Formula 1 loses attention on the track for the third consecutive GP

MELBOURNE.- For the third consecutive Grand Prix in the Formula 1controversies outside the track overshadow the foreseeable results.

In the prelude to Australian Grand Prixthe ethics commission cleared the president of the International Automobile Federation, Mohammed Ben Sulayem, of guilt after being denounced for having interfered in two races last year.

Additionally, Susie Wolff, the director of the women's F1 Academy circuit and wife of Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, filed a criminal complaint in a French court against the governing body “in relation to statements made about me.” by the FIA ​​in December.

All of this adds to the persistent noise around Red Bull and its director Christian Horner.

Recently, the suspended Red Bull employee decided to appeal the team's decision to exempt Horner for alleged inappropriate conduct and filed a formal complaint with the FIA.

“Everything that has come to light is very serious… we are living in 2024, not 1984, which means total transparency,†McLaren boss Zak Brown said at a press conference on Friday. “The three situations are all different, and we need everything to be done in a truly independent way. We are going for the third race on the calendar and we are still talking about the same thing.â€

Regarding Wolff's legal appeal, Brown added: “I think Susie is one of the most respected people in motorsports.”

The RB20, the imperial Red Bull single-seater that achieved 1-2 in the inaugural races in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, has taken a backseat in Albert Park amid speculation that Max Verstappen could go to Mercedes.

“I'm happy in the team,†said the reigning three-time F1 champion prior to the practice sessions, rejecting reports of a change.

Verstappen is the favorite to take his third straight victory in 2024 on Sunday and equal the record of 10 in a row that dates back to the Japanese Grand Prix last year.

The Dutchman was second fastest in both Friday practice sessions behind Charles Leclerc's Ferrari. Verstappen missed approximately 20 minutes of the second session due to the underbody and chassis repairs that had to be done to his car after suffering damage in the first session.

Domination continues in Formula 1 despite the chaos:

“Today was a bit chaotic. We suffered some damage that took some time to repair. I had to make up ground,” Verstappen commented.

“I think Ferrari is fast, but also on our part there are several things we can work on to improve,†he added. “There is nothing strange or worrying. We just need to fine-tune some details of the car.”

Lewis Hamilton, accustomed to being at the front of the grid in Melbourne, was 18th fastest among the 19 cars that entered the second practice session, which did not surprise the Mercedes boss, Toto Wolff.

“We made too drastic a change to Lewis' set-up in the second session and it backfired on us,” Wolff acknowledged. “But that's what these sessions are for.”

There will be a third practice on Saturday before qualifying. Sunday's race is scheduled with clear skies.