Was Perez right that even a reliable Red Bull wouldn’t have beaten Ferrari?

2024 Australian GP interactive data

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After two consecutive Red Bull one-twos at the start of the season, few might have expected yesterday’s one-two for Ferrari in Australia.

The SF-24s of Carlos Sainz Jnr and Charles Leclerc led the field home thanks in part to Max Verstappen’s surprise retirement – his first in two years. But the two drivers believe their car’s long-run pace was strong enough that they could have won even if Verstappen had stayed in the race.

Charles Leclerc, who was the quicker of the two Ferrari drivers until qualifying, said the team felt victory was within its reach from the start of the weekend.

“It’s been a long time since we have had the genuine pace to have Red Bull – I wouldn’t say under control, because we don’t know what was the real pace of Max today – but I will say that from FP1, we knew that pole position and the race win was possible because we had very good tyre degradation, very good pace, and that is a very encouraging sign.”

2024 Australian Grand Prix lap times

All the lap times by the drivers (in seconds, very slow laps excluded). Scroll to zoom, drag to pan and toggle drivers using the control below:

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As Leclerc acknowledged, the key question is how quick Verstappen would have been had he continued in the race. According to Red Bull his right-rear brake was locked on from the start, so there’s no representative data from his race – other than the fact he can beat a Ferrari to turn one from a standing start with one brake on.

Carlos Sainz Jnr,
Ferrari believe they could have challenged Red Bull without Verstappen’s retirement
The other Red Bull of Sergio Perez was 36 seconds behind Sainz when the second Virtual Safety Car period began on the penultimate lap. He finished 22 and eight seconds behind Verstappen in the first two races (ignoring his five-second time penalty in the latter), so on the face of it Ferrari are correct in saying Red Bull were further off the pace than usual in Melbourne.

Even Perez echoed that view, saying he felt it was “absolutely” the case Verstappen’s retirement did not cost him victory. However Red Bull later revealed Perez’s pace was compromised by a visor tear-off which became stuck to his car’s floor, ruining its aerodynamics. That may have given the Ferrari drivers undue optimism about their performance compared to Red Bull last weekend.

Nonetheless, Carlos Sainz Jnr is optimistic Melbourne won’t be the last time Ferrari can put Red Bull under pressure, and be first in line to capitalise if they crack,

“Around Australia, from lap one, it felt like a race-winning car,” he said. “And even if Red Bull were also quick and were on pole, that [time] in quali wasn’t out of reach for us.

“There will be tracks where we are strong like we saw last year. And this year it seems like our race pace is better even on those tracks that we are stronger. And together with a good development programme, I hope that we can challenge Red Bull more often.”

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2024 Australian Grand Prix race chart

The gaps between each driver on every lap compared to the leader’s average lap time. Very large gaps omitted. Scroll to zoom, drag to pan and right-click to reset. Toggle drivers using controls below:

Pirelli’s decision to bring tyres which were one stage softer than the year before changed the complexion of the race. Most drivers made their first pit stops within the first 10 laps, but those who held on until the 15th tour were rewarded when Lewis Hamilton retired, triggering the first Virtual Safety Car period.

Fernando Alonso and Nico Hulkenberg were among those who benefited and finished eighth and ninth respectively as a result. The Aston Martin driver might have finished higher without his post-race penalty (not reflected in the graph above).

Only a handful of drivers risked the soft tyre at the start of the race, and found little benefit from it.

