Formula 1 Racing

Don’t put me under pressure

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Albert Park, 2024

The Australian Grand Prix served up surprises after back-to-back Red Bull one-twos in the opening races of 2024. An early retirement for Max Verstappen opened the door for the team’s rivals to take a rare victory.

Ferrari took full advantage, beating McLaren to secure their first win since Singapore last year as well as the team’s first one-two in two seasons.

They did this by outmanoeuvring McLaren to get Charles Leclerc ahead of Lando Norris. But when he began to close on his race leading team mate Carlos Sainz Jnr, Ferrari were quick to tell their drivers to hold position.

Further back, the disruption to the race caused by Lewis Hamilton’s retirement presented an opportunity to other teams. Among them were Haas, who for the second race in a row used Kevin Magnussen to help his team mate score points.

Early trouble

Verstappen secured his third consecutive pole of the season in Saturday’s qualifying session, which put him in with a strong chance of a hat trick of victories from the start of the season. However, from the moment the lights went out, he struggled with an stuck right-rear brake that slowly overheated to a critical point, which put him out of his first grand prix for exactly two years.

Lap: 1/58 VER: 1’27.458
Lambiase Mode-six. Car behind, Sainz. One second.
Lap: 2/58 VER: 1’24.099
Lambiase Okay, DRS enabled. Gap was 0.9 across the line.
Lambiase 0.4.
Verstappen I just lost the car. Really weird.
Lambiase Yep, understood. No probs.
Lap: 3/58 VER: 1’23.115
Lambiase 0.6.
Verstappen [After oversteering into turn six] Fucking hell, the car is loose…
Lambiase 0.5. And mid-eight, when you can. Mid-eight.
Lap: 4/58
Verstappen Err, yep. I have smoke… blue smoke.
Verstappen [Pulling aside] On fire. Fire. Brake. On brake. Right-rear. My brake pedal’s gone.
Lambiase Yeah. Box, Max, box.
Lambiase Yeah, I can’t brake. Get the fire extinguisher ready – it’s on fire.
Lambiase Yep, understood Max.
Verstappen Can I get out?
Lambiase Switch it off, Max. Yep.

With Verstappen out of the race, Sainz led from Lando Norris, Leclerc and Oscar Piastri. Leclerc struggled to get by the McLaren and join his team mate up front, so Ferrari tried to leap him ahead of the McLaren by pitting him earlier.

Lap: 5/58 LEC: 1’22.632
Marcos Padros So Verstappen just retired.
Marcos Padros And increase tyre saving, turn five.
Lap: 6/58 LEC: 1’22.673
Leclerc Was that turn three, you said?
Marcos Padros Turn five.
Marcos Padros So, switch position ‘yellow’. Switch position ‘yellow’. And be…

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