Feature

5 Winners and 5 Losers from Australia – Who left Melbourne on a high?

F1 Correspondent & Presenter

Lawrence Barretto
Share
W&L Australia.png

Carlos Sainz defied the odds to clinch a sensational victory in the Australian Grand Prix, but it wasn’t such a happy time Down Under for some of his rivals. We pick out our winners and losers from Melbourne’s picturesque Albert Park.

Winner: Carlos Sainz

From the operating table to victory in just 15 days, Carlos Sainz delivered one of the all-time great performances to win the Australian Grand Prix, capping Max Verstappen’s latest win streak to nine.

Sainz was quick all weekend at Albert Park, despite admitting he wasn’t yet 100% having spent so many days in bed recovering from surgery for appendicitis in the build up to the event, and had an edge over team mate Charles Leclerc as the event reached the sharp end.

READ MORE: ‘Life is crazy sometimes’ – Sainz overjoyed after ‘rollercoaster’ ride from hospital bed to Australian GP victory

The Spaniard passed Verstappen for the lead on Lap 2 and from there, mercilessly controlled the Grand Prix to secure his third career win – and first having not started from pole. He and Verstappen remain the only two drivers to have reached the top step of the podium in the last 11 months.

2024 Australian Grand Prix: Carlos Sainz crosses the line to take victory in Melbourne

This win came at the perfect time, with the 29-year-old in negotiations with rival teams about securing a race seat for next season, after he lost his to seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton for 2025.

Loser: Max Verstappen

The loser section of this feature is unfamiliar to Verstappen, so dominant has the reigning world champion been of late (he had won 19 of the last 20 races heading to Australia), but this is where he finds himself this week after a brake issue ended his participation in Sunday’s race after just three laps.

Not only did that end a nine-race winning streak but also a 43-race finishing run (his last retirement coming in Australia in 2022).

READ MORE: Verstappen explains 'really weird' cause of early retirement from Australian Grand Prix

He's been so dominant recently, it's a measure of how confident he is in his mighty Red Bull car that the Dutchman wasn’t too downbeat on Sunday. He still leads the world championship by four points and will expect to be back to winning ways next time out in Japan.

Red Bull Racing's Dutch driver Max Verstappen (C) comes out after smoke billowing from his car

Verstappen's first retirement in two years ending his winning streak

Winners: Ferrari

Ferrari have failed to sustain a championship challenge for more than a decade, but after a strong winter – where they worked on addressing their race pace and the way the car used its tyres – Melbourne displayed shoots of hope for their Tifosi faithful that a return to the champion’s table might be closer than ever.

Red Bull still have a margin over them, but Ferrari delivered a near perfect weekend, nailing the set-up from the very first laps and finetuning the machine brilliantly over the following days so when an opportunity presented itself in the race – they grasped it with both hands.

FACTS AND STATS: Ferrari make it 10 wins in Melbourne as Mercedes end 62-race scoring streak

Leclerc’s second-place sealed Ferrari’s first one-two since the 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix and only their fourth in the last 14 years. They sit just four points off Red Bull in the constructors’ championship. Yes, there’s a long way to go and it’ll be difficult for them to overhaul Red Bull, but Melbourne was proof that when the circumstances allow, they can get the job done.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 24: Race winner Carlos Sainz of Spain and Ferrari and Second placed

Ferrari took home maximum points in Melbourne

Losers: Williams

This was one of the most challenging weekends in Williams’ long and illustrious history. The British team fielded just one car and made the call to ask Logan Sargeant to give it up for team mate Alex Albon after the latter damaged his chassis in a crash in practice.

Albon did an impressive job to bounce back from the big crash and despite having very little running qualify 12th – but the lack of any meaningful high fuel runs on Friday meant the team were on the backfoot for the race when it came to controlling front graining and rear tyre degradation.

The Thai driver ultimately finished 11th, one place outside of the points on a weekend where a healthy score was possible given so many of the faster teams that usually lock out the top 10 failed to finish. A missed opportunity.

