Max Verstappen has won a chaotic Australian Grand Prix as the race ended with a lap to the grid following two late red flags. Lewis Hamilton also claimed his first podium of the season as Fernando Alonso finishes third, despite tumbling down the order before the red flag.
Oscar Piastri also claimed his first points in Formula One in his home race, ending a fairytale weekend for the Melbourne-born driver.
George Russell had a fantastic start to the race as he got past Max Verstappen going into turn one and into the lead of the race.
Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton both also got strong starts. They quickly closed in on the two-time Champion Verstappen, who came on the team radio to say that Hamilton pushed him off track as both he and Alonso passed him, although this wasn’t deemed necessary to investigate.
Charles Leclerc then ended up in the gravel after being clipped by Lance Stroll but no further investigation was needed as it was deemed a racing incident, with the safety car being brought out. The Ferrari driver was unable to continue in the race.
As many drivers pulled into the pitlane to take a cheap pits-stop, one notable position on the leaderboard was that of sixth place, being occupied by Williams driver Alexander Albon, a very strong effort from him.
However, just a matter of laps after the last safety car was out, it was Albon who crashed and brought it out again, crashing into the barrier as quite a high speed. Thankfully he was able to climb out of the car himself and appeared to be okay. The red flag then came out a short time after race leader Russell pitted for new tyres, giving Hamilton and Verstappen a free pit stop and therefore the overall race lead.
At the race restart, it was a return to 2021 with Verstappen lining up alongside Hamilton, with the Mercedes driver on pole position. Both Aston Martin’s line-up on the second row, Gasly and Hulkenberg behind on row three.
On the way to the grid, Hamilton appeared to fall further than the permitted ten car lengths according to Verstappen on team radio. Further back, several cars were slowing down on a blind corner, meaning that Zhou Guanyu, Logan Sargeant and Kevin Magnussen all had to take evasive action, with the Haas driver flying through the gravel trap. There was no investigation necessary, with that coming from the race director on lap 17 of the race as it was confirmed that Hamilton was in right and Verstappen was wrong.
Hamilton got away well an was leading going into turn one, but further back Esteban Ocon made contact with Nyck de Vries, however, both drivers were able to continue.
On the approach to turn nine, Hamilton would have been looking in his mirrors and saw a Red Bull go around the outside of the corner and take the lead of the race, as Verstappen started to make a gap at the lead of the race, such is the pace in his car.
Russell has been on fire this weekend with his strong pace before the red flag cost him a shot at victory, however, his car took it a bit too literally as the power unit blew up and flames started coming out of the exhaust, ending his race and bringing out the virtual safety car and closing the pit lane.
With a few laps remaining, Magnussen retired after losing his wheel after making contact with the wall, bringing out the safety car and then the red flag, allowing a two-lap sprint at the end of the race. With the majority of drivers putting on a fresh set of tyres and hoping to climb up the grid with his opportunity.
The restart was nothing short than chaotic, with both Alpine cars crashing into each other. Carlos Sainz tapped Fernando Alonso to send him tumbling down the order, demanding on the team radio that they use the same procedure as lap one at Silverstone, when they used the race start order as they hadn’t passed through a sector by the time the red flag brought out.
Also in the chaos, Logan Sargent ran into the back of Nyck de Vries, with both cars ending up in the gravel.
When the red flag came out, Verstappen, Hamilton and Carlos Sainz were in the podium positions and no matter the steward’s outcome as to how the race will continue or end, there would be no further racing action.
Then the decision came for the order to count back to the last restart, with Verstappen and Hamilton in their 1-2 positions as they would have been in any situation. Alonso was able to take third place after he initially said on his team radio that they should use the same process as Silverstone 2022 where they used the starting grid as they hadn’t yet passed through a sector.
Then came the announcement that Sainz would have a five-second penalty, creating a scenario where multiple cars would push him to the line, all without actually overtaking them.
He would drop down to 12th place, as Yuki Tsunoda moved up into the points as a result of the Sainz penalty.