Australian GP: Sainz wins Grand Prix after return from surgery

Following the early retirement of world championship leader Max Verstappen, Ferrari secured a one-two finish at the Australian Grand Prix headed by Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc.

Starting from pole position in Melbourne, Verstappen was trying to match his own record 10-race winning streak, but he could only finish three laps before his Red Bull’s brakes caught fire, forcing him out of the race.

After missing the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix due to appendix surgery less than two weeks prior, Sainz was eager to make up for lost time and seized the opportunity, calmingly leading the race from the front to keep Leclerc at bay.

The only driver other than the Dutchman to have won any of the previous 21 Formula One races is the Spaniard, who broke Verstappen’s record streak in Singapore last year.

Behind McLaren teammate Oscar Piastri, Lando Norris secured his first podium of the year in third place. Meanwhile, Sergio Perez, Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate, finished fifth and was unable to put any pressure on the leaders.

Seeking a record-breaking fourth consecutive drivers’ championship, Verstappen continues to lead the standings but only by four points above Leclerc, who received an additional point for completing the fastest lap of the race. Perez is another point behind in third.

Sainz trails Verstappen by 11 points in fourth place, but if he hadn’t missed round two in Jeddah, he probably would have led the world championship. In the constructors’ standings, Red Bull is now four points ahead of Ferrari.

Fernando Alonso of Aston Martin finished sixth on the track after pitting under a virtual safety car created by Lewis Hamilton’s retirement on lap 17. However, he dropped to eighth after receiving a 20-second penalty for “potentially dangerous driving” on the penultimate lap for erratically slowing down while George Russell’s Mercedes was pursuing him.

As Russell approached Turn 6 and began to close on Alonso, he lost control of his vehicle and crashed out, completing a double DNF for Mercedes. In a ruling that was made more than three hours after the race, Alonso was also given three penalty points.

Due to his Aston Martin teammate’s penalty, Lance Stroll moved up to sixth, and Yuki Tsunoda wrapped up a fantastic weekend by taking seventh place for RB.

Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen of Haas finished in the top 10, giving the team vital Constructors’ Championship points.

What the top three said

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari – 1st: “It was a really good race. I felt really good out there.

“Of course a bit stiff and especially physically it wasn’t the easiest but I was lucky I was more or less on my own and I could manage my pace, my tyres, manage everything, and it wasn’t the toughest race of all.

“But very happy, very proud of the team, and happy to be in a one-two with Charles here. It shows that hard work pays off and life sometimes is crazy.

“What happened at the beginning of the year, then the podium in Bahrain, then the appendix, the comeback, the win…it’s a rollercoaster. But I loved it and I’m extremely happy.”

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari – 2nd: “It feels good mostly for the team of course. It’s amazing to know we can do that. Carlos had an incredible weekend to come back after his surgery. He’s done an amazing race.

“I struggled a bit more in the second stint with the first hard. I didn’t manage the tyres well But then the last stint was more positive. First and second was the best we could do.

“In the first stint we had to protect behind, so stopped a bit earlier and from that moment onwards Carlos was very fast and with my tyres I was struggling. I think as soon as we stopped at the first stop, it was clear. Carlos has done a better job all weekend and he definitely deserved that victory.”

Lando Norris, McLaren – 3rd: “It was a very good day for us. I’m very happy and proud of the team because P3 and P4 is a lot of points in the championship. So that’s the first thing.

“We missed out on Charles, I think our pace was a little bit better. He undercut us in the first stint so maybe a little bit of hope for second place, I think our pace was strong enough today.

“But Ferrari and Carlos did a very good job, so hats off to them, they’ve been fast all weekend. I felt good, I could manage the tyres very well today, it was a good step. Probably wasn’t expecting to be on the podium so I’m very happy.”

Australian GP Race Result

Driver Team Time
1) Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:20:26.843
2) Charles Leclerc Ferrari +2.366
3) Lando Norris McLaren +5.904
4) Oscar Piastri McLaren +35.770
5) Sergio Perez Red Bull +56.309
6) Lance Stroll Aston Martin +93.222
7) Yuki Tsunoda RB +95.601
8) Fernando Alonso Aston Martin +100.992
9) Nico Hulkenberg Haas +104.553
10) Kevin Magnussen Haas +1 lap
11) Alex Albon Williams +1 lap
12) Daniel Ricciardo RB +1 lap
13) Pierre Gasly Alpine +1 lap
14) Valtteri Bottas Sauber +1 lap
15) Zhou Guanyu Sauber +1 lap
16) Esteban Ocon Alpine +1 lap
George Russell Mercedes Did Not Finish
Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Did Not Finish
Max Verstappen Red Bull Did Not Finish

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