Formula 1

2024 Australian Grand Prix – Sainz Claims Victory as Verstappen Retires

4 Mins read
Credit: Sam Bagnall / LAT Images

Just two weeks after surgery for appendicitis, Carlos Sainz Jr. took victory in the Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park as Max Verstappen saw his chance of a tenth consecutive race win go up in smoke on just the third lap.

The 2024 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season had started with two races dominated by Verstappen and Oracle Red Bull Racing, but once the Dutchman was troubled by a locking rear brake, it was game over for the championship leader, and he pulled into the pits with his right rear corner in flames.

Sainz, from second on the grid, took over the lead heading into turn nine on lap two, with the Spaniard showing the kind of form that Scuderia Ferrari will miss in 2025 as the team will replace the twenty-nine-year-old with Lewis Hamilton.

It seemed that Sainz had the race under control, with firstly Lando Norris and then Charles Leclerc chasing him, neither of which could put him under any real pressure as he charged to a third career victory.

Ferrari and McLaren at the Front

With Verstappen out of the way, it was initially Sainz, Norris, Leclerc and Oscar Piastri inside the top four, with George Russell leading the chasing pack for the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team.

Leclerc and Piastri were able to jump Norris during the first round of pit stops by making their stops earlier, but the McLaren F1 Team made the decision to switch the drivers to give the British racer, who was showing stronger pace, the chance of chasing after the two Ferrari drivers.

There was a brief virtual safety car as Hamilton pulled off to the side of the circuit with a possible engine issue, the retirement ending what has been an incredibly disappointing and underwhelming weekend for the Mercedes driver.

Norris appeared to have the pace to challenge Leclerc for second, but the Monegasque driver had pace in hand when it mattered, and ultimately, the gap settled down and the podium places were secured.  Piastri did not have the same kind of pace as his team-mate and ended well adrift in fourth.

Sergio Perez, who had started sixth after a post-Qualifying penalty, lost a couple of positions at the start in the second Red Bull, and although he was able to pass the likes of Russell and Fernando Alonso to run inside the top five, he just did not have the pace thereafter to make a challenge, and he was more than fifty-six seconds back on Sainz at the chequered flag.

Russell Crashes Out on Final Lap, Alonso Penalised

Alonso finished on the road in sixth for the Aston Martin Aramco Formula 1 Team, but the veteran Spaniard was controversially handed a post-race penalty for braking erratically on the run to turn six on the penultimate lap that the stewards deemed was the cause of Russell crashing out into the barriers.

Russell, who was followed closely behind Alonso, appeared to lose the rear of the car at the corner, with the Briton hitting the barrier before coming to a halt in the middle of the track.  Two of his wheels were lodged under his car, effectively leaving him almost on his side, and the virtual safety car was deployed until the chequered flag.

Alonso was handed a twenty-second time penalty in lieu of a drive-through penalty, meaning he fell behind his team-mate Lance Stroll and Visa CashApp RB’s Yuki Tsunoda in the final order.  Tsunoda had a good race to score his and his teams first points of the season, while the MoneyGram Haas F1 Team rounded out the points scorers, Nico Hülkenberg ninth and Kevin Magnussen tenth.

Alexander Albon, who had taken over the chassis from Williams Racing team-mate Logan Sargeant after crashing on Friday, missed out on points in eleventh, while Daniel Ricciardo recovered to twelfth for RB having started at the back of the pack.

Pierre Gasly took thirteenth for his best result of the season, although the BWT Alpine F1 Team driver was handed a five-second time penalty for crossing the white line on pit exit during his pit stop, the same offence he managed in Qualifying!

There was more pit stop dramas for the Kick Sauber F1 Team drivers, with both Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu suffering slow stops as they finished fourteenth and fifteenth respectively.  The team have had slow stops in all three of the opening races of 2024.

Esteban Ocon was the final driver to see the chequered flag in sixteenth, the Frenchman being forced to pit three times after an unscheduled stop to remove a helmet tear-off from his brake duct. 

Championship Ramifications

Despite his retirement, Verstappen remains at the head of the championship table after the weekend in Albert Park, but the Dutchman is now just four points clear of Leclerc, with Perez a further point back in third.

Sainz moves up to fourth, just eleven points back despite missing the race weekend in Saudi Arabia, while Piastri remains inside the top five, just a point clear of team-mate Norris.

Red Bull also remain at the top of the Constructors’ Championship, although their advantage has been reduced to just four points, with Ferrari now in close attention as Formula 1 moves on to the Japanese Grand Prix early next month.

Australian Grand Prix Race Result

155Carlos Sainz Jr.ESPScuderia Ferrari58 Laps
216Charles LeclercMONScuderia Ferrari+2.366
34Lando NorrisGBRMcLaren F1 Team+5.904
481Oscar PiastriAUSMcLaren F1 Team+35.770
511Sergio PerezMEXOracle Red Bull Racing+56.309
618Lance StrollCANAston Martin Aramco Formula 1 Team+1:33.222
722Yuki TsunodaJPNVisa CashApp RB+1:35.601
814Fernando AlonsoESPAston Martin Aramco Formula 1 Team+1:40.992
927Nico HülkenbergGERMoneyGram Haas F1 Team+1:44.553
1020Kevin MagnussenDENMoneyGram Haas F1 Team+1 Lap
1123Alexander AlbonTHAWilliams Racing+1 Lap
123Daniel RicciardoAUSVisa CashApp RB+1 Lap
1310Pierre GaslyFRABWT Alpine F1 Team+1 Lap
1477Valtteri BottasFINKick Sauber F1 Team+1 Lap
1524Zhou GuanyuCHNKick Sauber F1 Team+1 Lap
1631Esteban OconFRABWT Alpine F1 Team+1 Lap
1763George RussellGBRMercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team+2 Laps
RET44Lewis HamiltonGBRMercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One TeamRetired
RET1Max VerstappenNEDOracle Red Bull RacingRetired
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Long time motorsport fanatic, covering Formula 1 and the occassional other series. Feel free to give him a follow on Twitter at @Paul11MSport.
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