The Australian Grand Prix delivered plenty of drama in an-action packed race down under on Sunday. UK fans who woke up at 6am to tune in would not have been disappointed as the Albert Park Circuit saw three red flags take place, the two Alpines crash into each other and yet another controversial penalty decision taken, resulting in an exceptionally frustrated Carlos Sainz.
Max Verstappen won his first Australian Grand Prix, extending his lead at the top of the championship, but it was not quite the breeze for the Dutchman that he has previously enjoyed in past races. At the start of the 58 laps, he was being hotly challenged by both Mercedes, with George Russell leading the race. However, an unfortunately timed pit stop under a safety car saw him drop positions as the red flag was then waved and his teammate Lewis Hamilton was able to rise up.
Russell eventually succumbed to an engine failure and joined Charles Leclerc and Alex Albon in the DNF category while Fernando Alonso was able to secure his third podium of the year, despite being tagged into a spin at the second restart with two laps to go.
After the chaos of the Australian Grand Prix, fans will have to hope they have enough F1 drama to last a while as the next race will not take place until Baku at the end of the month...
Why is there a four week break?
In the initial scheduling for the 2023 calendar, a four-week break had not been anticipated. The Chinese Grand Prix had been expected to return on 16 April, following the Easter weekend, but due to the Covid restrictions in the country, the race had to be cancelled with no race set to replace it.
This will now mark the fourth season the race, which was set to be held in Shanghai, has been missing from the F1 calendar due to Covid restrictions. F1 executives assessed a number of options to try and fill the gap with Portimao in the Algarve one of the likely contenders. This did not come to fruition due to the logistical difficulties of diverting to Portugal after Australia before travelling to Azerbaijan for the end of the month.
Unlike the summer enforced break, which also lasts four weeks, all F1 teams will be allowed to work on their cars in between the Australian and Azerbaijan Grand Prix. In the summer, franchises are forced to shut down for two weeks with no work in any capacity allowed to take place. As this upcoming break was not scheduled, work is allowed to continue on the cars ahead of Baku.
When was the last Chinese Grand Prix?
The Chinese Grand Prix, which takes place at the Shanghai International Circuit, was first held in 2004 and the last time the drivers took to the track was in 2019. Lewis Hamilton has won six of the races in Shanghai, making him the most successful driver on the circuit. The race is now expected to return to the F1 calendar in 2024.
Following its completion in 2004, it was the most expensive F1 circuit facility, costing around $240 million, however Abu Dhabi then took the expense crown in 2009 after the Yas Marina Circuit cost around $6 billion.
When is the next Grand Prix?
Azerbaijan will be the next Grand Prix to take place. The race will be held on Sunday 30 April 2023 and drivers will race around the Baku City Circuit from 12pm BST. Sky Sports will once again have all the coverage from the race weekend, including all practice sessions and qualifying.