2024 Australian Grand Prix tyre strategies

The tyre strategies for each driver:

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2024 Australian Grand Prix lap chart

The positions of each driver on every lap. Click name to highlight, right-click to reset. Toggle drivers using controls below:

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2024 Australian Grand Prix fastest laps

Each driver’s fastest lap:

Rank#DriverCarLap timeGapAvg. speed (kph)Lap no.
116Charles LeclercFerrari1’19.813238.0756
24Lando NorrisMcLaren-Mercedes1’19.9150.102237.7649
355Carlos Sainz JnrFerrari1’20.0310.218237.4248
481Oscar PiastriMcLaren-Mercedes1’20.1990.386236.9254
563George RussellMercedes1’20.2840.471236.6753
611Sergio PerezRed Bull-Honda RBPT1’20.3880.575236.3647
714Fernando AlonsoAston Martin-Mercedes1’20.4930.680236.0652
818Lance StrollAston Martin-Mercedes1’20.9301.117234.7849
920Kevin MagnussenHaas-Ferrari1’21.0821.269234.3444
1010Pierre GaslyAlpine-Renault1’21.0901.277234.3251
1122Yuki TsunodaRB-Honda RBPT1’21.1341.321234.1946
1227Nico HulkenbergHaas-Ferrari1’21.1451.332234.1646
133Daniel RicciardoRB-Honda RBPT1’21.2391.426233.8946
1424Zhou GuanyuSauber-Ferrari1’21.3271.514233.6349
1531Esteban OconAlpine-Renault1’21.3541.541233.5645
1677Valtteri BottasSauber-Ferrari1’21.4221.609233.3648
1723Alexander AlbonWilliams-Mercedes1’21.6181.805232.846
1844Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’22.4442.631230.4711
191Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda RBPT1’23.1153.302228.613

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2024 Australian Grand Prix pit stop times

How long each driver’s pit stops took:

Rank#DriverTeamComplete stop time (s)Gap to best (s)Stop no.Lap no.
111Sergio PerezRed Bull17.222235
216Charles LeclercFerrari17.3080.086234
316Charles LeclercFerrari17.4090.18719
422Yuki TsunodaRB17.5350.313236
581Oscar PiastriMcLaren17.5730.35119
644Lewis HamiltonMercedes17.5960.37417
755Carlos Sainz JnrFerrari17.5990.377116
84Lando NorrisMcLaren17.6530.431240
910Pierre GaslyAlpine17.6820.46241
1055Carlos Sainz JnrFerrari17.740.518241
1123Alexander AlbonWilliams17.7450.523227
123Daniel RicciardoRB17.7510.529229
1323Alexander AlbonWilliams17.7550.53316
144Lando NorrisMcLaren17.7760.554114
1518Lance StrollAston Martin17.9010.67918
1663George RussellMercedes17.9640.742245
1718Lance StrollAston Martin17.9770.755237
1814Fernando AlonsoAston Martin17.9950.773241
1931Esteban OconAlpine18.0070.785342
2063George RussellMercedes18.0460.82418
2111Sergio PerezRed Bull18.1120.89114
2227Nico HulkenbergHaas18.1450.923235
2320Kevin MagnussenHaas18.1510.929233
2414Fernando AlonsoAston Martin18.160.938117
253Daniel RicciardoRB18.2651.04315
2631Esteban OconAlpine18.2871.06519
2720Kevin MagnussenHaas18.3011.07917
2827Nico HulkenbergHaas18.321.098117
2922Yuki TsunodaRB18.5231.30119
3081Oscar PiastriMcLaren18.5331.311239
3177Valtteri BottasSauber18.9381.716236
3224Zhou GuanyuSauber19.0321.8116
3310Pierre GaslyAlpine20.3163.094117
3431Esteban OconAlpine30.62613.404216
3524Zhou GuanyuSauber36.86619.644235
3677Valtteri BottasSauber46.96929.74718

2024 Australian Grand Prix

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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20 comments on “Was Perez right that even a reliable Red Bull wouldn’t have beaten Ferrari?”

  1. I still disagree with Checo’s view that Max wouldn’t have won even if he had an entirely issue-free race.
    Ultimately, not a 2023 Singapore GP situation.

    1. Absolutely, not same race / track situation. And Max is a beast! even with a hampering car he would have had a chance to win. Not sure if he would’ve pulled off but at least it would had been a very close top 3 (considering how close was Ferrari from Pole)
      I also think Checo said what he said without knowing his car was damaged, probably estimating Max’s car would’ve had similar performance deg problem (loss of downforce)

      1. He was driving with a seized brake on his rear wheel whatever lap it happened or escalated maybe from the start. Perez’s comments are irrelevant…..

