The Australian Grand Prix, the third race of the 2023 Formula One season, is set to take place this weekend at Melbourne’s Albert Park circuit. Two-time world champion Max Verstappen is eyeing his second win of the season after a superb drive in Saudi Arabia, where he finished second after starting from 15th due to a driveshaft issue in qualifying. Verstappen, who won the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, is hoping Red Bull’s reliability issues will be sorted ahead of the race in Melbourne, where he failed to finish last year due to an engine fire. His teammate Sergio Perez is also in good form, having won the race in Saudi Arabia from pole position. The Red Bull cars are expected to benefit from the introduction of a fourth drag reduction system (DRS) zone, potentially setting new lap records at the fast track.
Fernando Alonso is in prime position to challenge the Red Bulls after finishing third in Jeddah and claiming his 100th career podium. The veteran Spaniard, who won in Australia 17 years ago, believes he has a chance to win his first race in a decade, but acknowledges he needs a mistake from Verstappen or Perez. Charles Leclerc, who won the race in Melbourne last year, managed only seventh in Jeddah, highlighting Ferrari’s struggles with power and reliability issues.
Mercedes, who won eight successive constructors’ titles before Red Bull claimed their crown last year, took positives from the last race, where George Russell finished fourth and seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton finished fifth. The team’s chief, Toto Wolff, said the performance gains show that the development trajectory is going in the right direction. McLaren driver Oscar Piastri will make his debut in his home grand prix, hoping to improve on his 15th-place finish in Saudi Arabia.
Nearly 420,000 spectators attended the race at Albert Park last year, a record, and organisers expect even more this year at one of the most popular venues in the sport. The real battle is likely to be among the best of the rest, with Red Bull already dominant in the first two races of the season.