Australian Grand Prix 2023 : Race Predictions

Australian Grand Prix 2023: Race predictions

March 29, 2023

Formula One is back this week and we are in Albert Park, Melbourne, for the 2023 Australian Grand Prix.

After a second Red Bull 1-2 in as many races and a second podium for Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso, it’s Mercedes and Ferrari who are facing the heat as we head Down Under.

With Sergio Pérez having officially put his name in the ring for the title fight, Charles Leclerc has the task cut out for him.

Will Pérez sustain a lengthy Championship challenge? Will Leclerc and Ferrari finally get up to speed in Australia? Will Verstappen dominate and show Pérez what it actually takes to be a World Champion?

Multiple narratives lie ahead as we head back to the track. Here are my predictions for the 2023 Australian Grand Prix.

Verstappen on the charge

When we last saw him, Max Verstappen had finished an incredible second in Saudi Arabia after starting P15, following an engine issue that had hampered his Qualifying. Street circuits are notorious for their inability to pass given the nature of their tracks, yet Verstappen made up an incredible thirteen places and would have caught his teammate had it not been for a potential risk that Red Bull didn’t want to aggravate on the Dutchman’s car.

Sergio Pérez did eventually win the race, and even though it was a Red Bull 1-2 and a commendable second-place finish for him, Verstappen left Jeddah wanting more. Such is the mentality of the two-time World Champion: he settles for nothing but the best.

Given his disappointment in Jeddah, Verstappen is expected to come all guns blazing in Melbourne. The Saudi win might have put Pérez in the mix for Championship, but it’s still early stages. If the Mexican really wants to take the challenge to Verstappen, he needs to be able to challenge him on the days when he is running trouble-free.

While an intra-team battle for the Drivers’ Championship will be mouthwatering and something that we haven’t seen since 2016, it is unlikely Pérez keeps up with Verstappen for too long, with the latter just a league above the rest of the grid at the moment. 

Holding just a point’s lead in the Drivers’ Standings from Pérez, Verstappen will be the one to watch out for. Should he enjoy a clean weekend with regards to reliability issues, expect him to take the win on Sunday.

Pole prediction: Max Verstappen / Sergio Pérez
Win prediction: Red Bull

Seeing Red

Ferrari were looking to bounce back in Jeddah after a DNF in the opening race in Bahrain. All hopes were pinned on Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz to put in a strong weekend, especially given the strong Ferrari power-unit and a circuit that, on paper, should have suited the Ferrari car. 

Come Sunday, however, it was the age-old story of disappointment once again as the Scuderia demonstrated no pace compared to Red Bull, Aston Martin and even Mercedes, whom they should ideally have been in front of.

With the signing of new Team Principal Frédéric Vasseur, there was a lot of optimism around the Maranello-based team, but two races in and there is already a whopping 61-point gap between them and Red Bull in the Constructors’ Standings.

Ferrari were nowhere near the lap times of Red Bull and Aston Martin in Jeddah, and with Aston Martin improving following each race and Mercedes planning to bring major upgrades for their challenger, time is running out for the Scuderia.

If Ferrari want to stay in the hunt for the Constructors’ title, they need to be fighting for wins regularly. Having missed out in the opening two races, Australia needs to be a clean and strong weekend for the Italian team.

Historically, Australia has been a strong track for Ferrari, with the team having won there most recently last year, when Leclerc took the win. Ferrari need to be fighting Aston Martin and Red Bull on Sunday at Albert Park to keep their season alive.

Alpine not to be taken lightly

Among the midfield teams, Alpine are the ones that have stood out in the opening couple of races. While they didn’t top the tables in winter-testing, Alpine showed strong long-run pace and delivered on both the Bahrain and Jeddah races. In Bahrain, it was Pierre Gasly with a stunning P9 finish from the back of the field, while Alpine enjoyed a double points finish in Jeddah and weren’t too far off the Ferrari cars either.

With Aston Martin having left the midfield battle and fighting for podiums up front, this is Alpine’s chance to reign supreme in the midfield tussle. Fernando Alonso provided the team with stellar results in the last two years. Now, with a strong driver pairing of race-winners Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly, the French team have all the tools necessary to dominate the midfield.

With Alfa Romeo and Haas both running on the strong Ferrari power unit, it’s a big step forward for Alpine to outscore them in the opening two races. Expect the French team to do well in Australia. 

Dark Horses: Alpine

Race details: When and where to watch (India)

Circuit: Albert Park Circuit
Venue: Melbourne, Australia
Practice Session 1 time: 07:00 (IST), March 31 
Practice Session 2 time: 10:30 (IST), March 31
Practice Session 3 time: 07:00 (IST), April 1
Qualifying Session time: 10:30 (IST), April 1
Main race time: 10:30 (IST), April 2
Where to watch: F1 TV Pro

Aditya Chaudhuri

Hailing from the City of Joy, the things that bring me joy are cricket, a good non-tilt CS:GO session, F1 and movies.

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