Ferrari Mustn’t Take Red Bull Lightly Despite Australia Win

Ferrari Mustn't Take Red Bull Lightly Despite Australia Win
Ferrari Mustn't Take Red Bull Lightly Despite Australia Win

The 2024 Australian Grand Prix was, if you think about it from a collective or holistic lens of Formula 1, a dramatic day in the life of the sport we so love. On the one hand, it marked bitter disappointment for the likes of Mercedes, both of whose drivers scored a DNF (Russell’s late stage accident mirroring Hamilton’s earlier retirement).

Similarly, it was a shocker for Red Bull, a team we have grown accustomed to seeing lifting the race winner’s trophy one event after another. Max Verstappen, who was targeting a third straight win, having won the two events earlier at Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, remained in the end the race weekend’s pole sitter; not the winner.

And yet, on the other end of the spectrum, the 2024 Australian Grand Prix brought a delight to McLaren whose Lando Norris scored a vital podium, also his season’s first.

But the brightest smiles of the day were reserved for Scuderia Ferrari all thanks to an ingenious and utterly committed effort by Carlos Sainz Jr.

240063 Scuderia Ferrari Australian Gp Sunday Da66211c 6b89 478c Ab64 D701fbe8aa15

The rise of Ferrari?

Not long after overtaking Verstappen with the contest a little over two laps old, the Spaniard opened a daunting gap over the others in close pursuit; which meant Lando Norris and his own teammate, Charles Leclerc.

Finally, after two Grands Prix weekends that were marked with onerous challenges for Ferrari, where the Italian stable suddenly lost Sainz to an urgent surgery and had to make a totally inexperienced driver debut, the team sparkled.

And while the win might have come at the behest of Sainz, one mustn’t undermine Leclerc’s effort in ensuring that the famed stable earned a deserving 1-2 finish in the end.

But what could be said with much thought and a sense of optimism about just where the pendulum is swinging in Formula 1, is that finally, we are getting to see a real Ferrari vs Red Bull battle out in the front.

And while to many Carlos Sainz’s race was in some ways luck assisted in that Verstappen suffered a huge mechanical issue, it wasn’t that the Spaniard wasn’t contesting with all his might.

The DRS-enabled overtake early on in the race meant that Verstappen, the pole sitter, suddenly became the one pursuing the track position holder.

Moreover, there’s some rationality, if not blind sentiment, echoed by the vital take of Martin Brundle who declared not long after the 58 lap race was done that, “Maybe this is what the sport needed; a non Red Bull win.”

It’s all good for the sport. It’s good for the healthy spirit of competition. It’s great for the fans.

But having said that, Ferrari, who now have a podium in each of the three races they’ve participated in, must not leave anything to chance.

One saw the way that Max Verstappen fought in the aftermath of the 2022 Australian Grand Prix, bouncing back sharply and fending off counterattacking punches from the likes of Russell and Leclerc that season.

Having retired a few hours earlier on March 24, 2024, and cutting a sorry figure, Verstappen, understanding that Ferrari are feeling a great boost in momentum, would want to hit back at his pursuers.

The gap between him and Leclerc isn’t all that much and to compound his Red Bull’s problems; Sainz has fought back and is in handsome form.

Two sharp and attacking Ferrari drivers are now battling Max Verstappen, and both are in a rich vein of form.

But akin to a tiger who becomes even more lethal after being attacked, it is not advisable to treat Red Bull’s young gun lightly.

Ferrari will be the biggest loser if they treat Red Bull lightly and leave anything to chance. This is a brilliant victory for them. Sainz has gotten the taste of victory at the very venue where Leclerc won back in 2022.

Moreover, he’s got the positivity on his side and is battling well. But even Perez, with two podiums to his name in three races, could bounce back at any second. Ferrari, at best, should feel that they are finally picking up a real battle with their biggest nemesis’ in the last couple of seasons. In truth, they are far from achieving it just yet. There’s a long way to go…

F1 Australian Grand Prix 2024

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