Carlos Sainz Jnr, Ferrari, Albert Park, 2024

“Don’t put me under pressure” – The best unheard team radio from Melbourne

Formula 1

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The Australian Grand Prix served up surprises after back-to-back Red Bull one-twos in the opening races of 2024. An early retirement for Max Verstappen opened the door for the team’s rivals to take a rare victory.

Ferrari took full advantage, beating McLaren to secure their first win since Singapore last year as well as the team’s first one-two in two seasons.

They did this by outmanoeuvring McLaren to get Charles Leclerc ahead of Lando Norris. But when he began to close on his race leading team mate Carlos Sainz Jnr, Ferrari were quick to tell their drivers to hold position.

Further back, the disruption to the race caused by Lewis Hamilton’s retirement presented an opportunity to other teams. Among them were Haas, who for the second race in a row used Kevin Magnussen to help his team mate score points.

Early trouble

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Albert Park, 2024

Verstappen secured his third consecutive pole of the season in Saturday’s qualifying session, which put him in with a strong chance of a hat trick of victories from the start of the season. However, from the moment the lights went out, he struggled with an stuck right-rear brake that slowly overheated to a critical point, which put him out of his first grand prix for exactly two years.

Lap: 1/58 VER: 1’27.458
LambiaseMode-six. Car behind, Sainz. One second.
Lap: 2/58 VER: 1’24.099
LambiaseOkay, DRS enabled. Gap was 0.9 across the line.
VerstappenI just lost the car. Really weird.
LambiaseYep, understood. No probs.
Lap: 3/58 VER: 1’23.115
Verstappen[After oversteering into turn six] Fucking hell, the car is loose…
Lambiase0.5. And mid-eight, when you can. Mid-eight.
Lap: 4/58
VerstappenErr, yep. I have smoke… blue smoke.
Verstappen[Pulling aside] On fire. Fire. Brake. On brake. Right-rear. My brake pedal’s gone.
LambiaseYeah. Box, Max, box.
LambiaseYeah, I can’t brake. Get the fire extinguisher ready – it’s on fire.
LambiaseYep, understood Max.
VerstappenCan I get out?
LambiaseSwitch it off, Max. Yep.

With Verstappen out of the race, Sainz led from Lando Norris, Leclerc and Oscar Piastri. Leclerc struggled to get by the McLaren and join his team mate up front, so Ferrari tried to leap him ahead of the McLaren by pitting him earlier.

Lap: 5/58 LEC: 1’22.632
Marcos PadrosSo Verstappen just retired.
Marcos PadrosAnd increase tyre saving, turn five.
Lap: 6/58 LEC: 1’22.673
LeclercWas that turn three, you said?
Marcos PadrosTurn five.
Marcos PadrosSo, switch position ‘yellow’. Switch position ‘yellow’. And be careful of front saturation turns 11 and 13.
Lap: 8/58 LEC: 1’22.983
Marcos PadrosAnd we are going to Plan A at the moment. We believe you are status ‘four’, but we would like you to be in status ‘three’.
Lap: 9/58 LEC: 1’36.036
Marcos PadrosAnd SOC ‘six’ when you can.
LeclercStruggling to overtake.
Marcos PadrosCopy that.
Marcos PadrosAnd box opposite Norris. Box opposite Norris.
Leclerc[In] pit lane.
Marcos PadrosCopy.
Lap: 10/58 LEC: 1’27.861
Marcos PadrosAnd slow introduction. Manage these tyres.

Sauber had struggled with malfunctioning pit equipment through the first two rounds, leading to pit problems for Valtteri Bottas in Bahrain and his team mate Zhou Guanyu in Jeddah. In Melbourne, both drivers suffered more problems in the pits.

Lap: 14/58 BOT: 1’23.395
ChanOkay, Valtteri, we’ll box this lap. Box. Box.
ChanMode ‘RS’ and remember: neutral, off brakes.
Chan[Bottas has been sitting in his pit box for 25 seconds] Okay, Valtteri, stand by.
Chan[Bottas leaves the pit lane] Okay, Valtteri, you can go back to mode ‘race’.
Lap: 15/58 BOT: 1’23.329
ChanOkay, Valtteri, I know it’s frustrating, but still a long way to go in this race.

