Leclerc led off the line, and from there he rarely looked troubled. He had to manage two Safety Car restarts and although he came under pressure from Verstappen at the second one, he managed to defend astutely to hold the lead and take the win, with the fastest lap bonus point for good measure. As for Sainz, a lowly qualifying slot led to the decision to try something different and start on the hard tyre. But the Spaniard struggled for grip off the line, dropped back into the pack and then lost control of his F1-75, spinning off into the gravel for his first DNF of the year.
Charles Leclerc, 1st
“What a great victory this was for us! We managed our pace well and were extremely competitive. We didn’t suffer from tyre degradation, even when pushing hard. The car was just amazing and I’m very pleased with how my race went. On paper, this was a track that we expected to be tough for us, so we have to review our data because we were in fact very strong.It’s a great way to start the season, but we have to keep in mind that we are only three races into a very long championship. We can’t afford to relax at any moment and have to stay on top of things, most of all on development.Congratulations to everyone on our team. What an amazing job you have all done! I’m very proud of how far we’ve come and can’t wait to continue fighting. Forza Ferrari!”
Carlos Sainz, DNF
“This is definitely a difficult weekend to digest. After all that happened yesterday, I was looking forward to the race but we hit problems even before the start. On the laps to the grid we had an issue with some switches on the steering wheel and we had to change it one minute before the formation lap. Unfortunately, at the start, the anti-stall kicked in.Trying to recover and overtake, I made a mistake as I pushed too early when the tyres were probably not ready. Up until Q3 the weekend was going ok but from then on everything just went wrong. We will analyse it carefully, learn and move on. The car felt good so congrats to the team and to Charles for the win. We’ll come back stronger in Imola.”
Mattia Binotto, Team Principal
“I am very pleased. It’s always great to win and it also boosts the morale of the team who deserve all this, because they have all developed the right mentality to face difficult moments head on and make the most of any opportunity. We always say that you can only come out on top in Formula 1 if you do everything to perfection and I think today’s race proved that. Charles delivered a mature performance, something he is now making a habit of.It’s a shame for Carlos, because his weekend was complicated by a series of circumstances in both qualifying and the race, which affected his performance. I know him well enough to believe that he will turn the negatives to his advantage and come back stronger next time he’s in the car. The start of the season has been positive and the work of the past few months is paying off. We will continue to concentrate on ourselves and take it one race at a time. We have earned some time with our families over Easter, but then we will get back to it, working on the next race, which being at Imola, takes on even greater importance. We can’t wait to be there and we’re looking forward to seeing the circuit packed with our fans, to share this good start to the year.”
Perez got the better start of the two team mates but in lifting off to avoid Verstappen, wound up losing out to Hamilton. He fought his way back past the Mercedes, and then had to make a move stick on track to get around Russell who had leapfrogged him in the pits. Verstappen meanwhile had been running a comfortable second, without the pace to attack Leclerc for the lead but on for a good haul of points. But he was told to park up late on after smelling some strange fluids, for his second DNF in three races. Perez at least picked up the pieces for the team, but it was far from ideal with their rivals winning once more.
Max Verstappen, DNF
“It’s of course very disappointing to not finish today’s race, I don’t really know what happened to the car yet, we’ll take it back to the factory and regroup. I already knew there was a possibility ahead of the race that we might not finish but I tried not to think about it. This is not what you need when you want to fight for the Championship, the gap is already pretty big. Of course, Checo did well to come second, he scored some good points. Overall it doesn’t look like there is an easy fix so we need to work hard as a Team, there are a lot of things to work on. We’ll wake up tomorrow and focus on the upcoming races and do the best that we can. It is of course a long season and a lot can happen; I think at this stage we need 45 races! [laughs]”
Sergio Perez, 2nd
“It was a good result but, unfortunately, we lost Max and it would have been great to have a double podium for the Team. On the other hand, it is a good result after so many unlucky moments in the first couple of races for me. It was a very complicated race with the start I had and the safety cars but we managed to overcome it. My first start was very poor, we struggled a lot with degradation on the medium tyre, we were a bit unlucky with the safety car and we lost two positions which we recovered later. We got a few things wrong across the weekend and we were battling more with Mercedes than Ferrari so the pace wasn’t where we want it to be, but we will work on it. There is some good analysis to be done from this weekend because yesterday we were close for pole but in the race we were a bit too far off the pace. The fastest guys out there are Ferrari, we want to be up there fighting with them and today that wasn’t the case. If we can improve the car a little, then we can be more confident.”
