Australian Grand Prix: Formula One 2024 – live | Formula One

Key events

13/58: Perez is pushing his tyres hard to try and build a gap on Russell before he pits from his third-place position but Russell is gaining. Sainz still leads, with Norris second.

11/58: Our race leader Sainz is on team radio saying that he’s going to plan B. He’s yet to pit, neither has Norris, Perez, and Alonso. Leclerc in fifth palce has one stop, as does sixth-placed Piastri.

10/58: Sainz leads from Norris, Perez, Alonso, Hulkenberg, Gasly, Leclerc, Piastri, Russell, and Stroll.

9/58: Sainz responds to Russell’s pit and heads into the lane itself, seeking to avoid the undercut.

8/58: Russell on his mediums are the latest to pit, with the track taking a heavy toll on tyres even before we’ve gone ten laps.

7/58: Racers are starting to pit now but Sainz remains out there, leading from Norris and Leclerc.

6/58: A huge opportunity now for the rest of the pack. Carlos Sainz, in his first race back after having his appendix removed, is now in the box seat for Ferrari.

Versappen is the first retirement of the Australian grand prix!

Max Verstappen will take no further part in this race after mechanical failure, ensuring that for the first time in ten races we’ll have a new driver atop the podium. It’s his first retirement since the Australian GP in 2022.

5/58: Sainz leads, followed by Norris, Leclerc, Piastri, and Perez.

4/58: Smoke is bellowing out the back of Verstappen’s car! The right rear brake is on fire! It looks almost certain that he’s going to need to retire!

3/58: Potential problems for Verstappen now, getting on the radio and saying that the car is loose. Smoke is also coming out the back of his car.

2/58: Sainz takes the lead! The Ferrari puts on the DRS and gets around the outside of Verstappen on the lead in to turn nine as a massive roar rings out from the 132k fans at Albert Park.

Verstappen gets on the radio saying that he “just lost the car, really weird”.

1/58: Verstappen keeps the lead through turn one and, miraculously, we don’t have an incident at turn one, lap one, of the Australian GP!

Verstappen leads from Sainz, Norris, Leclerc, Piastri, Russell, and Perez at the end of lap one.

Lights Out! We are underway in Melbourne!

We are racing Down Under! Ripper.

Hamilton is starting on the softs today, a bit of a surprise, and it sounds like he’s maybe having some second thoughts; the coverage saying he’s already on the radio questioning the decision as the cars set out on their formation lap.

Sky Sports coverage of the race proper begins by declaring Melbourne the “sporting capital of Australia.” The locals would argue the world but, baby steps.

A few emails coming through saying that the Verstappen and Red Bull dominance is turning F1 into a bit of a borefest. Possibly. It doesn’t look like this has affected crowds in Melbourne, however, with record crowds being reported as attending across the weekend.

Perhaps it will serve as the difference-maker for any international viewer deciding if they want to get up in the wee hours to watch on the telly or not – the inverse of what the Aussie fan normally experiences!

The national anthem of Australia, Advance Australia Fair, is performed.

The Sky Sports coverage quickly notes it was written by a Scottish composer.

Ok, now a few racers on the grid walk. Daniel Ricciardo first and then Carlos Sainz. He’s feeling good in himself after his appendix surgery and feeling good with the car. But now he’s got to face down 58 laps on this Albert Park circuit.

Martin Brundle has now found Sam Worthington. He’s been working, making Avatar movies. Wikipedia tells me there’s going to be five of them!?!? What?!!?

Martin Brundle is on the Sky Sports coverage doing his traditional grid walk and notes that the track is coming in at 36.5 degrees, the warmest that it’s been all weekend.

Oh hey, he’s found Eric Bana; no surprise that the actor is behind fellow Melburnian Oscar Piastri today.

There’s little doubt as to who will be the crowd’s favourites today, with Oscar Piastri and Daniel Ricciardo’s starts today representing the first-time ever that the Australian GP will feature two local drivers on the grid.

Piastri, in fact, grew up just 15 minutes from this circuit, and the local coverage has already tried to extract a commitment to performing a ‘shoey’ should he find himself on the podium come the end of the race.

A sign of things to come for Red Bull? It’s not just the F1 that races around Albert Park on these weekends and earlier today Will Brown and the Red Bull Ampol Racing took out the Larry Perkins Trophy.

For those of you unfamiliar with Melbourne, today’s circuit is located almost in the centre of town, snaking its way around the picturesque surroundings of Albert Park Lake, with with Port Phillip Bay and the city’s skyline in the backdrop. A street circuit, the arrival of the race every year forces local football club South Melbourne, who currently compete in the National Premier League Victoria competition – referred to as “the centre of the universe” by some of the league’s followers – to vacate their home at Lakeside Stadium for an extended period of games on the road.

Present Tottenham Hotspur coach Ange Postecoglou came up through the ranks of South as first a player and a coach, his first stomping grounds at Middle Park demolished to make way for the F1 circuit when Melbourne pinched the Australian GP from Adelaide. Unfortunately for the Spurs boss, his attempt to lure Lewis Hamilton to London at the end of the transfer window earlier this year was thwarted by Ferrari.

Lewis Hamilton certainly wasn’t happy after qualifying in 11th for today’s race, his pace from practice abandoning as he logged his worst lap time at this circuit in 14 years.

“The inconsistency in the car really messes with the mind,” he said. “There is a long list of things to fix. Our car is on a knife-edge. In the afternoon the wind picks up and the car becomes unstable, but the others can pick their pace up in qualifying and I am not sure why. It didn’t feel the same in qualifying from practice even though we had lighter fuel. It is not a great feeling for everyone in the team but we will keep working away.”

