F1 Australia Grand Prix

Jaime Halstuch
Staff Writer

What a weekend we will have, Formula 1 is back after two weeks with an exciting fast-paced race.

Two races into a new Formula 1 season and Red Bull already has the odds on winning the constructors’ championship followed by Ferrari. In the driver’s championship, Max Verstappen has the chance to win it all, followed by his teammate Sergio “Checo” Perez. With Max and Checo already doing a one-two in both the Bahrein and Saudi Grand Prix, many F1 fans are following what they call the “No Red Bull Championship.” And it is in that championship where things get interesting.

Verstappen and Perez have had a tumultuous history while competing as a top team (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Albert Park Circuit in Melbourne will host the next race in the F1 calendar, the Australian Grand Prix. Practice 1 will start at 9:30 pm EST on Thursday, March 21st, qualifying at 1:00 am on the following Saturday, and the race will start at midnight on Sunday, March 24th. It is a street circuit, with a couple of tight turns and some very fast ones too. The track surface provokes less tire degradation in comparison to the first two circuits of the calendar. Pirelli decided in favor of the softest and fastest tire compounds. The hardest compound will be C3, mediums C4, and softs C5. However, one of the main problems this track presents is that it takes more time than usual to warm up the tires. This means that pitstops will have to be very strategically planned as drivers will lose time and could lose control in that first lap after boxes.

Red Bull are clear favorites for this GP, and many are predicting another 1-2 by the Austrian team, with Max Verstappen winning the race. But again, the interesting championship is the “No Red Bull Championship” and it is there where the weekend looks very interesting. Piastri and Ricciardo will race their home GP. This is what I consider the first of the two opportunities Ricciardo will have to show that he is worthy to occupy the Red Bull second driver seat next year. As important as this race is to Ricciardo, it is even more important for Sainz. Sainz is back after not being able to race in Jeddah two weeks ago, and he is fully recovered from the surgery. Ferrari has a good car, however, last year Sainz finished 12th in this same race. 12th place that is a last place because the eight drivers behind him did not finish the race, Charles Leclerc included. Sainz must show he is reliable on any track. About teams. If Ferrari gets pole position there is a chance for them to win the race, they are the only team with a good chance of winning the race over Red Bull. However, if they are not able to win it, they have and probably will get at least one podium and two top 5 finishes. Mercedes must show up, time to wake up and get that car ready, both of their drivers are amazing, but will their car perform? McLaren must score double points, there is no excuse, Piastri is at home, and Lando must show the wonder boy talents the press talks about. The rest of the teams must battle for the remaining points and try not to score dollars in the “destructor’s championship.”

It is a race in which many overtakes are allowed, four DRS zones make this race a fast and exciting one. The margin of error is low since it is a street circuit, meaning the barriers are close to the track, and scoring dollars in the “destructor’s championship” is very easy. The braking in turn one might cause an accident in the first lap, for the rest of the race it is going to be key as it is on the slower side after a long straight which is also a DRS zone coming off turn 14. Turns three and four are key as they are ideal for overtaking, especially turn 3 as it is at the end of DRS zone two. However, maintaining positions will be hard as right after turning 6 we find the DRS detection one. Meaning that between turns 3 and 6 the driver will have to get a +1 second advantage to not allow the other driver to get DRS. DRS zone 3 which comes right after turn 8 is also prone to overtakes as not many drivers overtaking in turn 3 will be able to get the time difference needed to not allow the driver behind them to get DRS. Although turns 9 and 10 look easy they will be crucial as a bad braking before turn 9 coming could result in a time difference reduction going into DRS zone 4, which would result in an overtake. Turn 11 is crucial as a good braking might make the difference going into turn 12 which is followed by DRS detection 2. Turn 13 is the slowest one on the track, and turn 14 is not as slow, however, it is the door to DRS zone 1, which makes it crucial in the race. As you can see it is a very fast race, which has a lot of overtaking opportunities, and that also allows for different strategies. The track is divided into three sections, section one goes from the starting line up to turn 6. Section 2 goes from turn 6 to turn 9, and section 3 goes from turn 9 to the finishing line. Section 2 is the fastest, however, the breaking points in sections 1 and 3 might be the ultimate deciding factors on who takes it home. It is a two-pit-stop race and remembering the lap right after the pit stop will be important as drivers will be dealing with the 3 softest tire compounds, making it a very strategic race in terms of tire warm-up and degradation.

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