  2. notagrumpyfan
    25th March 2024, 17:58

    Best of the Rest Championship*:
    1) Haas 100 (HUL 51, MAG 49)
    2) RB 78 (TSU 47, RIC 31)
    3) Williams 50′ (ALB 40, SAR 10′)
    4) Sauber 46 (ZHO 32, BOT 14)
    5) Alpine 32 (OCO 20, GAS 12)

    * regular points structure for bottom 5 teams, incl. FLAP
    ‘ Williams (one car) and Sargeant have one less race entry.

    1. Very nice, keep it coming.

  3. The car suits Max far far better than it suits Checo.
    I’m confident that without the brake problem then Max could have turned in a winning drive.

    The car is that good, and Max is that good.

    1. Nulla, you may be correct that the car suits Max more, but I think that’s something generally true of fast cars and fast drivers. i.e. a car which is “gentle” to drive will suit both team mates equally, but a car which is pointy in the corners, and generally faster because it is more on a knife edge, is the sort of car that looks great in the hands of the Verstappens and Hamiltons of his world.

  4. I think Max would have won this round too, but it would certainly have been the closest one yet. I think Max will run away with this championship just like 2023, but I think Ferrari will be closer to him than anyone was last year.

    1. Agreed. Melbourne is very particular track and not representative at all for the rest of the season.

  5. Was Perez right that even a reliable Red Bull wouldn’t have beaten Ferrari?

    No. He’s a bang average driver who makes excuses despite having a ‘rocket ship’ of a car.

    1. I think the thing that surprised me the most after this last race is that despite Red Bull being a rocket ship taking maximum points in the first two races, and despite Ferrari having had a stand in driver who had no F1 experience for one of the three races, Ferrari is still only four points behind Red Bull in the constructors championship.

      1. With max they would have scored 25 points and while Sainz missed a race Bearman still scored.
        With a win by max the point deduction for second and third would have been 7 points.
        So RBR +25
        Ferrari- 7
        (Fastest lap not deducted)
        But its all ” what if”.

      2. If Sainz had let Leclerc past for the win, (or Leclerc had of been faster) then Leclerc would have been leading the drivers championship.

  6. I doubt a tear off cost him half a second to the Ferraris. Maybe he had a bollard trapped under the car instead.

    1. I agree, I think even Marko said floor damaged happened when hitting the kerbs at one point.

      But…. I will have to re-watch the race because I do remember seeing a tear off (or perhaps just leaves) getting sucked under a RBR car behind an Aston M car. I just don’t know how a stucked tear off can cause such performance degradation

    2. Checo’s pace does drop off quite a bit after overtaking Alonso in the graph. His last stint is also showing higher wear.

  7. Noticed something interesting. Charles’ 2nd pit stop on Lap 34 was an excellent execution from Ferrari. His gap to Lando was decreasing consistently and he was at risk of being undercut or overtaken on track. Ferrari couldn’t have pitted on Lap 33 as Charles would have exited behind the battling Perez and Alonso and lost time (allowing Lando to perhaps overcut him). Ferrari couldn’t have waited till Lap 35 as Lando would have got DRS and perhaps overtaken Charles on track or

    The only chance was Lap 34 as that was when Charles could come out ahead of Perez and Alonso and Norris couldn’t. And that pitstop had to be really perfect too (sub 2.2s). And Ferrari actually managed it. Quite an improvement from 2022-2023 in terms of strategic nous.

  8. In his hands: yes.

  9. This season were two races where Verstappen finished the race. He won. One DNF and Ferrari thinks they have a chance to win, Ok lets wait and see.

  10. Tear offs should be kept in the car like they used to be. Too often are races affected by a tear off stuck in aero/brake ducts/wherever.

Comments are closed.