Friday, September 30, 2022

F1: Charles Leclerc wins the Australian Grand Prix as Max Verstappen is forced to retire once again

Charles Leclerc dominates Australian Grand Prix to extend his lead at the top but it’s ANOTHER disaster for Max Verstappen as he is forced to retire… and George Russell secures podium for Mercedes

  • Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc wins his second race of the year with a comfortable win
  • Max Verstappen was forced to retire with his car on fire after the half-way mark
  • Red Bull’s Sergio Perez finished second, while George Russell was third
  • Lewis Hamilton finished fourth ahead of the McLarens of Norris and Ricciardo
  • Carlos Sainz span out of the race on lap two on a tough day for the Spaniard
  • Leclerc, a two-timer winner this season, is now 34 points clear of second-placed Russell in the standings – Hamilton is fifth, 43 points adrift

Charles Leclerc roared to victory at the Australian Grand Prix to extend his world championship lead to 34 points.

The Ferrari man dominated from pole with a strong drive, while Red Bull’s Max Verstappen retired when lying second on lap 39 with apparent engine failure. He was the world champion’s second DNF in the first three races of his title defense.

Mercedes new boy George Russell took third place, behind Leclerc and Sergio Perez in the other Red Bull. Lewis Hamilton finished fourth.

Charles Leclerc won the Australian Grand Prix to extend his lead in the F1 world championship

Leclerc completed an impressive lights-to-flag victory and also took the extra-point fastest lap

Leclerc completed an impressive lights-to-flag victory and also took the extra-point fastest lap

Mercedes new boy George Russell took third place, behind Sergio Perez in the other Red Bull

Mercedes new boy George Russell took third place, behind Sergio Perez in the other Red Bull

World champion Max Verstappen - running in second - was forced to retire with 19 laps left

World champion Max Verstappen – running in second – was forced to retire with 19 laps left

TOP-10

1st – Leclerc

2nd – Perez

3rd-Russell

4th-Hamilton

5th – Norris

6th – Ricciardo

7th – Ocon

8th – Bottas

9th – Gasly

10th – Albon

The result puts Russell second in the standings, 34 back. Hamilton is on 28 points.

Leclerc, who led every lap of the 58 after maintaining his composure under the only close scrutiny he came under, from Verstappen, after the withdrawal of the race’s second safety car resulted in the two men going wheel-to-wheel into the first corner.

It was Leclerc’s second win of the season and by a margin of 20 seconds. Brit Lando Norris took fifth place for McLaren, having started fourth.

Hamilton may have finished ahead of Russell other than for the younger man being helped by a ‘free’ pit stop under a safety car.

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz had a terrible weekend, qualifying ninth, falling right down the field to 14th at the start, lost control and ended up beached in the gravel on the second lap.

Sebastian Vettel also suffered a horror show.

On lap 22, he ran on to the rumble strip, wobbled off, hit the wall at Turn 5, and lost his front wing. His day was all over. How much longer can this four-time world champion continue?

Verstappen retired after smelling some ‘weird fluid’. A marshal sprayed foam to extinguish a nascent fire.

Leclerc's team-mate at Ferrari Carlos Sainz span out of the race in lap two of the Grand Prix

Leclerc’s team-mate at Ferrari Carlos Sainz span out of the race in lap two of the Grand Prix

Verstappen watches on as Leclerc extends his World Championship lead to 34 points

Verstappen watches on as Leclerc extends his World Championship lead to 34 points

Russell, fighting mid-race, was told by the pit wall: ‘If you’re hurting your tires to keep Perez behind, you can let him by.’

Russell countered: ‘That’s not what I want to hear.’ He held on as gamely as he could but the Mexican finally pushed through.

Hamilton, seemingly annoyed by Russell’s slice of good luck, said: ‘You guys put me in a really difficult position.’

RE-LIVE ALL THE ACTION WITH SPORTSMAIL’S KIERAN JACKSON:

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