September 26, 2022

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Australian Grand Prix reaction as Lewis Hamilton urges Mercedes to make improvements

22 min read

Follow all the latest news and reaction from the world of F1 after Charles Leclerc extended his lead in the world championship with victory at the Australian Grand Prix.

The Ferrari driver already boasts a 4-point lead over Max Verstappen in the drivers’ standings after the reigning world champion was forced to retire during the race. Sergio Perez didn’t suffer from the same reliability issues and was able to finish in second, while George Russell took the final place on the podium ahead of Lewis Hamilton on what turned out to be a good weekend for Mercedes, despite their consistent lack of pace.

Hamilton, however, sent a clear message to his team that improvements were required urgently if he is to have any chance of challenging for an eighth world title this season. “There is performance to be gained and we need it now, not in two or three races,” he said. “It is about making sure we leave no stone unturned, that the hunger is there and we are maximising every moment. I will be chasing the people in the wind tunnel, the aerodynamic guys, and just looking at every single area.”

Follow all the latest F1 news and reaction to the Australian Grand Prix after a thrilling start to the 2022 Formula 1 season:

F1 latest news

  • Leclerc wins Australian Grand Prix

  • Hamilton clarifies radio rant at Mercedes

  • Horner ‘understands’ Verstappen fury with Red Bull

  • Leclerc not thinking about title despite victory in Australia

  • Verstappen fumes at speed of ‘turtle’ safety car

  • Comment: Leclerc’s poise provides title platform amid F1 chaos

The F1 photographer who captured Max Verstappen’s dramatic world title win

15:03 , Luke Baker

As the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix meandered towards a seemingly anticlimactic finish, photographer Mark Thompson watched on from a deflated Red Bull garage anticipating an early night.

“With 15 minutes to go I was in the garage thinking ‘we’re not going to win this’,” he remembers. “You’re almost in neutral, you’re thinking this is an early night, that’s the way it goes. Then, bang! All of a sudden we were winning and everything went mental. It went absolutely crazy.”

Thompson is no stranger to the chaos of F1 having photographed every grand prix for 24 years (“which is either really cool or really sad,” he says, “whichever way you look at it”) before Covid ended his streak.

You can read the full behind-the-scenes interview with Mark here:

‘It went crazy’: The photographer who captured Max Verstappen’s title win

A ‘liability’ who was ‘disrespectful’ to the drivers – Toto Wolff slams ex-F1 race director Michael Masi

14:50 , Luke Baker

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has slammed former F1 race director Michael Masi, calling him a ‘liability’ who was ‘disrespectful’ to the drivers.

Masi’s handling of last season’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix cost Lewis Hamilton an eighth world title and led to his dismissal from the role in the off-season by the FIA for breaking the rules – something that Wolff won’t be losing any sleep over.

Wolff said: “It is quite interesting because I had lunch with him [Masi] on the Wednesday before the race [Abu Dhabi], and I said to him that ‘I really want to tell you, without patronising you, that you need to take criticism on board and develop from there. Lewis does it every day, but you are guy who always seems to know better’.

“It wasn’t about influencing him but really giving my honest feedback that he shouldn’t block outside opinion as simply being wrong.

“You hear from the drivers and how the drivers’ briefings were conducted [by Masi] and some of the guys said it was almost disrespectful how he treated some of them.

“There is a promoter of one of the races in the Middle East who said he was so relieved he had gone because he got so much abuse from him. He was just immune to any feedback and even today he has not properly reflected that he did something wrong.

“He was a liability for the sport because everybody kept talking about Abu Dhabi and the race director, and the race director should not be somebody that people talk about, but someone who does the job and makes sure the race is run according to the regulations.”

Toto Wolff labels Michael Masi a ‘liability’ who was ‘disrespectful’ to F1 drivers

Martin Brundle praises George Russell’s ‘classy, fault-free driving’ in battle with Lewis Hamilton

14:39 , Luke Baker

Martin Brundle has praised George Russell for his “classy” and “fault-free” early season performances after the Mercedes driver climbed to second in the Drivers’ Championship standings.

