Carlos Sainz wins Australian Grand Prix as Max Verstappen retires from race

CNNCarlos Sainz claimed an impressive victory at the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday, breaking Max Verstappen’s dominant grip over this F1 season as the Red Bull driver was forced to retire from the race.

Remarkably, it marked Sainz’s first race back since undergoing appendix surgery just two weeks ago, after appendicitis had caused him to withdraw from the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix where he was replaced by 18-year-old reserve driver Oliver Bearman.

The Spaniard began the race second on the grid, behind pole-sitter Verstappen, and stuck close to the three-time world champion before easily overtaking him on the second lap to take the lead.

And shortly afterwards, the scale of Verstappen’s problems with his car became apparent as he shouted over the radio, “I have smoke, fire, fire, brake, my brake,” before slowing down and limping into the pit lane with smoke streaming behind him and fire in his wheels.

For just the first time in two years, he retired from a Grand Prix, citing brake failure. Afterwards, the 26-year-old expressed his disappointment.

“Yeah, it’s not ideal. Of course you always want to finish the races but it’s a mechanical sport,” Verstappen said following his first retirement since the 2022 Australian Grand Prix.

“These things unfortunately happen, but I think it’s the most important that we understand why it happened.”

The Dutchman’s departure from the race left the remainer wide open such has been his dominance over the last two seasons.


Sainz’s lead was never truly threatened, though, and he held onto secure victory with his teammate Charles Leclerc finishing second to complete a Ferrari 1-2.

“I felt really good out there,” Sainz told Sky Sports after the race. “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 1-2 with Charles here. It shows that hard work pays off and life sometimes is crazy.”

Lando Norris finished third and his McLaren teammate Oscar Piastri finished fourth as they held off the challenge of Sergio Pérez who could only muster fifth place despite his all-conquering Red Bull car.

Mercedes, meanwhile, suffered a nightmare race as both cars retired from the race. Lewis Hamilton suffered an engine failure on lap 17 while George Russell hit the wall on the last lap of the race as he chased sixth place, prompting a virtual safety car to end the race.