Huge shock as dramatic Max Verstappen exit in Australia sees winning streak end

Thomas Maher
Max Verstappen, Red Bull, 2024 Australian Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen suffered a rear brake issue on his Red Bull RB20 in the Australian Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen has become an early casualty in the Australian Grand Prix, suffering what appeared to be a mechanical failure on his Red Bull.

The Dutch driver was the first retirement from the race in Melbourne, having suffered a strange failure on the rear of his car while fighting over the lead of the race.

Max Verstappen retires from the Australian Grand Prix

Having taken pole position for the race with an immense lap in qualifying, Verstappen led away at the start with ease but, with the DRS enabled after just one racing lap, the Dutch driver found himself coming under pressure from Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari.

Complaining about his car feeling “loose”, it quickly became evident that something was wrong with his RB20 as the right-rear corner of his car began to smoke badly before catching fire.

Verstappen was able to retreat back to the pits, where it quickly became evident there was no chance of continuing in the race.

His retirement from the race ends a long winning streak that dates back to last year’s Singapore Grand Prix – the Dutch driver has won all nine races since then and was aiming to match the record 10-race streak that he managed last year.

Red Bull has confirmed that a rear brake issue was to blame for Verstappen’s retirement, as the analysis into the incident has got underway.

His retirement from second place has left Carlos Sainz with a growing lead in the Australian Grand Prix, with the Ferrari driver aiming to repeat his Singapore GP heroics to capitalise on Verstappen’s problems.

Max Verstappen: It was like driving with the handbrake on

Speaking to TV crews following his retirement, Verstappen said the issue with the RB20 had happened the instant the race began.

“We could see in the data that, as soon as the lights went off, the right rear brake just stuck on,” he said.

“Of course, the temperature kept on increasing. So it was also basically driving with a handbrake on and that’s why already I felt that the car was really weird to drive in some corners. It was just very snappy.

“While on the laps to the grid, the car was really spot on and I was very happy with what we were doing.

“But it explains that, if a brake is stuck on, that doesn’t help.

“As soon as the lights went off, you accelerate and we could see the right rear brake just stuck on.”

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