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Alonso’s good timing

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin, Albert Park, 2024

After Verstappen’s retirement, Piastri followed Leclerc into the pits. McLaren brought in team mate Norris, the team warned Piastri that he might meet Norris coming out of the pit lane, but Piastri was clear.

Lap: 14/58 PIA: 1’21.968
StallardOscar, we could be close to Lando at pit exit. Remember the racing rules.
Lap: 28/58 PIA: 1’22.204
StallardOscar, tyre and balance update: We’re looking more rear-limited than the other car.
PiastriFront-left is starting to struggle more now. The rears are not far behind.
StallardAnd Oscar, we’d like to swap position. Swap position. Lando 0.9.
Lap: 29/58 PIA: 1’23.479
Piastri[Piastri allows Norris through into turn three] Okay Oscar, let’s try and keep in DRS as long as we can. Lando’s tyres are in a better state.

Sainz led up the end of lap 16, where he came in for his first stop. Fernando Alonso was the only driver in the top five not to have pitted as Sainz emerged right in front of him. But then as he overtook the Ferrari on cold tyres, the field were forced to slow due to Lewis Hamilton’s sudden problem with his Mercedes.

Lap: 16/58 HAM:
HamiltonYeah, I’ve had an engine failure.
BonningtonOh, okay…
BonningtonEngine failure. Engine failure..
BonningtonOkay, so just stop, stop. We’ve got Albon, Ocon, Magnussen coming passed now. So get as safe as you can. So then Magnussen, then Ricciardo, then Zhou. So Ricciardo now and Zhou five seconds behind. So Zhou coming passed now, then you have a 19 second gap to Valterri, so 19 seconds.
HamiltonTrying to find a gap.
Okay mate. Fourteen now to Valtteri. So Valtteri at seven seconds. Five seconds.
HamiltonI can’t see an opening…
BonningtonOkay, so Valtteri the car behind and then you’ve got 31 seconds. Okay, an opening is just there, yep. And when you jump out, mate, if you can just switch it to P0. Sorry about that.
HamiltonAll right, guys.
Lap: 14/58 ALO: 1’23.455
CroninThere’s nothing happening on track but full Safety Car window’s open and VSC window open.
Lap: 16/58 ALO: 1’23.239
AlonsoIt’s good to have free track.
CroninYeah, exactly. Just keep going as long as you can. At the moment, Hulkenberg’s dragging the people back that stopped – so Russell, Hamilton and Lance.
CroninSafety Car window is open.
Lap: 17/58 ALO: 1’48.609
AlonsoSay again?
CroninThe Safety Car window is open, just in case. Hamilton is very slow, entry to nine at the moment. Sainz on exit. [Alonso passes Sainz for lead out of T1].
CroninSo Hamilton has stopped exit of turn 10, on the right hand side. Sainz has got DRS. Virtual Safety Car, Virtual… slow down. Get the delta positive. We are boxing this lap. Double yellows ahead, so watch your delta.

McLaren were afraid the VSC would allow Alonso to keep ahead of Norris when he pitted. However, the Aston Martin emerged just behind the two McLarens in fifth, ahead of George Russell.

Lap: 17/58 NOR: 1’38.388
JosephVirtual Safety Car deployed. Virtual Safety Car deployed. That’s Hamilton after turn ten, I think, on the right. Keep it on the delta.
JosephAlonso will take it.
NorrisWill he come out ahead, I guess?
JosephShould be behind. Virtual Safety Car ending. Virtual Safety Car ending. Okay, so that’s Alonso 3.5 seconds behind you on a used medium. I.E., his scrubbed one.

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Team orders

Oscar Piastri, Landor Norris, McLaren, Albert Park, 2024

Piastri was ahead of his team mate in third, on course for a podium in his home grand prix. However, Norris behind had fresher tyres and pace that was quicker than the Ferraris ahead. So there was little argument when McLaren asked Piastri to step aside for his team mate.