Christian Horner, Team Principal
“Checo drove an exceptional race today with some stunning overtakes to secure his first podium of the season and bag some solid Championship points. But it was very much a day of mixed emotions with Max not finishing. We think it was an external fuel leak and we need to understand exactly what has caused that failure, so it was a very frustrating race in that respect. But we are in this as a team and we will bounce back. We didn’t have the pace of Ferrari today, so congratulations to Charles. It’s a long season ahead and we have the basis of a quick and competitive car, but we need to get on top of these issues quickly and we will keep pushing.”
Hamilton got a great start and jumped up to third, and from there was embroiled in an entertaining fight with Perez both on track and through the pit stops. But he lost out to both the Mexican and his team mate, with Russell able to pit under the Safety Car and jump himself up to that P3 slot. That Safety Car cost Hamilton the chance to come back at Perez too, and he had to settle for fourth. Russell was the happier of the two, his first podium for the team helping to send him up to second in the standings.
Lewis Hamilton, 4th
“It’s a great result for us as a team, honestly. This weekend we have had so many difficult moments with the car and to get fifth and sixth in qualifying, to have progressed like we have, with the reliability we have, is amazing. We definitely didn’t expect to be third and fourth today. George did a great job – I got to see a bit of the battle of him racing Perez and I wish could have been in it but nonetheless, we’ll take these points and keep pushing. I couldn’t fight for third because the engine was overheating so I had to back off and sit behind, but we bagged as many points we could as a team and that’s great.”
George Russell, 3rd
“You’ve got to be in it to win it and capitalise from other’s misfortune, and the guys at Brackley and Brixworth have been working so hard on giving us a reliable car. We got a little bit lucky today, probably twice, but we take it. There’s so much hard work going on back at base to try and get us back at the front so to be standing on the podium today is special a reward for all their hard work. We’re never going to give up, we’ve got to keep on fighting. This weekend we were a long way behind our rivals but here we are standing on the podium. We’ve got to keep this up while we are on the back foot, maximise our points opportunities and I am sure we will get there after a few more races.”
Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
“We are leaving Melbourne in a better state than when we arrived– more lessons learned, more data to analyse and more points on the board. Clearly we haven’t got the pace yet to challenge Ferrari and Red Bull but we know where we need to seek performance. One factor that leaves me very optimistic for the future is the mindset and strength of the team. Everyone in the UK, in Stuttgart and in the travelling race team is pulling together every ounce of effort we have to tackle the performance gaps with determination and a deep hunger. Seeing Lewis and George perform at an exceptionally high level today with a tool that is clearly not on the pace of the leaders is another example of the spirit of this team. We are optimistic yet realistic on the timeline for improvement and the advantage our competitors have, but P3 and P4 helps us leave Australia with a good feeling. Both drivers deserved the podium today, Lewis was unlucky with the timing of the Safety Car but the partnership between the two and how they work with one another epitomises the overall spirit of the team.”
Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director
“Well done to George on his first Mercedes podium, he’s working hard to help us improve the car and whilst we’ve not got the pace right now that he would hope for, the podium is some reward for his efforts. Lewis lost out with the timing of the Safety Car, he’d managed to put Sergio under pressure in that first stint and we exited from the stop ahead of him. But ultimately, we don’t have the underlying car pace to race them, even if our degradation was probably a little better. At this stage of the championship, we’re focused on just two things, damage limitation and learning. In both regards this has been a successful weekend but we know we have a lot to do, Charles was in another world today so it’s likely a long road ahead but we’re not short of opportunities to find lap time around the car.”
