The Malta Independent 25 May 2024, Saturday
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Carlos Sainz wins F1 Australian GP after Verstappen retires early with engine fire

Associated Press Sunday, 24 March 2024, 08:27 Last update: about 3 months ago

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz has ended Red Bull’s Formula 1 winning streak when the Spaniard took advantage of Max Verstappen's early retirement to win the Australian Grand Prix just two weeks after missing the previous race in Saudi Arabia due to an emergency appendectomy.

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.

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Verstappen had won the first two F1 races of the season in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia and was on a nine-race winning streak.

Sainz finished ahead of teammate Charles Leclerc for Ferrari’s first 1-2 result since the 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix, with McLaren’s Lando Norris finishing in third for his first podium at Albert Park.

His teammate, Australian Oscar Piastri, was fourth.

The race finished under the virtual safety car, ensuring there was no racing for most of the final lap, after Mercedes’ driver George Russell crashed on turn seven. Red Bull’s Sergio Pérez closed out the top five, and made just one place from where he started in sixth, after he was handed a three-place grid penalty for impeding Nico Hülkenberg in qualifying.

Sainz, who will be replaced by Lewis Hamilton at Ferrari from 2025, was thrilled to get his third career win against the odds, his first since last year’s Singapore Grand Prix.

“I felt really good out there,” he said. “Of course, (I felt) a bit stiff, especially physically. It wasn’t the easiest, but I was lucky that I was more or less on my own so I could just manage my pace, manage the tires, manage everything.

“Life sometimes is crazy, you know. What happened at the beginning of the year, then the podium in Bahrain, then appendix, the comeback, the win, it’s a roller coaster. But I loved it."

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