Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Albert Park, 2022

Leclerc takes dominant Australian Grand Prix win as Verstappen retires

2022 Australian Grand Prix summary

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Charles Leclerc dominated the Australian Grand Prix to take his second victory of the season after Max Verstappen retired from second place with a technical problem.

Leclerc led from the start and pulled away from Verstappen despite multiple Safety Car interventions. Verstappen was told to stop his car in the final third of the race due to a mechanical problem, allowing Leclerc and Ferrari to take a comfortable victory.

Sergio Perez took second place, with George Russell claiming his first podium for Mercedes in third.

As the lights went out at Albert Park for the first time in over three years, Leclerc successfully held the lead from Verstappen, while Lewis Hamilton jumped both Lando Norris and Sergio Perez to take third by the first corner.

After a poor start from ninth on the grid, Carlos Sainz Jnr fell down to 14th by the end of the first lap. As Sainz tried to pass Mick Schumacher around the outside of the fast turn nine-10 chicane, Sainz ran wide and onto the grass, spinning back across the track and into the gravel trap on the exit of turn ten. The Safety Car was deployed while the stricken Ferrari was recovered.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Albert Park, 2022
Gallery: 2022 Australian Grand Prix in pictures
The race restarted on the start of lap seven, with Leclerc leading away and Verstappen sticking as close as he could to the Ferrari. Once DRS was enabled, Perez made good use of the system to pass Hamilton into turn three and retake third place.

Verstappen began dropping back from Leclerc after complaining on graining on his left-front medium tyre, demonstrated by him locking up under braking for the turn 13 hairpin. The gap grew to just over nine seconds by the time Verstappen was called in to pit for the hard tyres at the end of lap 18, rejoining in seventh.

Leclerc eventually pitted from the lead at the end of lap 22, retaining his first position but with his advantage over Verstappen halved. Hamilton pitted behind and rejoined ahead of Perez to jump into a net third place, but Perez slipstreamed the Mercedes down the long lakeside straight and sweeping around the outside of the Mercedes into turn nine.

Hamilton looked like he had a great opportunity to counter attack Perez into turn 11, but suddenly had to back off as the Safety Car was deployed due to Sebastian Vettel crashing into the wall on the exit of turn four. The Safety Car allowed Russell to pit and save a chunk of time, resuming in third place. Fernando Alonso chose not to pit and took fourth with Perez and Hamilton behind.

The race resumed at the start of lap 27, with Verstappen managing to challenge Leclerc and draw alongside on the run to turn one. However, Leclerc defended his lead and began to pull away from the Red Bull once he got back up to speed. Perez used DRS to take fourth from Alonso into turn three, before Hamilton passed the Alpine into turn one a lap later to demote Alonso down to sixth.

Mercedes warned Russell that tyre management was more important than defending his third place from Perez behind and the Red Bull eventually found a way by into turn 11 on the 36th lap.

Then, suddenly, Verstappen pulled off the circuit at turn two from second place having been told to stop the car. The Virtual Safety Car was briefly deployed while a small fire in the Red Bull’s exhaust was extinguished before the car was pushed behind the barriers, with Leclerc now comfortable out front.

Leclerc simply had to tick off the remaining laps and cruise across the line to take the win and the bonus point for fastest lap. Perez finished second, 20 seconds adrift of the Ferrari, with Russell taking his first podium for Mercedes in third.

Hamilton finished fourth, ahead of the two McLarens of Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo. Esteban Ocon finished seventh, ahead of Valtteri Bottas and Pierre Gasly.

After running 57 laps on the hard tyres he had started the race on, Alex Albon pitted on the final lap for soft tyres, rejoining in tenth place mere metres ahead of Zhou Guanyu. Albon fended off the Alfa Romeo to hold onto the final points paying position in tenth.

