An F1 driver winning a Formula 1 Grand Prix is about as significant an achievement as is a studious lad clinching a gold medal in academics. Or think a swimmer table topping an excruciatingly challenging 100 meter butterfly contest.
In that regard, Charles Leclerc’s win at the just-concluded Australian Grand Prix is no ordinary win; it’s a momentous occasion, particularly for the Ferrari stable.
Ferrari’s man-in-charge where the 2022 title stands didn’t only win the 58-lap race; he aced the entire weekend in taking the year’s first grand slam.
And frankly, it’s only fitting that Ferrari claimed a grand slam – pole, race win, and fastest lap in Australia.
That’s down to a multitude of reasons beginning with the fact that the last time a Ferrari driver took pole at the Melbourne-bound Albert Park circuit was Kimi Raikkonen.
That was back in 2007, when the likes of Lando Norris, Alex Albon, Verstappen and Leclerc himself were barely kids and about as far from an F1 track as is the North Pole from Karachi.
Moreover, the last driver from Ferrari to secure a grand slam before Leclerc was Fernando Alonso back in the 2010 Singapore Grand Prix, a mega triumph for a brave driver who didn’t quite get things right today, twelve years hence that electrifying triumph at the night race.
Of course, that Leclerc’s triumph came amid tense scenes for Max Verstappen of Red Bull perhaps polarises emotions on a weekend where there was agony for the Milton Keynes-based outfit but pure ecstasy for the red team.
Verstappen’s retirement couldn’t have been more ill timed than it was; the Dutchman DNF-ing with another engine problem with only a handful of laps to go.
And while he could’ve stymied his chances of winning given the pressure Ferrari faced early on with Sainz retiring minutes from the race-start, Leclerc was icy cool.
That he led every single lap of the race and never conceded the track position even for a handful of seconds clearly places Leclerc in an extraordinary league of his own.
An interesting moment of the race came when Leclerc asked his team over the radio if his fastest lap, which he’d set well before the finishing stages could be usurped, to which the team replied with a clear, ‘No.’
He’d of course go on to control the race proceedings brilliantly, fortunately not suffering from the massive graining of the tires that didn’t help Verstappen’s cause one bit early on.
But just why the 2022 Australian GP triumph is an important moment in the young Monegasque’s career is the fact that it points to the sheer dominance Lelcerc shows on the tarmac.
This, of course, being Charles Leclerc’s fourth win from pole!
He’s given the capacity crowd at Melbourne that returned to a famous racing venue after a long and taxing gap of three long years, their money’s worth. That’s besides upholding the dignity and fighting spirit of the sport’s most popular racing marquee.
No longer the team that was merely ‘improving’ or ‘collecting’ whatever points that were on offer, Ferrari, if one reads correctly given the three races that have been held, are clearly authoring a massive comeback in their F1 fate.
Could this also be the year where we see a brand new world champion amid us and someone bringing back glory to Maranello, something that last happened owing to the Iceman’s mega 2007 triumph- we don’t know yet.
What we do know, with a modicum of clarity, is that the way Ferrari have approached the 2022 world championship, it’s certain that they are in it – to -win it.
And that they won’t relent without giving a great fight to every single race that lies ahead of us.
The good news is that the man one thought would shine bright with the Scuderia is walking the talk and the horse, it can be seen, is finally back to prancing!
Forza Ferrari, forza Charles.