Relive the excitement of the Australian GP with our exclusive breakdown of the race. Our comprehensive recap offers a unique insider's perspective on all the heart-stopping moments, taking you on a wild ride through one of the most thrilling events on the F1 calendar.
A Change to the Grid and Starting Tire Choices
The weekend started with mixed conditions in practice and qualifying. However, blue skies and pleasant temperatures greeted the paddock for race day. Slick tires were the afternoon's order, and a one-stop strategy was the quickest option – providing there were no incidents or Safety Car periods.
In the race build-up, there was a change to the grid as both Perez and Bottas swapped their starting slots for the pit lane. They had made various car changes under parc ferme conditions. As for starting tire choices, most drivers opted for the medium compound. Still, the Alpines and Alfa Romeos picked softs, while De Vries’s AlphaTauri, Sargeant’s Williams, and Perez’s Red Bull had hards bolted on for a longer first stint.
Drama From the Start
When the lights went out, there was immediate action as Russell charged off the line and got a run on Verstappen into Turn 1, which he converted with some late braking and smart car positioning. With Verstappen’s exit compromised, the Dutchman then came under pressure from Hamilton, who promptly made it a Mercedes one-two by muscling his way past at Turn 3.
Just behind, there was further drama as the Aston Martins, and Ferraris went wheel-to-wheel into Turn 3, resulting in contact between Stroll and Leclerc under braking that sent the latter into the gravel and out of the race. A quick stewards’ investigation settled on no further action.
Early Pit Stops and Red Flag
With the Safety Car deployed and the frenetic proceedings briefly paused, a host of drivers pitted for some early tire changes. When the action resumed, Russell held the lead from teammate Hamilton, the recovering Verstappen, Sainz, Alonso, and the fast-starting Albon. But just three tours later, the Williams man slammed into the barriers at Turn 7 and signaled another Safety Car.
Both Mercedes and Ferrari viewed Albon's accident as a chance for Russell and Sainz to switch their soft tires to mediums. In response to those stops, Hamilton rued that the situation had “put me at a massive disadvantage,” but it would soon shift in his favor when the red flag was thrown due to debris and gravel on the track, meaning all drivers returned to the pit lane and could change their tires. That ended up hurting Russel and Sainz as they pitted before the Red Flag and lost positions in the restart from the grid.
The Restart and More Drama
With the race stopped, Hamilton held the top spot, ahead of Verstappen, Alonso, Stroll, and Gasly. The Safety Car led the field out of the pits and back to the grid for the restart, with Hamilton leading a particularly slow formation lap. Verstappen closed in on Hamilton’s Mercedes, got within DRS range, and reclaimed the race lead by breezing past his 2021 title rival along the back straight.
Meanwhile, Russell cleared Gasly for P4 with an impressive move around the outside of Turn 11. However, on Lap 18, there was yet more drama as Russell ground to a halt on the start/finish straight with flames coming from the back of his Mercedes, bringing out a Virtual Safety Car and once again stabilizing the gaps between cars up and down the order.
As the race progressed, Verstappen continued to pull away from Hamilton, who expressed concerns over the durability of his hard tires. Meanwhile, Verstappen's teammate Perez charged up the field and secured a spot in the points.
Sainz made a clever move to overtake Gasly for fourth place, while Alonso remained within striking distance of Hamilton. Despite Verstappen's comfortable lead, a lock-up into Turn 13 late in the race caused some concern for the Red Bull team.
Another Drama Approaching the Final Laps
In the final laps of the race, a collision involving Magnussen brought out a late Safety Car and a second red flag. The subsequent two-lap shootout for the win was intense, with Verstappen defending his lead against Hamilton.
However, chaos ensued behind them as Sainz sent Alonso into a spin, causing several drivers to take evasive action. Gasly slipped across the grass run-off and collected his teammate Ocon, resulting in significant damage for both drivers.
In the end, Verstappen emerged victorious, claiming his first Sao Paulo Grand Prix win and making up for his retirement in the 2022 race. Hamilton took second place, followed by Alonso, Stroll, Perez, and Norris. Sainz received a penalty, dropping him down to 12th place. Hulkenberg, Piastri, Zhou, and Tsunoda rounded out the points finishers, while several drivers, including Gasly, Ocon, and De Vries, failed to finish the race due to DNFs.
Overall, it was a thrilling and unpredictable race that kept fans on the edge of their seats until the very end.