Russell secured his first podium at Mercedes at the Australian Grand Prix, beating teammate Lewis Hamilton to third after a timely pit stop during a safety car enabled him to gain race position.

The 24-year-old has finished in the top five at each of the three races to start the season despite significant performance issues for the German outfit.

The British driver arrived to partner compatriot Hamilton at the start of the season from Williams, and has thus far out-performed the seven-time world champion.

Martin Brundle praises George Russell’s ‘fault-free driving’ in Lewis Hamilton battle

Lewis Hamilton clarifies radio rant that Mercedes put him in ‘difficult position’ in Australian Grand Prix

14:27 , Luke Baker

Lewis Hamilton has praised the performance of Mercedes teammate George Russell and clarified an apparent complaint about team strategy made during the Australian Grand Prix.

Hamilton finished fourth in Melbourne, one place behind Russell, as Mercedes produced a solid showing despite continued performance issues with their car.

It leaves the German team second in the Constructors’ Championship standings, ahead of Red Bull, with defending champion Max Verstappen forced to retire for a second time in the opening three races of the season.

That allowed Hamilton and, particularly, Russell to take advantage, with the 24-year-old recording his first podium at Mercedes to climb to second in the Drivers’ Championship.

Hamilton had appeared angry at his team’s strategy during the race, claiming they had put him in a “difficult position” after Russell moved ahead of him after pitting during a safety car period, but the seven-time world champion explained afterwards that he was instead frustrated at an engine issue that prevented him challenging his colleague.

Lewis Hamilton clarifies radio rant that Mercedes put him in ‘difficult position’

Toto Wolff reveals why he is ‘very optimistic’ about Mercedes’ prospects this season

14:15 , Luke Baker

Toto Wolff believes there is reason to be “very optimistic” about Mercedes after an encouraging performance at the Australian Grand Prix.

Despite again struggling to match Red Bull and Ferrari’s pure speed, George Russell and Lewis Hamilton were able to capitalise on the struggles of Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz to record third and fourth-placed finishes respectively.

Both drivers, and team principal Wolff, have spoken openly of their lack of belief in the car, which has struggled with “porpoising” amid wider performance problems in the opening skirmishes of the 2022 Formula 1 season.

Yet Mercedes are second in the Constructors’ Championship after three races, and new recruit Russell is the closest challenger to Charles Leclerc, who leads the chase for the world title by 34 points after taking his second victory of the season in Melbourne.

Toto Wolff reveals why he is ‘very optimistic’ about Mercedes’ prospects this season

Charles Leclerc: Ferrari’s unassuming F1 star shaped by tragedy

14:04 , Luke Baker

Charles Leclerc considers himself a “real Monegasque”; not the sort that arrives in Monaco with a bulging bank account and a significantly lower tax bill but the natives who were born and schooled there, writes Lawrence Ostlere.

His parents, Hervé and Pascale, were not poor but he did not grow up accustomed to the flash Monte Carlo lifestyle many might imagine. He is proud of his beginnings, and jokes that the typical Monegasque is “like the French, but maybe more polite”.

Leclerc is certainly that. The laid back Ferrari driver and current leader of the F1 world championship gets on with everybody and has only love for his rivals – “I have no enemies in the paddock,” he says. His name, which sounds like a sweet delicacy in French, is regularly botched by the English-speaking world with a hard “z” on the end of Charles and a firm “erk” at the end of Leclerc, but he never corrects the mispronunciation. “I like both,” he says with a smile.

The unassuming 24-year-old was immersed in motor sport from a young age. Hervé was a Formula 3 driver in the 1980s and 1990s, and later he would take Charles and his two siblings (older brother Lorenzo and younger brother Arthur, now a Formula 3 driver himself) to a local karting track owned by his best friend and fellow racer Philippe Bianchi.

Charles Leclerc: Ferrari’s unassuming F1 star shaped by tragedy

Max Verstappen fumes at speed of ‘turtle’ Aston Martin safety car

13:52 , Luke Baker

Max Verstappen complained that Formula 1’s safety car was “like a turtle” during the Australian Grand Prix after it caused Charles Leclerc to understeer at the final corner moments before the restart.

