Carlos Sainz wins Australian Grand Prix as George Russell crashes on final lap at Albert Park

Carlos Sainz wins Australian Grand Prix as George Russell crashes on final lap at Albert Park

Carlos Sainz has escaped a drama-filled final lap of the Australian Grand Prix to win race three of the the Formula One season ahead of teammate Charles Leclerc in a perfect one-two finish for Ferrari.

Sainz started on the front row next to pole-sitter Max Verstappen and completed a near-perfect race at Albert Park on Sunday to eclipse Leclerc by 2.366 seconds.

The Spaniard won the race under virtual safety car conditions because of a massive crash from Mercedes star George Russell, who had been in a tight battle for sixth with Fernando Alonso.

Newsletters: Our top sports news direct to your inbox. Subscribe now

Russell made significant contact with the wall on the final lap to have his day finished at the final hurdle.

He tipped the car on its side and lost a wheel after cannoning into the barrier at turn seven.

Hometown Australian hero Oscar Piastri finished fourth, while veteran Daniel Ricciardo crossed the line in 12th after starting at the back of the grid.

Australian Grand Prix rocked as Max Verstappen’s race ends

2 min read

Disaster for Daniel Ricciardo at Australian Grand Prix

2 min read

An Australian driver is still yet to make it onto the podium in Melbourne.

Sainz’s win completes his remarkable comeback from surgery as Red Bull superstar Max Verstappen’s bid to equal his own Formula One record went up in smoke.

Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz holds up the trophy after winning in Melbourne. Credit: Scott Barbour/AP

Two weeks after he was sidelined from the Saudi Arabian race due to appendicitis, Sainz claimed the third win of his F1 career, and first at Albert Park.

Verstappen’s bid to win a 10th straight race for the second time in less than 12 months ended after he suffered a car fire early in Sunday’s race.

After cantering to wins in the opening two races of the season, Verstappen was a red hot favourite to go back-to-back after winning at Albert Park for the first time last year.

The three-time defending world champion started on pole but Sainz, who qualified second, overtook him on the second lap.

Verstappen then began complaining on team radio about “losing the car”.

Soon afterwards, smoke appeared at the rear of the 26-year-old’s car and he was forced into the pits on lap three, with no hope of a return.

“My right rear brake basically stuck on from when the lights went off,” Verstappen said.

“The temperatures (in the car) just kept on increasing until the point that it caught fire.

“They (mechanics) could see what was going on but they don’t know what what caused it.

“We had a lot of good races in a row, I knew that the day would come when you end up having a retirement and unfortunately that day was today.”

Max Verstappen was dramatically forced out of the Australian Grand Prix by a car fire. Credit: AP

Sainz was the last driver, in Singapore last September, other than Verstappen to win a F1 race.

Victory at Albert Park would have taken Verstappen level with his own record, set with his 10 straight wins from Miami to Monza last year.

Verstappen wasn’t the only big name to suffer mechanical issues, with seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton forced to the back of the field on lap 17.

Hamilton, who started 11th after his worst qualifying session at Albert Park since 2010, headed to the garage in another disappointing race in his last season with Mercedes before his switch to Ferrari next year.

It was the first time Verstappen and Hamilton — F1’s two most successful drivers of the past decade — had withdrawn from the same race due to mechanical failures.

– With AAP

Ferrari driver blows them away as popular Aussie struggles

1 min read

Daniel Ricciardo on why racing can’t take a back seat to Netflix in F1

2 min read