Formula 1

2024 Australian Grand Prix – What the Drivers are Saying after the Race – Part 1

7 Mins read
Credit: Sam Bagnall / LAT Images

The trip to Albert Park saw the dominant run of Max Verstappen and Oracle Red Bull Racing come to an end, with Carlos Sainz Jr. claiming his and Scuderia Ferrari’s first victory of the 2024 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season.

Just two weeks after appendicitis that ruled him out of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Sainz was in sublime form and was in a class of his own throughout the afternoon in Melbourne, and he led home a Ferrari one-two ahead of Charles Leclerc.

It was also a good day for the McLaren F1 Team as Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri finished third and fourth, while the sole Red Bull at the chequered flag, Sergio Perez, was a distant fifth.

There was also drama late on as George Russell crashed out, with Fernando Alonso being handed a penalty for braking erratically that the stewards deemed was the reason the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team driver hit the barriers.

In part one, here is what the top ten finishes in Albert Park had to say about their days in the Australian sunshine.

#55 – Carlos Sainz Jr. – Scuderia Ferrari

“What a rollercoaster! I’m extremely happy! I felt good in the car right from lap 1 and after overtaking Max (Verstappen), when I was in free air, I started setting a strong pace that took me all the way to the finish line, bringing home the first win of the season. I’m also happy that George is OK after the heavy crash.

“The team deserves this one-two, we did a fantastic job all weekend, from FP1 to the last lap. We executed a perfect race, nailed the strategy and the mechanics were incredible delivering precise and quick pit stops every single time.

“Congratulations to everyone! Let’s carry this momentum to Japan! Vamos!”

#16 – Charles Leclerc – Scuderia Ferrari

“It was a really good weekend for the team. We maximised our points and left nothing on the table, bringing home a 1-2 finish and the fastest lap.

“Carlos did a solid job today. On my side, I had a good first stint and we managed to get ahead of Lando (Norris) during the pit stop. I struggled a bit with graining on my first set of Hards and had a stronger pace on the last stint on the second set of Hards, managing the gap to Lando.

“We’ve started out the season with three weekends in which we have made the most of our potential, which feels really good and is a testimony to all the hard work that our team has put in over the past months.”

#4 – Lando Norris – McLaren F1 Team

“Our first podium of the season! It was a very good day for us. P3, P4 and lots of points in the championship. I think our pace was strong today, but Ferrari and Carlos did a very good job, so hats off to them. They’ve been fast all weekend. The car felt good, and I could manage the tyres very well today, and that was a good step.

“It’s clear that this circuit suits us a little bit more, so we’ve been able to push and unlock a little bit of speed. But Ferrari and Red Bull are still one or two steps ahead of us, so we need to catch up.

“A big thanks to everyone in McLaren, they’ve been working incredibly hard. We’re getting closer to our target. I wasn’t expecting to be on the podium but it’s nice to be back, I’m very happy and proud of our team. Hopefully, we can have many more.”

The top three celebrate on the podium – Credit: Zak Mauger / LAT Images

#81 – Oscar Piastri – McLaren F1 Team

“P4. A good result for us. I think the pace was good the whole way through. I struggled a little bit on the first set of Hards, I just grained them a little bit and then had a little bit of a moment. I think it was a very good day in terms of points for the team. I don’t think there was too much we could have done on my side, so yeah, I’m pretty happy.

“So close to a podium but it will come. Lando did a great job today getting the P3. All in all, a successful week at home.”

#11 – Sergio Perez – Oracle Red Bull Racing

“I don’t think it was an ideal weekend for us, since Friday we had struggled quite a bit with the long run and we tried different solutions and compromises for Saturday but we couldn’t get a total handle on it.

“In the first stint the balance was super neutral, I didn’t have any rear grip and we completely destroyed the rear tyres and then the second stint I completely destroyed the front tyres. It wasn’t a nice balance out there, it was a bit of surviving mode with the degradation we had, and we didn’t match up to Ferrari or McLaren.

