F1 2024 Australian GP – Driver of the Day

Carlos Sainz took the lead of the 2024 Australian GP on Lap 2 and strode to victory in Melbourne

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Carlos Sainz has been crowned Driver of the Day after producing an incredible performance to win the Formula 1 2024 Australian Grand Prix on Sunday.

The Ferrari driver took the chequered flag after 58 laps of absorbing action in Melbourne, with a helping hand from Max Verstappen’s early retirement, although the Spaniard passed him on Lap 2 to take the lead of the race shortly before he bowed out of contention on Lap 5.

And few would argue against Sainz meriting the award after defying the odds to recover in time to race in Australia, just a fortnight after he was ruled out of the Saudi Arabian GP due to appendicitis.

He took a whopping 38 per cent of the vote, guaranteeing him as the clear and deserved winner. It is the second time he has received the award this season after collecting the prize for his drive in Bahrain, which saw him take a podium finish behind the two Red Bulls.

Sainz, who started second with Verstappen on pole, jumped the Red Bull on Lap 2 and then one lap later the Dutchman saw his race come to an end after the right-rear brake set itself on fire.

It was only two weeks ago in Saudi Arabia that Sainz was forced to undergo laparoscopy surgery on his appendix, which ruled him out of the race as he recovered from his hospital bed. But after declaring himself fit for the race in Australia, he managed to put his SF-24 on the front row and went from strength to strength.

A dominant display

The 29-year-old kept apace with Verstappen at the start of the race and overtook the Dutchman after he lost the rear of his car before the DRS zone on Lap 2. The Red Bull star later retired due to a brakes issue, with the RB20 catching fire on his way back to the pits.

But it should not undermine the incredible drive Sainz produced in Melbourne, as he stretched out a huge gap to his team-mate Charles Leclerc. He led from the front and was clearly the quickest driver on track, even when switching to the hard tyre for the second stint.

Carlos Sainz of Ferrari during the 2024 Australian GP | Pirelli / LAT Images
Carlos Sainz of Ferrari during the 2024 Australian GP | Pirelli / LAT Images

The gap between the two was only reduced towards the end of the race when George Russell’s frightening smash on the final lap brought out the virtual safety car.

And there was no doubt in the minds of F1 fans that Sainz was deserving of the award as he secured his third race win in Ferrari colours after Silverstone in 2021 and Singapore in 2023. It was the team’s first 1-2 finish since the Bahrain GP in 2022, and they will close the gap on Red Bull after Sergio Perez could only manage sixth place in Australia.

Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who has worked for a number of media organisations, including the Daily Express, The Mirror, Evening Standard, The Independent and Bleacher Report. Joe has been following F1 since when he watched Mika Hakkinen clinch the 1999 drivers' championship, and his first taste of real-life racing action was watching David Coulthard spin off into the gravel at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2001.
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