Norris dropped backwards after a sluggish start, but once his tyres had warmed up, he looked competitive. As did his team mate, who kept the youngster honest throughout. They didn’t quite have the pace to chase down the Silver Arrows today, but picked off everyone else in the midfield to come home a credible fifth and sixth – which for Ricciardo, signalled his first points finish of the year.
Daniel Ricciardo, 6th
“It has been a better weekend which is positive for the team. I’m happy with the progress and, as a team result, I think we executed everything we could. I think the first part of the race was positive but there is still a bit to work on. Probably in that second stint I lost a little bit of pace on the Hard tyre. It came back to me a little bit – but we still have a bit of understanding to do. I’ll keep working at it but generally, as a whole, the weekend’s been smooth. I’m happy to walk away with my first points of the year at home, which is also nice for the all the fans who came out here, so I’m feeling pretty content. We leave Melbourne in good spirits, which feels nice as it’s probably been four years since I left here in good spirits.”
Lando Norris, 5th
“A decent race. We didn’t have the best of first laps but I think by the end we were still in good positions for us as a team, and we couldn’t have done a lot more. I think Mercedes had much better pace than us today, so we’re happy with where we ended up. Good points for us, a great pit-stop and good progress from the team. We’ll take what we’ve learned today and try to carry it with us into the next few races.”
Andreas Seidl, Team Principal
“P5 and P6 today. Two cars home and our first double-points finish of the season. This is a great result for the team, thanks to everyone in the garage, back at the factory for all their hard work and to our colleagues at Mercedes HPP. It was good to see that we could confirm the progress we made in terms of car performance over the weekend also in the race.
“Special thanks to Lando and Daniel for their excellent work behind the steering wheel all weekend, extracting everything we have out of the car. I don’t want to forget to mention our pit-crew. Again, two excellent pit-stops today. We take this result as motivation to keep working hard to bring more performance to the car.
“Melbourne was, as always, a great place to come racing. Having Daniel on board meant we had an even bigger crowd cheering us on this weekend and it was a real pleasure to give them something to celebrate. The support we’ve felt from the fans has been incredible. Thank you Australia.”
Alonso opted to start on the hard compound tyre, and as such didn’t pit under the Safety Car as it would have left too long a stint for him on the mediums. So while he was running in the upper reaches of the top 10 midway through, he plummeted like a stone once he pitted and then needed a second late stop to boot on a disappointing day. As for Ocon, he was the first of the midfield runners to pit and although he couldn’t take advantage of the Safety Car either, did at least come home in the points.
Esteban Ocon, 7th
“This weekend has ended with some mixed feelings for us. Of course, finishing the race in seventh is a decent result, especially after what was a difficult weekend for me. Yesterday was not our strongest day and that definitely made a difference in how today played out. So, there’s lots of learning for us to do from the last couple of days with the team as we know we’ve got more potential to unlock. All in all, I’ve been in the points in three out of three races, and I am leaving Australia satisfied with how my season has started. I am hungry for more and excited for the next one.”
Fernando Alonso, 17th
“I am gutted with this weekend, to be honest. It’s hard to accept the result after the bad luck we had in Saudi and again here in Melbourne. Today we were looking good for possibly sixth place and of course the podium was even on the cards before yesterday’s issue in qualifying. The strategy was good today and the car felt strong on the Hard tyre. The pace was there with everyone stopping on the Mediums around us, but then the Safety Car regrouped the field and it effectively ended our race. Overtaking was difficult today and especially with the DRS train towards the end of the race. We degraded our Medium tyres in this train, so we needed to stop again. There are twenty more races to go and hopefully luck will shift in our favour for the rest of the season!”
