LeClerc Outshines the Field in the Australian Grand Prix

Second place on the podium for LeClerc, but first in the minds of connoisseurs of racing. It was never going to be a sure thing and especially after the shock of finding just how far behind Mercedes the “Prancing Horse” was in qualifying.

Far enough behind to almost throw in the towel. But in motor racing never throw in the towel – and particularly not Charles LeClerc.

With the Grand Prix season finally off to a start, four months late, Austria was shaping up to be a one-two win for Bottas and Hamilton. Mercedes engineers had stolen a march on Ferrari. After qualifying they seemed unbeatable with Charles managing at best seventh – a severe disappointment for the Ferrari engineering team who had given their number one driver a disappointingly slow car. Then serendipity played a role in letting LeClerc’s skill overcome the disadvantage of a slow car.

Incidents Galore

Two incidents which brought safety cars on the track disrupted the smooth Mercedes one-two led by Bottas – and created a chaotic incident driven final sixteen laps. Ferrari took the opportunity to change to faster tires giving LeClerc the edge he need to make up for the slowness of the car. His skill did the rest as he carved his way up the field catching up the front runners.
LeClerc Outshines the Field in the Australian Grand Prix

Hamilton and Albon Clash Again

Whether Hamilton deserved his fate on turn Four on lap 60, with 11 laps to go is a reasonable question. After an earlier grid penalty Hamilton was driving very fast.
But Red Bull’s Alex Albon had changed to faster tires and like LeClerc was driving with superb skill – enough to try to overtake Hamilton on the outside. It looked like he would make it when Hamilton’s car’s front left wheel touched him and spun him off the track.
Were it not for Hamilton’s aggressive driving, which earned Hamilton a five second penalty and cost him the lead, Alex Albon could have won the race for Red Bull. This is the second time that Hamilton has had an incident involving Albon; a similar incident last November in Brazil costing Albon a podium place.
Meanwhile, Charles LeClerc took his opportunity and kept carving up the field earning with superb driving skill second place. Only Bottas with the advantage of a superior-engineered car managed to hold him off.
Final results:
First: Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes
Second: Charles LeClerc, Ferrari
Third: Lando Norris, McLaren
Fourth: Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes

Driver of the Day

Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen had to pull out of the race when his wheel fell off creating the second safety car window of opportunity that turned the race on its head and let LeClerc’s skill and the team’s tire strategy earn a well-deserved second place. Max Verstappen also had to retire from the race with an engine problem.
Leclerc, overtaking with daring and clinical moves timed to perfection on Racing Point’s Sergio Perez and then Norris earned him Driver of the Day.
LeClerc Outshines the Field in the Australian Grand Prix

United Against Racism

The drivers issued a collective statement through the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association on Saturday saying they “stand united with their teams against racism and prejudice, at the same time embracing the principles of diversity, equality and inclusion and supporting F1’s commitment to these.”
Fourteen drivers took a knee before this Formula 1 season-opening Austrian Grand Prix.
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