Grand prix

Can Leclerc be stopped after Australian GP domination?

Leclerc cruised to his second victory of the season in Melbourne to move into a commanding position in the Formula 1 world championship, as main rival Max Verstappen suffered the latest setback to his title defence with his second retirement in three races. 

The Monegasque totally controlled the race as he converted pole position into his fourth career victory to open up a 34-point advantage at the top of the drivers’ standings ahead of George Russell, who remarkably sits second despite Mercedes’ troubled start to the campaign. 

‘Ferrari in a different league’

A dominant display was underlined by a first ever career grand slam for Leclerc, who finished 20 seconds clear of Red Bull’s Sergio Perez in the biggest winning margin we have seen so far in 2022.

Leclerc’s imposing performance impressed Edwards, who said: “That was a remarkable weekend, they [Ferrari] got it so right with Charles Leclerc

“He was absolutely on top of everything throughout the weekend and they worked it perfectly. The way they set the car up from what they learnt on Friday worked perfectly on Saturday in qualifying and, more importantly, in the race. That race pace he had was crucial.

“What really struck me, was when he made that rather poor restart after the Safety Car and Max had a real chance of getting him, he just dealt with it so easily, even though he was a bit under threat and then just pulled away again with no problem at all. 

“They were in a different league, there’s no doubt, and the Red Bull was suffering in comparison. Ferrari are on top at the moment and they are flying along.” 

‘Leclerc underlines his title credentials’

Leclerc’s latest victory leaves him a huge 46 points clear of Verstappen, while Ferrari is already nearly 50 points clear of main rival Red Bull. 

Although there is still a long way to go with 20 races still left to run in F1’s longest-ever season, Crash.net F1 Editor Lewis Larkam believes Ferrari and Leclerc now boast an element of control in the title race. 

“I think Charles has really shown his championship credentials this weekend,” Larkam said. “He was absolutely flawless throughout the whole weekend. 

“The only slight worry for him was the second Safety Car restart but he was able to defend from Max into Turn 1 and then pulled away with ease. Even if Max had finished the race, he had Max covered and had an answer every time and would have probably finished with the same sort of margin that he had over Perez in the end. 

“Absolute domination from Leclerc and Ferrari and I think it just further underlines the strengths of that Ferrari package. We’ve had three different circuits now that it’s been competitive at. The performance seems to come with ease. 

“There’s still porpoising issues but that doesn’t seem to be an issue for them performance-wise, as it is for Mercedes. And going through the corners in particular, the Ferrari just looks absolute planted and they’ve found a really set-up with that car where it just seems to be fast no matter what.

“As I said, I think Leclerc has demonstrated his calibre for winning this year’s title and I think him and Ferrari look in full control at the moment.” 

We also discuss McLaren’s performance turnaround, Alex Albon’s against-all-odds drive to secure Williams’ first point of the year, and reflect on a disastrous weekend for Aston Martin. 

Download and listen to Episode 5 now at the following links…

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