Melbourne’s heavily revised Albert Park circuit delivered an exciting Grand Prix to mark Formula One’s return to Australia for the first time since 2019. We have selected six winners and five losers from the Australian Grand Prix …
Winner: Charles Leclerc
On paper, Charles Leclerc did not think the radical changes in Melbourne’s Albert Park circuit would suit his Ferrari F1-75, but the reality turned out to be very different.
The 24-year-old secured pole position by the largest margin so far this year and continued to dominate the Grand Prix to secure his second win of the season and his fourth of his career.
READ MORE: ‘It was the first race where we could control the gap’ says Leclerc after extending the championship lead Down Under
It’s only the second time in the last 18 years that a Ferrari driver has taken a grand slam – victory, pole, fastest lap, led each lap – and he leads the championship by 34 points, a bigger margin than anyone had on anything time last year.
Loser: Max Verstappen
It was a challenging weekend for Max Verstappen, who never felt satisfied with his Red Bull at any point in the weekend and always chased the balance and setup.
Still, the reigning world champion drove a comfortable second place in the race when his RB18 got a mechanical problem that the team suspected was an external fuel leak.
READ MORE: ‘If you want to fight for the title, these things can not happen’ – Verstappen frustrated by ‘unacceptable’ Melbourne retirement
Retirement was his second in three races, leaving him 46 points behind Leclerc in the standings, with 20 races left.
Winner: George Russell
Even George Russell was surprised when he was told after the race that he was now number two in the drivers’ position, as the Briton believed that his fighting Mercedes team only has the fifth fastest car right now.
Despite the lack of performance, Mercedes – and Russell in particular – have been ruthlessly efficient in making the most of what they have.
Although he was lucky with the timing of the Safety Car, Russell nonetheless got the most out of his package to take advantage of his opportunities and secure his first podium for Mercedes, beating teammate Lewis Hamilton for the second race in a row.
READ MORE: Russell says first Mercedes podium and second place in the championship is ‘pretty crazy’
Tabere: Aston Martin
Mike Krack’s tenure as Aston Martin Team Principal got off to a challenging start – and it continued with, as Krack put it, a “weekend to forget” for billionaire Lawrence Stroll’s operation in Melbourne.
2022 Australian Grand Prix: Vettel crashes on Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit
The team ended up with a significant injury bill as Lance Stroll and Sebastian Vettel both had mishaps on Saturday. The team did a fantastic job of rebuilding the cars, but Vettel – who started his season in Australia after missing the first two races with Covid 19 – crashed again on Sunday.
With Williams scoring, they are now bottom of the championship and the only team yet to score this season.
READ MORE: Vettel says Aston Martin was “too much of a handful for me” after crashing out of racing back in Australia
Winner: Alex Albon
Alex Albon faced an uphill battle in Melbourne after being pushed back as his Williams did not have enough fuel after qualifying to deliver a sample for testing.
But he reached a more risky strategy to perfection, driving 57 of the 58 laps on the hard deck, managing the composition breakdown impressively and pulling a hole out enough to stop for soft laps to the final lap and stay within the top 10.
It was his first point for Williams, the team’s first point of the year and their first in Australia since 2017.
Taber: Carlos Sainz
This was Carlos Sainz’s most challenging weekend in several months, the Spaniard’s struggle to become familiar with the car disrupted by a series of steering wheel problems.
He qualified down as number nine, after losing his first Q3 race to a red flag without enough time to prepare the tires for his second race, and then the team changed his steering wheel a few moments before the Formation round on Sunday.
READ MORE: Australian GP weekend is a ‘bit of a disaster’, says Sainz after being out
The car went into anti-stall, he fell to 14th and then made a mistake by trying to overtake Zhou Guanyu on cold tires to spin out into the gravel. It ended his 17-run points series and a race at the 31 Grands Prix without retirement – both previously the longest active streaks.
It has been an unfortunate start to the season for McLaren, who have paid the price for encountering front axle issues in Bahrain tests.
However, the British team has made progress from weekend to weekend, and a combination of car refinements and track characteristics meant they were competitive enough to get both cars in the top-six in Melbourne after finishing no higher than seventh in the first two ran in 2022.
They move over Alpine to fourth place in the constructors’ championship, with Daniel Ricciardo smiling as he scored his first points of the year in his home race.
READ MORE: McLaren happy with finish with double points – but Norris warns that repetitions will be difficult
Taber: Fernando Alonso
This weekend promised so much for Fernando Alonso, but ultimately delivered his second pointless race in a row.
The Spaniard thought he was about to take a makeshift rod as damage to an oiling led to the car cutting out in the middle of the corner and throwing him into the wall.
He was set to save solid points on Sunday, Alonso thought sixth place was possible, but his strategy was damaged by Safety Car. The Alpine rider was then forced to stop a second time with his intermediate tires in poor shape and he fell out of the points race.
Winner: Sergio Perez
Sergio Perez was desperately unlucky with Safety Car in Saudi Arabia, and while he regretted it again in Australia, he fought impressively back to become number two.
It was the first time the Mexican finished in the top-six in Melbourne in nine previous visits and was his first podium of the season.
Another consecutive point placement after retiring in the season opener helps him go ahead of teammate Verstappen to fourth place in the drivers’ position.
READ MORE: We could not match Ferrari at any time, says Perez after saving P2 for Red Bull
Haas left a Grand Prix without points for the first time this season as a poor qualification ultimately gave them too much to do in the race.
Mick Schumacher lost a couple of positions with an off-track excursion and eventually ended up in 13th place, while teammate Kevin Magnussen’s strategy was ruined by Safety Car and he ended up in 14th place.
However, it was not entirely bad, as the team found a good piece of performance from Friday to Saturday – and showed good running pace. Plus they are a solid seventh place in the constructors’ championship.
Winner: Australian Grand Prix
Australian Grand Prix organizers always hosted a fantastic event – but they took their game to another level to return to the F1 race for the first time in 1,121 days.
An impressive 420,000 fans packed into Albert Park to deliver Australia’s biggest sports weekend ever.
The atmosphere was incredible, the fan zone rocking, and the packed race plan provided a feast of entertainment on a track that featured several adjustments to corners and which had been revived for the first time in 25 years.
READ MORE: What the teams said – Race Day in Australia