Max Verstappen claimed victory during a wild and action-packed 2023 Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix, overcoming battles with the Mercedes drivers, several Safety Cars and three red flags to lead home Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso.
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Verstappen lost out to George Russell and Hamilton at the original race start before the Safety Car made two appearances quickly due to Charles Leclerc retiring from a collision with Lance Stroll and Alex Albon crashing out heavily.
A subsequent red flag for Albon’s incident brought the field back to the pits. Hamilton led Verstappen and Alonso, taking advantage of misfortune for Russell and Carlos Sainz, the two front-runners, to take on fresh tyres just before the stoppage.
With a free choice of tyres for the restart, Hamilton initially held the lead from Verstappen. Still, the Red Bull driver soon got within DRS range and moved back into P1 moments before Russell’s misery was compounded by an apparent engine failure.
Verstappen brushed off the early drama to move into a comfortable lead as the race developed. At the same time, Hamilton held P2 and set about managing the gap back to Alonso, who the recovering Sainz and Pierre Gasly joined in a fight for the podium positions.
But just as the order appeared to be locked in, another Safety Car, and then another red flag, was triggered late on when Kevin Magnussen thumped the wall exiting Turn 2, lost his rear-right wheel and spread debris from his Haas over the racing line.
It meant a third standing start and the prospect of a two-lap shootout on soft tyres, but just a matter of seconds passed before further contact and drama as Sainz tipped fellow Spaniard Alonso into a spin in the Turn 1 bottleneck.
Behind, Gasly took avoiding action and collided with Alpine teammate Esteban Ocon as he rejoined the circuit, putting both drivers out on the spot. At the same time, Logan Sargeant ran into the back of Nyck de Vries, and Sergio Perez – who had risen from the pit lane – and Stroll had separate off-track excursions.
After some confusion over how the race would proceed and the results would be determined, proceedings were resumed – and ultimately settled – behind the Safety Car in the order of the previous start, minus the cars that had been eliminated.
A rolling start took the field to the chequered flag, with Verstappen crossing the line for his first victory in Australia. Hamilton and Alonso completed the podium ahead of Sainz, Stroll, Perez and Lando Norris.
However, Sainz was hit with a five-second time penalty for his clash with Alonso, promoting everyone behind him as Nico Hulkenberg took P7, from home favourite Oscar Piastri, Zhou Guanyu, Yuki Tsunoda – inheriting the final point – and Valtteri Bottas.
De Vries, Sargeant, Magnussen, Russell, Albon and Leclerc watched the final lap from the sidelines as the sun set on a hugely dramatic day at the Albert Park Circuit.
Mario Isola, Motorsport Director, Pirelli:
This was a genuinely eventful Australian Grand Prix, with three red flag periods, a safety car, and a virtual safety car. All these occurrences effectively defined how the strategies shook out, while in terms of tyre behaviour, the compounds performed as we expected them to, with the hard C2 tyre playing a leading role. When the first safety car came out after Albon went off on lap seven, some drivers who had started on the mediums switched to the hard – followed by others once the red flag came out to allow the track to be cleaned.
Despite not having much information over long runs – very few drivers strung together stints of longer than ten laps or so in free practice – the C2 showed itself to be a very consistent tyre in terms of degradation and not far from the pace of other nominated compounds, fulfilling all the demands placed on it. The fact that we saw all three compounds on the starting grid highlights how bringing the C4 tyre to Melbourne this year was the correct choice, as it was judged to be a valid race tyre as well as becoming the protagonist of the final run to the flag, thanks to two red flag periods that were almost consecutive. This compound and the medium performed well today, albeit over relatively short stints, with higher temperatures and a more rubbered-in surface.
