Formula 1 to race in Melbourne until 2035 after new contract extension
(Motorsports news) The Australian Grand Prix will remain on the F1 Calendar until 2035, following a deal to extend its agreement beyond 2025 by a further 10 years. In addition, Formula 2 and Formula 3 will also join the race weekend schedule for the first time in 2023. This year more than 419,000 fans visited Albert Park for the 2022 Australian Grand Prix in April, making it the largest ever crowd for a weekend sporting event in Australian sporting history .
Albert Park has hosted F1 races since 1996, as significant investments were made over the past two years in order to improve the track for faster racing, fan experience and facilities while further improvements, including a revised paddock and pit lane, are planned in the future in order to continue the circuit’s modernisation. The date of next year’s Australian Grand Prix will be decided later on but in most likelihood it will be back as the first race of the season. It will be under the subject to World MotorSport Council’s approval. As part of the deal for the revamped Albert Park circuit, they have a contract that will open the Formula 1 season a minimum of five times. The Australian Grand Prix will be the season-opener in 2024 and 2025 and then another three are yet-to-be-determined.
The 2023 Grand Prix date is yet to be finalised, however this announcement is a clear indication that the first round will be in Melbourn, if not the first race then they have a slot inside the first three races likely each year of the new agreement. Australia has long been a tradition in F1 to start the season, however this year, due to pandemic-induced absence, it was pushed back to the third round. But it had little effect on crowds with near-record numbers filing through the Albert Parks over the four days of a marvellous spectale.In this year's Australian Grand Prix, Charles Leclerc won the race and capped off a memorable weekend for the Ferrari team as home favourite Daniel Riccardo finished 8th as it was one of the two races where he has got points for the team.
Stefano Domenicali, President and CEO of Formula 1, said: “I am delighted to confirm that Melbourne and the Albert Park circuit will continue to be on the Formula 1 calendar until 2035. The race has always been a favourite for the fans, drivers and the teams and Melbourne is an incredible and vibrant international city that is a perfect match for our sport.
“This year we saw huge crowds and passionate fans at the Grand Prix, and we are very excited by the future in Australia as our sport continues to grow. I want to thank the Victorian Government, Daniel Andrews, Premier of Victoria and Martin Pakula, Minister for Tourism, Sport & Major Events for their tireless support for the event in Melbourne, as well as Andrew Westacott and Paul Little from the AGPC for making this already long-term partnership secure for the future. We are all looking forward to being back in Melbourne next season with all our fans.”
Martin Pakula, Minister for Tourism, Sport & Major Events, Victorian Government, said: “The Australian Grand Prix has never been bigger, with more than 419,000 people flocking to Albert Park for this year’s race. We know how important this event is to our economy and that’s why we’ve delivered the longest extension for the race since it has been held in Melbourne.”
Andrew Westacott, CEO of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation, said: “This is a sensational announcement that is simply great for Melbourne and Victoria. It builds on our rich motor sport history as well as Melbourne’s love of big sporting events and provides aspiration to the next generation of Aussie racing stars. We’re proud of our strong relationship with Formula 1 and together we will grow the sport in Australia and the broader Asia-Pacific region. Everyone at the Australian Grand Prix Corporation looks forward to taking the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix to new levels over the course of the next 13 years.”
Charles Leclerc wins Australian GP while Max Verstappen suffers DNF
(Motorsport) Championship leader Charles Leclerc put on an impressive display at Albert Park, leading the race from start to finish and winning the Australian Open for the first time in his career, a track that he has traditionally struggled on. Meanwhile, reigning champion Max Verstappen suffered another DNF (first one being in Bahrain) and was told to stop his Red Bull with 20 laps remaining when smoke began rising from his car. The points gap between the two drivers is now 34 and such was Ferrari’s dominance that any other result except for a Leclerc win would have been impossible and the F1-75 also managed to get the fastest lap of the race, helping the Monegasque driver amass 26 points.