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2022 Australian Grand Prix reaction

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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61 comments on “Leclerc takes dominant Australian Grand Prix win as Verstappen retires”

  1. As I thought, Ferrari handles the tyres better than Red Bull, and Red Bull may even be behind Mercedes in terms of tyre management. The only reason Verstappen won in Jeddah was because the tyres were so durable, but today the tyres affected both Red Bulls.

    1. Ferrari handles the tyres better than Red Bull

      Yeah, the switched places… finally.

  2. Can’t understand why they asked rus to essentially let Perez go, when he could have gotten a potential p2, Perez didn’t gain that much after passing rus

    1. I’d assume it’s because of the issues encountered in the first stint by Verstappen and Perez. That was probably a bad idea really, but it looked like Perez was managing the gap in the end.

      1. I do think Perez probably indeed turned the wick down after as he was nowhere near getting anything on Leclerc, but in hindsight Mercedes might also have underestimated Russel’s chances indeed Manto and @krichelle, still, Perez most likely had pace on him (and HAM reeling in RUS showed he himself did not have anything in hand, defending might have dropped is tyres off the cliff in the end).

        1. To me russell tried what was possible to defend, I don’t think he followed merc’s instructions (which I approve if that’s the case), he didn’t make it as easy as hamilton made it for perez, but the red bull had definitely much more pace and with 4 drs zones it’s really hard to keep them behind.

          1. HAM would have repassed PER, but again the SC saved the RBR.

          2. @esploratore1
            3 DRS zones, the 4th zone was removed for safety reasons.

    2. So nice to see PER pass HAM twice on different parts of the track.

    3. Agree. At the end of the first stint Hamilton was all over Perez and then overcut him. This was as a real race for position between the teams. And even if Russell eventually succumbed to Perez they had another car coming from behind with proven comparable pace to have a go at Perez. Maybe Mercedes were as surprised as anyone they could fight RBR on track.

  3. He certainly was dominant in this race but gained a lot points-wise on VER & SAI.
    Still early-season, so the present gaps are nothing.

  4. Well done Charles, he’s really enjoying this. Merc seems to be on the up, even at a point keeping up with the redbulls surprisingly. This is Ferrari’s and Leclerc’s championship to loose given the wretched reliability Redbull has with it’s hydraulics/PUs.

    1. Yes, usually when ferrari was in contention they were up there with mercedes, this time it seems they’re taking off, even without red bull’s incredible unreliability there’s no one who could stop leclerc from winning on race 1 and 3.

    2. Coventry Climax
      10th April 2022, 13:43

      Might still happen as Leclerc starts to suffer from RPI – Repetitive Porpoising Injury.
      Man, is that car bouncing. He must have a rather sore neck right now, and bruised eye-sockets.
      Given that Ferrari took two seasons ‘off’ just to prepare for this one, you would have thought that they had managed the porpoising issue better.
      But they’re fast alright, I give em that.

  5. Even after so many years in hybrid.. this year reliability is key.. i thought PU will be srable now.. so nxt few yeaesxit will be aero dev war

  6. Well, Ferrari stated their claim for the WDC/WCC, their car is fast and so far reliable. The Mercs are improving and I think will be in the mix before too long. Great the see McLaren doing better, but did the track just suit the car?
    Redbull is an unknown factor at the moment. They are fast but as I said before is the PU up to the job?

  7. “After”?

    Charles Leclerc dominated the Australian Grand Prix to take his second victory of the season after Max Verstappen retired from second place with a technical problem.

    So only after Verstappen retired Leclerc could win?

    The article title is much more correct

    Leclerc takes dominant Australian Grand Prix win as Verstappen retires

    1. The winning happened after Verstappen retired. That is a factual statement.

      1. The title obviously could very well be interpretated as VER was 1st and LEC took the win only because VER retired. AlexS only demanded less interpretable titles.

      2. The winning happened after Verstappen retired. That is a factual statement.

        As you certainly know “after” can be read as “dependent” on Verstappen being DNF. It is not even relevant Verstappen position, because he could have been out of position due to pit stops.

