Max Verstappen will be looking to make amends for his woeful displays at the Australian Grand Prix when this season’s race takes place next Sunday. The Red Bull star has stormed to the top of the Drivers’ Championship standings in the early rounds of the new season after winning the Bahrain Grand Prix and finishing second in Saudi Arabia.
Verstappen has become F1’s star driver after winning the last two world championships. In 2021, the 25-year-old narrowly overcame Lewis Hamilton during the last race of the season to secure his maiden title, before backing that up in 2022 as he cruised to the championship with four races to spare.
But one track that has proved to be a kryptonite for Verstappen is the Albert Park Circuit in Melbourne. The blockbuster star was unable to finish the Australian Grand Prix when he first raced there in 2015 and went on to finish 10th, fifth and sixth respectively over the next three years.
Verstappen finally secured a podium in 2019 as he finished in third position but then failed to make it to the end of the race once again last year after the Grand Prix was reintroduced to the F1 schedule following the Covid-19 pandemic.
Verstappen’s performance in Melbourne last year proved to be a temporary blip as the ace ended the season with 15 race victories. And the Dutchman will be desperate to finally stamp his authority on the track at the start of next month as he looks to put distance between himself and Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez, who is currently second in the season standings.
Perez stunned Verstappen earlier this month as he claimed victory in Saudi Arabia against the odds. And the Mexican will want to prove that his win was no fluke.
Perez appears to be Verstappen’s main rival when it comes to crossing the chequered flag in first position Down Under. But Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso will also fancy his chances of upsetting the apple cart after tasting victory at the track in 2006 on his way to securing his second consecutive world title.
Meanwhile, Ferrari ace Charles Leclerc also has form at Albert Park after winning last year’s race, while his team-mate Carlos Sainz will want to make an impression amid a dismal start to the season for the Scuderia. And Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and George Russell can’t be ruled out, despite the fact neither driver has been able to cement a podium finish so far this year.