The blue and black William’s FW45 car of Alex Albon taken in Austria 2023

By Lukas Raich – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=133977059

Saudi Arabian Free Practice Recap

The first race of the season started and ended with a Max Verstappen domination, but a new weekend is upon us, and a new chance for someone to end Max’s winning streak. Does Perez have what it takes, does Ferrari? And what does the field look like with an ever-growing closer midfield. That’s what we’re here to discuss.

Some highlights from free practice was Red Bull once again taking charge and dominating screens, alongside Fernando and George topping the timings in fp2 and 3. Other highlights, were the rookie, Oliver Bearman stepping in as reserve driver and proving he had what it took to impress Ferrari in FP3

Qualifying

The second qualifying session of the year which took place under the lights of Saudi Arabia. Q1 started strong for the 3-time champion as Max Verstappen set a benchmark time with a 1m28.491s, it wouldn’t last long though, and shortly thereafter Leclerc topped it with a 1m28.318s which saw him end q1 in third place, behind Lance Stroll in second and Max Verstappen topped the times finishing in 1m28.171s. The eliminated drivers were Zhou, Logan, Piere, Ocon, and Valtteri taking the last positions in that order. Q2 started with another benchmark time by Max with a 1m28.078s which he whittled down to a 1m28.033s, seeing him end another qualifying session in first. Eliminated was Nico Hulkenberg whose car broke down on his first flying lap, Daniel and Kevin followed behind in p14 and p15, the Williams of Albon saw him end up P12 and the Rookie Oliver Bearman took a classy p11 in his first qualifying. The final session of the weekend saw Max on top finishing strong with a 1m27.472s, with the top 3 being Max, Leclerc, and Perez.

The race

The grand prix started with an excellent start by the Red-Bulls, with Max taking the lead into turn 1, with Perez and Leclerc fighting hard during the first few laps, whilst further down the field Bearman defended for his life whilst still in p11, mean whilst Magnussen had passed Albon for p12. In the midfield, Tsunoda was nearing the one-second mark on Stroll whilst he was defending from the looming Ferrari in his rear-view mirrors as Bearman was catching up behind him. A crash on lap 6 by Stroll saw the safety car come out and lead away the field, most of the field decided to pit for new tires during this period and as the safety car ended Lando Norris took the lead away from Verstappen. The field after the safety car saw both Hulkenberg and Zhou in the top 10 fighting their hardest for points. Eventually, Max regained the lead of the race, and by lap 33, the Red Bull led 1-2, with Leclerc and Norris Behind, with Bearman and Hulkenberg closing out the top 10. As the race neared its conclusion the drivers battled on, with Hulkenberg still in the top 10, with Hamilton and Norris in p9 and p8, with Bearman having moved up to p7, with Russel ahead of him in p6 and Alonso p5, with Piastri and Leclerc taking p4 and p3, with both Red-Bulls still leading at lap 45 of 50. After a spin from Daniel, the race finished on lap 50, with the standings ending as they had on lap 45 with Max storming away with another lovely drive.

Junior Formula’s

For the junior formula’s we only had Formula 2 and Formula Academy that weekend, for the Sprint race Norwegian Dennis Hauger had a brilliant drive and won, and for the Feature race Brazilian driver Enzo Fittipaldi took the charge and won. And for the first F1 academy weekend of the year, the all-female driver roster turned to the track and it was Doriane Pin driving for Mercedes who came first in free practice, qualifying 1 and 2, and won the first race of the season with Abbi Pulling taking the second win.

 

By Lukas Raich – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=143025638

The Ferraris of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc in Austria 2023

Australia Free Practice Recap

The third free practice weekend of the year started with Lando Norris topping the charts in FP1, the second session saw Leclerc lead the timing screens and the last session of the weekend and the most important one saw Charles once again top the timing page.

Qualifying

With all three practice sessions now finished and the teams having dialed in their setups it was time for qualifying 1 and as the engines roared to life the cars turned to the track. With Logan Sargent not racing following Alex’s dramatic crash and Logan’s sacrifice of giving his teammate his car for the rest of the weekend only 4 drivers were eliminated.  In p19 came Zhou Guanyu, p18 and p17 were Daniel and Pierre, with Nico following in p16. With Carlos, Sergio, and Max taking the top 3 positions. Q2 saw the track and the lap times improving and so did both Ferrari drivers, with Carlos ending in p1 and Charles following suit in p2, with Max closing out the top 3. Eliminated were Esteban Ocon, Kevin Magnussen, Valtteri Bottas, Alex Albon, and in a shock exit Lewis Hamilton. And finally, it was time for the last quali session of the weekend, who would take the top was the question everyone had on their minds, could Max take his third pole in a row, or could the Ferraris take the top spot? With a surprise twist Yuki ended p8 finishing ahead of Lance and Fernando, ahead were George, Piastri, Charles, Lando, and Sergio, with a grid penalty for the race, Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen once again taking pole.

The race

For the third race of the season, the lights turned green and Max led the pack away with Carlos Sainz narrowingly behind him, they both fought and defended but when lap 2 and the DRS wing opened for Sainz he passed Max like a breeze putting almost a second on him when lap four came around. But halfway through the lap, the Red Bull of Max began to smoke until, nearing the pit entry one of his brakes exploded and he narrowingly nursed his car back to the pitlane and into the garage. And that was the end of another Max Verstappen Winning streak, but with him out Carlos Sainz who started in second took the lead of the race, and that was a lead he kept from lights out til the chequered flag came out on lap 58 as he won the 2024 Australian Grand Prix. As the race moved on, on lap 17, Hamilton’s engine went away and turned to dust as he stopped on track and the virtual safety car came around neutralizing the race until he was safely parked behind the barriers. The race continued along without two of its star drivers, and without two sure-fire points scorers Yuki and Hulkenberg took their places and moved up into points scoring positions. And on the final lap as the race started to quiet down as the gaps between cars began to form George Russel had a massive accident rolling his car and ending up in the middle of the track, with a car stuck on track the virtual safety car was deployed and the race ended with a Ferrari 1-2 with Magnussen, Hulkenberg, and Tsunoda gaining the last points positions coming from the crashes of Max, Hamilton, and George.

Junior Formula’s

For the junior formula’s, f2 ended with a sprint victory by trident driver Roman Stanek and a feature race win by Campos and Red-Bull affiliated driver Isack Hadjar. For the f3 sprint and feature race, Rookie and Norwegian driver Martinius Stenshorne took his first sprint race victory as he drove brilliantly. And the feature race saw Swedish Dino Beganovic take the chequered flag and win the feature race. And that was it for the Australia Grand Prix weekend.

 

 


Header image By Lukas Raich – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=133977094

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