HIGHLIGHTS: Relive the action from a dramatic Australian Grand Prix as Sainz wins while Verstappen retires

Winners: McLaren

McLaren exceeded personal expectations in Melbourne, their car suiting the sweeping turns of Albert Park to yield a first podium of the season through Lando Norris and a superb fourth for team mate and home hero Oscar Piastri.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 24: Race winner Carlos Sainz of Spain and Ferrari, Second placed

Norris bagged his first podium of the season

It was McLaren’s first podium at Albert Park since Kevin Magnussen and Jenson Button took second and third respectively in 2014, with Norris now clear as the driver with the most podiums (14) without securing a victory.

Piastri’s fourth-place tied the best result for an Australian in a home race – his mentor Mark Webber took fourth in 2012 with Daniel Ricciardo finishing in that spot in 2016 and 2018.

McLaren are now a comfortable third in the constructors’ championship, 29 points clear of eight-time world champions Mercedes.

READ MORE: Norris believes pace was strong enough for P2 in Australia with McLaren 'getting closer' to Ferrari and Red Bull

Losers: Mercedes

Mercedes will be glad to see the back of an Australian Grand Prix that proved to be, as trackside chief Andrew Shovlin put it, a “bruising weekend” for the team.

The Silver Arrows simply didn’t have the pace on a single lap or the long runs. Albert Park has plenty of high-speed corners, and this further exposed a significant weakness of the W15 in its current iteration.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 24: The car of George Russell of Great Britain and Mercedes is seen on

Russell's race didn't end how he'd hoped in Melbourne

Lewis Hamilton retired following a power unit failure, while George Russell crashed on the penultimate lap while fighting Fernando Alonso for P6, meaning Mercedes failed to score with either car for the first time since the 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

READ MORE: Hamilton brands Melbourne weekend ‘a real struggle’ even before Lap 17 retirement

Winner: Yuki Tsunoda

Yuki Tsunoda had the edge over team mate Ricciardo in the opening two races of the season – and that continued into Ricciardo’s home race in Melbourne.

The Japanese racer executed a faultless weekend to secure his and the team’s first points of the season with seventh.

Team Principal Laurent Mekies was particularly impressed with Tsunoda’s calm approach that saw him build a weekend impressively, getting faster and more confident with every session.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 24: 8th placed Yuki Tsunoda of Japan and Visa Cash App RB, 12th placed

Tsunoda scored his team's first points of the season

Loser: Fernando Alonso

Alonso made the most of pitting under a Virtual Safety Car and combined that with some consistent speed to take the chequered flag in sixth.

That became eighth a few hours later, though, after the stewards handed him a 20-second time penalty for “potentially dangerous” driving when defending from Russell, who crashed while they were battling.

The Spaniard is still one of only six drivers to have scored in every Grand Prix this year and sits eighth in the drivers’ standings, a couple of points shy of Russell and seven clear of team mate Lance Stroll.

READ MORE: Russell and Alonso offer opposing views on incident that led to crash in Australian Grand Prix

Winners: Haas

Haas built on a strong result in Jeddah to score with both cars in Melbourne as Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen took ninth and 10th respectively.

It was the first time since the 2022 Austrian Grand Prix that the team have secured a double points-finish to put them seventh in the constructors’ championship.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 24: Kevin Magnussen of Denmark driving the (20) Haas F1 VF-24 Ferrari

Haas bagged themselves a double points finish in Australia

Hulkenberg has now scored in each of his last four Australian Grand Prix appearances, the German also taking points in back-to-back races after 20 Grands Prix without a point.

Losers: Kick Sauber

This was another galling weekend for Kick Sauber, with the Swiss team’s continued woes in the pit lane costing them a real shot at their first points of the season.

Valtteri Bottas was fighting the top-10 when he had a lengthy stop as the team struggled to fit one of his tyres, though Team Representative Alessandro Alunni Bravi said it was a “slightly different but linked” issue compared to what afflicted them in Bahrain or Saudi Arabia.

READ MORE: What the teams said – Race day in Australia

Meanwhile, Zhou Guanyu was always going to face an uphill battle starting from the pit lane – but his race was further compromised when a gearbox issue during his pitstop meant he couldn’t select a gear and the car stalled, costing him a heap of time.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Coming Up

Coming Up

News

‘I want things to be done better’ fumes Verstappen after Hungarian GP as he admits Red Bull now behind McLaren