Lap: 28/58 PIA: 1’22.204
StallardOscar, tyre and balance update: We’re looking more rear-limited than the other car.
PiastriFront-left is starting to struggle more now. The rears are not far behind.
StallardAnd Oscar, we’d like to swap position. Swap position. Lando 0.9.
Lap: 29/58 PIA: 1’23.479
Piastri[Piastri allows Norris through into turn three] Okay Oscar, let’s try and keep in DRS as long as we can. Lando’s tyres are in a better state.

Ferrari were looking comfortable out front. Leclerc was just outside of DRS range of his leading team mate, but he got the call not to push to challenge Sainz ahead.

Lap: 19/58 LEC: 1’21.881, SAI: 1’21.811
Marcos PadrosAnd hold position. Manage tyres.SainzGap, Ricci?
AdamiWe hold position, we hold position, both cars.
AdamiGap is 0.9 behind, 0.9. Tyres are priority, both cars.
Lap: 20/58 LEC: 1’21.885, SAI: 1’21.602
Sainz[Unclear] struggling at the end on this tyre.
AdamiUnderstood. You are doing well right now. Was just Charles was pushing more on the tyres. Now is keeping our rhythm.

Down in 11th, Haas driver Kevin Magnussen was just ahead of team mate Nico Hulkenberg. The earlier VSC allowed Hulkenberg to pit for mediums, which meant he was on newer, faster tyres than his team mate. For the second race in a row, Magnussen played the team game and would ultimately be rewarded by a double points finish by the end of the grand prix.

Lap: 21/58 HUL: 1’22.479, MAG: 1’22.860
GannonOkay, Nico, I think we’re going to swap. I’ll let you know.SladeOkay, Kev, are you able to increase pace?
Lap: 22/58 HUL: 1’22.439, MAG: 1’23.315
GannonOkay, Nico. Really good job. You’re catching Albon. Just keep doing the managing like you’re doing. That’s what we need. Good job. Albon on 24-lap old hards.SladeWe just need to make sure we do not slow Nico down. We should not slow Nico down.
MagnussenYeah, understood.
Slade[Magnussen allows Hulkenberg through into turn 11] Okay, let’s get on it, Kev. Still everything to play for.

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Ferrari plays it safe

Leclerc pitted first out of the two Ferraris again the second time around. Sainz had a moment of concern that his team mate could manage to jump ahead of him, but he was reassured by the team that he had nothing to worry about.

Lap: 38/58 LEC: 1’20.949, SAI: 1’21.412
AdamiCharles lap time: 20.7. 20.7. He’s pushing a lot now.
SainzOkay, don’t put me under pressure. We’ll just slow each other.
AdamiNo, no. No problem.
Lap: 39/58 LEC: 1’20.909, SAI: 1’21.554
LeclercLap times of Carlos, please.
Marcos PadrosSo Sainz lap time: ‘21.4.
Marcos PadrosSo target lap time ‘21.5. That’s the lap times from Norris.
Lap: 40/58 LEC: 1’20.953, SAI: 1’21.443
Marcos PadrosSo we are 1.9 seconds ahead of Norris at the moment, and we believe he will pit this lap, so keep managing a bit the tyres.
Marcos PadrosSo 2.5 ahead of Norris at the moment.
LeclercXavi, come on. Not five times during a lap. One time’s enough, thank you.
Marcos PadrosCopy that.

Norris was around three seconds behind Leclerc and trying whatever he could to catch up to the two scarlet cars. But he had to admit that at this race, he just did not have the same performance as the Scuderia.

Lap: 48/58 NOR: 1’20.260
NorrisWhat did he do last lap?
JosephBasically a 20-dead.
NorrisAh, okay. So he’s quicker.

