Australian F1 GP 2022: Leclerc takes dominant victory and Verstappen retires

Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) has claimed a commanding victory at the Australian F1 GP 2022 this Sunday at Albert Park. Checo Pérez (Red Bull) took second behind the young Monegasque and George Russell, third, claimed his first podium with Mercedes in Melbourne.  

The other W13 of Lewis Hamilton finished in a close fourth place followed by both the McLaren duo Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo to complete the top six. The Woking-bases squad has improved. 

Crown defender adn Saudi Arabian GP winner, Max Verstappen, got the worst of the day as he retired following a fault on his RB18. At a rate of two abandonments over three weekends, the blue team is out of its wits as to what to do with their unreliable single-seater.  

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This new setback has pushed Verstappen back a worrying 46 points behind the Monegasque in the standing. Leclerc, on the other hand, has shown what he is made of with his second win of the season after Bahrain GP and fourth of his F1 career. 

After executing a faultless drive from pole to victory and taking the fastest lap, he now leads the standings with 71 points, 34 more than George Russell and 41 ahead of teammate Sainz. In Manufactures´ Overall, Ferrari remains on top with 104 points, 39 more than Mercedes (65) and 49 over Red Bull (55).

Leclerc: Unbeatable from the start 

Leclerc held on to his starting position as the lights went off at the Australian F1 GP 2022, despite Verstappen´s charge. Behind them, Hamilton climbed from fifth to third place after overtaking Pérez and Norris. Further back, Russel’s Mercedes also passed the Briton from McLaren, who went down to sixth.  

Sainz was off to a bad start after suffering some issues with the steering wheel and, on the following lap, he made a mistake, spinning across the track. The incident triggered a virtual safety car which was followed by an actual safety car until the sixth lap.  

The race resumed with both the Monegasque and the Dutchman leading the race followed by Hamilton three seconds behind and Pérez as part of a second compacted group.  

The leading duo quickly opened a gap with the #44, which was soon after, on the 10th lap, gobbled up by Red Bull’s Mexican driver. One place below came the other W13 of Russell, ahead of both the McLarens of Norris and Ricciardo, sixth and seventh respectively.  

Back at the top of the race and Leclerc was escaping ahead. By lap 16 he had opened up a 6.8-second gap with Max, a distance that got wider with every turn.  

Pit-stops and another safety car 

With the nine seconds lost to Charles hanging heavily over him, Verstappen decided to change his medium tyres to hard on lap 19, and two laps later both his Mexican teammate, as well as Norris, followed suit. Leclerc, on the other hand, as well as Hamilton stayed put, the latter now running second following Mad Max’s single-seater 6.8-second pit stop.  

Leclerc and Hamilton, for their part, changed their compounds on lap 23, and the latter was then overtaken by Pérez. It was then, that Sébastien Vettel crashed his Aston Martin triggering the second safety car of the day.  

On the track, Leclerc and Verstappen followed by Russell and Alonso, still on their first tyres, and Pérez and Hamilton made up the top six. The junior half of the Mercedes duo had taken advantage of the “free” pit stop and climbed to third. As the race resumed on lap 26, Leclerc escaped ahead once more, leaving Max a second behind. Russell was then third.  

Verstappen retires and Leclerc wins

On lap 39, at the end of the safety car period, a new drama, and a new blow for Red Bull and Verstappen, struck Albert Park. The Australian F1 GP 2022 had been decided. 

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Cruising comfortably at the top, Leclerc enjoyed a 20-second advantage over Pérez who was, in turn, preceding Russell by five seconds. Leclerc claimed his second victory of the season and fourth of his F1 career. Pérez would cross the finish line 20 seconds later ahead of Russell, third.  

Images of Australian F1 GP 2022: Ferrari.

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