A flawless Charles Leclerc led from begin to end to steer his Ferrari to an action-packed win on the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday with world champion Max Verstappen failing to complete.
The world championship chief from Monaco began from pole, held his place on the first flip and by no means appeared again, scorching around the 58-lap Albert Park circuit to take the chequered flag by a large 20.5 seconds.
Red Bull’s Sergio Perez was second with George Russell an encouraging third for the struggling Mercedes and his seven-time world champion teammate Lewis Hamilton fourth.
“It’s amazing, the car was incredible today. What a race and what a pace today,” stated Leclerc after clocking a fourth profession win and second of the season.
“Honestly, what a automobile at this time. I did a great job all weekend however it’s not doable with out the automobile. I’m simply so joyful.
“Obviously we have only had three races so it’s difficult to think of the championship but we have a very strong car and a reliable car. It’s great to be back in this position,” he added.
The Mclarens of Lando Norris and Daniel Riccardo had been fifth and sixth.
Alpine’s Esteban Ocon got here seventh forward of Valtteri Bottas in an Alfa Romeo, with Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri and Alex Albon’s Williams rounding out the highest 10.
But there was catastrophe for Red Bull’s Verstappen, the winner two weeks in the past in Saudi Arabia, who pulled over on lap 39 when second, saying on the staff radio: “I smell some weird fluid.”
He jumped out with smoke coming from the engine, grabbing a hearth extinguisher to assist marshals put out the flames. It was his second retirement in three begins this season.
“These kinds of things, if you want to fight for the title, are unacceptable,” the Dutchman fumed. “We are so far behind (Ferrari).”
In distinction, Russell was delighted along with his podium place after Mercedes’ early season struggles with porpoising — bouncing at excessive pace.
“We’ve got to be in it to win it and capitalise on others’ misfortune and obviously we got a little bit lucky today twice, but we’ll take it,” he stated, referring to 2 security automobiles.
Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and Aston Martin veteran Sebastian Vettel additionally failed to complete after spinning out.
Victory consolidated Leclerc’s championship lead after three rounds with the Ferrari ace, who additionally received the yr’s opening grand prix in Bahrain, incomes the additional level for the quickest lap so as to add to 25 for the race victory.
He now sits on 71 factors forward of Russell on 37. Verstappen is sixth with solely 25.
Horror for Sainz
The Albert Park circuit was revamped this yr for the primary time since 1996, promising to be quicker and with higher overtaking alternatives and it delivered for the followers.
Starting on medium tyres, Leclerc bought an ideal getaway from his eleventh pole in 83 grands prix begins and constructed a niche of 0.6 seconds on Verstappen after the opening lap.
Hamilton, who began fifth, was a giant mover off the grid, powering into third on the first flip forward of Perez and Norris.
But Sainz had a horror day. After beginning ninth, he misplaced traction on lap two, and was fortunate to not take out any rivals as he slid throughout the observe and bought caught within the gravel forcing the primary security automobile.
After the restart, Leclerc and Verstappen elevated their benefit over Hamilton earlier than Perez grabbed third place again from the Briton on lap 9.
Leclerc stormed away to a 3.3-second lead over Verstappen by lap 12, lapping half a second quicker than the Dutchman, who pitted on lap 19 and switched to exhausting tyres.
Leclerc waited till lap 22 for his tyre change, retaining the lead when he blasted again out 6.9 seconds in entrance of Verstappen.
The security automobile was wanted once more on lap 24 when Vettel spun and crashed right into a wall, leaving particles on the observe to cap a horror weekend for the four-time world champion.
It enabled Russell to dive into the pits and emerge on contemporary rubber forward of Perez and Hamilton, who had already had their tyre stops.
Perez reeled in Russell to regain third place and inherited second when his teammate Verstappen’s race ended prematurely.
Get the most well liked sports activities information straight into your inbox
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get entry to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & different 70+ titles, share as much as 5 devices, hearken to the information, obtain as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.