Laurent Rossi, CEO Alpine
“We are generally disappointed with today’s result, however, it’s a good sign that we’re not satisfied as it underlines how far we have progressed as a team. We know that we had the speed, and the potential, for a much better result with both cars today but the race weekend just didn’t quite unfold in our direction. The track proved very difficult for overtaking, especially in comparison to the previous two races, and we knew that Saturday’s qualifying result would play a huge part in the outcome of Sunday’s race. With our cars starting in eighth and tenth, it was always going to be a challenge to make an advance on those places. After some early promise, the Safety Car was especially unfortunate for Fernando who was managing a quiet, but effective, reverse strategy on Hard to Medium. Overall, we’ve shown we are competitive, and we will keep building on the good base that we have, especially by bringing some upgrades to upcoming races to enable us to keep fighting higher up the grid. For that, we will work on consistency in order to get both cars into the points. I’m confident in everyone at Enstone and Viry to continue their hard work in pushing this team deservedly forwards. We move onto the next one when we race in Europe again in Imola. Our team is very much in the mix and it is up to us now to remain highly motivated in this championship contest.”
So close to double points in Sunday. Bottas had been in the thick of the action from word go, pulling off some great moves to climb up into the top 10. Zhou had been having a quieter race after the shock of nearly collecting a spinning Sainz on the second lap, but with Albon pitting on the final lap, found himself right on the Thai driver’s tail. He tried his best, but he couldn’t quite force his way past to grab that final championship point.
Valtteri Bottas, 8th
“I really enjoyed the race today, it was a good performance with close racing and battles from beginning to end. Of course, the most important thing is that we brought home some points, and that is due to a good job done by everyone in the team: I am happy with the calls that were made and how we raced – and, definitely, the thinner wing that penalized us yesterday turned out to be the right choice and helped us make progress. I had a fun day even though I had to work hard, pushing all the race: now hopefully we can continue to be strong and improve. We have upgrades coming in the next few rounds so we can continue fighting for points in every race.”
Zhou Guanyu, 11th
“I am proud of my race, but obviously I am a bit upset at missing out on the points for such a close margin. Our pace was good, but we lost a few positions with the safety car and that made our life a lot harder. I gave it all and pushed so hard at the end, but I had no tyres left when I got to battle Alex and I couldn’t make it in front. Still, we solved the problem at the start and the race was good: I am looking back at my first three rounds in Formula One and my worst result is 11th, so I can build on this positive start, aiming to score points in every race.”
Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal
“Bringing home four points with another top ten finish is really good, especially to bounce back after the off-race in Jeddah. The team did a good job in difficult circumstances today: the timing of the first Safety Car wasn’t ideal and it cost us track position, especially with Zhou; we also got stuck in a couple of DRS trains that made progress hard, so we had to earn our place the difficult way. That we did, and we went so close to having two cars in the points again, is proof that we are going in the right direction. The whole team did well today, now we can focus on the race in Imola to continue our battle for a good position in the constructors’ championship.”
With both drivers stopping a couple of laps before the Safety Car, timing wasn’t on their side today and that meant Gasly and Tsunoda were out of the points at the midway point. But Gasly was able to fight his way forward, pulling off some overtakes on his way to ninth. It could have been even better, had he not run wide late on a lost a couple of places. As for Tsunoda, he came under investigation for an incident with Schumacher behind the second Safety Car, but the stewards took no further action.
Pierre Gasly, 9th
“I’ll take those two points today! It’s been quite an unfortunate race for me, I managed to pass two cars at the start, but then I got unlucky pitting right before the safety car and dropped to P14. I was pretty mad at the time, but I stayed focussed and managed to come back through to P9. I had a nice battle with Lance which I enjoyed, it was pretty intense on a track like this, but in the end I got the best of him. Objectively, it’s been a tough weekend for us, so I think we can be quite happy with the result and to leave with two points. I still feel like we’ve got a few things to improve on, we’ve got some new parts coming in the next few races, so we’ve got to keep up with the others if we want to keep fighting for these positions. We would like to be a bit further up in the order, so we’ll keep pushing.”
Yuki Tsunoda, 15th
“There wasn’t any pace today. We struggled for the whole race, so we need to work out why to avoid something like this happening again. It was very difficult to keep up with other cars and stay in their DRS, we just lacked performance overall and I didn’t expect it to be that bad. It is what it is, we have to stay positive and work on improving for the next race.”
