Australian Grand Prix driver ratings: Superb Sainz and rusty Russell the headline acts

Sam Cooper
Australian GP driver ratings

Carlos Sainz impressed after missing the race in Saudi Arabia.

For the first time in 10 races someone not called Max Verstappen won a race as Carlos Sainz impressed Down Under.

With three retirements and a DNS, it was a battle of survival in Melbourne with Ferrari coming away with their first one-two since 2022.

Carlos Sainz – 10

A remarkable performance by a man who was in a hospital bed 16 days ago. Verstappen’s retirement may have made Sainz’s task easier but Ferrari were confident that even with the Dutchman racing, they could be in with a chance.

With the championship leader back in the paddock, Sainz masterfully controlled the race, keeping his team-mate at arm’s length without putting too much pressure on his tyres.

It was a perfect performance from Sainz and one that will have some asking why are Ferrari getting rid of him?

Chalres Leclerc – 8.5

Stumbled ever so slightly in qualifying which meant there was work to do in the race and ultimately, he was unable to mount a challenge on his team-mate.

Charles Leclerc’s race was certainly the more eventful of the two Ferrari drivers with him having to navigate both McLaren drivers but he did so with aplomb to earn Ferrari’s first one-two since Bahrain 2022.

Lando Norris – 8.5

Was put on the backfoot when Oscar Piastri pitted first and came out ahead of him but Lando Norris recovered well to finish on the podium.

It was the 14th podium for the 24-year-old and one which means he tops the table for most top three finishes without a win.

Oscar Piastri – 8

Could have potentially got himself on the podium had it not been for a mistake midway through the race.

Before that, McLaren pitted him first to cover off the threat of George Russell and it allowed the Australian to overtake his team-mate – but he ultimately surrendered that spot back.

A podium would have delighted the home crowd but fourth was a good haul of points for the man now in P5.

Sergio Perez – 7

Suffered a grid penalty that was not really his fault but if it was Verstappen cutting his way through the field, you would reckon he would have made more ground.

Sergio Perez did appear to have pace, breezing past Alonso and Russell, but he was unable to close the gap to the McLarens.

After the race, Red Bull boss Christian Horner said Perez picked up substantial damage, so can be forgiven slightly.

Lance Stroll – 7.5

A solid drive from Lance Stroll in which his arguably most impressive moment was avoiding a marooned Russell in the final lap.

Still a step behind Alonso but in the same way Perez operates for Red Bull, a healthy points score is what Aston Martin will be after with the Canadian.

Yuki Tsunoda – 8.5

A lot of focus has been on Yuki Tsunoda’s team-mate of late but the Japanese driver once again showed that if one of them will still be at the team in 2025, it should be him.

Starting P8, Tsunoda battled well to stay within the points meaning that when Hamilton, Russell and Verstappen DNFed, he was promoted up to eighth, earning RB their first points of the season.

Nico Hulkenberg – 8.5

Nico Hulkenberg continues to have a very impressive time of it in F1 and unlike 2023, his quali performances are being rewarded with a quick race car.

After passing his team-mate, he attempted to hunt down Tsunoda but ultimately the RB driver was too quick in Melbourne.

Fernando Alonso – 6.5

Pre-penalty, he achieved the maximum he could really given the lack of pace compared to those ahead of them.

Fernando Alonso led the race at one point and a VSC allowed him a cheap pit stop but ultimately the Ferraris and McLarens were too quick.

He played with fire at the end when, in his attempt to keep Russell behind, he appeared to brake test the Brit and was then summoned to the stewards. He was then handed a 20-second penalty for potentially dangerous driving.

Kevin Magnussen – 8

Double points for Haas represent just how far they have come as a team over the winter break. For Kevin Magnussen, he played the ideal team-mate in allowing Nico Hulkenberg past but that is not to say he was completely without pace and was able to keep Albon in his rear view mirror.

Russell’s late DNF pushed Magnussen up the order and into 10th.

Alex Albon – 5

Not only did Alex Albon cost his team in terms of having two working cars, he then took his team-mate’s chassis only to finish outside of the points.

The blame for Williams’ poor weekend is partly split between Albon for his initial crash but also James Vowles, who may have irrevocably destroyed his relationship with Logan Sargeant only to end with nothing to show for it.

Daniel Ricciardo – 6

Daniel Ricciardo described his quali lap as his best of the season but that that counts for little when it gets deleted for track limits.

That error resulted in a Q1 exit and a mountain to climb in the race. RB put softs on his car, hoping for a dash up the order during the opening laps but that never came.

He crossed the line 12th suggesting he did have some pace but he was outshone by his team-mate.

Pierre Gasly – 6.5

Was doing everything right until making a costly mistake coming out of the pits. As he did during free practice, the Frenchman crossed the pit exit line too early and after a reprimand, he was given a five-second penalty for doing it again in the race.

That put a dampener on his day but even still, P13 is far better than what we have seen recently.

Valtteri Bottas – 6

When it comes to rating Stake F1 drivers, it is becoming increasingly hard considering they are not the ones at fault for their race going off track.

Something is up with Stake’s pit stops, meaning that a 3.5 second stoppage is seen as a good time – but ultimately it is an anchor in any quest to do well.

Valtteri Bottas started 13th and finished 14th, so his most memorable work in Melbourne was his ad with Uber.

Zhou Guanyu – 6

Victim of a slow Stake pit stop meant Zhou Guanyu was swimming against the tide. He started from the pit lane after changes to his front wing but the new spec could only take him to 15th.

Esteban Ocon – 7

No points scored again but at least a respectable afternoon for Alpine. Esteban Ocon did incredibly well to make it into Q2 and even in the race he was able to fight with those around him.

Unfortunately, his day took a turn for the worst when a tear off strip got stuck in his wheel and required an additional pit stop and ultimately he was the last driver over the line. recommends

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George Russell – 3

A mistake that is all too common in George Russell’s racing DNA. Whether or not Alonso slowed down on purpose, it was not enough to send Russell careering into the wall.

It was a lapse in concentration similar to Singapore and another mistake that has cost Mercedes dear.

Lewis Hamilton – 6.5

Like Verstappen, there was not much Hamilton could have done about his DNF as the Mercedes engine just blew out.

Before that, Hamilton had been enduring a tough weekend and never looked at ease in the car. That suggests a P6 finish would have been the best he could have asked for but that question will go unanswered.

Max Verstappen – 7.5

The all-conquering Red Bull let Max Verstappen down for the first time since the race at the same venue in 2022.

A rear brake issue, something that Verstappen did not notice during the formation lap, meant he was essentially driving with three wheels and after a fire broke out, he dived into the pits.

It looked initially as if Red Bull may try and get him back out, replacing the three working tyres, but lifting the rubber off the right rear showed the damage was terminal and the Dutchman’s winning streak was over.

Logan Sargeant – ?

See you in Japan, we hope…


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