Formula 1 goes from the Middle East to the country Down Under for its third round at the 2023 Australian Grand Prix. While Red Bull is the undisputed top team, the rest of the pack is much tighter—especially now that there’s a three-way showdown for second among Ferrari, Mercedes-AMG, and Aston Martin. So, here are five things we learned from this chaotic race.
1. George Russell’s race went from bad to worse. The Mercedes-AMG driver looked like he was set for a good race, starting in P2 ahead of his teammate Lewis Hamilton. However, he pitted too soon right before the first red flag. And to make things worse, a power unit failure saw him retiring from the race.
2. Three red flags were waved in just the third race of the season. Although the first lap was not without incidents, the crash of Alexander Albon (Williams) on Lap 7 brought out the first of many red flags. The next one was caused by Kevin Magnussen (Haas) hitting the wall on Lap 53. With only two laps of racing left, the third and final red flag was waved on the lap of the restart when Alpine drivers Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly ended up crashing into each other.
3. Ferrari went down under. Charles Leclerc was denied any chance to score points as first-lap contact with Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) resulted in him retiring from the race. Carlos Sainz was caught out with the first red flag, pitting before the race was stopped.
But even after charging back up the field to reach P4, Sainz’s incident with Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin) right before the final red flag sealed his fate. He was handed a five-second penalty at the worst time, when the field was bunched up with no overtaking allowed. And this left him last among the drivers who finished.
4. Alonso got another not-so-straightforward podium. Throughout most of the race, the Spaniard was chasing Hamilton who was in P2. And it was a game of cat-and-mouse as both drivers were struggling to maintain their tires while keeping the gap. But during the second restart, contact between Sainz and Alonso dropped the latter down the grid.
However, everything worked together for the Aston Martin driver. Because the first sector was never cleared, he returned to P3 for the final restart, finishing on the podium. Also, Stroll ended up in P4 with Sainz’s penalty and Gasly’s crash.
5. McLaren kangaroo-jumps from 10th to fifth in the constructors’ standings. Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri didn’t have the best qualifying. But because they were able to keep things clean throughout the race without any car issues, the two drivers finished in P6 and P8, respectively. As a result of the double-points finish, McLaren went from being dead last in 10th to fifth in the constructors’ fight, ahead of its old rival Alpine.
It’s no surprise that Max Verstappen won the race. And if things continue this way, it seems like there won’t be a title fight this year. The next race was supposed to be the 2023 Chinese Grand Prix on April 16. But since that had been canceled, the 2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix will be the next event on April 30.