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Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz wins F1 Australian GP after Verstappen retires | Motorsports News

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Sainz finished ahead of teammate Charles Leclerc after Red Bull’s Verstappen retired on the fourth lap with engine fire.

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz has ended Red Bull’s Formula 1 winning streak by winning the Australian Grand Prix in a triumphant return to the circuit two weeks after appendicitis surgery, which kept him out of the previous race in Saudi Arabia.

The Spaniard took advantage of Verstappen’s early retirement – his first in two years – due to a fiery mechanical failure.

Sainz, who started on the front row alongside Verstappen, kept his place into turn one but passed the Dutchman on lap two at turn nine for the lead and took control once his rival retired two laps later with a fiery mechanical failure.

Sainz was the only non-Red Bull driver to win a race last season.

Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz of Spain steers his car into pit lane as his teammates celebrates after winning the Australian Formula One Grand Prix at Albert Park, in Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, March 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Scott Barbour)
Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz of Spain steers his car into pit lane as his teammates celebrate after winning the Australian Grand Prix [Scott Barbour/AP]

In Melbourne, he held off teammate Charles Leclerc before a final-lap crash by Mercedes driver George Russell triggered a virtual safety car and eased the Spaniard’s path to victory.

“It was a really good race. I felt really good out there,” said a thrilled Sainz.

“Of course a bit stiff and especially physically it wasn’t the easiest but I was lucky that I was more or less on my own and I could manage my pace, manage the tyres, manage everything, and it wasn’t the toughest race of all.

“But very happy, very proud of the team, and happy to be in a one-two with Charles here.”

Lando Norris was third for McLaren, thwarting fourth-placed teammate Oscar Piastri’s hopes of a first podium by an Australian driver at the F1 race.

Verstappen, the winner in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, started on pole for the third time this season but retired on the fourth lap with a brake problem as flames leapt out of the right rear of his car. He was on a nine-race winning streak.

It was Verstappen’s first Did Not Finish (DNF) since retiring from Albert Park in the 2022 race and ended his run of nine successive race wins.

Verstappen said he was basically driving with the handbrake on from the start.

“That’s why already it felt the car was really weird to drive in some corners. It was just very snappy,” said the Dutchman.

Red Bull have now suffered two defeats in 26 races dating back to the last round of 2022.

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)
Mechanics work to extinguish a fire in Red Bull driver Max Verstappen’s car [Scott Barbour/AP]

Seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton was also forced to retire early with a power unit problem after starting 11th on the grid following his worst Melbourne qualifying since 2010.

His teammate Russell completed a dismal day for the Silver Arrows by skidding into gravel at turn six and crashing into the barrier to wreck his car and bring out the virtual safety car.

Sergio Perez finished fifth for Red Bull, one ahead of Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso, who started 10th on the grid and edged seventh-placed teammate Lance Stroll.

Alonso was later summoned to the stewards over Russell’s crash.

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