2022 F1 Race 3: Albert Park
More drama for Redbull as Russel takes his first Mercedes podium
Formula One returned to Australia after a two-year absence with a new car design and a reprofiled racetrack. Fans appeared enthralled to finally have the sport return to Albert Park after a long couple of years that has seen the sporting city of Melbourne miss out on events across the sporting calendar.
Free practice revealed many of the problems that had plagued the teams at the Jeddah Corniche and Bahrain International circuits weren't resolved. Drivers struggled in turn three with ex-world champions Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton both locking up their wheels trying to get to grips with the circuit. During the second practice session, Ferrari was once again fast with Alpine also showing their speed. Sebastian Vettel was forced to sit out the session due to running issues and his luck didn't get any better into FP3 as a snap of understeer saw him head off into the gravel trap between turns 9 and 10. Max Verstappen struggled throughout free practice with car trouble but still managed to post a series of respectable times. Mclaren was the talking point though as Norris went fastest in FP3 with Ricciardo 6th fastest, a much better timesheet than they had managed to record in the opening two races of 2022.
Onto qualifying and after a misunderstanding between the two Canadians Lance Stroll and Nicolas Latifi they collided knocking them both out of Q1. Albon was the last of the knockout positions in 16th and was then forced to stop on track. Q2 was the first time Valterri Bottas hasn't made it to Q3 since he started at Mercedes. His teammate was also unable to qualify for Q3.
Moving into the final qualifying session and Alonso pushed and reported an issue with hydraulics after hitting the wall and ending his qualifying session. Verstappen pushed and received provisional pole only to watch it disappear as Leclerc took pole by three tenths. His teammate Carlos Sainz had some bad luck in Q3 and only managed P9. Hamilton managed P5 with his teammate right behind him in P6. Mclaren - having got both drivers into Q3 - had more to celebrate, scoring a P4 with Norris and a P7 with Ricciardo.
It was an early start for European spectators as the Melbourne Grand Prix got underway. Hamilton gained a place early as Norris lost out and Verstappen chased down Leclerc. Both Sainz and Alonso had opted to start on the hard tyre for a longer first stint, hurting their initial performance with the hope of making places later on. Unfortunately for Sainz, a mishap would send him into a gravel trap and his race would end there after his car became beached. Sergio Pérez made a brilliant move around the outside of Hamilton after he stopped for fresh tyres. Sebastian Vettel's miserable weekend ended halfway through the Grand Prix when he hit a wall. After 39 laps of racing, Max Verstappen was forced to pull over and stop his car. Another engine issue ending his chances of points from the weekend. Bottas was able to make a late pass to secure 9th place as Pierre Gasly misjudged the final braking zone and Leclerc took the chequered flag for his third win of the season.
Russel scored his first podium in a Mercedes racing suit and Perez took second place after completing a solid drive. Mclaren will be celebrating down under after a miserable start to the season they took home fifth and sixth place for some valuable points in the championship. Albon scored his first points as a Williams driver proving his racecraft once again and holding off a strong challenge from Zhou in the Alfa Romeo.