Site logo

Verstappen wins amidst Melbourne mayhem


Among the usual suspects, one of the more amusing clickbait headlines this weekend was one which proclaimed... "Wolf breaks silence on W14 upgrades".

Breaks silence? The guy hasn't stopped talking about them since the lights went out in Bahrain.

Precisely what the updates involve we don't know, though at a time McLaren is talking of a "kind of B-car" we assume he's talking along similar lines.

Then again, with his drivers lining up second and third on the grid today, both within 0.3s of Max, is the situation really as dire as we've been told, some, including Fernando Alonso, have their doubts.

While the Dutchman cruised to his first pole position in Melbourne, there remain doubts in terms of the Red Bull's reliability, witness his teammate's issues yesterday.

As ever, the start is going o be interesting, for in many ways, assuming the W14 is as bad as Toto Claims, it is the one chance the Mercedes pair have of stopping Max running away into the distance. George and Lewis will be aware that they have to get ahead, even if it means one having to support the other.

Then again, Fernando will be only too keen to throw the proverbial into the works, though he'll be under pressure from his teammate and the Ferraris just behind.

Today's conditions are entirely different to Friday and Saturday, with bright sunshine as opposed to clouds and rain, all of which adds to the conundrum in terms of the lack of high-fuel running and the question mark over tyres.

Talking of Sergio, he and Valtteri will both start from the pitlane as opposed to the back row where they qualified. Set-up changes were made to the Alfa overnight, as was the case with the Red Bull, in addition to a new energy store and control electronics.

After Max's fight back through the field in Jeddah, Sergio has the opportunity to impress today, though his confidence in his car is likely to have taken a battering after yesterday's nightmare.

As ever, the race cannot be won on the first lap, but it can be lost, and Melbourne is one of those tracks with a reputation, consequently the drivers really need to take a softly, softly approach... but will they listen.

Four DRS zones should ensure a decent amount of overtaking, though we suspect track limits are going to be an issue, while hopefully there will not be any penalties for drivers out of position at the start.

We've mentioned Red Bull and Mercedes, and even Aston Martin, just a little, but what of Ferrari. Are things as bad as they look... indeed, amidst all the talk of Frederic Vasseur's back problems could the Frenchman already be on his way out.

As for Aston, while Max doesn't have the support of a teammate today, certainly at the start, like the Mercedes and Ferraris, the Silverstone-based outfit has both its cars in close proximity, and providing there are no coming togethers this could be another decent points haul.

Following his superb performance in qualifying watch out for young Alex, while Nico continues to impress at Haas, and then, of course, there are the Alpines.

A one-stop strategy is quickest on paper. Based on simulation data, the best way would be to start on the medium and change to hard between laps 17 and 23. Slightly slower is starting on soft and then switching to hard between laps 15 and 21.

A two-stopper is also possible, using all three compounds, albeit not as quick as stopping just once. In which case, the fastest tactic would be to start on soft, switch to hard between laps 10 and 15, and then go onto medium between laps 38 and 45 for the final run to the flag.

Unlike last year, the softest tyre available this weekend (the C4, as opposed to the C5 in 2022) plays a potential role in strategy.

As the pitlane opens the air temperature is 17 degrees, while the track temperature is 35 degrees.

Due to the improved conditions the drivers are eager to get out there and gain some vital experience, Russell reporting a vibration on his steering.

Perez feels his car is much better than yesterday, "lovely" responds his engineer.

Traffic is already proving to be an issue, with (back row starters) Perez and Bottas almost tripping up over one another.

"Grip feels pretty poor," reports Hamilton.

Ahead of the formation lap the air temperature has risen to 18 degrees C, while the track temperature is now 25 degrees.

All are starting on mediums bar Gasly, Ocon, Zhou and Bottas who are on softs, while de Vries, Sargeant and Perez are on hards. Alonso is on scrubbed mediums, as is teammate Stroll.

They head off on the formation lap, all getting away cleanly.

"Pre-start was very average," says Piastri.

The grid forms.

They're away! Verstappen and Russell both get away well, but it is the Briton who leads into turn 1. Behind the Dutchman Alonso tries to go around the outside of Hamilton with Sainz and Stroll in hot pursuit.

At Turn 3, Leclerc and Stroll clash, the left-front on the Aston clipping the right-rear of the Ferrari, sending the Monegasque spinning off into the gravel as Hamilton passes Verstappen, forcing the Red Bull driver wide in the process.

"He pushed me off the track," says Verstappen of Hamilton.

A strong start from Sainz sees the Spaniard get ahead of countryman Alonso.

The Safety Car is deployed as Leclerc's car is stuck in the gravel. Ocon pits and switches to the hards. Zhou, Sargeant, Perez and Bottas also pit.

Behind the Safety Car, it's: Russell, Hamilton, Verstappen, Sainz, Alonso, Albon, Stroll, Gasly, Hulkenberg and Tsunoda.

At the end of lap 2, Perez pits again, as does Sargeant.

The Safety Car is withdrawn at the end of lap 3.

Russell soon opens a 0.8s gap, while his teammate is under attack from Verstappen.

Lap 5 sees a new fastest lap from Verstappen (23.104), as Perez is up to 17th.

"We're currently thinking of Plan A," Norris is told.

As DRS is enabled, Hamilton closes on his Mercedes teammate, with Verstappen right behind.

"You're asking me to manage, and I'm being attacked by my own teammate," says Russell.

The Safety Car is deployed again as Albon crashes at Turn 7 after losing the rear of the car. Asked if he is OK, the Thai drivers sighs, "Yes," he replies.

Russell pits, as do Sainz and Magnussen.

"This has put me at a massive disadvantage," complains Hamilton, who feels that he should have been pitted.

As Albon's car is lifted out of the gravel, the race is red-flagged due to the amount of gravel and debris on the track. This is a disaster for Russell and Sainz as their rivals will now get a 'free' pit stop.

Under the red-flag, after 8 laps, it's: Hamilton, Verstappen, Alonso, Stroll, Gasly, Hulkenberg, Russell, Tsunoda, Norris and Piastri. Sainz is eleventh, ahead of de Vries, Ocon, Perez, Zhou, Bottas, Sargeant and Magnussen.

"Sorry George, that screwed us," says Toto Wolff, "but let's do the most out of it, we can still get to the podium."

Ahead of the restart, Mercedes changes the front wing on Hamilton's car following the 'touch' with Verstappen at the start.

Check out our Sunday gallery from Melbourne here.


more news >



galleries >

  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images


or Register for a Pitpass ID to have your say

Please note that all posts are reactively moderated and must adhere to the site's posting rules and etiquette.

Post your comment



1. Posted by Spindoctor, 03/04/2023 12:26

"Incompetence writ large from FIA. "

Rating: Negative (-1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by Cobra Driver, 02/04/2023 21:33

"There must be a special school where Stewards go to learn how to screw up the end of an F1 race."

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

3. Posted by Superbird70, 02/04/2023 15:39

"FIA version of Squid games, red light, green light, red light..."

Rating: Positive (1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

4. Posted by Kkiirmki, 02/04/2023 11:01

"What a ridiculous end to that race. The FIA (Farce In Action) really looked to be more interested in creating Netflix moments rather than running a race. I’m not sure of the actual time stoppage time the Red flags caused, but it seemed like half of the total time taken to run the entire "race" was being played out in the pitlane."

Rating: Positive (3)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

Share this page


Copyright © Pitpass 2002 - 2024. All rights reserved.

about us  |  advertise  |  contact  |  privacy & security  |  rss  |  terms