The Formula 1 2023 season will be a long one, encompassing 23 races across four continents. The Rolex Australian Grand Prix is the third of those events.
The first two races of the year have seen Red Bull dominant, with Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez claiming top spot in both. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso is on a hot streak and Mercedes are also looking good.
Max Verstappen wins
Defending champion Max Verstappen has won the 2023 Australia GP after an epic race that included three red flags, multiple crashes and a chaotic restart. Despite the chaos, Verstappen came out on top as he took his second win of the season in front of his home crowd at Albert Park.
Verstappen started from pole and dominated the early stages of the race. He led after just three laps and opened a gap to Hamilton of almost 11 seconds. He managed to keep his lead until a late red flag stopped the race and then went on to take victory.
A brilliant qualifying session by the Dutchman earned him the pole position and he was joined on the grid by Mercedes’ George Russell in second place, with teammate Lewis Hamilton third. It’s the first time that Mercedes have been on the front row since the 2011 Australian GP, and it could be a defining moment in their title push.
The first laps of the race were a flurry of action with a lot of passing going on between the leaders. Alexander Albon had a good start and was up to sixth before he got into trouble with the pit wall. He had an engine problem and had to come off the track, while McLaren’s Lando Norris was also struggling but he was able to hold on until the end of the race.
After the first restart, Verstappen held on to his lead and went on to win the race with Lewis Hamilton securing second for Mercedes and Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso finishing third. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc crashed out of the race in a bizarre incident and Carlos Sainz was also forced to drop to 13th after being given a five-second penalty.
A dramatic restart in the final few laps saw a whole host of drivers go off and it was a chaotic finale with cars flying everywhere. There was a big crash between Williams driver Logan Sargeant and Nyck de Vries’ AlphaTauri, while Renault’s Kevin Magnussen also crashed.
The stewards had to decide whether there should be another red flag or not, and it was decided that a safety car would be needed. After a lengthy discussion, the stewards decided to let the race continue under a safety car and allow Verstappen to take the chequered flag.
It’s a huge result for the Dutchman and he has taken his first win of the season in his 37th career F1 race. He is now 15 points ahead of his teammate Sergio Perez and is firmly in the driver’s seat for the world championship.
He is now in a great position to claim his 80th F1 podium and his third consecutive one in the sport. He has a fantastic race pace and is still a strong challenger to Lewis Hamilton and could even pull out the win in the final few laps if he can find his best tyres.
He’s in a great position to win the season opener in Bahrain and the next two races in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi but he’s not as strong on his hard tyres so he’ll need to make some adjustments. He’s also not the fastest on his soft tyres and that could cause him some problems in the long run.
Lewis Hamilton wins
A thrilling 2023 Australian Grand Prix was won by Lewis Hamilton. After a wild start and a couple of high-speed incidents, the Mercedes driver took the lead at Turn One and never looked back.
Max Verstappen had the better of a chaotic opening lap and, when the red flag came out, took advantage of a free pit stop to move into second place behind Hamilton. But the Dutchman was only able to extend his lead on the restart by a tenth of a second, with Hamilton having to defend a strong challenge from Alonso.
The race was eventually run under a safety car after a collision involving Carlos Sainz and Alex Albon, with both drivers being given the chance to change their tyres for free before returning to the track. But the gravel that flew across the track after Albon’s crash was enough to trigger a second yellow flag, which meant Russell had to pit and restart from the back of the field.
While all of the leaders were able to change their tyres, the second restart saw George Russell lose his way as he was forced to defend a hard-charging Max Verstappen. But he managed to get past the Red Bull man with DRS and was soon in control.
As the restart went on, the Red Bull of Carlos Sainz tried to fight with the Mercedes pair but was unable to gain ground and dropped to sixth. Meanwhile, the Renault of Esteban Ocon and Zhou Guanyu also struggled to keep pace with their rivals.
But as the race drew to a close, Hamilton fought to stay in front and, despite a late-race error where he ran off the road at the penultimate corner, he held onto his lead to claim a brilliant win in his home Grand Prix.
It was a fantastic performance from Hamilton, who had struggled at the beginning of this year after a slow start to his season. He had to fend off Max Verstappen on the first lap but, once he started gaining a little more ground, he was unstoppable.
The only thing that kept him from securing his first victory at Albert Park was a tyre failure on the final lap, but he stayed out to avoid losing more time. That was important as he snatched second place from Alonso, who had been unable to make any progress before a late-race spin that forced him to drop to fifth.
It was a dramatic race and we’re unsure how it will play out in the final few laps. The track looks very different from the first part of the race and we’re hoping for a relatively calm start to the second half. It should be a tight battle for the finish, with everyone bar two drivers running on hard tyres.