to keep on top at the next round in Japan. Perez for Red Bull lies third just one point short of Leclerc. Sainz, the victor at Melbourne, and just recovered from an Appendix operation, lies 6 points dangerously behind Perez in fourth place.

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