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A Ferrari 1-2 in Australia with Sainz claiming the victory

Phil Branagan
Sunday, 24 March 2024

After missing the last Formula 1® Grand Prix in Saudi Arabia because of appendicitis, Carlos Sainz has taken a brilliant and dominant win in the FORMULA 1 ROLEX AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX 2024 at Albert Park.

The Spaniard started alongside Max Verstappen and could only watch as the Red Bull driver won the start and led the opening laps. But the Dutchman’s bid to win a 10th Grand Prix in a row ended on lap 3 when his Red Bull smoked, slowed, and pitted with brake failure.

It was the talking point of the race. It was his first retirement in a Grand Prix since Albert Park in 2022.


Sainz controlled the rest of the race to take the third Grand Prix win of his Formula 1® career, after starting the weekend unsure whether he would even drive the car from Saturday onwards.

“Life is a roller coaster, isn’t it?” said the Spaniard after the flag.

“Life is incredible.

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“I felt really good out there, of course, a bit stiff. It was good that I was on my own, I could manage my tyres and manage myself. I recommend to the other drivers to take it out [the appendix] this winter.”

Even better for the Ferrari faithful, Charles Leclerc took second place for the Scuderia, just 2.3 seconds behind at the end.

“It feels good, mostly for the team,” he said. “Carlos has had an incredible weekend. On my side, I struggled in my first stint, on the Hard tyres. We had to stop a bit earlier and Carlos was very fast, and I was struggling. Carlos has done a better job all weekend.”

There was a great fight for third among the men in orange. As expected, both McLaren drivers were strong in the race, and Oscar Piastri jumped ahead of Lando Norris after the first pitstops.

Team management switched them back so that the Briton could chase the Ferraris, but when Piastri lost four seconds with an off-track excursion on lap 40, the podium position went the way of Norris, with the Melbourne driver settling for fourth.

Norris was a happy man after his third place; “P3 and P4 is a lot of points in the championship. We missed out on Charles, I think we had a chance today. I wasn’t expecting to be on the podium, so I am very happy.’

The surviving Red Bull was fifth, but Sergio Perez would not have been happy to be half a minute behind the winning Ferrari. The Mexican complained that he was less than happy with the team’s strategy during the race.

One of the drivers to make ground was Fernando Alonso who started the race on the Hard Pirelli tyre and then watched as the Soft and Medium runners pitted. He lost positions after that but fought back brilliantly, taking fifth place from Perez, and then cannily fighting off George Russell until the British driver crashed the surviving Mercedes-AMG on the penultimate lap of the race, when he got close to Alonso’s dirty air at Turn 6.

Eight-time Albert Park winner Lewis Hamilton already had a short race, stopping with engine failure after 15 laps and one can only wonder what Hamilton will be feeling on his last appearance in Melbourne in silver before he moves to Ferrari next year.

Lance Stroll took seventh for Aston Martin ahead of Yuki Tsunoda, who drove a fine race to take the first points of the season for RB-Honda. The final points, for the second time this season, went to Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen, the Haas team not needing to revert to team orders this time, that the German veteran did have to fight off Alex Albon for much of the race. The decision by Williams to put Albon in the car originally intended for Logan Sargeant nearly paid off but the Thai did look competitive in 11th.

Daniel Ricciardo had a tough day, starting 18th and finishing 13th, aided by a slow pitstop that was a setback for Valtteri Bottas and a penalty for Pierre Gasly, who put the Alpine in the top 10 in the opening laps of the race.

The championship now moves to Suzuka for the fourth round of the World Championship, the Japanese Grand Prix, which will take place in two weeks.