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Charles Leclerc

Leclerc takes dominant win as Verstappen's race goes up in smoke

Charles Leclerc was untouchable in the lead throughout the Australian Grand Prix, while Max Verstappen saw a comfortable second place vanish with a technical issue.

Leclerc Verstappen Hamilton Australia
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To news overview © XPB

Charles Leclerc has taken a dominant victory at Albert Park, with the Ferrari driver leading from start to finish in the Australian Grand Prix.

Starting from pole position, Leclerc weathered the attentions of Red Bull's Max Verstappen through the opening laps and quickly started to pull away across the first stint.

Verstappen began to complain about tyre graining after just 10 laps, falling away to around eight seconds behind Leclerc by the time Red Bull pulled him in for a set of Hard tyres on Lap 19 of 58.

With Verstappen clearly enjoying the Hard tyres more, as he began setting fastest laps when he resumed the track, Leclerc came in on Lap 23 and rejoined with a five-second lead over Verstappen.

A Safety Car intervention, triggered by Aston Martin's Sebastian Vettel crashing into the wall, closed the pack back up again but, despite a slow restart from Leclerc, he maintained his lead and quickly opened the gap back up again.

Starting Lap 39, Verstappen slowed and came to a halt at the exit of Turn 1 with an apparent technical issue – his second retirement from a strong points place in just three races.

With Leclerc's closest competitor out of the race, the Monegasque cantered to victory as he came home more than 20 seconds clear despite the mid-race Safety Car.

Result Race - Australian

Pos. Driver Team Time
Results are being loaded...

Perez picks up the pieces for Red Bull

Sergio Perez claimed second place, salvaging a result for Red Bull, after having a long scrap with both Mercedes drivers.

The Mexican had a solid getaway at the start, but fell behind Lewis Hamilton at Turn 1 as he ran out of room.

While he quickly recovered the place from Hamilton, the Mercedes showed far stronger race pace than it has throughout 2022 so far, with the seven-time World Champion able to put Perez under pressure towards the first stops.

The timing of the Safety Car intervention allowed George Russell to make a stop without losing time, meaning he came out in third place ahead of Hamilton and Perez, but the latter was able to pick off both drivers again to climb to second place when Verstappen retired.

This left Russell in third, with Hamilton taking fourth and clearly frustrated to have lost out as a result of the timing of the Safety Car.

While Leclerc dominated the race for Ferrari, Sunday was one to forget for Carlos Sainz in the other F1-75.

Having started from ninth place, Sainz had an issue getting his Ferrari off the line as he plummeted down the order when the race began.

Trying to recover from his bad start, Sainz made an error on Lap 3 as he carried too much speed into Turn 10. This resulted in him going across the grass and spinning off into the gravel, where he beached the car and was out on the spot.

Albon claims Williams first points

McLaren had their strongest race of the season so far, with Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo claiming fifth and sixth respectively.

Esteban Ocon took seventh for Alpine, picking up a position as a result of Williams' Alex Albon pitting late on. The British-Thai racer had climbed up to seventh having not pitted throughout, but Williams brought him in to make his mandatory stop with a lap remaining.

This dropped Albon down to 10th, meaning Williams still claimed a point. Alfa Romeo's Valtteri Bottas was eighth, with Pierre Gasly ninth for AlphaTauri.

Sainz, Vettel and Verstappen were the only three retirements from the race.

Leclerc's victory and fastest lap point means he now leads the Drivers' Championship by 34 points over Mercedes' George Russell.

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F1 2022 Australian Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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