        Which of both phrases gives the reader a more correct and a less ambiguous information?
        It is obvious the title used is the correct one.

        1. This is journalism my dude. As long as it makes you click and stay on the page writing why you think the title is wrong, it is valid. It means Keith can sell ads for a higher price.

          1. Coventry Climax
            10th April 2022, 13:30

            Apart from this article’s title:
            Bending the truth for money is an inherently sick construction in itself.
            Even if it seems to be the norm thesed days.
            Being regarded a journalist instead of a marketing tool should not need to be a choice, especially when the word ‘independent’ is in the site-name’s subtitle. Makes me wonder; Independent of what?

        2. It can be but not in this context. There is no implication made. If it had said “due to” or “as a result of” then that would be a different story.

          1. Exactly. People are so sensitive these days and looking to pounce at any perceived error even when it’s purely a matter of biased interpretation.

    2. Need to read the whole statement “Max Verstappen retired from second place with a technical problem. Clear that Verstappen was not leading, the statement is correct.

  8. Miltiadis (@miltosgreekfan)
    10th April 2022, 8:11

    Great drive by Albon, his pace on 56 old hards was pretty good and he was maintaining a solid gap from Ocon (i guess the French wasn’t fully pushing but still). The Williams isn’t the best package, but Latifi’s incredible tricky season has made them look worse.

    Other than that, the new reprofiled Albert Park didn’t contribute to an improve of the whole race weekend. I can’t say i loved the layout changes overall, but the extended width at some corners is definitely a positive change.

    With Russell being second in the stands (34 points behind),Leclerc can control the upcoming events without having a significant amount of pressure.

    1. Yes, albon did a great job indeed, I didn’t think he could take the points unless a red flag happened, which would give him a 0 sec pit stop that counted under the regulations, but he really surprised me by not losing places with a williams till he pitted on last lap, very unusual strategy too.

      1. Yeah, he was pretty consistent with the hards and took advantage of the Stroll train to open a significant gap to the rest.

        I remember Massa and Vettel doing the same back in Nurburgring 2011(both boxing at the last lap) but this type of strategy is not the most “normal” one no doubt about that

  9. I love OZ. My fav country, happy shiny ppl. Congratulations to Ferrari and Leclerc.
    I guess Max blew his fragile car while pushing too hard.

    1. He was actually getting a fastest lap or 2 at the time the car broke, so don’t know if it’s just bad luck, but certainly a terrible reliability compared to last season.

  10. Fantastic job by Perez the only car putting on an overtaking master class. 👏👏. Marko did say Perez is amazing at it. Had PER not been stuck behind slow cars could he take the fight to Charles. 🤔.

    Congrats to Charles!

    1. Disagree on perez, it was only due to a bad performance that he ended up behind hamilton early on, russell was lucky with the VSC but even so, verstappen didn’t end up a victim of that cause he was far ahead enough.

      1. HAM passed PER because PER in this team is not to mess with VER… If not for that, PER had a good chance to move ahead of VER at the start which would have made VER fall prey to HAM

        1. Nonsense, per choose the wrong side and let. Gap to the right.
          Good start but bad decision.

          1. Is it a bad decision or because he’s not allowed or supposed to attack Ver, he tucked behind him instead of moving to the right and attack from there?!

          2. RBR wingman philosophy. Simple as that.

  11. The Ferrari is too strong for RBR and some did call out Perez starting on the hard tyre. Albon made does tyres last. Had RBR done that Ferrari may have had a problem.

