In itself, it is a historic race. Because? Because after more than 8 years the most iconic number in motorsport, the number 1, returned to success. It hadn’t happened since 2013 Brazilian GP that the car with the number 1 on the nose was the first to pass under the checkered flag: it is useless to remember for the umpteenth time that it was the Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel. Now the 1 has a new boss, one willing to do anything to keep that number tight: and he has proven it in a no holds barred fight with what promises to be a worthy rival and a worthy candidate for the title. Just that Charles Leclerc who today caresses his F1-75 just like Max does the same with an RB18 who, after leaving him on foot in Bahrain, this time supported him in a difficult run-up, which started from the fourth place on the grid. Max, as often happens to him, did everything well: shrewd at the start, lucky to find himself in front of Perez, good at taking advantage of the opportunities of the race, namely virtual safety car and final yellow flag. He made the difference by managing the tires perfectly with a car that, precisely because he unloads aerodynamically, it was reasonable to expect would have suffered more in comparison with Ferrari; instead Max took advantage of the VSC neutralization to bring the tires back to the right window and attacked at the right moment, perhaps in the only moment of vulnerability of the Ferrari of Leclerc. And then, who drives in first sector: not losing too much ground from the Red with so little load was a small undertaking. The duel is amazing, but here the compliments must be divided, because the fights are made in two. Smarter this time than in Bahrain, to think of an alternative: and thanks to Albon for that last yellow flag to shield him.
Max enjoys the duel: “Charles is smart, but there is respect between us”
He smiles because he had fun like a child, then he regrets that losing certain battles always burns. Finally, however, he remembers that in two races he has already achieved more podiums than all of 2021, he remembers where he was in Jeddah less than four months ago and then the smile returns, together with the positive feelings of Bahrain. There Ferrari there is, and promises to be. For now Charles is the best interpreter of him, more comfortable than Sainz and capable of responding to someone like Verstappen, a force of nature when it comes to wheel-to-wheel duels. Reason why it is difficult to insert the name of Charles Leclerc among the losers of the day, who remains at the head of the world championship (the only Monegasque to succeed) with the awareness, at the moment, of having in his hands a great car. Logic says to be cautious, warns about easy enthusiasms, remembering how the battle will be won in the end, above all through developments, but the heart already tastes a championship full of battles, for a memorable world championship fight. It was since 2001 that the Reds hadn’t started with two double podiums in the first two races, and it was since summer 2018 that they hadn’t reached four podiums in two races in a row: sometimes the statistics are of some use.
Leclerc: “Disappointed, but a beautiful battle: there is great respect for Max”
What determination, and what personality. Right to recognize Esteban what Esteban is: no awe of Alonsoa good dose of self-esteem and aggression, a bit of luck to be on A522 right and not on the one that stops on the track. Great 6th with a sprint finish on Norris, beaten by only 107 thousandths at the finish. The applause, however, is all for that beautiful initial duel, with the two pink panthers (who will return to blue from Melbourne) to give them no holds barred. Nando did not complain about his partner’s behavior, Esteban acted as a company manager saying “these fights help raise the level of the team”, Even if at a certain point they had to stop them from the wall. Only in that moment the Frenchman remained behind Alonso, otherwise who knows how it would have ended: then the Spaniard was unlucky, while he was able to continue on his way, with 8 points which are definitely a good tally.