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the solo driver of Charles Leclerc and Ferrari, winner of the Australian Grand Prix

In Melbourne (Australia), Charles Leclerc took his second win of the season.

“I wanted it! † In the radio conversation at the end of his line crossing of the Australian Grand Prix, Sunday 10 April, Charles Leclerc wanted to answer. As well as taking the win, the Ferrari driver set the fastest lap on the final lap against his team’s advice, adding the icing on the cake to a perfect afternoon. His second win of the season (and his fourth in his career) cements the young Monegask at the top of the Drivers’ Championship after three races. Mexican Sergio Pérez (Red Bull) and Briton George Russell (Mercedes) rounded out the podium of an event marked by the exit of the defending champion, Max Verstappen (Red Bull) after a mechanical problem.

In this “next generation” Formula 1, where new rules have come into effect this season, with a view to rebalancing the forces between the teams – and increasing the spectacle – the cards have been redistributed. After several years of watching Red Bull and Mercedes battle it out for the top positions from afar, Scuderia Ferrari is back at the front of the pack. Had the race not been narrowed by the two safety car interventions, following a spin by Carlos Sainz Jr (Ferrari) on lap two and the accident of Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) on 23rd, Charles Leclerc would have widened a significant gap. with all his opponents, as his Melbourne afternoon was a lone rider.

“It’s great to be back in this position, enjoyed the winner at the end of the race. This is the first win I’ve had because I felt I was in control until the end. This weekend we were extremely strong, the tires were excellent. † Solid world championship leader – with 71 points, he has almost double the points of his closest pursuer, George Russell (Mercedes), 37 -, Charles Leclerc does not race, the season is still long, but is satisfied with ‘to have “a very strong and reliable car. †

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Max Verstappen’s setbacks

For the return of Formula 1 to Australia, after two years of the track being sidelined by the pandemic, Melbourne crowds flocked to the race. The Australian metropolis, where the world circuit was interrupted in 2020 – just like the rest of the world –, had no setbacks on Sunday. Charles Leclerc closed his weekend in style under a radiant sun. The young Monegask (24) started in pole position after controlled qualifying sessions and maintained first place for the fifty-eight laps of the race, without having to worry about a rival. When Max Verstappen appeared about to overtake him after a safety car intervention following an accident, the Scuderia driver defended himself; before regaining a comfortable lead.

For the reigning world champion, the season bears little resemblance to the previous edition, in which he defeated Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes). Forced to leave – the second in three Grands Prix – in the thirty-ninth round, the Dutchman made no secret of his frustration. “I don’t know what happened, I had to stop the car, said Max Verstappen after the match. This is unacceptable, if you want to fight for the championship, this should not happen. † The Red Bull driver has already been relegated to 46 points behind Leclerc in the world championship and sees his crown threatened. “Before thinking about the championship, the most important thing is to finish the races. We need a faster car than theirs, but we don’t have one yet. It gets complicated” acknowledged the Dutchman.

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If Red Bull via Sergio Perez and Mercedes via George Russell climb onto the podium in Melbourne, the two flagship teams of recent years will struggle to keep up with the pace Ferrari set at the start of the season. “There is so much work to get us back on track. We are never going to give up, we were very far behind and yet here we are, on the podium.”, the Briton acknowledged, third thanks to the retirement of Verstappen. It is up to them to rectify the situation in two weeks for the circuit’s return to Europe, in Imola (April 24). But on the circuit of Enzo and Dino Ferrari, Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen will certainly have to take Charles Leclerc’s ambition into account again.

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