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Race report
Formula 1 Australian GP

F1 Australian GP: Verstappen beats Hamilton before chaotic restart concludes race

Max Verstappen beat Lewis Hamilton to win Formula 1’s 2023 Australian Grand Prix, which ended in farcical scenes following a late second red flag of three and chaotic subsequent restart.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

Verstappen had dominated most of the proceedings despite losing the initial lead from pole to MercedesGeorge Russell and Hamilton.

A first red flag caused by Alex Albon crashing out solo and putting debris and gravel across the road meant Russell dropped down the order, having been pitted just before the race was stopped and was running in safety car conditions.

At the second standing start Hamilton maintained his shock lead, but as soon as the DRS overtaking aid was reactivated, Verstappen blasted by into a lead he would ultimately not lose but with plenty of drama and confusing scenes to come.

The first red flag meant none of the leaders completed any in-race pitstops as they were able to change their starting tyres under the stoppage, which was what cemented Russell’s place in the pack from which he charged before his engine expired in flames at the end of the event’s first third.

For most of the race, there was little action at the front, as Verstappen dropped Hamilton and worked his way to a 10-second advantage that was only cut when the Dutchman briefly ran off the road at the penultimate corner while complaining about front locking.

At this point behind Hamilton was holding Fernando Alonso at arm’s length while the teams worked out if their charges could get to the finish without requiring new tyres.

They were upping their pace – exchanging fastest laps with Verstappen ahead – when the concluding farce kicked off, starting with Kevin Magnussen bizarrely running off the track by himself exiting the second corner and striking the nearby wall with his right-rear.

This fell off as he headed towards Turn 3 and that plus Magnussen stopping inside Turn 4 led to the race being stopped again, with a two-lap sprint set to conclude the action.

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14, the rest of the field at the start

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14, the rest of the field at the start

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

When this started, Verstappen swept across Hamilton’s bows and covered the inside line to Turn 1, from where Alonso exited ahead of Carlos Sainz and was then tagged by the Ferrari and spun towards the wall Magnussen had tagged.

Behind chaos reigned as Pierre Gasly locked hard behind Sainz and went off at Turn 2 along with several other cars and as the Frenchman rejoined he swung right and took out team-mate Esteban Ocon, ruining what had looked to be a very strong result for Alpine and Gasly in particular as he had been fighting Sainz for most of the race.

Before the red flags came out for a third time, Lance Stroll slid into the gravel at Turn 3 while fighting Sainz – appearing to also destroy Aston Martin’s previously excellent positions.

But after the race was suspended, crucially before Verstappen and co had passed the first sector timing line, a 30-minute delay followed with one lap remaining from the 58 total as the FIA worked out how the event would conclude.

It eventually decided, much like at Silverstone in 2022, that the previous grid restart order would be used minus the cars that could not take a fourth and final restart.

This was a safety car rolling start that meant no overtaking and so Verstappen blasted to the win under no threat from Hamilton and the restored Alonso third.

They were followed home by Sainz but he had already been handed a five-second time addition penalty for hitting Alonso at the third standing restart – this event matching Mugello 2020 and Jeddah 2021 for such scenes.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19, George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14, Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23, Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23, the rest of the field at the start

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19, George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14, Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23, Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23, the rest of the field at the start

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Sainz, who raged about not being able to explain his case to the stewards, therefore fell to 12th in the results – making it a pointless weekend down under for Ferrari as Charles Leclerc had retired in the Turn 3 gravel way back on the first lap after turning in and finding Lance Stroll on his inside and getting turned around in what was swiftly declared a racing incident.

Sergio Perez’s charge from a pitlane start had provided most of the action during the main part of the race, as he put in pass after pass on slower rivals into the fast Turn 9/10 left-right swoops.

He had reached seventh by the second red flag but was very luck to end up fifth as he had been attacking Gasly in the third restart chaos and went deep into the gravel and fell to the rear of the pack before being boosted back up by the FIA’s ruling.

Lando Norris and Nico Hulkenberg put in a thrilling battle during the pre-Magnussen red flag events and they ended up sixth and seventh ahead of home hero Oscar Piastri.

Zhou Guanyu and Yuki Tsunoda completed the top 10 ahead of Valtteri Bottas and the penalised Sainz.

Full F1 Australian GP results:

Cla Driver Chassis Engine Gap Interval
1 Netherlands Max Verstappen Red Bull Red Bull    
2 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Mercedes 0.179 0.179
3 Spain Fernando Alonso Aston Martin Mercedes 0.769 0.590
4 Canada Lance Stroll Aston Martin Mercedes 3.082 2.313
5 Mexico Sergio Perez Red Bull Red Bull 3.320 0.238
6 United Kingdom Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes 3.701 0.381
7 Germany Nico Hulkenberg Haas Ferrari 4.939 1.238
8 Australia Oscar Piastri McLaren Mercedes 5.382 0.443
9 China Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo Ferrari 5.713 0.331
10 Japan Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri Red Bull 6.052 0.339
11 Finland Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Ferrari 6.513 0.461
12 Spain Carlos Sainz Ferrari Ferrari 6.594 0.081
13 France Pierre Gasly Alpine Renault    
14 France Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault    
15 Netherlands Nyck de Vries AlphaTauri Red Bull    
16 United States Logan Sargeant Williams Mercedes    
  Denmark Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari    
  United Kingdom George Russell Mercedes Mercedes    
  Thailand Alex Albon Williams Mercedes    
  Monaco Charles Leclerc Ferrari Ferrari    

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