Jody Egginton, Technical Director
“Today’s race was not straight forward with, similar to the last race, Pierre losing track position with the safety car, meaning he had a lot to do to recover into a points-scoring position. These battles took a lot out of his front left tyre and, unfortunately, a small mistake meant we lost a position to Bottas in the closing laps, finishing P9. Yuki has had a tough day struggling for pace on both compounds, so we need to understand the factors behind this as he was reasonably happy with his car during the Friday and Saturday sessions. We have a lot of work to do ahead of the next race, but at the same time we are looking forward to the challenge.”
Latifi pitted early, and couldn’t make his hard tyres last the distance so was forced into a second stop which sent him down the order. But Albon, having started on the hard tyre, made that compound last for 57 of the 58 laps, pitting for the softs on the final lap of the race. Luckily, he had just about enough grip on that compound to fend off Zhou and score a hard-won championship point in very interesting circumstances.
Nicholas Latifi, 16th
“It was definitely a tricky race, but we were expecting that after the FP2 high fuel running that we did. It seemed that we struggled with the tyres quite a lot, experiencing graining on both compounds and struggling to keep them in the right window. There was a lot going on with multiple safety cars and Virtual Safety Car periods.
“It was great to see Alex finish P10 in the end and I’m super happy for the whole team. It’s been a difficult start to the season and there’s still a lot to find on my side. If Alex is able to extract that performance out of the FW44 then there’s no reason why we can’t in the other car.
“We will now spend a lot of time looking through the data and understand how we can make it work.”
Alex Albon, 10th
“I am very pleased with how today went. We came in this morning, looked at our race predictions starting from last and felt pretty sad, so to end Sunday with a point is extremely rewarding. It was a race where we took risks and really allowed our tyres to get into a nice window, and from then they just felt better and better.
“I was putting in what felt like continuous qualifying laps for the last 25 laps of the race! For me, it really highlights the work that’s been done at the factory and at the track; this is the result of the team’s determination and motivation. It’s been a great day and I’m really happy to have played my part in this for the team.”
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance
“Alex drove brilliantly today and found a sweet spot on the Prime tyre, which gave him good pace and, crucially, much less degradation than many other cars. He completed a very long stint and we ignored several opportunities to pit under safety cars, hoping that something might happen to allow us to keep as many of the gains as possible.
“In the end, the degradation of cars behind and difficulty in overtaking gave us a small opportunity to run until the very end and pull a gap big enough for a pitstop. Under huge pressure, the pit crew were very good, and Alex was quick enough on the out-lap to secure tenth place. After the ups and down of the previous two days, this was an excellent result for the entire team.
“Nicholas had a more difficult race following a very different strategy to Alex. We wanted to spend a lot of the race on the Prime tyre with both cars, but we chose to get Nicky’s Option stint done early in the race rather than put him on the riskier strategy that Alex followed. Nicky found the opening stint on the Option difficult and showed degradation like most of the field. His pace on the Prime was better, but he still couldn’t quite match the degradation of Alex.
“We need to understand if differences in the car and driving style contributed to this, and this will be the main focus of our work as we prepare for the next race in Imola.”
Jost Capito, Team Principal & CEO
“To get a point early in the season is good for the team and I’m extremely happy for everyone – the team deserved this. We’ve had a difficult start to the season, and even yesterday was difficult, but that’s the good thing about racing – things can change on Sunday and it’s not over until it’s over. If you keep pushing and always stay motivated, keep the team alive and believing in itself, then fortunes can change.”
Vettel was having a difficult weekend on his return to the sport and the race continued that trend, the German spinning off into the barriers and bringing out the Safety Car. That wasn’t the last of the action to involve an Aston Martin, with Stroll found not guilty of barging Bottas off track but was deemed culpable of weaving on the straight. That earned the Canadian a five-second time penalty and combined with his three pit stops, saw him come home out of the points.
