Driver ratings for the Australian Grand Prix

Jon Wilde
Driver ratings, F1 2022 Australian Grand Prix.

Driver ratings, F1 2022 Australian Grand Prix.

A battle for victory across three DRS zones at Albert Park failed to materialise as Charles Leclerc dominated the Australian Grand Prix.

It will not go down as one of the craziest races of the last season or two, but the return to Melbourne provided plenty of thrilling action for local fans and those in Europe who had set their alarms for the crack of dawn.

Here’s how the 20 drivers fared as some clear patterns began to emerge about how the 2022 season could take shape.

Charles Leclerc: A grand slam – or grand chelem, if you prefer – for a driver who was only a Saudi Arabian half-second away from having three wins out of three in the bag this year.

How could you possibly fault the weekend the Ferrari man put together in Melbourne? It’s all there – pole position by almost a quarter of a second, leading the race from start to finish and the fastest lap to boot.

The only anxious moment was a brief challenge from Max Verstappen at the second Safety Car restart that was quickly swatted away.

Now comfortably odds-on to win the World Championship even at this early stage, and with 46 points in hand of sixth-placed second favourite Verstappen, Leclerc is looking stronger and stronger at every grand prix in an F1-75 that is currently the class of this year’s field. 10.

Sergio Perez: No repeat of his Jeddah qualifying heroics, but this was another rock-solid performance from the Mexican who is becoming increasingly dependable for Red Bull.

His on-track highlight was a pass around the outside of Lewis Hamilton on lap 10, and later it was simply about bringing home 18 much-needed points for the team after Verstappen’s retirement. 7.5.

George Russell: Like Perez, Russell was making his first podium appearance of the season and only second in all, with the Mercedes man admitting he had “got lucky, probably twice”.

The initial stroke of fortune related to the timing of the first Safety Car which enabled him to stop for medium tyres and leapfrog his team-mate Lewis Hamilton, and then Russell also benefited from the World Champion’s exit as he moved up to second in the title race. 7.

Lewis Hamilton: Despite describing a 3-4 finish as a “great result for the team”, this grand prix is unlikely to be one that sticks in Hamilton’s mind a couple of decades from now.

For the second consecutive race, he was inconvenienced to an extent strategy-wise, which meant finishing behind Russell, and after a strong start in which he passed Perez and Lando Norris it was a largely uneventful race for the seven-time former champion. 7.

Lando Norris: After losing out to Hamilton off the line, Norris looked one of the feistier drivers in the early exchanges but was unable to make up that lost position, finishing fifth.

At least he managed to subdue the cheers of the Melbourne fans by keeping his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo behind him to the end, although there may have been some McLaren orders influencing that. 6.

Daniel Ricciardo: First points of the season for the Australian on home soil, although it will be a concern that Norris thought McLaren’s improvement had been track-specific.

It was Ricciardo who suggested he had been told to “be sensible” about not harrying Norris too much near the end – repaying a ‘favour’ from Monza last year. 6.

Esteban Ocon: Another driver who finished more or less where he had started in relation to his rivals, apart from the obvious difference caused by Verstappen having to retire.

Again, there was not too much to characterise Ocon’s race, other than his Alpine was compromised by worryingly high temperatures in the latter stages. 6.

Valtteri Bottas: No driver that finished above him improved his final placing compared to grid position as much as Bottas, which again shows the Alfa Romeo has impressive race pace if only they can also unleash it in qualifying.

Working his way up to eighth from 12th, the Finn ended up getting the better of a protracted duel with Lance Stroll in which he appeared to be pushed off the track by the Aston Martin. 7.5.

Pierre Gasly: AlphaTauri were conspicuous by their absence for much of the weekend and their current form as a team overall ought to be a concern.

From Gasly’s perspective, he was part of a midfield train throughout the race but will be disappointed to have surrendered a position to Bottas by running wide three laps from the end. 6.

Alex Albon: A highly unusual, but fruitful, strategy from Williams was mainly responsible for Albon opening their points account for the campaign as he made his only pit-stop on the very last lap.

But nevertheless, the Thai also had to make it work with some fine driving, and he did just that in a car that has been struggling.

