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Sainz wins Australian GP in Ferrari 1-2 as Verstappen fails to finish

Melbourne- Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz clinched victory at the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday, halting Red Bull’s winning streak for the season after Max Verstappen failed to finish the race. Sainz, who underwent appendicitis surgery two weeks prior, crossed the finish line 2.3 seconds ahead of teammate Charles Leclerc, with McLaren’s Lando Norris securing third place.

This marked Sainz’s third Grand Prix win and his first since Singapore last year. “I’m thrilled to achieve a one-two with Charles here. It demonstrates that hard work pays off,” said Sainz, who missed the previous race in Saudi Arabia and was bedridden for a week following his surgery. “Life can be unpredictable…from the podium in Bahrain, to the appendix, the comeback, and the win. It’s been a rollercoaster, but I’ve enjoyed it, and I’m extremely happy.”

However, the day turned disastrous for pole-sitter Verstappen, who retired from the race with smoke emanating from his car after being overtaken by Sainz on lap two due to a brake issue. Verstappen explained, “From the data, it appears that as soon as the race started, the right-rear brake stuck on, causing damage that worsened, essentially making it like driving with the handbrake on.”

It was also a challenging race for Lewis Hamilton in his Mercedes, as the seven-time world champion suffered engine failure on lap 17. Adding to Mercedes’ troubles, Hamilton’s teammate George Russell crashed heavily on the last lap, resulting in his car ending up on its side. Russell emerged unharmed, but Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso was penalized for his involvement in the incident.

Verstappen had dominated the first two races of the season in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, both of which were Red Bull 1-2 finishes, and was expected to continue his winning streak. However, Ferrari had shown strong competitiveness throughout the weekend, with Sainz leading in practice and qualifying despite not being fully fit.

Leclerc remarked, “It’s mostly a great feeling for the team, securing first and second place which hasn’t happened since Bahrain 2022. Carlos had an incredible weekend, especially considering his surgery, and he delivered an amazing race.”

With Verstappen out of contention, Sainz led for the majority of the race, eventually securing victory in front of 130,000 spectators.- AFP

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