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Verstappen wins after late race chaos in red-flagged Australian Grand Prix

Max Verstappen led home Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso in Australia after late race chaos with multiple red flags.

Max Verstappen claimed a second Formula 1 win of the season after late chaos in an Australian Grand Prix that featured three red flags and ended behind the Safety Car. On Lap 54 of 58, with Verstappen cruising to a dominant win, Kevin Magnussen tapped the wall on the exit of Turn 2, with the right rear tyre coming loose. The race was red-flagged for a second time to recover the debris, leading to two lap shootout with everyone changing to Soft tyres with Verstappen leading Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso. On the restart, chaos ensued with Carlos Sainz tagging Alonso out while the two Alpine drivers crashed, an unsighted Pierre Gasly not knowing Esteban Ocon was behind him after going wide. Verstappen and Hamilton cleared off, with Lance Stroll skating off at Turn 3 as the third red-flag was thrown. After some confusion, the race resumed on the final lap with the Lap 56 start order reinstated as it was the last time the FIA could accurately determine the running order. However, as it was the final lap, there was no overtaking allowed with Verstappen taking the 37th win of his career as Hamilton took his first podium of the season and Alonso his third third place of the campaign. Sainz was hit with a five second time penalty for the collision with Alonso dropping him from fourth as the field bunched up behind him to 12th and out of the points, much to his chagrin.

Russell leads until red flag

At lights out, second-place starter George Russell gained the lead at Turn 1 against a tentative Red Bull of Verstappen, streaking away as Hamilton too got past the pole-sitter at Turn 3. The Safety Car was triggered immediately following Charles Leclerc turning in on Lance Stroll, beaching the Ferrari at Turn 3 and forcing him out on the spot. By the end of Lap 3, the race resumed, but just four tours later, the Safety Car was deployed once again as Albon crashed heavily the fast-right of Turn 6, with a red flag being necessary to clean the track for gravel. While the Safety Car was still out, Russell pitted for Hards, falling to seventh but lost out when the Grand Prix was suspended. From a standing start restart, Hamilton held the lead but within three laps, Verstappen powered past and was not seen again after Lap 12, save for a moment at the penultimate corner until the race was suspended on Lap 56 Russell retired on Lap 18 following an engine failure and fire, the Mercedes being recovered under the Virtual Safety Car. With the Red Bull clearing off, attention turned to the battle for second, with Hamilton and Alonso engaged in the trading of lap times, although the Aston Martin did not get within the DRS activation. The race appeared to be over before Magnussen tagged the wall, triggering the late restart and two red flags.

Perez recovers to fifth

Stroll was fortunate with the race order being reinstated, coming home in fourth after the Sainz penalty, as Sergio Perez recovered from the pit-lane to fifth. Taking new engine components, Perez carved through the field, but his progress was halted after climbing to seventh place, stuck behind Stroll. He claimed the fastest lap bonus point, meaning he only lost 14 points to Verstappen whose championship lead is now 15 points. Sixth place went to Lando Norris in the McLaren, banking his and the team's first points of the season, as teammate Oscar Piastri scored his first ever F1 points, coming home eighth in his home Grand Prix. There was a possibility that Nico Hulkenberg could have claimed a podium, as he was running fourth after the Gasly/Ocon red flag. However as the race order was reinstated from Lap 56, he dropped back down the order, and finished seventh in a McLaren sandwich after Sainz was penalised. Zhou Guanyu and Yuki Tsunoda rounded out the points scorers as the only two finishers not to score were Valtteri Bottas and Sainz.

Eight retirements

In the late chaos, Ocon, Gasly, Logan Sargeant and Nyck de Vries all retired, the latter two after Sargeant rammed the AlphaTauri at Turn 1. Magnussen stopped out on track at Turn 4 following his wall-strike while the other retirements were Russell, Albon and Leclerc.

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