Smooth Drive From Carlos Sainz Gives Ferrari Stunning 1-2 In Melbourne

Smooth Drive From Carlos Sainz Gives Ferrari Stunning 1-2 In Melbourne
Smooth Drive From Carlos Sainz Gives Ferrari Stunning 1-2 In Melbourne

Carlos Sainz achieved a triumphant first win of the season at the 2024 Australian Grand Prix, making a remarkable comeback from a recent health setback to spearhead a Ferrari one-two, as teammate Charles Leclerc secured second and Lando Norris finished third for McLaren. This event was marked by the retirement of the championship frontrunner Max Verstappen.

A fortnight earlier, Sainz had to skip the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix due to an emergency appendectomy, yet he managed to take the lead in Melbourne shortly after the race commenced.

As the race began, Verstappen, starting from pole, maintained his lead over Sainz, with Norris trailing closely. Verstappen was on the verge of extending his lead beyond DRS reach from the leading Ferrari by the conclusion of the first lap, indicating the onset of his usual dominance.

However, Verstappen’s car skidded in Turn 7, allowing Sainz to overtake him using DRS. Verstappen immediately reported over the radio that his car was “loose.” His situation worsened as smoke started billowing from the rear right of his vehicle.

With his brakes ablaze, Verstappen had to decelerate and, although he managed to return to the pits, it was evident his race had ended, marking his first DNF since the same event in 2022.

Now with a clear track ahead, Sainz began to extend his lead, and by the seventh lap, he was two seconds ahead of Norris and Leclerc. Sainz then successfully managed his tires through the first stint and the initial round of pit stops.

Leclerc put pressure on Norris, but after Leclerc pitted at the end of the ninth lap, Norris had a short reprieve. Norris attempted to extend his stint on the Medium tires, but Leclerc’s early pit stop proved advantageous, and by the time Norris pitted, he had fallen behind both Leclerc and his teammate Piastri. Sainz’s pit stop on lap 16 temporarily promoted Fernando Alonso, who had started on Hard tires, to the lead.

However, Hamilton’s sudden retirement due to a power unit failure brought out the Virtual Safety Car, and Alonso seized the opportunity to pit for Medium tires, gaining time as the field slowed.

This sequence of events reinstated Sainz in the lead, followed by Leclerc, Piastri, and Norris, with Alonso dropping to fifth, just ahead of Pérez who was making up ground on fresh Hard tires. Pérez later overtook Alonso with ease under DRS.

By the race’s midpoint, Sainz had a six-second lead over Leclerc, who had moved out of his teammate’s turbulent air. McLaren decided to switch its drivers due to Norris’s fresher tires, which left Pérez in fifth place, trailing Piastri by 11 seconds.

The final pit stops didn’t alter the leading positions, and as the race progressed, the gaps solidified. While the top five maintained their positions until the end, the battle for sixth place between Alonso and Russell ended in a crash for Russell, who hit the barriers in Turn 6 and his car came to rest on its side on the track.

A Virtual Safety Car on the final lap allowed Sainz to cross the finish line victoriously, with Leclerc securing second place for a Ferrari one-two finish. Norris claimed the third podium spot, followed by Piastri and Pérez. Alonso finished sixth but faced scrutiny from the stewards for the incident with Russell. Stroll took seventh for Aston Martin, Tsunoda earned eighth for RB, and the Haas team of Hülkenberg and Magnussen rounded out the points positions.

Reflecting on his journey, Sainz said, “It’s not only the last two weeks. It’s the whole start to the year in general, how the year started with the news of the non-renewal. Then you get yourself fit. You get yourself ready for the start of the season, pushing flat out. And then you get to Bahrain. You do a good podium. You say, ‘OK, now the season is starting well and I can keep the momentum going’. And suddenly, boom, you’re missing a race in Jeddah and the operation. Long days in bed, not knowing if I was going to be back in time. Obviously, a lot of unknowns. Am I going to be back fit? Am I going to be back feeling still good with the car? And then suddenly you come back and win. So, yes, what I said on the radio: life is a roller coaster sometimes, but it can be really nice and good to you sometimes. Just letting it sink in and enjoying the moment.”

2024 Australian Grand Prix Race Results

PositionDriverTeamLapsTimeGap
1Carlos Sainz Jr.Ferrari581:20’26.843
2Charles LeclercFerrari581:20’29.209+2.366
3Lando NorrisMcLaren581:20’32.747+5.904
4Oscar PiastriMcLaren581:21’02.613+35.770
5Sergio PérezRed Bull Racing581:21’23.152+56.309
6Fernando AlonsoAston Martin581:21’47.835+1’20.992
7Lance StrollAston Martin581:22’00.065+1’33.222
8Yuki TsunodaRB581:22’02.444+1’35.601
9Nico HülkenbergHaas581:22’11.396+1’44.553
10Kevin MagnussenHaas571:20’30.9241 lap /+4.081
11Alexander AlbonWilliams571:20’31.8521 lap /+5.009
12Daniel RicciardoRB571:20’38.3511 lap /+11.508
13Pierre GaslyAlpine571:21’07.7961 lap /+40.953
14Valtteri BottasSauber571:21’09.1691 lap /+42.326
15Zhou GuanyuSauber571:21’11.1361 lap /+44.293
16Esteban OconAlpine571:21’20.8221 lap /+53.979
17George RussellMercedes561:18’04.734Accident
Lewis HamiltonMercedes1521’18.426Power Unit
Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing34’14.672Brakes
Logan SargeantWilliams0Withdrawn
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