The mistake gave Verstappen the opportunity to snatch the lead from Leclerc but the Red Bull was unable to rival the Ferrari’s raw pace and the reigning world champion was later forced to retire from the race due to reliability issues with his car.

Asked about the restart, Verstappen criticised the speed of the Aston Martin Vantage safety car and said he preferred the Mercedes version.

Max Verstappen fumes at speed of ‘turtle’ Aston Martin safety car

Toto Wolff questions F1’s new race boss as Lewis Hamilton defies jewellery ban

13:40 , Luke Baker

Toto Wolff has questioned new Formula One race boss Niels Wittich’s jewellery ban by asking: “Is that a battle he needs to have?”

Lewis Hamilton defied the FIA’s clampdown as he competed with piercings in both ears and a nose stud at the Australian Grand Prix – and said afterwards that he has no plans to remove them in future outings.

Wittich was hired by the FIA following Michael Masi’s dismissal for breaking the rules at last season’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – an event which denied Hamilton a record eighth championship.

“How he has run the first few races has been respectful, solid and he hasn’t put a single foot wrong,” Mercedes team principal Wolff said of Wittich.

“But is that [jewellery ban] a battle he needs to have at this stage? However, if it turns out to be the biggest unfortunate misstep of a race director, I would take it a thousand times over.”

Toto Wolff questions F1’s new race boss as Lewis Hamilton defies jewellery ban

Pristine poise of Charles Leclerc provides championship platform amid F1 chaos

13:27 , Luke Baker

The 2022 Formula 1 season was supposed to bring with it a new era of unpredictability. In plenty of ways, it has, writes Dan Austin.

The biggest regulation change the sport has undergone in a generation has changed things forever, dramatically altering the ways cars race one another, shaking up the establishing running order, rendering old masters also-rans, and characters who were previously mere extras into show stopping leads.

The racing in the first three rounds of the season has been ceaseless and breathless, with drivers unable to take progress through the field for granted anymore. Once an overtake is done, ground effect aerodynamics mean the man who has dropped down a place is able to stake a claim to take his position back once again almost instantly.

Formula 1 will be delighted with the entertainment value its new-age form of structured chaos is providing fans and sponsors, as it looks to take advantage of its booming popularity among young people around the world.

How strange, then, that this brave new world is being so overwhelmingly defined by one far less anarchic constant thus far – the pristine poise of Charles Leclerc’s driving.

Pristine poise of Charles Leclerc provides championship platform amid F1 chaos

Lewis Hamilton demands improvements from Mercedes in bid to save his season

13:16 , Luke Baker

Lewis Hamilton has demanded Mercedes act now to salvage his dwindling F1 title dreams.

The seven-time world champion departs Australia 43 points behind Charles Leclerc following the Ferrari driver’s one-sided victory at Melbourne’s Albert Park on Sunday.

Hamilton started fifth and finished fourth – one place behind George Russell who claimed his first podium in Mercedes colours.

Hamilton heads to Kuala Lumpur for a sponsor event on Monday, before the next round in Imola on April 24.

“I will be on Zoom calls with our bosses, and really trying to rally them up,” said Hamilton.

Lewis Hamilton demands improvements from Mercedes in bid to save his season

Charles Leclerc not thinking about F1 world championship despite ‘incredible’ Australian Grand Prix win

13:03 , Luke Baker

Charles Leclerc says he is not thinking about winning the F1 World Championship just yet after taking a second victory in the opening three races of the 2022 season at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

The Ferrari driver led from start-to-finish around the revamped Albert Park circuit as he stretched his lead at the top of the standings to 34 points from Mercedes’ George Russell, who took third behind Red Bull’s Sergio Perez.

Leclerc tussled for the lead in thrilling fashion with rival Max Verstappen at the Bahrain and Saudi Arabian Grand Prix earlier in the campaign, but here he comfortably kept the Dutchman at bay with strong pace and consistent lap times before Verstappen was forced to retire from the race with a mechanical failure.

In the aftermath of his victory, Leclerc was quick to praise and his car and team but avoided talk of a sustained title challenge across the course of the whole campaign.