Speaking after the race, Leclerc said “The car was incredible today. We are only at the third race so it is difficult to think about the championship. But we have a very strong car, a very reliable car too, and for now we have always been there. I hope it continues like this and if it does we will probably have chances for the championship, which makes me happy after the last two seasons, which have been difficult for the team.
“I have been in this situation in the junior categories but to be in it in F1 means a lot, especially after the last two years and especially with a team like Ferrari. It feels incredible. The mindset is a bit different compared to the last two years because now I know that underneath me I have a car that is capable of winning and I don't really have to overdo things to do something extremely special and spectacular to get one or two positions - because I know it is in the car and I just have to do the job."
One of the biggest challenges Ferrari will face now is to maintain their dominance in what is the longest Formula 1 season to date. Both Red Bull and Mercedes will be having upgrade packages implemented in their cars throughout the year and Ferrari will need to be up to the task if they want to win their first World Championship in over a decade. In the last three occasions when Ferrari has been a potential contender, they have failed to rise up to the challenge.
Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz had a disappointing weekend, finishing ninth in qualification and dropped positions early on with the hard tyre and braked too late in the final sector, resulting in his car running over the grass and into the gravel. Both Mercedes and McLaren capitalised on Sainz and Verstappen’s misfortune, with McLaren achieving their first double top 10 of the season as Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo finished fifth and sixth. Despite showing promising signs with the Alpine, Fernando Alonso failed to finish in the top 10 while Alex Albon secured his first points of the season.
Australian GP race result: Top 10
1) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
2) Sergio Perez, Red Bull
3) George Russell, Mercedes
4) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
5) Lando Norris, McLaren
6) Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren
7) Esteban Ocon, Alpine
8) Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo
9) Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri
10) Alex Albon, Williams
Australian GP: Charles Leclerc takes pole position at qualifying
(Motorsport) Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc finished on pole position at the Australian Grand Prix qualifying ahead of reigning World Champion Max Verstappen. Right at the end of Q3, Leclerc posted an impressive time of 1:17.868 while Verstappen finished second, more than two tenths off the Monegasque.
Speaking after the qualification, Charles Leclerc said “It felt good. Even more, it is a track I have always struggled with. As a driver it doesn't fit me. We really worked hard. The practice sessions were a bit messy. In Q3 I managed to put everything together. The car is nice to drive. Red Bull were very quick in the long run. We were quite surprised with our pace in qualifying. Everything is possible tomorrow."
Verstappen came second ahead of Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez while McLaren’s Lando Norris finished third. The Dutch racing driver said “Of course second is a good result, but I didn't feel that great. For me this weekend has been all over the place and as a team we want more." Sergio Perez said “With all the red flags it's hard to keep momentum. I didn't feel happy starting Q3 on tyres with no strategy but we have a nice race ahead of us. With full stands the race should be good tomorrow."
Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz will be disappointed to finish ninth, especially considering that his teammate Leclerc finished first in the same car. The Spaniard said “I couldn't prepare the tyre. I had to do the lap with freezing tyres and it was a terrible lap. Ferrari shouldn't have these problems. It was just a disaster."
Meanwhile, Mercedes put up an impressive show as Lewis Hamilton and George Russell finished fifth and sixth, one second behind the pole position but an improvement on their last Grand Prix performance. Fernando Alonso was also in contention for one of the top positions and had a quick lap in Q3 but crashed in the final sector, ending his chances.
Earlier in Q1, Nicholas Latifi and Lance Stroll collided heavily while both of them were on slow laps. The incident could also lead to repercussions further up the grid as Sergio Perez didn’t slow down for the double yellow flags, which means he might lose out on his P3 position before tomorrow’s Grand Prix.
Here are the top 10 results from qualification
1) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
2) Max Verstappen, Red Bull
3) Sergio Perez, Red Bull
4) Lando Norris, McLaren
5) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
6) George Russell, Mercedes
7) Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren
8) Esteban Ocon, Alpine
9) Carlos Sainz, Ferrari
10) Fernando Alonso, Alpine
Australia GP: Leclerc fastest in FP2 with Verstappen trailing behind
(Motorsport) Formula 1 returned to Albert Park for the first time since 2019 and Charles Leclerc finished fastest in Final Practice Two ahead of World Champion Max Verstappen while Mercedes’ woes continued. As things stand, Ferrari seems to be faster than Red Bull but Verstappen has the experience of getting results as an underdog, which might play into his favour on Sunday.
Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr. topped the fastest lap in FP1 but Leclerc posted a time of 1:18.978, two-tenths quicker than Verstappen in FP2 while Sainz finished second. Surprisingly, Fernando Alonso’s Alpine was third ahead of Sergio Perez’s Red Bull and Alpine’s Esteban Ocon was sixth. As for Mercedes, George Russell and Lewis Hamilton finished 11th and 13th while Mercedes-powered McLaren had a relatively better day, finishing 8th and 10th.
Both Ferrari and Red Bull implemented small upgrades to their cars ahead of the Australian Grand Prix while Mercedes were one of the two teams that didn’t make any improvements. Despite experiencing porpoising, Ferrari had the pace to post the fastest laps in both the final practice sessions so far while Mercedes struggled once again.
Hamilton said “Nothing you change on the car makes a difference at the moment, that's the difficult thing. You get very optimistic, and you make changes, and then it doesn't seem to be wanting to improve. It's just a tricky car." As for Red Bull, the new upgrades haven’t done enough and they looked off the pace compared to the Championship leaders, more so than the first two races. Time will tell if they manage to secure a win in Australia but as things stand, Ferrari are the favourites for the win.
Formula 1: What are the problems affecting Mercedes this season?
(Motorsport) In the last decade or so, few teams have enjoyed as much unrivalled dominance in Formula 1 as compared to Mercedes. The Silver Arrows have won eight consecutive Constructors Championship titles and have truly stamped their authority during the V6 turbo-hybrid era. However, the 2022 season has been far from ideal for the German manufacturers with the cars lacking in both pace and reliability, severely affecting their title aspirations and are evidently a long way off as compared to rivals Red Bull and Ferrari.
With Formula 1 heading into the Australian Grand Prix in a few days, Toto Wolff will be undoubtedly concerned by the various problems affecting the W13 and how they can be fixed in the fastest time frame. One of the most obvious and biggest issue with the car is a phenomenon called 'porpoising', which means that the car violently bounces up and down at high speeds, which inevitably means that the car needs to be a little higher than it currently is, therefore allowing the air to travel underneath but the sacrifice is speed in order to avoid the issue.
Both the drivers have insisted that the car needs more downforce and power as well as expressing slight concerns about the engine despite the obvious potential of the car. It’s telling just how bad the car is if the seven time World Champion failed to progress past Q1 in qualification in Jeddah and started the race in 16th place. He may have managed to get a point at the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix, but Hamilton’s body language said it all and the 37 year old looked extremely disillusioned by the situation.
It’s believed that Mercedes are planning “phased upgrades” with the first one coming during the upcoming weekend but it’s expected not to be a quick fix and solve all the problems with the W13. As things stand, Mercedes is where Ferrari have been in the last few years, a car that is best of the rest but not good enough to compete for the title. However, underestimating Mercedes to turn their season around would be foolish and there is enough expertise and experience amongst the drivers and the car developers to not just fix the ongoing issues but unlock the potential of the car in order to compete for race wins and pole positions yet again.
Formula 1 teams AlphaTauri and Alpine announce car launch dates
(Motorsport news) AlphaTauri and Alpine have announced the release dates for their car which will feature in the 2022 Formula 1 season. The AT03, AlphaTauri’s 2022 car will break cover on February 14th and the team are the fifth from the grid to announce the launch date of their car alongside Mercedes, Ferrari, Aston Martin and McLaren. The car will be piloted by Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda and will use power units from the Red Bull Powertrains for the very first time as Honda has left the sport at the end of 2021.
