The 2023 Australian GP was entertaining, chaotic, full of action, and perhaps a bit exhausting as well.
In such a race where we had teammates colliding, multiple red flags and a bit of controversy there are going to be a few people who leave the race track feeling amazing. There will also be a bunch who would be a bit angry for what transpired in the two-hour melee.
In a race where despite all the chaos, Max Verstappen was still able to win, let's take a look at the winners and losers of the 2023 Australian GP.
2023 F1 Australian GP
Max Verstappen is in an intrinsically defensive position at the start of any race. He knows he's got the fastest car, he knows he's fighting for the title, and he also knows that George Russell, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso can take that extra bit of risk. Both Russell and Hamilton hammered that advantage at the start of the race and got the jump on Verstappen.
What was arguably impressive at this stage was the composure and ruthlessness shown by Verstappen in passing Hamilton at the restart. It wasn't the best of race weekends for the Dutchman, but when it came to it, he overcame all the curveballs thrown at him. He did all that while his teammate was stuck in the field and losing major points.
One can't help but feel sorry for George Russell at the 2023 Australian GP. He nailed the start and got the race lead. He did the team player thing and kept Hamilton in the DRS zone too. Then came the strange strategy that dropped him into midfield, and what ensued was a PU failure.
Eventually, Russell summed it all up perfectly when he tweeted:
"When it's not your day, it's not your day"
After that wretched second Red flag restart, Nico Hulkenberg was P4, with Carlos Sainz in front of him. If the race hadn't been red-flagged for one more sector, Hulkenberg would have secured his first podium finish in F1.
Hulkenberg's drive at the 2023 Australian GP was one of a man in a completely different league than his teammate. Arguably the driver of the 2023 Australian GP, the fairytale ending was not to be. Even though Hulkenberg scored his first points of the season, it could have been a podium.
Some things are not meant to be Hulkenberg; some things are not meant to be.
In terms of performance, Alpine pulled off a stunner at the 2023 Australian GP, as Pierre Gasly spent the duration of the race in the slipstream of Carlos Sainz.
It did, however, all came crashing down, as the two Alpine drivers collided at the second red flag restart. We can't really blame either driver for the clash, as Gasly was completely blindsided after his trip to the gravel.
Having said that, a double-points finish went in the gutter, and that would leave the team gutted after an impressive display.
The two Ms (Mercedes and McLaren)
Despite Lewis Hamilton's all too familiar cries of "tyres are not going to last" or "Aston Martin were quicker", the bottom line is that the Mercedes driver secured a podium, as he had the pace. Mercedes should be extremely happy with how the 2023 Australian GP panned out, so it's about time they start building on that.
Similarly for McLaren, it was a very impressive drive from Lando Norris and a good supporting act from Oscar Piastri. The car is still not there. It's still draggy, but the team will take the points and start building things up from there.
Ferrari might be looking at a scenario where their lead driver starts to lose patience with the team.
Charles Leclerc was a victim of another miscommunication in qualifying that compromised his grid position. What followed next was a horrible mistake from Leclerc that meant he suffered his second DNF in three races. Leclerc was uncharacteristically mellow after the race, as he appeared to be almost resigned to his fate.
Ferrari do not have the pace of Aston Martin or Mercedes at the moment. It's the lead driver who has had a wretched start to the season where his first race was a DNF, the second was compromised due to a grid penalty, and the third saw him crash out. Not sure how many times we've already said it this season, but the Italian team appears to be in deep trouble.