    1. Maybe but look at Alonso he did a great job on the hard tyres but when he switched to the mediums he couldn’t make the strategy work. It looks to me that some cars have a lot of problems with the tyre management and RB is one of them

    2. The advantage of starting on the hard tyres was nullified by the multiple SC, VSC periods on the track.

  12. Mercedes had poor tire warm up but better tire durability across a stint at this race, Redbull was the opposite.
    Maybe Mercedes could have gotten P2 with Lewis if they had better tire warm up. Lewis gained a position on Perez on merit after the first round of pit stops only for their poor tire warm up allowing Perez to overtake Lewis.
    Redbull should be concerned about their Power Unit now. 2 DNFs out 3 for Max.
    In a season where Lec is most likely going to keep scoring P1 or P2, it will become almost impossible for Max to catch up later.
    Lec is the Championship favorite now.

    1. Hamilton also looked like he was in with a chance to re-overtake perez immediately after the last overtake he took from him when another VSC was announced and he had to back off, I doubt he’d have made it stick but could’ve been ahead for even more laps.

    2. RandomMallard
      10th April 2022, 13:41

      @amg44 I think one of the reasons Hamilton got ahead of Perez during the pitstops was probably tyre warm-up related as well. Tyre blanket temperatures are lower this year, and especially with Pirelli bringing quite hard tyres by Albert Park standards, making tyre warm up even harder. Make no mistake, I don’t want to take anything away from Hamilton bc he did a great job against what is an inherently faster car, but I wasn’t surprised to see him come out ahead of Perez, or see Perez catch up so quickly as Hamilton went through the tyre warming phase. And of course Hamilton then got extremely unlucky with the timing of the second Safety Car.

      1. He did get the message that warm up is poor on the tyre. So I expected Perez to easily overtake him as he exited the pits. It looks like these H tyres are actually durable. 2nd race in a row where they barely degrade.

  13. It is he, Leclerc! What a dominant performance by Charles and Ferrari! His win never looked in doubt, apart from the 2nd re-start after he got a really bad exit off the final corner.
    Regardless of RB’s problems with graining on the mediums, the Ferrari was simply faster. On average between 0.3 and 0.4 sec. I wonder why the RB was suddenly suffering from front tyre graining?! Especially considering the higher track temperatures compared to Friday. Usually graining happens on a lower grip surface (i.e. if it rained before) and with lower track temperatures.
    Good performance from both Mercedes. For the first time this season the car looked better in race trim than it did in qualifying, so that’s definitely a step in the right direction. Let’s see if they can keep up this trend.
    McLaren was solid today. After qualifying I thought they may take the fight to Mercedes, but unfortunately for them their car still hasn’t got enough downforce to make the tyres work in the race.
    Alpine was a big disappointment today. The fact that Ocon couldn’t even attempt an overtake on Albon (who did a great job btw) was very telling.

    1. It is he, Leclerc!

      Very well done Sir! nice Allo Allo reference.

  14. It’s funny that the top 2 from last year are now having difficult starts to this year.

    Charles 40pts ahead of these 2 after 3 races is pretty much all done. He’s miles ahead with no team mate to take points of him. Is Sainz now considered the Barricello/Bottas of F1 now?

    Very impressed with Merc today, I do think without a safety car Ham could of got P2 ahead of Pérez, that fight between Pérez and Ham was looking tasty.

    1. By the way how unlucky has Ham been with Safety cars , 3 out of the last 4 races he’s lost positions.

      Same with Max 2DNF’s in 3.

      Really we do not get seasons like this

      1. The frightening thing today was Charles finished the race with a 20 second lead with 2 safety cars . That’s Mercs domination.

        1. Yes, leclerc’s speed was impressive, he could’ve finished 40 sec ahead with no issues, even if verstappen had been in without SC the gap would’ve probably been 25+ sec.

          Hamilton yes, was unlucky with SC but he’s also been very lucky overall on his career, both in terms of the car he had and also with past SC timing, he did a good job today overall, so did russell.

          Sainz had a really bad weekend, though the red flag was terribly unlucky, otherwise he would’ve been up there fighting, however it was pretty obvious for people who looked beyond the mere points that leclerc was already outperforming sainz last season.

