Leclerc champion in waiting?: Australian GP what you missed


Leclerc extended his title advantage while his closest rivals hit trouble during the Australian Grand Prix

2022 Australian GP

Leclerc ahead of the pack on track and in the standings


Charles Leclerc stamped his authority of the 2022 Formula 1 championship with victory in Australia.

The Ferrari driver recorded the first grand chelem of his career and was comfortably the quickest driver across the weekend.

Team-mate Carlos Sainz suffered a dismal weekend and is already some distance off of his team-mate in the standings, while the reigning champion Max Verstappen hit more reliability trouble.

Mercedes looked quicker than it had done in recent weeks but the Silver Arrows is making no mistake it still has work to do in order to catch up to the front runners.

Elsewhere Alexander Albon recorded Williams‘ first points of the season meaning Aston Martin, who had a torrid weekend in both garages, is the only constructor yet to score a point in 2022.

Here are a few items you might have missed during the Australian Grand Prix weekend.


Red Bull had fuel part fears


Verstappen’s second DNF of the year leaves him sixth in the championship

Grand Prix Photo

“We are already miles behind,” was Max Verstappen’s assessment of the 2022 campaign so far.

Three races in and the defending champion is mired down in sixth in the drivers’ championship with just 25 points to his name, achieved in his sole finish of the season so far.

In Australia, Red Bull was second best to Ferrari around the revamped Albert Park circuit and neither of its drivers could overcome the gap to race-winner Leclerc on pace, even before unreliability reared its head.

After qualifying, Red Bull replaced plenty of parts on Verstappen’s car – all permitted within the regulations – and the fuel cell loom was one of those components.

Yet with 20 laps remaining, the Dutchman crawled to a halt in yet another late-race stoppage due to his car failing him, costing yet more vital points to Leclerc.

Verstappen’s retirement was the second of two separate fuel-related issues that has meant a DNF in two of the three races so far this year.

The team insists both problems are unrelated from each other but it cannot afford any more of the same at Imola in a fortnight’s time.


Good omens

Charles Leclerc, 2022 Australian Grand Prix

Leclerc’s flying start to 2022 continued in Australia

Grand Prix Photo

Leclerc’s flying start in 2022 has put him on course to fight for his maiden title and he has a hefty margin already to play with.

In fact, the Monégasque’s start to the campaign is the best of any since 2016 when Nico Rosberg held a 36-point advantage over Lewis Hamilton after the first three races.

The Ferrari driver has a 34-point lead over next-best George Russell and a 38-point lead over team-mate Carlos Sainz in third position.

No driver that has secured a grand chelem during a Formula 1 season has failed to secure the championship in the same year since 2011.

Add to that he has only dropped seven points all season from a best possible total of 78 and it’s beginning to look like Ferrari may have its first world champion since 2007.

Long way to go though just yet.


Sainz of trouble


Wheeled into his grid slot but didn’t get much further

Grand Prix Photo

On the other side of the Ferrari garage, things are far less harmonious for Carlos Sainz.

The Spaniard registered his first DNF since the 2020 Russian Grand Prix after a torrid weekend in Melbourne.

He was massively unfortunate to just miss out on posting his first Q3 lap due to the red flags being thrown just metres before he reached the start/finish line to complete the lap.

It meant he started from ninth position on the grid but his woes weren’t over.

Before he even made it to the grid, an issue emerged with his steering wheel which required a replacement unit to be used.

Even that second one had problems and after the anti-stall triggered on the launch at the start, it relegated him further back outside of the top 10.

Overambition to make up for the poor start led him to attempt an around-the-outside pass on the Haas of Kevin Magnussen, but that only landed him in the gravel trap and out of the race.

In spite of team principal Mattia Binotto’s post-race proclamation that the duo is still free to fight, a title fight might already be getting out of reach for Sainz.