Australian GP: Carlos Sainz heads Ferrari 1-2 after Verstappen retires

Carlos Sainz
Ferrari's Carlos Sainz elebrates after winning the Australian Grand Prix. Photo: Reuters/Jaimi Joy

Melbourne: Ferrari's Carlos Sainz won the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday in a triumphant return two weeks after appendicitis surgery as Red Bull's world champion Max Verstappen suffered his first retirement in two years.

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

Lando Norris was third for McLaren, thwarting his teammate Oscar Piastri's hopes of grabbing 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 leaped out of the right rear of his car.

It was Verstappen's first DNF (did not finish) since retiring from Albert Park in the 2022 race and ended his run of race wins at nine.

Seven-time 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, with Alonso's teammate Lance Stroll seventh.

Yuki Tsunoda finished eighth to deliver RB their first points, with ninth-placed Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen rounding out the top 10.

Williams had only one driver in the race, with Alex Albon finishing 11th and out of the points in his teammate Logan Sargeant's car, the American ordered to make way after Albon wrecked his own car in Friday practice.

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