Formula 1 Racing

Ten things we learned at the 2024 F1 Australian Grand Prix

Verstappen's race came to a smoky end, which also meant the end of Red Bull's win hopes

Formula 1 got something of a pressure release moment with Ferrari‘s Carlos Sainz brilliantly winning the 2024 Australian Grand Prix and ending Max Verstappen‘s latest dominant season start for Red Bull.

The world champion was undone by a rare mechanical issue aboard one of Red Bull’s cars and Sainz picked up the pieces fantastically for Ferrari, on a day where it may have won in any case, such was its treatment of the tyres on a tricky surface and layout in typically tough conditions here. That said, there was little action to speak of all race.

But Verstappen’s DNF and Sergio Perez‘s latest absence from the lead fight means Red Bull’s quest to better its win rate from 2023 will likely have to wait for another year, with a 21-race winning streak required to break the team’s own record breaking 95.5% success rate last term.  

F1 also learned exactly how Sainz had made his brilliant recovery from missing the Jeddah round with appendicitis and his compatriot Fernando Alonso was in hot water with the stewards post-race. Elsewhere, there was controversy at Williams, a management boost for McLaren and more off-track debate over key issues facing the championship.

All that and more is included here in the pick of what we learned from F1’s 2024 visit to Melbourne.

1. Red Bull’s latest quest for perfection doesn’t even last as long as 2023

Verstappen’s race came to a smoky end, which also meant the end of Red Bull’s win hopes

Photo by: Mark Horsburgh / Motorsport Images

That answers that question, then. No, Red Bull can’t win every race of the 2024 F1 season. It’s quest to win in Melbourne – for what would’ve been Verstappen’s 10th in a row – was under pressure immediately with Ferrari’s fine form on the C5 softs over one lap and with the softer tyres overall this year meaning a front-limited two-stop race.

Such a limitation was why Leclerc probably would’ve won in Las Vegas last year, but here Sainz never got to take Verstappen on all things being equal as the Dutchman had his “right rear brake basically stuck on from when the lights went off” at the start. That meant he couldn’t scamper clear of the lap two DRS activation, nearly went off at Turn 2 on that tour with “having one brake calliper just stuck on – it’s like a handbrake”, then got jumped by Sainz. On lap three as he chased on, the climbing temperatures and brake fire forced his retirement.

But Verstappen was able to stick with Sainz immediately after…

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