Australian Grand Prix Finishes in Dramatic Fashion After Late Red Flag

April 2, 2023Ramon Jones
Formula 1

The Australian Grand Prix started off with another lap 1 incident. Charles Leclerc missed his breaking zone and committed to the turn late which resulted in making contact with the Aston Martin of Lance Stroll in turn 3. After the contact, Leclerc was beached in the gravel trap and a safety car was deployed. The race resumed soon after on lap 3 but on lap 9 Williams driver Alex Albon lost the rear of his car in turn 7 and transferred a large amount of gravel onto the race track. Haas driver Nico Hulkenberg nearly made contact with Albon’s car as it spun back on to the track. The FIA stewards red flagged the race citing safety concerns. The race resumed at 15:33 local time after the gravel was cleaned off of the track on lap 10.

On the restart Nick De Vries and Esteban Ocon made contact in turn 3 but both cars were able to continue. The stewards deemed the incident a racing incident and no further action was required. Verstappen was in P2 at the restart but was able to take back P1 after losing two position at the race start on lap 13. On lap 18 George Russell’s Mercedes caught fire and a virtual safety car was deployed; ending his race. Verstappen led for the majority of the race but had a slight lock up on lap 48 that cost him 4 seconds of his previous 11 second lead; virtually eliminating any possibility of a safety car pitstop for fresh tires to finish the race. However, the drama continued until the end.

Australian Gp 2023
George Russell’s No. 63 Mercedes Caught Fire on lap 18. Photo by Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

A Late Red Flag

On lap 53, Kevin Magnussen lost his right rear tire after making contact with the track barrier. The safety car deployed with 4 laps to go in the race. The top half of the grid decided to forgo pitting to avoid losing track position. After one lap under the yellow flag the stewards red flagged the race for a second time. This allowed all of the cars to put on fresh tires to close out the race. This led to a 2 lap shootout to close out the race. The race resumed at 16:56 local time. The drivers raised visibility concerns due to the position of the sun setting on the horizon prior to the restart.

The 3rd Start

At the restart Verstappen got away but behind multiple car incidents occurred. Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly took each other out. Gasly had a lock up at the end of the straight and rejoined the track making contact with his teammate. Nick De Vries’ Alpha Tauri also made contact with Logan Sargeant with both cars running off track. In the chaos, Carlos Sainz made contact with Fernando Alonso’s Aston Martin which put Alonso into the wall and dropped his Aston Martin to the back of the pack. Sainz was handed a 5 second time penalty. This penalty effectively dropped Sainz to P12 taking away his points finish. Alonso’s car was still operational despite the impact. It was seemingly unfortunate for Alonso as he had spent most of the race in P3. The red flag came out prior to the cars making it through sector 1.

By rule, this meant that on the restart Alonso’s previously lost position was given back because he was in P3 at the last restart. Unfortunately for Alpine, because both cars were not able to continue they will lose out on their position at the time of restart. This left both cars out of the points despite a spectacular effort from the team. The restarted at 17:33 for a rolling start which was before the 3 hour cut off for the overall race time limit. The race then ended under a safety car as a formality solidifying the finishing positions based on the reorder from the last restart.

The Outcome

Oscar Piastri secured his first points finish on his home turf and McLaren will finish with a double points finish. The was a refreshing race for McLaren after they struggled in the first two races of the season. Sergio Perez was able to salvage a P5 finish after starting from the pit lane. Perez also secure an extra championship point for fastest lap. Nico Hulkenberg finished P7 for Haas scoring valuable points for the team.

The final results were as follows:

1  Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull Racing
2  Lewis HAMILTON Mercedes +0.179 
3  Fernando ALONSO Aston Martin +0.769  
4  Lance STROLL Aston Martin +3.082  
5  Sergio PEREZ Red Bull Racing +3.320  
6  Lando NORRIS McLaren +3.701  
7  Nico HULKENBERG Haas F1 Team +4.939  
8  Oscar PIASTRI McLaren +5.382  
9  Guanyu ZHOU Alfa Romeo +5.713  
10  Yuki TSUNODA AlphaTauri +6.052  
11  Valtteri BOTTAS Alfa Romeo +6.513  
12  Carlos SAINZ Ferrari +6.594  
13  Pierre GASLY Alpine DNF
14  Esteban OCON Alpine DNF
15  Nyck DE VRIES AlphaTauri DNF
16  Logan SARGEANT Williams DNF
17  Kevin MAGNUSSEN Haas F1 Team DNF
18  George RUSSELL Mercedes DNF
19  Alexander ALBON Williams DNF 
20  Charles LECLERC Ferrari DNF