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Stoddie Straight: Verstappen shocked himself, FIA did everything right this time

RacingNews365's expert columnist, former Formula 1 team principal Paul Stoddart, praises 'unquestioned' winner Verstappen and tackles the big calls made by the FIA.

In his post-race column for RacingNews365.com , former Formula 1 team principal Paul Stoddart believes Mercedes were powerless to prevent a Verstappen victory, gives his verdict on the FIA's decision-making and reflects on his own home race on a memorable day for Australian motorsport fans.

Unstoppable Verstappen without contest in great Melbourne race

Yet again, what could have been a rather processional race turned into a fantastic race. Max at the beginning had a very poor start, but you can't take anything away from George and Lewis. The Mercedes both had great starts, and they kept it clean and didn't touch each other, and we saw George go off a little bit into the distance but, even if George hadn't had his power unit problems, Max had that race covered. Max probably shocked himself on the start but, once he recovered, he had the race covered. Yes, he had a little excursion onto the grass, but he did a bit of zigzagging to clean the tyres up, and his win was never under threat. Even though the Mercedes really showed some pace, I think it's fair to say that the result was without question. Once he was in the lead, that's where he was going to stay. But what can you say about Fernando and Aston Martin? Second in the Constructors’ Championship! That’s not something they thought they would see this soon. I ran into Fernando at the end of the race behind the podium, and we were reminiscing about the good old days with Pat Symonds, I reminded him that he helped build his own Minardi car here in Melbourne! It looks to me as though Ferrari have got a bit of soul-searching to do. When I saw Charles was out on Lap 1, I was a bit surprised, because you don't win a Grand Prix on Lap 1, but you can sure as hell lose one. In fairness to Ferrari, Carlos had a good race, all things considered before his incident. I don't think Carlos, when he really analyses it, will be complaining too much about the time penalty, even though he might be a bit bitter now.

Unlike Saudi Arabia, all the right director decisions were made

It's good to see that, this week, all the procedures were followed perfectly. Yes, that last processional final lap might have looked a bit boring on the world feed but, if they hadn't have done it, in 10-20 years’ time people would complain and say ‘well you never finished 58 laps, you only did 57’ and, as the rules state you can’t pass on the out lap, it had to be what it had to be. Whilst I was critical of the FIA last time , they were absolutely spot on today. When they needed the red flags, they had the red flags. When they needed the Safety Cars, they had the Safety Cars. And when all the controversy came at the end, they did the right thing by doing that last lap and reinstating the order, which is what the regulations say anyway: You’ve got to count back on the red flag. It was all done properly.

Piastri delights home fans on record-breaking weekend

The big winner I think of the weekend is Oscar Piastri getting his four points on his home race debut! I am personally very happy for Oscar. I remember thinking before the race that if Oscar can get into the points, then it’s a job well done. He was in the points early on in the race, but then he got passed and he was sort of settled in P11 when the race was pretty much calmed down. Then, all of a sudden, everything goes upside down, which is what makes Formula 1 just so exciting. It's what we all love. It’s great for McLaren because they were nowhere the first two races, so well done to them, and well done to Lando. Yes, they got lucky today, but luck is part of the game. They've got themselves a chunk of points, but throughout the weekend they were showing more form. Melbourne does deliver, and they had a crowd of 444,000 people come to this event over the four days, that's a new record. They deserve to be proud, they always deliver a good race!

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