AlphaTauri have high hopes, not just from their drivers but also the AT03 car and will look to build on their impressive 2021 season. Pierre Gasly in particular had an exceptional season and was called the “most consistent” driver of 2021, racking up over 100 points in the season for the first time in his career. Meanwhile, Yuki Tsunoda will look to progress from his rookie campaign which ended on a high when the 21 year old finished P4 in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
AlphaTauri boss Tost said in an interview “[It is a] Very unknown story because it’s completely new everything, we don’t have any comparisons with others but I trust our engineers because they have built two good cars. The AT-01 was already a good car, [the AT-02] was the next step forward and so why shouldn’t they be able to make the AT-03, even if it’s a completely new car, also very competitive? From the technological side, there are also different philosophies, and I just hope that we go in the right direction. Where we really end up, I don’t know, but I trust that our team, the aero group is doing a very good job and that they are going in the right direction.”
Meanwhile, a few hours after AlphaTauri’s announcement, Alpine became the sixth team to reveal the launch date of their new car: February 21st. Since their car last year was called A521, the upcoming car will be named A522 and will be driven by Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso who gathered enough points last season to overtake rivals AlphaTauri to finish in fifth place in the Constructors Championship. One of the highlights for Alpine in the 2021 season was Ocon winning the Hungarian Grand Prix, the first victory for the team since 2013’s Australian Grand Prix which was won by Kimi Raikkonen for Lotus-Renault.
In an interview, Alpine driver Fernando Alonso said “We are still not on top of all the problems, but everyone will have a different opinion, obviously with experience working for different teams, I could see some things that we were weak in, other areas we were very strong. You always try to make the team stronger and stronger, and more prepared for 2022. I think we are in better shape now than what we were in March, in Bahrain, but still a few things I’m sure that we’ll have to fix. I think we need for sure to close the gap on the engine, that’s why there is this new project, and also we need to close the gap on the aero performance. It’s difficult to know what the gap is, so at the moment there are only hopes but I understand that these hopes are for everybody. It’s not only us, and it’s a completely unknown territory what we will find [this] year.”
F1 2022 launch dates:
Aston Martin: February 10
McLaren: February 11
AlphaTauri: February 14
Ferrari: February 17
Mercedes: February 18
Alpine: February 21
Red Bull: TBC
Alfa Romeo: TBC
Kimi Raikkonen set to retire from Formula 1 after the Abu Dhabi GP, closing the curtains on a 20 year long career
(Motorsport) While the headlines for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix are largely dominated by the title race between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, former world champion Kimi Raikkonen will be making his final appearance in an F1 car at the Yas Marina Circuit for his 349th race after a 20 year long career. The Finnish racing driver made his debut at the 2001 Australian Grand Prix for Sauber and the 42 year old is looking forward to a life away from Formula 1 after the season concludes.
Speaking ahead of his final race, Raikkonen said “Obviously I have family, I have reasons to be home, you know? Obviously the end is completely different in many ways: it’s different circumstances… I’m at a different point in my life also. But [F1 has] never been the main thing in my life and it might be different to many others, you know? My life outside has always been the most important thing for me and yes, it has taken most of the time in the last 20 years, but it hasn’t been the most, let’s say, important thing, in many ways. Yes I enjoy racing and this otherwise I wouldn’t have done it for so long but I appreciate my own time much more. Like, it’s more important for me than anything else."
Raikkonen will retire as the most experienced Formula 1 driver of all time with 21 race wins, a World Championship crown and more than 18,000 laps under his belt. He has previously retired from the sport in 2009 to pursue a career in NASCAR and the World Rally Championship but the Iceman has claimed that he will not return to the grid this time around. The Finnish driver came to the spotlight after leaving Sauber for McLaren in 2002 and finished runner-up twice, behind Michael Schumacher in 2003 and Fernando Alonso in 2005.
For Raikkonen, replacing Schumacher at Ferrari in 2007 will always be the highlight of his career and last won a Grand Prix in the United States in 2018 while racing for Ferrari in his second stint with the team. He refers to Michael Schumacher as his toughest opponent in his career, claiming "I raced against him many years, we had a lot of good fights”. Speaking about his career, Raikkonen said “I had a good run and I wouldn’t change a single thing. Even if it would mean more wins and more championships, I’m happy with what I achieved and I cannot complain, really. I’m happy how I did it, because I did it many, many ways on my own terms."