How the race was won:
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won the Australian Grand Prix for the first time. In an action-packed race, the reigning world champion led two other world champions past the chequered flag: Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton and Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso. All the podium finishers ended the race on the P Zero Red soft, following a tyre change one lap from the finish…
The Australian Grand Prix was interrupted by three safety car periods and three red flag periods, including a red flag just a lap from the finish, leading to two standing and a final rolling start. The virtual safety car also appeared due to a car stopping at the exit of the pitlane.
The frequent safety car periods and other race interruptions largely influenced the race strategies. The top three started on the P Zero Yellow medium and then went onto the P Zero White hard at the first neutralisation. Instead, the last three laps were run on two sets of soft tyres.
A total of 10 drivers completed the longest stint on the hard tyre, covering 47 laps on this compound, including all three podium finishers. Alpine’s Esteban Ocon kept the same hard tyres he had fitted on lap one without changing them during the first red-flag period, completing 54 laps on the same tyres. Alfa Romeo drivers Valtteri Bottas and Guanyou Zhou also used the same set of hard tyres for more than 50 laps.
AlphaTauri’s Nyck De Vries was instead the driver to complete the most consecutive laps on the two other available compounds: 37 on the medium and nine on the soft.
Red Bull’s Sergio Perez set the fastest lap of the race, using the hard tyre (1m20.235s), and was also one of the drivers to complete the longest stint on this compound. Alonso and De Vries were the fastest on the medium and soft tyres, setting 1m22.603s and 1m21.183s on these compounds, respectively.
After a very intense start with three races in one month, there’s a brief pause for the FIA Formula One World Championship. Next up is the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, from April 28 to 30, supported also by Formula 2. Just one week after that comes the first of three American races this year, with Miami hosting its grand prix around the Hard Rock stadium for the second year.
2023 Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix Race Results
|1.||1||Max Verstappen||Netherlands||Red Bull Racing Honda||2:32:38.371||25||69|
|2.||44||Lewis Hamilton||Great Britain||Mercedes-AMG Petronas||+0.179s||18||38|
|3.||14||Fernando Alonso||Spain||Alpine F1 Team||+0.769s||15||45|
|4.||18||Lance Stroll||Canada||Aston Martin F1 Team||+3.082s||12||20|
|5.||11||Sergio Perez||Mexico||Red Bull Racing Honda||+3.320s||11||54|
|6.||4||Lando Norris||Great Britain||Mclaren Racing||+3.701s||8||8|
|7.||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Germany||Haas F1 Team||+4.939s||6||6|
|8.||81||Oscar Piastri||Australia||McLaren Racing||+5.382s||4||4|
|9.||24||Zhou Guanyu||China||Alfa Romeo F1 Team||+5.713s||2||2|
|10.||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Japan||Scuderia AlphaTauri||+6.052s||1||1|
|11.||77||Valtteri Bottas||Finland||Alfa Romeo F1 Team||+6.513s||0||4|
|12.||55||Carlos Sainz||Spain||Scuderia Ferrari||+6.594s||0||20|
|13.||10||Pierre Gasly||France||Alpine F1 Team||DNF||0||2|
|14.||31||Esteban Ocon||France||Alpine F1 Team||DNF||0||4|
|15.||21||Nyck De Vries||Netherlands||Scuderia AlphaTauri||DNF||0||0|
|16.||2||Logan Sargeant||USA||Williams Racing||DNF||0||0|
|17.||20||Kevin Magnussen||Denmark||Haas F1 Team||DNF||0||1|
|18.||63||George Russell||Great Britain||Mercedes-AMG Petronas||DNF||0||18|
|19.||45||Alexander Albon||Thailand||Williams Racing||DNF||0||1|
|20.||16||Charles Leclerc||Monaco||Scuderia Ferrari||DNF||0||6|
2023 Constructor Standings
|1.||Red Bull Racing||860|
|2.||Mercedes-AMG F1 Team||409|
|5.||Aston Martin F1 Team||280|
|6.||Alpine F1 Team||120|
|8.||Alfa Romeo Racing||16|
|10.||Haas F1 Team||12|