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International media react: Dominant Leclerc a 'champion in waiting'

Various international media outlets have given their take on the Australian Grand Prix, with much focus on Charles Leclerc's unchallenged drive to victory.

Charles Leclerc took his second win of the 2022 season so far at the Australian Grand Prix, further extending his lead at the top of the World Championship standings. Whilst rival Max Verstappen claimed victory last time out in Saudi Arabia, the Red Bull driver saw his race come to a sudden end at the Albert Park Circuit, having been forced to pull over with a mechanical issue on Lap 39 of 58. It was also a difficult day for Leclerc's Ferrari teammate, Carlos Sainz, who recorded a DNF when he beached his F1-75 in the gravel on the third lap of the event. The highs and lows of the race have led to plenty of reaction amongst various international media outlets.

Leclerc "unstoppable" in Australian Grand Prix

There has been almost universal praise for Leclerc, who did not put a foot wrong on his drive to the top spot of the podium. French publication L'Equipe stated that the victor was "without rival" in the race, adding: "Charles Leclerc was alone in the world in Melbourne. On a track that has rarely worked for him so far, the Monegasque (almost) never wavered." In the United Kingdom, The Guardian had similarly complimentary words for Leclerc and his "flawless" performance. "Imperious, untouchable, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc took victory at the Australian Grand Prix with an almost carefree insouciance," they wrote. "Ferrari have delivered the car and Leclerc demonstrated definitively in Melbourne the sure touch of a champion in waiting."

There was also a warning for Red Bull, with the publication adding: "He and Ferrari now enjoy a daunting advantage heading into their home race at Imola in two weeks' time, where Verstappen and Red Bull must comeback before the Scuderia disappear into the distance." The BBC suggested that Leclerc now looks to be in a "commanding" postion for the World Championship. "Leclerc's win was his second of the season and by far the most imposing performance by any driver so far," the publication reflected. "Leclerc was, as podium interviewer Mark Webber said, 'on another level'. He's always looked a potential champion, and while it is early days and Ferrari have a lot to prove, he is very much that right now."

Will Leclerc's win change things for Sainz at Ferrari?

In the Spanish media, Marca labelled Leclerc's drive as "unstoppable and uncatchable", and also questioned whether the 24-year-old's extended lead in the championship could already impact the pecking order at Ferrari. Leclerc sits on 71 points at the top of the rankings, whilst teammate Sainz has now fallen to third with 33 points following his retirement in Melbourne. "Carlos is now third in the World Championship with 33 points, 38 points behind Leclerc, which means that the pecking order within Ferrari will be fixed for several months to come," Marca wrote. "This weekend has been a disaster of incalculable proportions for the Spaniard, with Saturday's red flag and subsequent problems in his F1-75, which have conditioned the entire Grand Prix."

Italian outlet La Gazzetta dello Sport took a more sympathetic approach to Sainz's difficult weekend, stating: "It was a race to forget for Carlos, and it's a shame because the potential was there." There were also further words of admiration for Leclerc, along with a note of concern for Red Bull. "Bye bye Red Bull, Australia is at the feet of Charles Leclerc and a stunning F1-75," they declared. "The Monegasque driver's triumph in Melbourne is complete and without precedent. If in Bahrain and [Saudi] Arabia Max Verstappen had remained glued to the red car, today the RB18 didn't even see the exhausts of the Prancing Horse, galloping wildly through the curves of Albert Park."

RESULTS 2024 F1 Spanish Grand Prix - Qualifying