Carlos Sainz Jnr, Ferrari, Albert Park, 2024

Sainz leads Ferrari one-two in Australia after Verstappen retires early

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Carlos Sainz Jnr won the Australian Grand Prix, leading a one-two for Ferrari after Max Verstappen retired on the third lap.

Sainz passed Verstappen, who had a developing brake problem, on lap two. From there he never looked back, taking Ferrari’s first win of the season and breaking Verstappen’s nine-race winning streak.

Charles Leclerc finished second to secure a Ferrari one-two, with Lando Norris taking McLaren’s first podium of the season in third. His team mate Oscar Piastri, who was told to let him through earlier in the race and later spun, finished fourth.

The race ended under a Virtual Safety Car following a heavy crash on the final racing lap for George Russell who lost control at turn six while pressuring Fernando Alonso for sixth and hit the barrier, leaving him stranded in the middle of the circuit. Russell was able to climb out of the car seemingly unhurt. The stewards are investigating an incident at turn six

Sergio Perez finished in fifth, over 15 seconds behind Piastri’s McLaren. Alonso finished sixth with Aston Martin team mate Lance Stroll gaining seventh with Russell’s last lap crash. Yuki Tsunoda claimed four points for eighth place, with the final points taken by the two Haas drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen.

After Williams opted to put Alexander Albon in Logan Sargeant’s car, leaving Sargeant unable to participate, Albon only just missed out on a point in 11th.

Verstappen was the first driver to retire after suffering a right-rear brake problem which developed over the opening laps, turning into a fire which was safely extinguished in the pit lane. Lewis Hamilton suffered an engine failure on lap 16 when his power unit suddenly cut out along Lakeside Drive.

Despite his retirement, Verstappen continues to lead the championship with 51 points, with Leclerc moving ahead of Perez into second, four points behind Verstappen. Sainz has jumped both McLarens with his win, moving up to fourth.

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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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58 comments on “Sainz leads Ferrari one-two in Australia after Verstappen retires early”

  1. A continuous finishing streak was bound to end at some point, but coincidently, it happened on the same circuit as the most recent DNF.
    A good comeback for Sainz & a well-controlled drive.
    A good race for Haas as well.
    Besides Russell’s late off, a largely clean race, which was good after last year’s unnecessarily excessive drama.
    Weirdly, Gasly did the same mistake twice within the same event.
    Sauber clearly can’t get their act together with pit stops, no matter what they do.

  2. Where was Perez in this race? 🤦🏻This is what happens when you have a one-driver focused team. Even Russell was faster than him at the end of the stints with that turtle Mercedes.

    1. What do you suggest, that Perez forgot how to drive since the last 2 races, where he scored 2 second places? Or maybe, maybe Red Bull isn’t such a dominant car like Mercedes was between 2014-2021 and it’s Max who makes the difference?

      1. That is an armchair expert reply if their ever was one. Change you name to ‘Verstappen biggest fan’. Sergio is driving rubbish. Look how close the ferrari drivers are to each other, and both would arguably do as well as Verstappen in the best car. Verstappen never looked like a great driver until he redbull became dominant. This sport is about the total package. Half the drivers in the field can be the total package in a winning car, while Sergio has proved to not have it in him to be a title challenger.

        1. This is nonsense:

          “Verstappen never looked like a great driver until he (sic) redbull (sic) became dominant”.

          He won his first race with Red Bull in 2016.

          He drove a blinder in the wet in Brazil 2016.

          He’s won in the Red Bull in years where Mercedes and Ferrari had the best cars.

          He beat Hamilton (admittedly with some questionable driving and some even more questionable race control decisions) in 2021. Both of them drove outstandingly that year, totally dominating race-winning team mates.

          1. Except hamilton wasn’t outstanding in 2021, he made a lot of mistakes and was clearly the weaker driver, but I agree verstappen was already good before 2022.

        2. C’mon man, you’re saying the OP is Verstappen’s biggest fan, then you make yourself look like Verstappen’s biggest hater. Like him or not for his personality and attitude, but he’s quite special when it comes to driving.

      2. It is really disingenuous to say that Mercedes had a dominant car throughout from 2014 to 2021, and by doing so, discount Ferrari from 2017-2019 and Redbull in 2021. It was rather amazing to see Mercedes surviving at the top all those years despite the many attempts to have their performance held back via regulation changes. That is what allowed the other teams to be competitive against them. And again from 2021 to the current era.