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Celebrations and commiserations

Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Albert Park, 2024

The end of the grand prix was marred by the penultimate-lap crash of George Russell who lost control of his car at turn six in contentious circumstances chasing Alonso. The accident required all race engineers to respond quickly to the danger and a full breakdown of the reactions to the accident can be found here and Alonso’s messages prior to and after Russell’s shunt are here.

But as it was clear that Russell was safe and well, Ferrari, and Sainz, celebrated a rare and memorable grand prix victory – just two weeks after the driver had undergone emergency surgery during the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix weekend for appendicitis.

Chequered flag
AdamiYes, we have it! P1, baby! P1.
VasseurGood job, Carlos!
SainzHa, ha, ha, ha, ha! This is amazing! Thank you guys. Thank you.
AdamiUnbelievable. Charge on.
SainzLife is a roller coaster, eh?
AdamiIt is.
SainzLife is incredible sometimes. Anyway. Thank you, Ricci. Thank you, Ferrari. Forza!
AdamiPass very slow where the crash is. Be careful. Charge on when you can. Medical Car is there. And pick up, please pick up. And you can drink. In the pit lane, in the pit lane. And pick up. In the pit lane now and drink all the way down to P1. P1.
AdamiYes! [Singing] It was a smooth operation…

Ferrari’s win ended a nine-race winning streak for Red Bull and Verstappen – one of the longest in Formula 1 history immediately following their last record-breaking winning streak. But while Sergio Perez came home in fifth place, it would later turn out that a discarded tear-off had caught underneath his car, affecting the efficiency of his floor.

Team principal Christian Horner offered condolences to his sole remaining driver, suggesting Red Bull’s result had reflected Perez’s car more than his own performance.

Chequered flag
BirdOkay, so Sainz, Leclerc, Norris, Piastri, ourselves, Fernando, Stroll, Tsunoda, Hulkenberg, Magnussen.
PerezYeah, nothing really worked today. We were just tight, every stint.
PerezYep. We’ll have some more normal Tarmac in Suzuka.
HornerYeah, not our finest race, Checo. Sorry about that. Plenty of lessons out of today.
PerezYep, definitely. Let’s get them back in Suzuka.

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2024 Australian Grand Prix

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Author information

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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11 comments on ““Don’t put me under pressure” – The best unheard team radio from Melbourne”

  1. And be careful of front saturation turns 11 and 13.

    I know the ‘no driver coaching’ wasn’t that popular when it was briefly enforced, but these things do kind of detract from the myth of F1. I get why teams do this, but it does make it feel a bit like the drivers are puppets on the strings of a guy sat behind a laptop looking at tables of numbers. Not exactly heroic.

    On a different note, props to Haas for apparently having a solid working relation between their two drivers. That reads like a very smooth swap with a good eye for the team’s interest.

    1. I feel like the rule that drivers must ‘drive the car alone and unaided’ needs to be re-written to reflect the modern era of radio instructions coming from the team. In the past I imagine that was meant to quell any possible use of remote control from the teams making settings changes on the car without the driver having to do it (i.e. the team changing diff and brake balance settings for the driver at each corner), and wasn’t intended to pertain to radio messages telling the driver what settings to change. I personally don’t mind the teams telling the driver what settings to change on the fly. These cars aren’t stick-shifts with three buttons any more, and the drivers can’t reasonably be expected to handle the huge amount of info that’s capable of displaying on their wheel AND still drive the car competitively.

      So I’d be fine with the rule being re-written to say something more like ‘the driver must be responsible for making any changes to the car while driving’ as a way to allow the team to tell them what changes to make. To me, that’s still the driver driving the car alone and unaided. I don’t think ‘unaided’ needs to go back to the interpretation of ‘you can’t even tell the driver which switch is in the wrong position’, like with Hamilton at Baku. That will just lead to a dangerous situation with a driver being distracted trying to fix too many settings and being unable to fully focus on racing.

