Under scrutiny | Verstappen has his own record in his sights, is three times a charm for Mercedes?

- Advertisement -spot_imgspot_img
Under scrutiny |  Verstappen has his own record in his sights, is three times a charm for Mercedes?

After another convincing victory in Saudi Arabia, Max Verstappen can equal his own record of ten consecutive victories this weekend in Australia. And given the current dominance of the three-time world champion and Red Bull Racing, the 26-year-old will arrive in Melbourne as the absolute top favorite. However, the competition will not give him a gift, but are they a match for the virtually unbeatable Verstappen? In Under the microscope, F1Maximaal highlights the five most important storylines towards the Grand Prix weekend.

1. Verstappen can equal his own record

For ten years, Sebastian Vettel was the proud holder of the record for the most consecutive victories in Formula 1. But after he already had to share this record with Verstappen after the Dutch Grand Prix in 2023, he lost it after the race in Italy. Monza lost forever. Verstappen was lord and master on Ferrari’s home circuit and the reigning world champion recorded his tenth victory in a row, something no one had achieved since the founding of the premier class in 1950.

When his winning streak in Singapore came to an end, it was assumed that Verstappen’s record of ten consecutive victories would hold for a while or that this number might never be reached again. Barely six months later, the Dutchman is already on the verge of equaling his own record. If the Red Bull driver also triumphs again in Australia on Sunday, it will be his tenth victory in a row. If Verstappen succeeds in this aim, a new record is very close. Then the 26-year-old could take eleventh at Suzuka, a circuit that usually suits him.

2. Will Red Bull record third double victory of 2024?

The season is only two races old, but Red Bull already has a considerable lead over closest competitor Ferrari in the constructors’ championship. With double victories in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, the Austrian team’s start to the season is almost perfect. Of the maximum possible number of 88 points, the team of Verstappen and Sergio Pérez achieved 87. The team only had to leave the point for the fastest race lap on the Jeddah Corniche Circuit to the competition.

Text continues after the image.

charles leclerc ferrari saudi arabia 2
Charles Leclerc managed to steal the point for the fastest race lap from Red Bull in Saudi Arabia, thus preventing a perfect score for the championship formation.

Given the current form of Verstappen, but also that of teammate Pérez, it is clear that Red Bull starts the Australian race weekend as the absolute favorite. However, the semi-street circuit in Albert Park is a unique track and overtaking is generally not easy. Yet no one seems to be able to stand in Red Bull’s way for the time being. Or can Ferrari or perhaps even another team pull off a big surprise in Melbourne?

3. Up or Down Under for Mercedes?

In the first race weekends of 2024, Mercedes always got off to a good start, but the German team was unable to continue this trend in both Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. In qualifying and during the race, Mercedes did not give up and neither George Russell nor Lewis Hamilton came close to the podium. In Bahrain, overheating would have cost both drivers half a second per lap, but fifth and seventh places for Russell and Hamilton respectively were not that bad compared to sixth and ninth in Jeddah.

Team boss Toto Wolff states that Mercedes has worked hard on learning points after the disappointing races in the Middle East. The Austrian is even convinced that the W15 has a lot of potential. According to the 52-year-old, the Australian race weekend will be an important moment for the development of the car. According to Wolff, the findings at the Albert Park Circuit will determine the development direction of the coming weeks. So it will be a very important weekend for the German racing team.

4. Sainz takes over from Bearman again

Carlos Sainz was forced to miss the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix due to appendicitis. The Spaniard was not feeling well prior to the weekend and canceled his media obligations on Wednesday. On Thursday, the Ferrari driver completed both practice sessions at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, but this did not go well and on Friday it became clear that Sainz would not be in action for the rest of the weekend.

After a successful operation, Sainz returned to the Ferrari garage to watch the operations of his temporary replacement, Oliver Bearman. Given the condition of Sainz, who walked through the paddock with some difficulty, doubts arose about the Spaniard’s participation towards the Australian Grand Prix. However, Ferrari has announced that it expects Sainz back behind the wheel of the SF-24 when the third race weekend of 2024 starts on Friday. If the 29-year-old is not fit enough, Bearman is on standby. The Ferrari junior is already in Melbourne because of his Formula 2 commitments.

Text continues after the image.

Under scrutiny |  Verstappen has his own record in his sights, is three times a charm for Mercedes?
Oliver Bearman enhanced his F1 debut with an impressive seventh place, but the Briton is expected to make way for Carlos Sainz again in Melbourne.

5. Ricciardo must score in front of the home crowd after Marko criticism

Last year, Nyck de Vries had to make way for Daniel Ricciardo after the British Grand Prix due to disappointing performances at AlphaTauri. Despite the lack of good results, partly due to a broken metacarpal during the second practice session in Zandvoort, Ricciardo was confirmed for 2024 during the Japanese race weekend by AlphaTauri, which is now known as Visa Cash App RB. This meant that Liam Lawson, who had made a big impression as a replacement for the injured Ricciardo, had to watch from the sidelines for another year.

In 2023, De Vries was expected to take on the leadership role in Red Bull’s sister team, with teammate Yuki Tsunoda in charge with some regularity, due to his experience in motorsport and older age. The same can be expected from the experienced Ricciardo, but in the first two races of this season the Australian was completely outclassed by his younger teammate, especially in qualifying.

Ricciardo has also not yet been convincing in the races. In Bahrain, the 34-year-old finished ahead of Tsunoda, but he needed the help of his team. And where Tsunoda was involved in the battle for the last point in Jeddah for a long time, Ricciardo was far behind in the backfield. Only the slow-driving Kevin Magnussen, who helped Haas teammate Nico Hülkenberg to a point, was able to connect. However, he lost this again after a mistake in the final phase of the race. Sixteenth place is not what Red Bull hoped for and after Helmut Marko’s open criticism, the seat next to Verstappen seems further away than ever. A good result for his home crowd is desperately needed to keep the Red Bull dream alive.

- Advertisement -spot_imgspot_img
Latest news
- Advertisement -spot_img
Related news
- Advertisement -spot_img