Formula 1 2024 Australia

Sainz wins in Ferrari 1-2

March 24, 2024

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Just two weeks after undergoing surgery, Carlos Sainz was back in his SF-24 and looking racy as ever. The Spaniard put his scarlet red Ferrari on the front row of the grid. When the lights went out, he gave it everything and managed to keep in touch with Max Verstappen.

Just three laps into the race, Sainz overtook Verstappen as smoke started pouring out of the reigning World Champion’s Red Bull. It was clear the Dutchman had a serious issue as he limped back to the pits. The right rear brake was on fire and even exploded as he slowed down for the pit entry line. 

Sainz charged ahead and kept his teammate at bay to eventually take the chequered fls for his third career victory. Charles Leclerc finished in second place with Lando Norris bringing his McLaren home in third.

Mercedes Need a Turnaround

Mercedes are always expected to be up there fighting for podiums — if not wins. However, they’ve had a dreadful start to the season, and it only seems to be getting worse with each passing race. Not only did they struggle for pace in Qualifying at Albert Park, but they were also off the pace in the race. 

Having started the race in 11th place, Lewis Hamilton suffered an engine failure and retired from the Grand Prix early on. George Russel, meanwhile, was fighting for Fernando Alonso for sixth place, more around 80 seconds off the lead of the race. On the penultimate lap of the race, he made a mistake at turn six and crashed out of the race. 

His car was thrown into the middle of the circuit in an incredibly dangerous position, and the race finished under the virtual safety car.

A couple of hours after the race had concluded, Fernando Alonso was given a 20-second time penalty for dangerous driving. The Spaniard slowed down more than necessary ahead of Russel, causing the Brit to take avoiding action and sending his car into the barriers.

Despite this crash, it’s clear that Mercedes still has a lot of work to do if they want to start competing for podiums again. The Silver Arrows were never in the fight for the lead of the race or even a podium position this weekend. A double DNF just makes things worse for the already struggling former champions.

Can Other Teams Challenge Red Bull?

Red Bull dominated the first two races of the season with 1-2 finishes. Now we’ve had a Ferrari 1-2 in the third round of the season. But the question is, can other teams still challenge Red Bull in 2024, or was this result simply possible because of a faulty brake on Max Verstappen’s RB20?

Ferrari seems to believe that Sainz and Leclerc still would have challenged Verstappen — and passed him — even without the mechanical failure. Ferrari has been mighty fast all weekend in Australia and if it weren’t for a mega lap from Verstappen on Saturday, they could have been on pole too.

Plus, Ferrari has been the closest team to Red Bull in the first two races of the season, being the only team to take podiums when the RB20s finished 1-2. That clearly shows they have the pace to challenge Red Bull, and we might just see an excellent fight on our hands for the rest of the season.

McLaren is also showing signs of promise! Here’s what Mika Hakkinen tweeted before the Australian Grand Prix:

“McLaren is not planning major upgrades until May, but the drivers were back at the factory last week, looking at data from the first 2 GPs. They know the car’s strengths and weaknesses. 

A strong result is available, a podium if Ferrari or RB have a less than perfect weekend.”

This indicates that McLaren have identified the areas where they need to improve, and the areas where they can maximize their car against their competitors. Considering they finished third and fourth in the Australian Grand Prix, it’s fair to say that they have a chance to challenge for podiums and wins for the remainder of the season.

The next race is in Japan, where McLaren have been strong in the past. They finished second and third behind Verstappen last year, so expect them to have another strong weekend in Suzuka!

Next Up: Suzuka

Formula 1 heads over to Japan next! The race will be on the 7th of April, which is much earlier than the usual October race.

We might not see the unpredictable weather this year, but Suzuka has always been an excellent racer’s track. Even in bone-dry conditions, it delivers spectacular racing that you don’t want to miss out on!

Will Ferrari continue to challenge Red Bull? Will McLaren out up a fight again? 

motorsports illustrated

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