      1. Tyler, I take the opposite view, that these coaching messages from the pits are detracting from the racing. I felt it was right that Hamilton lost places in Baku because he had a switch in the wrong position. It was his fault, he was the driver, he lost the race as a result. I don’t buy into the idea that there is so much info and so many buttons to press that the driver cannot be expected to cope. Firstly, that is poor engineering and ergonomic design, and if all drivers were faced with this problem, teams coming up with better designs which didn’t overload the driver with useless info would gain an advantage. Secondly, the drivers who are better at learning how to drive their car, and better at assimilating data, better at working out for themselves where the tyre wear is occuring, where they could easily brake later, etc, would also gain an advantage.

      2. These cars aren’t stick-shifts with three buttons any more, and the drivers can’t reasonably be expected to handle the huge amount of info that’s capable of displaying on their wheel AND still drive the car competitively.

        Just to highlight this: one probably also feeds into the other. If it’s possible and allowed to adjust a dozen or more different settings, and to off load the mental side of that to an external engineer, that will quickly become the optimal way to do the race. It’s totally fair that the teams do this, and it’s like Schumacher dialing in brake balance every corner taken a couple steps further. But other things that would improve performance are either not possible to change (like tyre pressure), possible but no longer allowed (like adjustable front wings), while others are possible and regulated (like adjustable rear wings).

        In an era where F1 struggles to insert some performance variables into the races, this seems like an easy thing target. The difference won’t be huge, but it’ll make the drivers a bit more important again. For good and bad. Teams would no doubt adjust the cars’ setup to be a bit more middle of the road, and – like AlanD notes – simplify their operation, so the drivers can still make changes to, for example, the deployment of the battery. It wouldn’t be a major change by any means, but there’s just something about an engineer telling an F1 driver to take it slightly easier to one specific corner – and doing so in the middle of the race – that feels a bit off.

    2. The ban was unpopular for several reasons – one of which was that it was obvious that not only did the FIA not know the difference between driver coaching and less controversial uses of the radio, but neither did the teams. It also became obvious that attempting to run without radios would lead to lawsuits – and even a raft of exceptions wasn’t going to help if a problem that the FIA did not anticipate occurred.

      The only way to make it work for F1 would be to take out a lot of what enables F1 to happen at all.

  2. In Ferrari’s defense its been a long time since they had a 1-2 and it might be a long time hence forth till RBR have another fall from first place. That said, Ferrari if they do show sure genuine pace, where its feasible they will continue to fight for first, there will be less conservative racing between the two drivers.

    Getting the 1-2 was a very impressive milestone, but definitely not the last. Charles is gonna have to learn to race with a heavy race car, cause it looks like hes optimized for low fuel running, and if hes still losing out in pole position, then he probably didn’t have the pace.

  3. Intrigued and amused by the Ferrari engineer’s last message (before he bursts into song.)
    What’s Carlos allowed and encouraged to drink? A secondary drinks bottle with Ferrari champagne – open in case of victory?
    “Pick up” is, I assume, collecting rubber, gravel and stuff on the tyres so the car’s not underweight – but wouldn’t draining the drinks bottle counteract that?

    1. Yes, you are right, pick up is about picking up whatever dense debris you can on the tyres to give an extra five kilos or so of weight on the tyres, to ensure they are not underweight. The driver is being told to drink as much as he can at that point becuse he has been in a flat position for best part of two hours, perspiring etc, and if he is dehydrated, when he stands up to get out of the car, there is a chance he will be light headed, so drinking all the remaining drink at that point helps counteract this. It might seem that this will reduce the weight of the car but apart from the fact that we are only talking about half a kilo of liquid, remember that the weight is going into the driver, and the driver plus helmet is also weighed at the end of the race, and that is added to the weight of the car. If I recall correctly, the driver is not allowed anything to drink after getting out of the car until he has been weighed, which is another reason to remind the to drink from the car bottle while he has the opportunity.

    2. @bullfrog Drinking from the bottle would counteract that, but this is more than balanced by the benefit it gives the drivers in staying upright once the adrenaline’s worn off.

  4. I think that is correct, the driver weight is part of “car legal weight” so fluid in the bottle or in the driver have the same result.

    1. It does until the driver sweats it out, some of which will happen before the weighing.

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