Leclerc takes dominant Aussie GP win

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc (Outright – Leclerc 8/13, Verstappen 2/1, Hamilton 9/1) won his second race of the 2022 season with a light-to-flag triumph in the Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park, as reliability woes troubled defending champion Max Verstappen once more.

Leclerc had qualified on pole position and this race served as an ominous warning to the rest of the field as he showcased some blistering pace.

It was a race punctuated by safety cars, firstly due to Leclerc’s team mate Carlos Sainz spinning out early.

Despite Verstappen being handed multiple chances to get back close to Leclerc, he couldn’t take those opportunities and the battle for the lead was over when the Dutchman pulled over following an engine fire.

His team mate Sergio Perez finished second with George Russell coming in third to secure his first Mercedes (Constructors outright – Ferrari 8/13, Red Bull 7/4, Mercedes 6/1) podium.

Lewis Hamilton finished fourth and was unfortunate to drop behind his Silver Arrows team-mate Russell due to the timings of the safety cars.

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A much-improved McLaren performance rounded out the top six – Lando Norris finishing ahead of team mate Daniel Ricciardo – the latter securing his first points of the season on returning to his homeland.

The win and fastest lap for Leclerc means he is already 34 points ahead of Russell in the Drivers’ Championship standings.

Verstappen is 46 points adrift and will be hoping Red Bull can solve their reliability conundrum quickly before the championship gets away from them.

Speaking on the podium, Leclerc said it is too early to be talking about titles but says he believes the Scuderia car is hitting the sweet spot.

“We are only in the third race so it is difficult to think about the championship, but we have a very strong car, a very reliable car too, so I hope it continues like this and, if it does, we will have chances for the championship,” he said.

The next race is in a fortnight when F1 makes its first visit to Europe this season in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola.

It will be the first time in 2022 the “Sprint Qualifying” format will be used and an opportunity for Red Bull to claw back some points.

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Author: Paula Allen