Race Recap: 2023 Australian Grand Prix

Main takeaways from a chaotic weekend of racing down under.


Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin car.

The 2023 Australian Grand Prix was a chaotic and messy race from start to finish. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen may have cruised through to victory in Melbourne, retaking the lead from Mercedes’ George Russell, but behind him, the track was anything but clean.

Ferrari’s woes continued another week, where on lap 1, Charles Leclerc crashed out of the race after contact with Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll, bringing out the safety car. Not long after, Williams’ Alex Albon crashed out on lap 7, bringing out both the safety car and a red flag. There was a dramatic scene on the side of the track on lap 18, as George Russell’s Mercedes caught fire in the engine, ending his race early, but most of the chaos took place in the closing stages of the race.

During the last few laps, the race was red-flagged twice, one of which caused a standing restart. Four more cars crashed out, leading to a total of 8 cars failing to finish. In turn 1, Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz made contact with Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso, resulting in a five-second penalty that caused Sainz to drop from fourth to 12th place in the final results. Pierre Gasly cut the second corner and collided with Alpine teammate Esteban Ocon, causing both cars to crash into a side barrier. Before the lap was even completed, the race was red-flagged again, and the remaining drivers returned to the pit lane. The race restarted behind the safety car with just one lap remaining and no overtaking allowed.

Drama about the last laps carried on long after the race, when the Haas F1 team protested the restart order, claiming that the incorrect restart caused a Haas driver to drop four places. Many questioned whether the red flag on lap 55 was necessary. In a post-race interview, winner Max Verstappen questioned why the flag was needed, stating that a safety car and rolling start would have prevented many of the problems that followed.

While the race was still ongoing, some spectators invaded the track by climbing over security barriers. Some even got far enough onto the track to reach Nico Hulkenberg’s Haas car, which had been stopped at the side of the track. Following an investigation, FIA stewards claimed that certain security measures had not been enforced.

Safety protocols were questioned further after a spectator was injured after being hit by a piece of debris from Kevin Magnussen’s Haas car. After the driver made contact with a side barrier, debris, including a tire, was sent flying into the air. As of April 6th, Ferrari has appealed to overturn Carlos Sainz’s penalty. Much of Sainz’s anger came from the fact that he was unable to speak with race stewards after the incident occurred, while Pierre Gasly was able to avoid punishment by visiting stewards.

After the race, Max Verstappen sits comfortably in first place for the driver’s championship, with 69 points. Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez comes in second with 54 points, and in third is Fernando Alonso of Aston Martin with 45 points. After nearly a month-long break, the next grand prix will take place in Azerbaijan on Sunday, April 30th.