“The grid penalty also harmed us because without that we could have ended up a lot further up. I think today was track dependent, so hopefully when we go to Japan we are back on top.”

#18 – Lance Stroll – Aston Martin Aramco Formula 1 Team

“It was a solid race today and I’m pleased to pick up a few points. I had a strong start, gaining a couple of places on the first lap, and then settled into a good rhythm. As expected, managing the tyres was the biggest challenge due to the high degradation, but I looked after them well and the team did a good job with the race strategy.

“We still have some more pace to find in the car, but I think we leave Australia knowing we made the most of the package we have.” 

#22 – Yuki Tsunoda – Visa CashApp RB

“Finally, a top ten finish, the team definitely deserves it, and I’m very happy! We were very consistent throughout this weekend and the car felt good straight away, so we just had to put it all together and have a clean race to score points in this tight midfield, and we were able to achieve that today.

“We didn’t make any mistakes and it’s important for the team and me to have that confidence going into the next races. To have a clean race sounds easy, but the last two races have been frustrating for us, so finishing P8 today, after a productive restructuring, was definitely deserved.

“The team did a fantastic job, and I can see the team is significantly improving every race. The difference in the car between the same time in Melbourne last year and this year is impressive. The amount of work we put into that car was massive and the work definitely paid off.

“To be honest, the race wasn’t so easy because other teams actually picked up their pace quite a bit, but I’m very happy we were able to maximise our performance and opportunity, and glad to hear that George is okay in the end. The whole weekend is a great way to go into Japan, especially with this result under the belt, and at least, I’m able to give some hope to the Japanese fans.

“I haven’t scored any F1 points at my home Grand Prix, but the car looks good, so let’s try again this year. I’ve been resetting myself every week and our car has been very consistent which is different compared to last year, so that’s a strength. For myself, I just learn from previous races and focus on what I can do better to help the team. Now it’s time for us to analyse, reset and push again in Japan!”

Yuki Tsunoda scored his first points of 2024 – Credit: Zak Mauger / LAT Images

#14 – Fernando Alonso – Aston Martin Aramco Formula 1 Team

“We were a little lucky with the timing of the Virtual Safety Car when Lewis [Hamilton] retired. Then I was pretty happy sat behind Checo [Perez] because I could use the DRS to pull a gap. I lost a lot of time when Charles [Leclerc] came out from the pits – but those seconds we gained proved to be gold dust at the end. 

“In the closing laps, George caught me quickly. I knew that he was coming, then he was in DRS range for five or six laps, so I was just doing qualifying laps to stay ahead. I wanted to maximise my exit speed from Turn Six to defend against him. That’s what any racing driver would do, and I didn’t feel it was dangerous. It’s disappointing to get a penalty from the stewards for what was hard but fair racing. Still, I’m glad that George is okay. It was not nice to see his car in the middle of the track. 

“This wasn’t the best weekend for us in terms of pace, but our race was well executed: good strategy, incredible pit-stops, great reliability. I think we probably scored more points today than our pace merited – but we’ll take that.”

#27 – Nico Hülkenberg – MoneyGram Haas F1 Team

“The first VSC helped me and I overtook a car at each of my stops at the pit exit and that really made my race today, that together with the VSC and our teamwork – so I’m really happy.

“Getting P9 and P10 with one top car crashing out and Verstappen having to retire, it’s still the case where if the top five teams finish, there’s not much left.

“I feel more encouraged today that the car felt better than in qualifying yesterday, which is different from last year, but it’s practical to have it this way around.”

#20 – Kevin Magnussen – MoneyGram Haas F1 Team

“We got both cars in the points with great teamwork once again. The VSC didn’t help me, but on the flipside, it helped Nico so we could get him back into the battle and it’s fantastic to get three points here.

“It’s very encouraging and it’s a different way to go racing; last year we woke up on race day knowing it’s not going to be good. Today, I woke up knowing we would have a chance to fight, and it was true.

“We were stronger with our race pace than qualifying, and we just need to keep working in this direction.”

Kevin Magnussen secured his first point of 2024 – Credit: Sam Bagnall / LAT Images
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