    2. Perez had a decent race. This was an awful track and tire choice for their car. Even before Verstappen went out, a lot of people thought even he’d be vulnerable because of how the tire wear was a lot worse on the Red Bull.

    3. Honstely, i think that the Red Bull just was not quite tuned in, Max only really got it right in Q3 for that great pole lap. I think Sainz would have a chance even without that brake failure.

      Also, Perez did have a bad strategy there, they dropped him down the field 2 times.

      1. A lot of people commenting that Sainz had the pace today to beat Verstappen.
        It’s a great win for Sainz today and I am delighted for a man that is starting to surprise a few people.
        Just imagine what it would have done for his confidence if he had beaten Verstappen on track and on pace today, especially with the fact he still isn’t 100%

    4. José Lopes da Silva
      24th March 2024, 10:12

      I agree. Red Bull should have hired a driver faster than Perez.

      1. If only there was a race winning driver on top form that came through the Red Bull driver academy available as a free agent in 2025. One that showed reasonably favourably* against Verstappen in the same car earlier in their career…

        * I know Sainz was significantly outscored in 2015 by Verstappen, but he had a lot more bad luck. I think he’d have probably got about 75% of Verstappen’s points tally, all things being equal.

        1. Ricciardo is not performing at the level he was before, I don’t see how you can expect them to replace perez with him, he’s like vettel in his last years.

        2. Ah, nevermind, I see why you mentioned sainz, I agree he’d be a good replacement for perez, would bring more competition.

  3. After Max set the new record of consecutive wins last year, Red Bull “forgot” how to operate their car in Singapore, handing Ferrari the first win since 2022. Now that Max had a chance to equal that record, he DNFed after rear brake fire, while Ferrari won the first race since Singapore. What an amazing coincidence once again!

    1. What are you even implying? xD

      1. He’s implying that it was a coincidence, because that’s what he said…

        1. He’s implying the fia is in on it, probably in agreement with ferrari.

  4. Sainz once again demonstrates that Ferrari is a genius at making decisions. ha ha ha

    1. Yes, switching from one of the very best to someone like Nikita Mazepin or whereabouts.

    2. What if Newey does come to Ferrari to work with Lewis?

  5. Perez just too slow?!! Where was the RB20’s famed top speed?
    What was Alonso’s part to play in Russell’s crash. Slowing defensively on the apex caught George out.
    I really wanted to see Piastri on the podium, without team orders he would have been too.

    1. Red Bull just did not quite get everything together this weekend, it was visible in the friday training long runs already. Might not have been straightforward for Max either, but we’ll never know.

      No, apart from behing ahead, Alonso had nothing to do with George’s accident – George was just a tad too close, lost too much clean air and therefore lost front downforce and couldn’t keep it under control.

      1. Wait, i now saw what you mean – apparently data from Alsono’s car does indicate that Alsono braked before that turn – let’s see what comes from that then,

        1. It is supposed to brake before a turn…

          There was nothing special about what happened except Russell losing car control for whatever reason and some political or personal crap going on behind the scenes.

    2. Mog, have you forgotten Piastri’s lock up which cost him 4 seconds?
      Also, Norris was catching Piastri very rapidly on 6 lap younger tyres before the swap occurred, so would probably have overtaken Piastri anyway

      1. I thought that lock up was after the switch on old tyres and just before he pitted?

        Anyways, i know they were on different strategies, it just would have been nice to see is all. It was Piastri’s home race after all. Tbh I think that it didnt really change the points gained for Mclaren, just the positions of the drivers were swapped.

        1. I don’t really care whether it was Piastri’s home race or not, Norris had been handed the worse strategy in the first round of pit stops when McLaren pitted Piastri first, even though Norris had qualified higher and was running two places in front of him at the time. Only reason Piastri was in front at all was due to the undercut. Which he shouldn’t really have had, by rights.
          Also, my point was, whilst the lock up did indeed occur after the positions had been switched, it would’ve happened even if they hadn’t been, and at which point Norris would have passed him anyway.

          1. Agree, norris was simply better and deserved to finish ahead.

      2. Probably overtaken? You don’t sound so sure.
        Sooner or later these two drivers are going to clash – Norris hasn’t proven to be much better and PIA is basically still a rookie.
        Zach will have a handful.

