Leclerc wins the 2022 Australian Grand Prix with a beautifully controlled drive that ends with a new fastest lap.
Perez and Russell complete the podium with Hamilton fourth ahead of the McLaren duo.
Charles Leclerc opened up a huge early advantage in the 2022 Formula 1 world championship fight with a dominant victory as Max Verstappen retired from the Australian Grand Prix.
Verstappen was running second when his Red Bull began losing fluid and then parked with a mechanical problem for the second time in the season’s three F1 races so far.
Pos Driver Team Dif Stop 01 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1h28m47.221s 1 02 Sergio Perez Red Bull +20.524 1 03 George Russell Mercedes +25.593 1 04 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +28.543 1 05 Lando Norris McLaren +53.303 1 06 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren +53.737 1 07 Esteban Ocon Alpine +61.683 1 08 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo +68.439 1 09 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri +76.221 1 10 Alex Albon Williams +79.362 1 11 Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo +81.695 1 12 Lance Stroll Aston Martin +88.598 1 13 Mick Schumacher Haas +1 tour 1 14 Kevin Magnussen Haas +1 tour 1 15 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri +1 tour 1 16 Nicholas Latifi Williams +1 tour 2 17 Fernando Alonso Alpine +1 tour 2 18 Max Verstappen Red Bull DNF 1 19 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin DNF 0 20 Carlos Sainz Ferrari DNF 0
But even before that issue, Verstappen and Red Bull had been no match for Leclerc and Ferrari.
He stuck to the polesitter initially before running into tyre problems on the mediums much earlier. That allowed Leclerc to pull away by as much as one second per lap.
Pitting three laps earlier than the Ferrari meant Verstappen did close the gap from eight seconds to five going into the second stint, and also had a good go at passing a less-sharp Leclerc at a mid-race safety car restart.
But Leclerc had the pace to pull away again even before Verstappen dropped out.
The result puts Leclerc 31 points clear of new second-placed man George Russell in the championship and 46 ahead of Verstappen.
Leclerc was Ferrari’s sole representative for most of the race as Carlos Sainz’s weekend got even worse.
A last-minute steering wheel change on the grid contributed to a poor start that left him 14th initially, and he caused an early safety car by spinning into the gravel at the Turn 9/10 flick while trying to recover.
Sergio Perez salvaged second for Red Bull, though he had to battle past both Mercedes to get there.
The fast-starting Lewis Hamilton got ahead of Perez on lap one and held him off until lap nine, before coming back at him when the Red Bull’s tyres faded.
Hamilton ran two laps longer than Perez before pitting and emerged ahead, though the Red Bull repassed the Mercedes on its out-lap.
Russell jumped both as he was able to stop under a safety car caused by Sebastian Vettel crashing, but Perez eventually overtook him on track took.
Russell then stayed ahead of Hamilton to earn his first podium for his new team, as both remained respectably close to Perez.
The McLarens had chased the Mercedes in the first stint then fell away as the race went on, Lando Norris finishing just ahead of Daniel Ricciardo in fifth.
Esteban Ocon took seventh for Alpine, with Fernando Alonso’s qualifying crash defining what could’ve been an amazing weekend for him.
Stuck behind Pierre Gasly’s slower AlphaTauri in 10th early on, Alonso stayed out on his hard tyres under the safety car and rose to fourth.
But he was no match for the cars around him on newer tyres and ultimately finished 17th and last after two late pitstops.
Valtteri Bottas emerged from some fraught midfield fighting to give Alfa Romeo eighth ahead of Gasly.
Williams took its first point of 2022 with a brilliant tactical move for Alex Albon, who didn’t pit at all until the penultimate lap of the race.
He was running seventh by then and managed to rejoin ahead of Zhou Guanyu to take 10th.
Kevin Magnussen ran the same tactic as Alonso and got up to seventh before pitting, but could only get back to 14th for Haas, behind team-mate Mick Schumacher.
Vettel’s awful weekend just got worse in the race. He fell to last with an early gravel visit then caused the second safety car by losing it over the kerb on the Turn 4 exit and spinning into the wall.
His Aston Martin team-mate Lance Stroll was briefly in the points via some strategic gambles that included two pitstops under the first safety car to tick off a lap on mediums, but he got a 5s penalty for weaving and finished 12th.
Leclerc wins the 2022 Australian Grand Prix Leclerc wins the 2022 Australian Grand Prix
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