Leclerc not thinking about F1 world championship despite ‘incredible’ Australia win

Ferrari boss praises Charles Leclerc growth after Australian Grand Prix victory

12:50 , Luke Baker

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto says Charles Leclerc has shown tremendous ‘growth’ since he joined Ferrari, which is powering his title challenge and led him to his second victory of the 2022 season at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

The Monegasque took his fourth race win since joining Ferrari in 2019, and completed a Formula 1 ‘grand slam’ by taking pole position, winning the race, leading every lap and securing the fastest lap of the Grand Prix.

Leclerc completely dominated Sunday morning’s race around Albert Park, showing stronger pace than Max Verstappen in the Red Bull before the Dutchman’s retirement, and winning by over 20 seconds from Sergio Perez and Mercedes’ George Russell.

Binotto believes that Leclerc’s development since joining Ferrari is the key to his current success, but doesn’t believe the team is pulling away with the championship already.

Ferrari boss praises Charles Leclerc growth after Australian Grand Prix victory

Christian Horner ‘understands’ Max Verstappen fury with Red Bull after retirement at Australian Grand Prix

12:39 , Luke Baker

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says he understands Max Verstappen’s frustration after the Dutchman was forced to retire from an F1 grand prix due to a mechanical failure for the second time in three races at the beginning of the 2022 season.

Verstappen was running a consistent second at the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday morning befort stopping abruptly after the pit straight when he began to smell fluid leaking from his RB18. The Dutchman pulled over at the side of the road and was told to turn off the engine by race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase, before a marshal took a fire extinguisher to his stricken RB18.

The loss of points combined with another victory for Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc means Verstappen has been cut adrift from the top of the championship by 46 points, sitting sixth in the standings behind rival Lewis Hamilton in fifth.

Christian Horner ‘understands’ Max Verstappen fury with Red Bull after Australian GP

Mercedes mustn’t be ‘drastic’ after Australian Grand Prix progress, say Lewis Hamilton and George Russell

12:26 , Luke Baker

Mercedes have made progress at the Australian Grand Prix this weekend and shouldn’t doo anything too ‘drastic’ to try and catch up to frontrunners Ferrari and Red Bull, said pleased drivers George Russell and Lewis Hamilton after finishing third and fourth in Melbourne on Sunday morning.

Russell was able to earn only the second podium of his Formula 1 career after an impressive outing at the Albert Park circuit, aided by a retirement for Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in the second half of the race following a mechanical failure.

Hamilton, meanwhile, would likely have taken the podium himself if a well-timed safety car hadn’t gifted Russell a cheap pit stop which allowed him to leapfrog his team-mate.

Mercedes mustn’t be ‘drastic’ after Australia progress, say Hamilton and Russell

Max Verstappen slams ‘unacceptable’ Red Bull reliability after retirement at Australian Grand Prix

12:15 , Luke Baker

A frustrated Max Verstappen bemoaned Red Bull’s reliability problems after retiring for the second time in three F1 races, calling the situation ‘unacceptable’.

The world champion was running second in Sunday morning’s Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park before stopping his car abruptly at the beginning of a new lap. He said over team radio that could “smell some weird fluid”, before shutting of the engine and watching on as a marshal used a fire extinguisher on the smoking rear of his RB18.

Team principal Christian Horner said that the team will need to wait until next weak to decipher the cause of the failure, but believes that the problem was fuel rather than engine related.

Verstappen slams ‘unacceptable’ Red Bull reliability after retirement at Aus GP

Charles Leclerc dominates Australian Grand Prix to extend his F1 championship lead

12:02 , Luke Baker

Charles Leclerc won the Australian Grand Prix in style to extend his lead in the F1 World Championship.

Leclerc completed an impressive lights-to-flag victory with Sergio Perez runner-up, 20.5 seconds back, and George Russell third. Lewis Hamilton finished fourth.

World champion Max Verstappen failed to reach the chequered flag for the second time in three races after his Red Bull expired with 19 laps remaining.

