Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was the first retirement from the Australian Grand Prix, after being tapped off the track by an Aston Martin.
Last year’s Australian Grand Prix winner Charles Leclerc retired from the race in Melbourne on the opening lap, after being tapped on the rear into Turn 3.
A chaotic start saw Mercedes’ George Russell take the lead from pole-sitter Max Verstappen, with the battle of the top cars continuing down the straight into the tight right-hander at Turn 3.
Leclerc, having started the race from seventh and taking an outside line into the corner, was tagged by Lance Stroll as the Canadian got squeezed between the Ferrari and his own teammate Fernando Alonso.
“Lance touched my right-rear,” a deflated Leclerc radioed in, before clambering out of his car as the Safety Car was deployed.
The incident was noted by the stewards, before a decision was taken that no further investigation was required.
The race was red-flagged shortly after the incident, due to a separate incident involving Alex Albon – the Williams driver crashing at the high-speed Turn 6. The resulting gravel and debris strewn across the racing line led Race Control to make the decision to deploy the Safety Car before escalating to a red flag.
Leclerc’s retirement meant Ferrari’s race hinged on the efforts of Carlos Sainz, who fell down to 11th as a result of pitting under the Safety Car. He would be classified in 12th at the chequered flag, despite finishing fourth on the road – Sainz was hit with a five-second penalty after a collision with Fernando Alonso on the final restart.