Australian F1 Grand Prix: Fans in shock as chaotic scenes end race for two megastars

Max Verstappen had been hoping to equal the record of 10 consecutive wins.

The Australian Formula One Grand Prix was rocked by chaotic scenes on Sunday, with the race losing two of its biggest drivers early on. First to go was Red Bull's Max Verstappen, whose brakes caught fire in the opening laps. “I just lost the car, really weird,” Verstappen said on radio. “F*** the car is loose.”

Then Lewis Hamilton suffered engine issues, meaning his race was also over on the 16th lap. The race was eventually won by Ferrari's Carlos Sainz, with teammate Charles Leclerc in second. It was the team's first 1-2 since 2022.

Verstappen's car caught fire in the pit lane. Source: Fox
Verstappen's car caught fire in the pit lane. Source: Fox

McLaren's Lando Norris rounded out the podium positions. Fans online were in disbelief at the series of events, especially as Verstappen was pushing for a 10th consecutive win, which would have been a joint record.

Australian Oscar Piastri had looked to break the drought of Australians failing to make the podium since the Australian Grand Prix was added to the circuit in 1985. He was in third at one point however finished agonisingly close in fourth. Brit George Russell had a bad crash on the final lap, with his car ending up at an angle on a barrier. Aussie favourite Daniel Ricciardo finished in 12th.

Carlos Sainz's incredible comeback from surgery

Sainz made a remarkable comeback from surgery to win a dramatic Australian Grand Prix, after Verstappen's bid to equal his own Formula One record went up in smoke. Two weeks after he was sidelined from the Saudi Arabian race due to appendicitis, Sainz claimed the third win of his F1 career - and first at Albert Park.

The Spaniard took the chequered flag ahead of teammate Leclerc, which completed a Ferrari 1-2 in Melbourne for the first time since 2004. Norris finished third after McLaren ordered rising star Piastri to allow his teammate to overtake.

Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris after the Australian Grand Prix.
Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris.

Piastri's fourth-place continued the run of an Australian driver having never made it on the podium in the 28-year history of GPs held at Albert Park. But the day belonged to Sainz, whose brave performance will have rival teams circling as he is out-of-contract for next season.

"Life sometimes is crazy," he said. "What happened at the beginning of the year (not being renewed at Ferrari), then the appendix and the comeback and the win - a rollercoaster, but I love it."

with AAP

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