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F1: Ferrari double with Sainz ahead of Leclerc in Australia, Verstappen on the carpet

Stop shot à the Verstappen hegemony. The Spaniard Carlos Sainz woné in front of his teammate at Ferrari, the Monegasque Charles Leclerc, the Australian Grand Prix, 3rd round of the Formula 1 season during which the master of the circuits Max Verstappen has dû give up.

The Albert Park track, in the heart of Melbourne, was therefore not the scene of a tenth consecutive GP victory for “Mad Max”: for the first time since April 2022 -right here in Australia- the world championship leader had to retire, due to a rare reliability problem on his Red Bull.

After easily winning in the first two rounds of the season, in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, the Dutchman scored his 35th pole in F1 on Saturday. And he could logically hope to equal his record of 10 consecutive victories, established last season by beating that of the German Sebastian Vettel (9 victories in a row in 2013).

But, if he managed to keep the reins of the race when the lights went out, the outgoing champion was overtaken by Sainz on the second lap, before signaling to his team a few moments later that “the blue smoke” was emanating from his car.

F1: Ferrari double with Sainz ahead of Leclerc in Australia, Verstappen on the carpet

Dutch world champion Max Verstappen (Red Bull) retires shortly after the start of the Australian F1 GP, March 24, 2024 in Melbourne © POOL – Scott Barbour

“As soon as the lights went out, the right brake locked up, so the car was difficult to drive from the start”, then explained “Mad Max”, who remained on 43 GP without retirement.

The Dutchman certainly remains at the top of the championship, but Charles Leclerc moves to second place and is only four points behind the leader (51 points against 47).

– Sainz, two weeks after his operation –

As in Singapore last September – where he ended Verstappen's first series of ten victories – Carlos Sainz, barely recovered from his appendectomy 15 days ago, did not tremble and won his 3rd victory in Australia in F1, after Singapore in 2023 and Silverstone in 2022.

“It was a very good race, physically it wasn't the easiest but I was in largely alone so I was able to manage the pace, manage the tires”, reacted the Spaniard, second on the grid, at the finish, who was therefore back in his seat this weekend.

F1: Ferrari double with Sainz ahead of Leclerc in Australia, Verstappen on the carpet

Max Verstappen (Red Bull) in front of the future winner of the Australian GP, ​​the Spaniard Carlos Sainz (Ferrari), shortly after the start, March 24, 2024 in Melbourne © AFP – WILLIAM WEST

Winner ahead of Leclerc, the duo offers Ferrari its first double since the Bahrain GP in 2022.

“It feels good, especially for the team”, greeted Leclerc, who finished ahead of Briton Lando Norris, 3rd at the wheel of his McLaren. His teammate, the Australian Oscar Piastri, failed at the foot of the podium at the end of the race marked by the impressive accident of George Russell.

The Briton hit a wall before ending up on the left side of his car stopped in the middle of the track. An accident with no physical consequences for the driver but which concludes a GP to forget for Mercedes.

Indeed, earlier, its seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton – expected next year at Ferrari in place of Sainz- had to retire due to an engine problem.

– Pérez, 5th anonymous –

If Mercedes had a nightmare, at Red Bull, the weekend was disappointing. His second driver, Sergio Pérez, finished 5th in the race – bringing ten additional points to the team – but the Mexican, reigning vice-champion, competed in an anonymous race and was never able to compete with the leading men.

“We didn’t have the right balance on the car,” explained Pérez. “It was a bit in survival mode with the degradation (of the tires, editor's note) that we had, and we were no match for Ferrari or McLaren.”

“The penalty on the grid also hurt us,” he admitted again. Third in qualifying on Saturday, Pérez finally started from 6th position on Sunday, after receiving a three-place penalty for having “unnecessarily hampered” the German Nico Hulkenberg (Haas) on the track.

The Mexican, second in the championship before the arrival of the paddock in Melbourne, drops to third place, five points behind Verstappen.

On the Alpine side, the French drivers failed outside the Top 10 synonymous with points: Pierre Gasly finished 13th after receiving a five-second penalty, Esteban Ocon 16th .

All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116