Formula 1 Racing

Carlos Sainz wins, Verstappen retires

Carlos Sainz wins, Verstappen retires

Sainz beat Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris at the Albert Park Circuit on Sunday after polesitter Max Verstappen retired early on with mechanical troubles.

2024 F1 Australian Grand Prix results

2024 F1 Australian Grand Prix report

Polesitter Verstappen led the charge to Turn 1, with Carlos Sainz holding on to second in the Ferrari after a straightforward start to the race.

But Sainz got a great run on Verstappen as the DRS was deployed on lap 2, passing the Red Bull driver into Turn 9 to hit the front for the first time.

Sainz was already starting to break away when smoke started pouring out of Verstappen’s Red Bull on lap 3, sending him tumbling down the order. The Dutchman came into the pits at the end of the lap to retire the car, blowing the race wide open.

Hamilton, who started on softs, was the first of the frontrunners to switch to hard tyres, triggering a chain of pitstops. 

McLaren pitted Oscar Piastri first in order to cover George Russell, but it compromised team-mate Lando Norris, who dropped to fourth after all the drivers had completed their pitstops. This also promoted Charles Leclerc to second, behind Ferrari team-mate Sainz.

On lap 17, Hamilton began to slow down with what he reported to be an engine issue, forcing him to park the car to the side of the track.

The virtual safety car was briefly deployed, which allowed Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso to make a cheap pitstop and jump to fifth place.

At the front, Sainz started rebuilding his lead over Leclerc, extending his advantage to six seconds by lap 30.

McLaren, meanwhile, asked its drivers to swap positions, giving Norris a stab at chasing Leclerc for second.

The strategy appeared to pay off, with Norris getting within 1.5s of Leclerc and forcing the Ferrari driver to make an early stop to ditch his old hard tyres.

Norris pitted at the end of lap 41, rejoining the track 3.5s behind Leclerc but on much fresher tyres. However, he couldn’t really make any inroads into Leclerc’s lead as the race finish drew closer, with the Monegasque driver doing more than enough to stay comfortably ahead.

Sainz took the chequered flag after 58 laps with a winning margin of 2.3s after nursing his tyres in the final laps, while Leclerc crossed the line in second to complete a memorable 1-2 for Ferrari.

Norris claimed the final spot on the podium in third, with home hero Piastri crossing the finish line in fourth.

Sergio Perez didn’t feature in the podium battle after…

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