Leclerc, a two-time winner this season, is now 34 points clear of second-placed Russell in the standings. Hamilton is fifth, 43 points adrift.

Charles Leclerc dominates Australian Grand Prix to extend his F1 championship lead

Lewis Hamilton ‘uncomfortable’ as FIA members fail to wear masks at briefing

11:48 , Luke Baker

Lewis Hamilton said he felt uncomfortable after members of Formula One’s ruling body failed to wear face masks during a drivers’ briefing for Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix.

F1’s new race director Niels Wittich chaired a two-hour meeting at Melbourne’s Albert Park on Friday night where he announced a clampdown on jewellery and insisted on fireproof underwear.

Under local law, it is not mandatory to wear a face mask in an enclosed space.

Hamilton, speaking after he qualified fifth for the third round of the new season, said: “No-one in the drivers’ briefing were wearing masks. Some of the drivers were but most of the FIA were not, which for me was uncomfortable.

Lewis Hamilton ‘uncomfortable’ as FIA members fail to wear masks at briefing

When are the F1 sprint races in 2022?

11:34 , Luke Baker

Formula 1’s introduction of the sprint races were a new innovation brought in at the start of the 2021 season.

A handful of races were given the go-ahead so that qualifying would take place on the Friday rather than the Saturday.

The sprint race would then replace qualifying on the Saturday, before the race took place as usual on the Sunday.

Last season the sprint races were at the British Grand Prix, the Italian Grand Prix, and the Brazilian Grand Prix. Here is all you need to know about the sprint races for 2022.

When are the F1 sprint races in 2022?

Brundle praises Russell’s ‘classy driving’ in battle with Hamilton

11:19 , Alex Pattle

Martin Brundle has praised George Russell for his “classy” and “fault-free” early season performances after the Mercedes driver climbed to second in the Drivers’ Championship standings.

Russell secured his first podium at Mercedes at the Australian Grand Prix, beating teammate Lewis Hamilton to third after a timely pit stop during a safety car enabled him to gain race position. The 24-year-old has finished in the top five at each of the three races to start the season despite significant performance issues for the German outfit.

“George Russell got lucky with the safety car [during the Australian Grand Prix] but you need to be competitive before and after that to benefit and he certainly was,” Brundle wrote for Sky Sports.

More from Brundle here:

Martin Brundle praises George Russell’s ‘fault-free driving’ in Lewis Hamilton battle

Hamilton clarifies radio rant that Mercedes put him in ‘difficult position’

10:53 , Alex Pattle

Lewis Hamilton has praised the performance of Mercedes teammate George Russell and clarified an apparent complaint about team strategy made during the Australian Grand Prix.

Hamilton finished fourth in Melbourne, one place behind Russell, as Mercedes produced a solid showing despite continued performance issues with their car.

Hamilton had appeared angry at his team’s strategy during the race, claiming they had put him in a “difficult position” after Russell moved ahead of him after pitting during a safety car period, but the seven-time world champion explained afterwards that he was instead frustrated at an engine issue that prevented him challenging his colleague.

“I couldn’t fight for third because the engine was overheating, so I had to back off,” Hamilton clarified.

Praising his new teammate Russell, the 37-year-old added: “It’s incredible. He’s done an amazing job today, he had great pace. He’s been so solid these first three races and he’s working and really grafting away. He’s doing an amazing job.”

More here:

Lewis Hamilton clarifies radio rant that Mercedes put him in ‘difficult position’

Wolff reveals why he is ‘very optimistic’ about Mercedes’ prospects

10:30 , Alex Pattle

Toto Wolff believes there is reason to be “very optimistic” about Mercedes after an encouraging performance at the Australian Grand Prix.

Despite again struggling to match Red Bull and Ferrari’s pure speed, George Russell and Lewis Hamilton were able to capitalise on the struggles of Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz to record third and fourth-placed finishes respectively.

Both drivers, and team principal Wolff, have spoken openly of their lack of belief in the car, which has struggled with “porpoising” amid wider performance problems in the opening skirmishes of the 2022 Formula 1 season.