Here’s Giles Richards’ full breakdown.

The podium and most of the top ten ran a one-stop race at this circuit last year, getting their changes from medium to hards out of the way during the numerous safety car and red flags that interrupted proceedings.

This time around, however, most teams are expected to utilise a two-stop strategy, carrying two hard sets and a medium coming in, with most expected to start on the latter.

The Albert Park circuit is notoriously difficult to overtake on, throwing another consideration into the mix for teams – as well as giving an advantage to Verstappen and Sainz at the front of the grid. A “war of patience” is how it’s being described in the lead-up to this one.

Red Bull, of course, isn’t the only one under an off-track spotlight heading into this weekend, with F1 regulator the FIA also coming under the spotlight after Susie Wolff, the managing director of the all-female F1 Academy series, revealed that she was set to file a criminal complaint in response to the regulator launching a conflict of interest investigation against her and her husband, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff, last year. Here’s Giles Richards with more.

Alex Albon will start from 12th today but his place on the grid has come at the expense of Williams teammate Logan Sargeant, whose chassis he’ll be using after he wrote off his own during first practice earlier in the week.

With a spare set yet to be manufactured by the team, it decided to give Albon his teammates for the rest of the week, leaving the American to watch from the sidelines. Principal James Vowles insisted was a practical play in pursuit of points, Albon having secured 27 of the 28 points the team grabbed last season, while Sergeant described it as “the hardest moment I can remember in my career.”

Vowles said that he still retained faith in his benched driver, who was the last confirmed for 2024, and that he was closer than ever before to Albon. Of course, taking his car from him and giving it to someone else after they had wrecked their won would serve to undermine that message. Just a tad.

“Everything I do, boringly, is based on data and statistics – nothing more than that,” said Vowles. “So, it should be based on the driver that is performing the best is the one that you’ll put your backing behind – simple as that.

“In the case of Logan, I haven’t changed my mind. I’ve signed him and I’ve put my full weight behind him because I believe in him. I’d also argue, if you look at his results this year, he’s been within milliseconds of Alex.

“The gap [between them] has closed down as I expected it to, but in the circumstance, he’s not quite on the leading edge, that’s the key behind it is the challenge set to him.”

Of course, the justification put forward by the principal hasn’t stopped the internet having a bit of fun with the situation.

Here’s how Giles Richards saw qualifying yesterday.

The Grid at Albert Park

How they’ll line up behind Verstappen in Melbourne.

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
2. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)
3. Lando Norris (Mclaren)
4. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
5. Oscar Piastri (Mclaren)
6. Sergio Pérez (Red Bull) (Three-place grid penalty)
7. George Russell (Mercedes)
8. Yuki Tsunoda (RB)
9. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin)
10. Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin)
11. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
12. Alexander Albon (Williams)
13. Valtteri Bottas (Sauber)
14. Kevin Magnussen (Haas)
15. Esteban Ocon (Alpine)
16. Nico Hülkenberg (Haas)
17. Pierre Gasly (Alpine)
18. Daniel Ricciardo (RB)
19. Zhou Guanyu (Sauber) (Pit lane start)


G’day everyone! Joey Lynch here, welcome to live coverage of the third grand prix of 2024, coming to you from the streets of the best city in Australia, Melbourne. And guess what? It’s Max Verstappen who will start from pole position and as the favourite to take out the chequered flag in today’s race.

You could almost set your watch to it at this point. Today will make it four straight poles for Verstappen, covering the opening two races of this season and the final race of 2023 in Abu Dhabi. The Dutchman has gone from coast to coast in all three of those previous titles and there’s very little reason to believe he won’t do so again at the Albert Park circuit today. Should he do so, he’ll make it ten straight wins in his Red Bull, a run stretching back to Japan last season and equalling his record set earlier in 2023, a run only broken by Carlos Sainz in Singapore.

Indeed, while the saga surrounding Red Bull and its team principal Christian Horner shows no signs of abating as the tour makes its way Down Under, this sits in almost direct contrast with the form of the team and its leading driver when it comes to the actual racing. If there’s a Formula One race to be won, Verstappen and Red Bull have established themselves as the unbackable favourites until proven otherwise.

Making his return after missing the Saudi race with an appendicitis diagnosis, Sainz shares the front row today; quickest in Q1 and Q2 but unable to match Verstappen’s pace in the crunch of Q3. However, if there’s anyone capable of breaking the Dutchman’s hold on top of the podium, it’s probably il Cavallino.

Sergio Pérez was third quickest but after being awarded a three-place grid penalty for impeding Nico Hülkenberg in Q1 he and his Red Bull have been bumped down to sixth, with McLaren’s Lando Norris moving up to take his position. Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari and Oscar Piastri in his Mclaren will start from fourth and fifth, with the Australian seeking to improve on his eight-place secured on his home circuit last year.

The other local hope on the grid, Daniel Ricciardo, was eliminated in Q1 for the first time at Albert Park after his fastest lap was wiped away by stewards, sending him down to 18th and the last place on the grid – the Sauber of Zhou Guanyu starting from the pitlane after damaging his latest front wing in qualifying.

Despite showing good signs in practice, it was also qualifying to forget for Lewis Hamilton’s pace abandoned him during qualifying proper as he failed to make it out of Q2, his Mercedes starting from 11th this afternoon – his worst qualifying performance at this circuit since 2010.

Lights out at 3pm AEDT, 4am GMT, 12am EDT

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