  15. Let those bells of maranello ring until Imola

  16. Excellent performance again from Leclerc, easily the standout driver this season so far. Almost as important for him was Sainz’s disastrous race (and weekend), the potentially equal fight between the Ferrari drivers is already slipping away from Carlos.

    1. Yeh, they are similar pace, but Leclerc has got the job done, even when the stars don’t align. Ferrari might have to assign no.1 and 2, which is unfair but might be their best chance at winning the title in a competitive season.

      1. Maybe they will. My view is that Mercedes remain a potentially big factor this season: if their car starts competing at the front, which it almost was in the race, they have two fast and aggressive drivers to cause problems to whoever of Ferrari/Leclerc or Red Bull/Verstappen doesn’t have the edge on the weekend. Just now Ferrari seem in a better place than Red Bull so this may cause Verstappen more of a problem than Leclerc. Even so Ferrari need to keep Carlos Sainz motivated, which I am sure he still will be for now, or they could end up with Leclerc isolated.
        For Mercedes there were a few glimpses of hope, I thought, and both their drivers are better placed in the WDC than either Red Bull driver. If they can switch their car on soon, then we could even see a Ferrari-Mercedes battle take over.

        1. Mmmmm….. hardly believe Mercedes can turn things around this season to be a real contender in any of the titles and even grab 1. 3 races completed and they were too far behind regarding the performance, be it Quali or Race. More or less, they are where Ferrari was last year, only that they seem to be quite a clear no.3, while last year Ferrari and McLaren battled for 3rd. So far they’re obviously helped by the many RBR retirements and (V)SC periods.

          1. @mg1982 I suspect they’re one ingenious solution (to the purpoising) away from a car as competitive as the Ferrari. It depends whether they find it. But if any team can, it should be Mercedes.

    2. Sainz’ DNF has definitely put him on the back foot. It’s easy to see why he was frustrated – the red flag and starter issues in Q3, the steering issues pre-race and then the (resulting?) awkward start – but he could have scored good points today. As the old saying goes, scoring on bad race weekends wins titles. Russell in particular deserves props for doing just that while Mercedes struggles to make the most of their car; which is already easily the third fastest this year and should not be discounted just yet.

      But also credit to Leclerc: he has made his last quali laps count and given himself the best starting positions for the races, which Sainz has not done. I think one of the commentators noted on F1 TV that, were it not for the red flag, Sainz would have been going in to the last Q3 runs on provisional pole in all three events so far. That’s an unfortunate stat if you then see that he has been starting races behind and getting caught up in battles and/or traffic while Leclerc storms off at the front.

      1. Yes, I agree. Both Leclerc and Russell stood out for me in the race. I’m a total believer in ‘you make your own luck’ in Formula 1 and just now those two seem to be doing that best among the ‘top 6’. (Though I also wouldn’t entirely discount McLaren/Norris at this stage.)

      2. I don’t know what to say about these What IFs. The gap is not significant at least on 1 lap between the team mates of the top teams, but reality is SAI never looked so far this season, in any Quali or Race, to be able to get the best of LEC when it mattered, bad luck or not. Every time SAI did a better time than LEC, LEC responded with a better time than SAI’s. SAI set a better time than LEC in Q2… but who cares??

  17. I really liked that Mercedes powered cars seemed in the mix again, at least race pace wise. Also the Renault powered cars. Seems quite close and we should have a mixed bag of results this year. I think Mercedes will improvev and catch Red Bull and Ferrari with their more extreme design, and both Mercedes and Ferrari have time to gain when sort out their porpoising issues. Will be an interesting development race this year. All the teams have created good cars. I wonder which manufacturer will improve their engines first under reliability grounds.. Alonso on third engine was a rocket ship in Q3.

  18. Great drive by LEC and car by Ferrari.
    The Red Bull is also fast per Horner’s lack of praise for PER finishing second.
    Mercedes is coming along. This season has more races than any other season, so I don’t think any of the top 4 manufacturers are out of it.

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