Yet Mercedes are second in the Constructors’ Championship after three races, and new recruit Russell is the closest challenger to Charles Leclerc, who leads the chase for the world title by 34 points after taking his second victory of the season in Melbourne.

Here’s why Wolff believes Mercedes should be “very optimistic” this season:

Toto Wolff reveals why he is ‘very optimistic’ about Mercedes’ prospects this season

Verstappen fumes at speed of ‘turtle’ Aston Martin safety car

10:15 , Alex Pattle

Max Verstappen complained that Formula 1’s safety car was “like a turtle” during the Australian Grand Prix after it caused Charles Leclerc to understeer at the final corner moments before the restart.

The mistake gave Verstappen the opportunity to snatch the lead from Leclerc but the Red Bull was unable to rival the Ferrari’s raw pace and the reigning world champion was later forced to retire from the race due to reliability issues with his car.

Asked about the restart, Verstappen criticised the speed of the Aston Martin Vantage safety car and said he preferred the Mercedes version.

“It’s just that there’s so little grip because the safety car was driving so slowly,” Verstappen told The Race. “It was like a turtle. Unbelievable. With that car, to drive 140km/h on the back straight where that was not a damaged car anymore, I don’t understand why we have to drive so slowly.

“We have to investigate. For sure the Mercedes safety car is faster because of the extra aero. The Aston Martin is really slow. It definitely needs more grip, because our tyres were stone cold.”

More from Verstappen here:

Max Verstappen fumes at speed of ‘turtle’ Aston Martin safety car

Wolff questions F1’s new race boss as Hamilton defies jewellery ban

09:56 , Alex Pattle

Toto Wolff has questioned new Formula 1 race boss Niels Wittich’s jewellery ban by asking: “Is that a battle he needs to have?”

Lewis Hamilton defied the FIA’s clampdown as he competed with piercings in both ears and a nose stud at the Australian Grand Prix – and said afterwards that he has no plans to remove them in future outings. “They are personal things. You should be able to be who you are,” Hamilton said. “There is stuff that I cannot move. I literally cannot even take these out. These ones on my right ear are welded in so I would have to get it chopped off. They will be staying.”

Wittich was hired by the FIA following Michael Masi’s dismissal for breaking the rules at last season’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – an event which denied Hamilton a record eighth championship.

“How he has run the first few races has been respectful, solid and he hasn’t put a single foot wrong,” Mercedes team principal Wolff said of Wittich.

“But is that [jewellery ban] a battle he needs to have at this stage? However, if it turns out to be the biggest unfortunate misstep of a race director, I would take it a thousand times over.”

More here:

Toto Wolff questions F1’s new race boss as Lewis Hamilton defies jewellery ban

Ferrari chief hails Leclerc’s growth after Australian GP triumph

09:30 , Alex Pattle

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto says Charles Leclerc has shown tremendous ‘growth’ since he joined Ferrari, which is powering his title challenge and led him to his second victory of the 2022 season at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

The Monegasque took his fourth race win since joining Ferrari in 2019, and completed a Formula 1 ‘grand slam’ by taking pole position, winning the race, leading every lap and securing the fastest lap of the Grand Prix.

Leclerc completely dominated Sunday morning’s race around Albert Park, showing stronger pace than Max Verstappen in the Red Bull before the Dutchman’s retirement, and winning by over 20 seconds from Sergio Perez and Mercedes’ George Russell.

“Today was great,” Binotto told Sky Sports F1. “It is a great satisfaction. Each race can be diferent but let’s enjoy today! Charles is very focused and driving very well. Last year was important for him and his growth. Today he was very good at tyre management which he has learned through his time here.”

More from the Ferrari team principal here:

Ferrari boss praises Charles Leclerc growth after Australian Grand Prix victory

Lerclerc not thinking about title despite Australian GP win

09:10 , Alex Pattle

Charles Leclerc says he is not thinking about winning the F1 World Championship just yet after taking a second victory in the opening three races of the 2022 season at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

The Ferrari driver led from start-to-finish around the revamped Albert Park circuit as he stretched his lead at the top of the standings to 34 points from Mercedes’ George Russell, who took third behind Red Bull’s Sergio Perez.