When asked about the possibility of a future role in Formula 1, the Finn said “I’d rather be president of Finland than the president of F1. F1 is too political. Look at what we did in Saudi Arabia. What talks is money.” His Ferrari team mate Sebastian Vettel paid tribute to Raikkonen by saying “Time goes one way, and at some point, time comes for him, and at some point, time will come for me and at some point even time will come for Lando, even though that's a long way to go. It's probably the most natural thing. Will he be missed? Yes. I think he was a true character, and I enjoyed the time I had with him as a teammate.
"But to be fair, I got to know him already before, and he's probably one of the very few drivers I've met from day one until today that hasn't changed in the sense that he has been very, very open, welcoming me as a young kid when I entered F1, and at that point he was probably the most established Formula 1 driver. Great respect. I don't think you can have an argument or a problem with Kimi. If you do, then the problem is not him, the problem is you. He's a great person, and I'm sure we'll stay in touch. I wish him all the best and I will miss the silence."
Formula 1 calendar adds the Qatar Grand Prix with a 10 year agreement in place
(Motorsport news) The maiden Qatar Grand Prix is set to take place on November 21st at the Losail International Circuit and the country will now have a permanent place in the Formula 1 calendar from 2023.
With the Formula 1 season heating up as Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen’s pursuit for the Drivers Championship becomes more intense than ever before, Doha will be the venue which will fill the spot vacant after the Australian Grand Prix’s cancellation and is first of the three venues in the Middle East to finish the season. The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will take place on December 3rd and 10th respectively.
Formula 1 President and CEO Stefano Domenicali had this to say upon the confirmation of a 10 year agreement “We are very pleased to welcome Qatar to the Formula 1 calendar this season and for the longer term from 2023. We have shown that we can continue to adapt and there is huge interest in our sport and the hope from many locations to have a Grand Prix. The huge effort from all the teams, F1 and the FIA has made it possible to deliver a 22-race calendar, something that is very impressive during a challenging year and something we can all be proud of."
The country has a longstanding history of hosting MotoGP, being an integral part of their calendar since 2004. Qatar will also be hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2022, a year before the 10 year agreement will begin with Formula 1. A statement from Formula 1 said “There was a strong will from Qatar to be helpful to F1, and in the course of this process, the vision for a longer partnership was discussed and agreed for 10 years.
"The step from the gesture to be helpful to F1 in 2021 to a long term strategy was short and simple and the vision for F1 to be the showcase for Qatar after the FIFA World Cup in 2022 was the driving force behind this long term agreement. As part of the longer-term deal, discussions will continue regarding the location for the Grand Prix from 2023 with further details to be provided at a later time."
Australian GP cancelled for second straight year
Disappointing news for motor sports fans in Australia as the Australian Grand Prix gets cancelled for a second straight year. Melbourne usually marks the start of the F1 season and was cancelled mid-weekend last year as Coronavirus hit the world. This year however, it was moved up the calendar to meet the Covid conditions. However, not enough people have been vaccinated for it to be safe for them to host the Grand Prix. Due to the state's delayed vaccine rollout and the federal government's recent decision to halve its overseas arrivals cap, the feasibility of the event could not be guaranteed.
Race organisers had requested a fly-in, fly-out arrangement with a biosecure hub set up for drivers, team officials, and crew in order to eliminate the required 14-day quarantine period that would prevent them from competing in another race. Due to the current and ever changing international travel restrictions, Australia will not be able to allow such a large number of International travelers into the country.
Aussie fans will not get a chance to see their hometown hero Daniel Ricciardo in action in the flesh. Although the FIA has promised a 23-race F1 calendar to their viewership, it is not yet known where the replacement race will be held. Other GPs to be called off this year include Singapore and Canada.
Also read: A Grand-Slam weekend for Verstappen