Formula 1 at the antipodes

By Vlad Roman,
General Manager, Smart Games

The great circus arrived at the antipodes in Australia in Melbourne for the third stage of the championship. The Albert Park circuit, one of the fastest on the calendar, hosted Formula 1 for the first time in 1996, is 5,278 meters long and requires 58 laps to cover the 306 kilometer distance that will differentiate the winners of the race.

The park surrounding Lake Albert located close to Hobson’s Bay in Melbourne city center gives the semi-permanent circuit an ideal location for a grand prix, I was lucky enough to watch the race live in 2000 when Ferrari ruled the championship and BMW supplied the team’s engine Williams for the first time and that was when I became an F1 fan.

Back to the present, after the practice sessions it is clear that Red Bull has no rival and the race will be a quiet procession of the 2 favorites to the finish line, the question was who will accompany Max and Checo on the podium. The qualifications established the starting order with Max in pole position followed by the two Mercedes drivers George and Lewis who after an excellent start managed to lead the race.

However, the start of the race was not without incidents, Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) forced overtaking, collided with Lance Stroll and had to retire.

In lap 9, after the incident and the abandonment of Alexander Albon, the stewards decided to stop the race for 15 minutes, unfortunately for Russell, who entered the pits and lost several positions. At the restart, Hamilton, who started first, got off to a good start and stayed ahead of Verstappen. However, the Briton did not last long and was overtaken in the 11th lap.

With 3 laps to go, after Kevin Magnussen hit the guardrail and was forced to retire, the marshals called for a second stoppage to clear the debris left on the track.

The drivers entered the pit lane, changed tires and as expected forced the start which led to a series of incidents caused by Sainz hitting Alonso, Perez’s pit stop and the impact between De Vries and Logan Sergent. . Another red flag followed, the race was stopped again and the Alpine drivers (Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon) retired.

A new restart followed, in which the race resumed according to the order before the previous restart, with only 12 drivers on the grid. Only one lap was completed, under the Saftey Car, and thus the race ended.

Max Verstappen won for the first time in Australia, followed by Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso.

Carlos Sainz suffered the most. The Ferrari driver was penalized 5 seconds and finished last.

For Max Verstappen it was the first victory at the Antipodes and the 37th of his career. It was also the 80th podium for the Dutchman in Formula 1, equaling the legendary Ayrton Senna in this respect. The two now share 7th position in the all-time ranking, led by Lewis Hamilton (192 podiums), who became the first man in history to reach the podium in 17 consecutive seasons.

A number of statistical records were set after the end of the race in Australia, with the Verstappen-Hamilton pairing becoming the most successful in history to finish in the top two places in a Grand Prix for the 34th time. It is the most titled duo in history, surpassing in this chapter the pair Ayrton Senna – Alain Prost.

Fernando Alonso climbed to the podium for the 3rd time in as many races this season. The Iberian had not managed 3 consecutive podiums since the 2013 season.

It is the first time in history that two Aston Martin single-seaters have finished in the top 4 at a Grand Prix.

The podium in Australia was made up of the only drivers with a world title in their records. The last time it happened that 3 world champions shared a podium was in 2018, in Hungary. Then the top 3 in the race were Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen.

Australian Oscar Piastri scored his first points in Formula 1, right in front of his own fans.

After abandoning at the start of the race, Charles Leclerc recorded the worst start of the season since 2018, when he debuted in Formula 1, at Sauber, the Ferrari pilot gathered only 6 points in the standings.

Formula 1 enters a month-long break and will return at the end of April with the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, where the starting order will be determined by the first sprint race of the season.

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