“It is incredible to win here!” Leclerc told Sky Sports F1. “In Formula 1 it’s [my first victory] where we controlled the gap [from start-to-finish]. What a car today! I did a good job all weekend but it was not possible without the car.”

Read more of what the Monegasque had to say:

Leclerc not thinking about F1 world championship despite ‘incredible’ Australia win

Horner ‘understands’ Verstappen fury with Red Bull after Australian GP

08:50 , Alex Pattle

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says he understands Max Verstappen’s frustration after the Dutchman was forced to retire from an F1 grand prix due to a mechanical failure for the second time in three races at the beginning of the 2022 season.

Verstappen was running a consistent second at the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday morning befort stopping abruptly after the pit straight when he began to smell fluid leaking from his RB18. The Dutchman pulled over at the side of the road and was told to turn off the engine by race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase, before a marshal took a fire extinguisher to his stricken RB18.

World champion Verstappen previously retired late on at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix in March when he suffered an engine failure, and called the Red Bull team’s lack of reliability “unacceptable” in his media interview after the race in Melbourne.

And Horner said he empathises with the the Ducthman’s feelings:

Christian Horner ‘understands’ Max Verstappen fury with Red Bull after Australian GP

Pristine poise of Leclerc provides championship platform amid F1 chaos

08:25 , Tom Kershaw

The 2022 Formula 1 season was supposed to bring with it a new era of unpredictability. In plenty of ways, it has.

The biggest regulation change the sport has undergone in a generation has changed things forever, dramatically altering the ways cars race one another, shaking up the establishing running order, rendering old masters also-rans, and characters who were previously mere extras into show stopping leads.

Mercedes – the winners of eight consecutive constructors titles in a row – are unable to challenge for race victories, with Lewis Hamilton looking less and less likely to win an eighth world championship every time he steps inside his heavy, bouncing silver car. Their old rivals Red Bull have built a car which, while quick, on the evidence so far is also an unreliable mess. Current champion Max Verstappen is furious and languishing down the order.

Haas and Alfa Romeo are no longer backmarkers approaching the end of their time in F1, instead capable of challenging for strong points in the midfield. And Ferrari, after enduring two of the most chastening seasons in its seven-decade history in the sport, are winners once again.

Pristine poise of Charles Leclerc provides championship platform amid F1 chaos

Hamilton demands improvements from Mercedes

08:00 , Tom Kershaw

Lewis Hamilton demanded Mercedes act now to salvage his dwindling F1 title dreams.

The seven-time world champion departed Australia 43 points behind Charles Leclerc following the Ferrari driver’s one-sided victory at Melbourne’s Albert Park on Sunday.

Hamilton started fifth and finished fourth – one place behind George Russell who claimed his first podium in Mercedes colours.

“I will be on Zoom calls with our bosses, and really trying to rally them up,” said Hamilton. “We have got some improvements that we need to make and we need everyone’s support in doing so. It is about making sure we leave no stone unturned, that the hunger is there and we are maximising every moment. I will be chasing the people in the wind tunnel, the aerodynamic guys, and just looking at every single area. There is performance to be gained and we need it now, not in two or three races. I have got to keep that encouragement and energy high.

“I prefer to stay optimistic. There are 20 races to go. I am really hoping we can get in the fight, but with every bit of improvement we make so will Red Bull and Ferrari. It is not going to be easy. The gap is pretty big right now but there is a long way to go.”

Leclerc wins Australian Grand Prix

07:54 , Tom Kershaw

Charles Leclerc won the Australian Grand Prix in style yesterday to extend his lead in the F1 World Championship.

Leclerc completed an impressive lights-to-flag victory with Sergio Perez runner-up, 20.5 seconds back, and George Russell third. Lewis Hamilton finished fourth.

World champion Max Verstappen failed to reach the chequered flag for the second time in three races after his Red Bull expired with 19 laps remaining.

Leclerc, a two-time winner this season, is now 34 points clear of second-placed Russell in the standings. Hamilton is fifth, 43 points adrift.

Charles Leclerc dominates Australian Grand Prix to extend his F1 championship lead

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