        1. Probably overtaken? You don’t sound so sure.

          It’s more that nothing in life is certain, and the Butterfly Effect is real.

          Zach will have a handful

          but what a handful to have: two very good drivers pushing each other to their limits. Isn’t that what every true fan wants to see?

  6. My my Georgie boy stuffed it not for the last time !! Mercedes needs a new team leader and I would go with Sainz if the intent is to move forward. George’s contribution to car development has been negligible.

    1. One has to wonder what the motive would be for Sainz to go to Mercedes. They won’t offer him a race winning car, so quite frankly I do not think he even considers going there.

      1. I think having a car to drive next year is a good motive.

        1. Ahah, that’s a good one, and true!

  7. The highlights spend a lot of time on Alonso stopping under VSC, but it wasn’t clear how that mattered or who he was fighting for position with. Turns out it wasn’t really for the top spots.

    Anyway, Australia is never the most exciting race, but it was good to see some daytime racing at least. Very nice that Ferrari won, and that Sainz was able to take the lead before Verstappen retired (although he might have already had some issues then). Still, a bit disappointed that they told Leclerc to hold position so early in the race and season. Understandable, but nevertheless.

    1. Leclerc could have taken the lead in the WDC today. A Max or Lewis would have never accepted that team order. That is why Leclerc will fall short eventually.

      1. Unfortunately that seems to be the case, and given he’s now quite an experienced driver, it doesn’t seem like it’ll change.

        1. I think that hold position message was only valid for that short period after the vsc in which Sainz for what ever reason lost a lot of time.
          After that they were free to race with Sainz on newer tyres pulling away anyway.
          Still it would have been nice to see them fight for at least one lap, but given that Leclerc struggled later in that stint it was probably the right decision.

  8. Red Bull rear brake starting to bind between the end of the formation lap and the start of the race seems quite strange. I wonder what changed?

    1. I luv chicken
      24th March 2024, 21:35

      Someone put toothpicks in between the brake pads.

    2. It could be a brake pad failure or een tearoff in his duct interferring with his brake claw stuck behind so the claw can’t open 100% then you get overheating unit.

  9. I had a sleep after the race. When I woke up Sainz was still the winner and Max had conked out.

    Sainz is very under rated. Ferrari are fools to let him go. Compare his weekend to Leclerc, who is the most over rated driver.

  10. Biggest losers here are Williams.

    1. Well, albon was close to making the points, sargeant would’ve been approximately with the alphas.

      If you can settle for 17th or try for 10th I’d personally try for 10th, even if it doesn’t eventually lead to the result.

    2. With the saubers* was what I meant, too many team name changes lately.

  11. Sainz would be leading the world championship after this round if not for a medical reason, he won twice in a few month in a Red Bull-era and yet he has no contract for next year. Does the smooth operator in need of a better manager?

    1. Damn, he’s 11 points behind verstappen and indeed 12 points are expected from sainz in the previous race, that’s impressive consistency, given how strong red bull has been.

  12. Sainz threw his gloves in the public before weighing. Will he avoid disqualification?

    1. He got them back as he throw them to his monteurs and the crowd behind them. If you watch the stream again you see a monteur giving his gloves back!.

      Without them he would lose his win ….

  13. Too bad Verstappen had to dnf, we might’ve gotten a first proper race to watch in a long while.

    1. Exactly, many people here are saying verstappen out made the race more interesting, but red bull was surprisingly weak in race pace here, so it’s a shame he retired.

  14. Based on what we saw last season and today I think Mercedes would be mad not to sign Carlos for next season. If they can get their car right he’s easily a match for George. Probably better.

    1. Yes, I wouldn’t have said that after his first race in mercedes, but I agree nowadays.

  15. Dodged a bullet today. If VER’s car exploded in the pit and not in the pit entry, there could have been serious injuries. Lucky. Nothing could be done.

    1. His tire exploded. I know less sensational and more factual. Not your cup of tea.

  16. I think Sainz would have won regardless even if Max was still in the race. He has been so strong all weekend, so well done to him. Perez, poor as always, time for him to move on. The Red Bull is so superior over everything bar Ferrari and he finishes 5th and not even on the podium. Im thinking Carlos would be a great team mate to Max, again.

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