A much-needed positive performance for Albon, who had blotted his copybook in Saudi Arabia last time out to earn a grid penalty at Albert Park. 8.5.

Alex Albon waves to the crowd at the Australian GP. Melbourne April 2022.
Alex Albon waves to the crowd at the drivers' parade before the Australian Grand Prix. Melbourne April 2022.

Zhou Guanyu: This was more like his Bahrain debut for Zhou, who appeared to find Jeddah a little bit too much last time out.

Like Bottas, his pace was fairly strong and passes on Kevin Magnussen and Fernando Alonso showed he is not afraid to mix it with some of the more aggressive racers. 7.

Lance Stroll: A dismal weekend for Aston Martin in general and not one Stroll should be feeling proud about either from a personal point of view.

He was at fault for a collision with Nicholas Latifi in qualifying and then got a five-second race penalty for weaving along the straight – the stewards also could have intervened for an aggressive move on Bottas.

Two early stops on consecutive laps behind the Safety Car to tick off the required tyre compound change actually helped Stroll finish as high as 12th, having started 19th. 5.

Mick Schumacher: After having to miss the race in Jeddah due to his qualifying crash, Schumacher got through this weekend unscathed – and the positive was beating his team-mate after the duo exchanged positions and raced cleanly.

It was not a mistake-free race from the German though as separate errors let Alonso and Magnussen past, while the stewards ultimately decided no action was necessary for an incident behind the Safety Car when he nearly hit Yuki Tsunoda. 5.5.

Kevin Magnussen: The Dane’s run of points finishes on his F1 return came to an end as Haas had their weakest race of the season, although still much better than any from last year.

Starting on hard tyres enabled him to be running comfortably in the top 10 at the time of the first Safety Car period, but a mistake that had let Zhou through when Magnussen was trying to pass Tsunoda prompted a contrite “my bad” over the team radio. 5.5.

Yuki Tsunoda: It’s now four points and three reprimands this season for Tsunoda, the latter count rising by two in Melbourne after a misdemeanour apiece on Friday and Saturday.

Suffering, like Gasly, with a lack of performance from the AlphaTauri, the Japanese driver had a nondescript type of race apart from that close shave with Schumacher behind the Safety Car. 5.

Nicholas Latifi: Another crash in qualifying – albeit less his fault than previously – meant getting to the chequered flag had to be the Williams driver’s first priority.

He did that, but was never a factor and was always running at the back, offering no further evidence that he brings the team much more than his sponsorship funding. 5.

Fernando Alonso: A weekend that offered so much with a potential pole position turned into a qualifying crash caused by a hydraulic failure, sore thumbs and a strategy ruined by a “killer” Safety Car.

Competitive enough on hard tyres in his first stint, the Spaniard quickly grained his mediums when expected to be quick towards the end and a second pit-stop meant he ended up last of those still running. 6.

 

Did not finish

Max Verstappen: The World Champion, who made his debut in Australia seven years ago, must wish he had not gone all the way back there as nothing went right for him in Melbourne.

Admitting he had been “all over the place” on track in qualifying, the Red Bull was comfortably outpaced by Leclerc’s Ferrari on Sunday until his sudden exit.

He will hope Red Bull can resolve their gremlins, which have now struck twice this term, for the next race at Imola. 6.

Sebastian Vettel: A vibrant Vettel on Friday, entertaining all with his impromptu scooter ride, became a slightly surly Seb on Sunday as his weekend turned into a shambles.

Two fines and two crashes came the German’s way as a combination of ring rust following Covid and an increasingly poor Aston Martin car left many people – and possibly Vettel himself – wondering just what his future holds.

He admitted after hitting the wall on lap 24 that the car had been “too much of a handful”. 3.

Carlos Sainz: Normally so reliable, this became a weekend to forget for the Spaniard from the moment his compatriot Alonso crashed in Q3, ruining the Ferrari man’s first hot lap in that session.

He made a mistake on his second run, consequently started ninth, and after a poor launch and struggling to get temperature into his tyres, he spun off having dropped down to 14th.

A couple of the issues this weekend were not of his making, but the whole Albert Park experience was also not what Sainz needed – just when his team-mate was enjoying life at the opposite end of the scale. 3.