Australian GP: Carlos Sainz capitalises on Max Verstappen DNF to win in Melbourne

Michelle Foster
Carlos Sainz waved to the fans

Carlos Sainz won the Australian GP to end Red Bull's streak

Carlos Sainz overtook Max Verstappen on the track before taking advantage of the Red Bull driver’s DNF to cruise to victory at the Australian Grand Prix ahead of his team-mate Charles Leclerc.

As Ferrari celebrated once again breaking Red Bull’s winning streak, Verstappen lamented a rear brake fire ending his race while on a bad day for Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton retired with an engine failure and George Russell crashed on the penultimate lap.

Carlos Sainz beats Charles Leclerc to the Australian GP win

In a race occurrence, all three tyre compounds were represented on the grid with the top nine on the mediums, followed by Fernando Alonso on the hard Pirellis and Lewis Hamilton on the C5s. The Mercedes driver, though, was voicing concerns it was the wrong choice even before the formation lap.

Verstappen led off the line with Carlos Sainz having a peek up the inside of Turn 3, the duo ahead of Lando Norris, Charles Leclerc, and Oscar Piastri. Hamilton’s soft tyres allowed him to get the jump on Alonso to run 10th.

With DRS available on lap 2 and a small slide from Verstappen at Turn 7, Sainz was all over the back of the Dutchman and took the lead as he swept past at Turn 9. Verstappen: “****! The car is loose!”

But that was the least of his problems as Verstappen smoked his way around the track before losing performance and positions. “I have smoke. Fire, fire, brake fire!” he said before pulling into the pits and retiring his RB20 with his car’s right rear melted by a rear brake fire.

As Sainz scampered away in the lead, his team-mate Leclerc was in the midst of a McLaren sandwich with it all to play for after Verstappen’s DNF. George Russell was up in fifth ahead of Sergio Perez with Daniel Ricciardo, who started P18, into the pits to swap his softs for a set of hard Pirellis.

Hamilton followed suit on lap 7, falling to 14th place. Mercedes rolled the dice with an early stop for Russell, which triggered a host of stops as Leclerc, Piastri, Stroll, and Yuki Tsunoda all in. Hamilton’s earlier stop gave him the undercut on Tsunoda to move ahead of the RB driver. recommends

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As Sainz continued to run in P1, seven seconds up the road, Norris and Perez pitted from second and third. Norris came out behind Piastri while Perez found himself in a wheel-to-wheel battle with Hamilton for position that Perez won. “Geez, that car is fast!” said Hamilton… before his own race ended abruptly with an engine failure.

Sainz pitted on lap 16, handing the race lead over to Alonso who had yet to stop before he took advantage of the VSC for Hamilton’s retirement to pit. Esteban Ocon was another driver in trouble as he was forced to make an early second as a tear-off was stuck in his rear brake duct.

With the VSC lifted and Leclerc behind Sainz, Ferrari gave the order for their drivers to hold station. Midway through the race, they ran 1-2 ahead of Piastri, Norris, Alonso, Perez and Russell. Passed by the RB20, Russell called the Red Bull a “rocket ship”.

Perez made short work of Alonso to run fifth but the Aston Martin did a good job to stay within Perez’s DRS to help him drop Russell, McLaren used team orders to put Norris ahead of Piastri with Norris given the hurry up to “push” up to the rear of Leclerc, and Nico Hulkenberg overtook Kevin Magnussen to run inside the top ten.

Lap 35, Leclerc pitted from second place but surprisingly both McLarens stayed out. Leclerc came out ahead of the Perez/Alonso battle which gave the Spaniard a brief look at the Red Bull. Perez boxed as too did Hulkenberg and Alex Albon, the latter squabbling over 11th place with Albon unhappy with the Haas driver’s “dangerous” antics.

The McLarens were in on lap 39 and 40 with Piastri stopping ahead of Norris. They came out behind Leclerc with the Briton still ahead of his team-mate. Sainz pitted a lap later, in from P1 and out in P1, seven seconds ahead of his team-mate.

As the last of the pit stops played out, McLaren ran third and fourth ahead of Perez, Alonso, Russell and Stroll. Russell, as the last to stop, was on fresh hard tyres with 10 to go. Further back Hulkenberg was back up into P10, his team-mate Kevin Magnussen 11th after overtaking Albon. Pierre Gasly, a lap down, received a five-second penalty for crossing the white line at the pit exit.

Chasing Alonso for sixth place, Russell had a huge crash with the Briton hard into the wall at Turn 6, his Mercedes coming to a halt on its side. He thankfully reported “I’m okay”.

The VSC was immediately out, Sainz winning the race ahead of Leclerc, Norris and Piastri. Perez was fifth, Alonso sixth, and Stroll, Tsunoda, Hulkenberg and Magnussen completed the points while Norris claimed the point for the fastest lap of the Grand Prix.

Australian Grand Prix 2024 classification

1 Carlos SAINZ 1:20:26.843 58 laps
2 Charles LECLERC +2.366
3 Lando NORRIS +5.904
4 Oscar PIASTRI +35.770
5 Sergio PEREZ +56.309
6 Fernando ALONSO +63.894
7 Lance STROLL +84.818
8 Yuki TSUNODA +92.922
9 Nico HULKENBERG +106.684
10 Kevin MAGNUSSEN +1 lap
11 Alexander ALBON +1 lap
12 Daniel RICCIARDO +1 lap
13 Pierre GASLY +1 lap
14 Valtteri BOTTAS +1 lap
15 Guanyu ZHOU +1 lap
16 Esteban OCON +1 lap

Did not finish

George Russell Mercedes – crash
Lewis Hamilton Mercedes – engine failure
Max Verstappen Red Bull – rear brake fire

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