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Australian GP: Carlos Sainz claims victory in Melbourne after Max Verstappen’s winning streak ends with retirement | World News

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Carlos Sainz has claimed victory in the Australian Grand Prix – after world championship leader Max Verstappen was forced to retire from the race following a brake issue.

The Spaniard, who returned to action having missed the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix after undergoing appendix surgery, finished ahead of teammate Charles Leclerc to complete a Ferrari one-two in Melbourne.

Verstappen initially led the race, having claimed pole position in qualifying, but completed only three laps before the brakes on his Red Bull caught fire and forced him out of the contest.

Sainz’s victory ends Verstappen’s nine-race winning streak, and, for now at least, throws open a world championship which the Red Bull driver has so far dominated.

Mechanics work to extinguish a fire in Red Bull driver Max Verstappen of the Netherlands' car during the Australian Formula One Grand Prix at Albert Park, in Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, March 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Scott Barbour,Pool)
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Mechanics attempt to extinguish a fire on Red Bull driver Max Verstappen’s car. Pic: AP Photo/Scott Barbour

It also ends a 43-race streak without a DNF (did not finish) for the Dutchman – the last of which happened at the same circuit in 2022.

Meanwhile, British drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell endured a torrid weekend in Melbourne, with both Mercedes drivers failing to finish the race.

Hamilton stopped his car after an engine issue on lap 17, while Russell crashed out on the penultimate lap, meaning Sainz crossed the finish line under a virtual safety car.

Britain’s Lando Norris rounded off a good weekend for McLaren, with the British driver scoring his first podium of the season, finishing third behind Leclerc.

24 March 2024, Australia, Melbourne: Motorsport: Formula 1 World Championship, Australian Grand Prix, race podium in Melbourne, 2nd place for Charles Leclerc from Monaco from Team Scuderia Ferrari (L), Ferrari engineer Matteo Toninelli (2nd from left), winner Carlos Sainz from Spain from Team Scuderia Ferrari (3rd from left), 3rd place for Lando Norris from Great Britain from Team McLaren (R). Photo by: Hasan Bratic/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images
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Leclerc, Ferrari engineer Matteo Toninelli, Sainz, and Norris, on the podium in Melbourne. Pic: AP

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His teammate, Australian Oscar Piastri, finished behind Norris in fourth in his home race, while Red Bull’s Sergio Perez finished fifth.

A weekend without points for Verstappen – who cruised to victory in the opening two races of the season – means Leclerc now jumps to just four points behind the Dutchman in the drivers’ standings, with Perez a further point behind in third.

In the constructors’ championship, Ferrari have now closed the gap to Red Bull to just four points.

However, Verstappen and Red Bull will be optimistic about getting back to winning ways at the Japanese Grand Prix on 7 April, with the Dutchman having claimed victory on his last two trips to the Suzuka Circuit.

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