Sebastian Vettel, DNF
“My lack of race experience with this car did not help today. I was pushing a little too hard and I lost the car on the kerbs at Turn 4 and could not prevent the impact, which is very frustrating. Every lap in race conditions counts because this was my first time racing this car, so it is a shame not to have completed the race. We know that the car is challenging, but we are continuing to search for solutions to add more performance. Things did not go our way this week, but it is time to move on and I am confident that we can come back stronger at Imola.”
Lance Stroll, 12th
“We did not quite have the pace for points today, although we were able to defend a position inside the top 10 for a while late on. I think we had the right idea with our strategy by running the majority of the race on the hard tyre, but we will look over the data and see what else we can learn. The five-second penalty was frustrating, even though it did not change our final race position. I caught Valtteri [Bottas] after the Virtual Safety Car and made up a place so it was frustrating to receive a penalty for weaving. I also want to say thank you to the team once again: everybody did a tremendous job to get the cars repaired this weekend. We will keep our heads up and dig deep to try to extract more from the car in the races to come.”
Mike Krack, Team Principal
“We had a frustrating end to a weekend to forget. Sebastian had an accident on the exit of Turn 4, and was taken to the Medical Centre for precautionary checks, but I am glad to say he is okay. Our strategy team reacted cleverly to the lap-four Safety Car triggered by [Carlos] Sainz’s lap-three shunt, pitting Lance twice in quick succession. He had started on the Hard, which we expected to be a better race tyre than the Medium, so we gave him just a single lap on the Medium before pitting him again to put him back on the Hard. At one point we hoped that that strategy might lift him to a points finish, but in the end it did not quite do that. From here we will go home to Silverstone where we will work hard to prepare for Imola, where we want and expect to have a better race than we have had here. Nonetheless, I am pleased that the famously passionate Melbourne fans have had a Grand Prix to enjoy at Albert Park for the first time in three years.”
With the race competitive from the first to the last, and the field constantly bunched up by Safety Cars and their virtual counterparts, it was no surprise that both Schumacher and Magnussen were in the thick of the action. The Dane had started on the hard tyre and was running in the top 10 before his pit stop dropped him backwards, and from there he had a fair tussle with his team mate who ultimately came out on top.
Mick Schumacher, 13th
“It was a very eventful one. Right from the beginning with Carlos coming around and cutting back across the track, I think we got missed by a few meters there, and obviously Yuki under the Safety Car coming quite close together. I think in terms of pace we were not too far off, it’s just unfortunate that there’s not a huge amount of passing opportunities here. Lots was learned, some positives, so we’ve just got to take it away with us and hopefully be better in Imola.”
Kevin Magnussen, 14th
“It was good fun and a nice track. Disappointed not to get points today but we made a small gamble on the hard tyre as we felt we were faster than our position, which we were, but the Safety Car came and ruined the strategy. The starting set-up that we had here wasn’t good and we were struggling a little bit with tyres on this new tarmac but we were able to turn it around and get much closer to the pack in the race and have pretty decent pace. We were able to turn things around and we’ll score points next time.”
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal
“It didn’t work out as we planned. We always make sure that the Safety Car is out at the wrong time – but seriously though – sometimes you get lucky and sometimes you get unlucky. The car was strong and the drivers did a good job so we know if we qualify better we can score points, and that is what we keep on trying to do. As I always say, this year we’ve got a car that can score points, we’ve just had a difficult weekend. It’s one of three which was difficult, here we go again in Imola.”
Mario Isola, Motorsport Director
“The tyres performed in line with the expectations we had established from Friday’s free practice sessions, despite the much higher temperatures on race day and expected track evolution. Nearly all the drivers made just one pit stop, with many of them taking advantage of safety cars to minimise the time loss. The different characteristics of the medium and hard tyres, with deliberately higher degradation on the medium, also presented the drivers with a wide pit stop window. This allowed them to maximise strategic opportunities today. The modified track layout here in Melbourne helped to underline how the new car and tyre package for 2022 permits drivers to attack and overtake, with a high number of passing manoeuvres. We also saw some ingenious pit strategies, such as two consecutive pit stops from Lance Stroll to cycle through the medium tyre, and a very long hard stint from Alex Albon that enabled him to get from last on the grid into the points.