By Robert Haile
Red Bull have made it three race wins as Max Verstappen claims his first Australian Grand Prix victory in a chaotic finale to the race.
Verstappen took the race under Safety Car conditions as a late red flag brought chaos, controversy and heartbreak, after Mercedes made a bright start pushing him into third.
First time winner at Albert Park Verstappen said: “My start today wasn’t amazing and then on lap 1 I was very careful as there was a lot on the line, I had a lot to lose and a lot to win. But after that restart, we had good pace and a decent gap for the majority of the race.
“Perhaps we didn’t need all of those red flags today, it was frustrating, but everyone was safe and we won which is the most important thing.
“It’s my first win in Australia which feels really good, it’s also been a while for the Team so it means a lot to us all, especially as Checo also had a good recovery drive today.
“It’s been a chaotic day but it’s great to see that the fans had a great time despite the long wait.”
The first incident came on the first lap when Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc ended up in the gravel after a collision with Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll as the pair tangled in turn 3.
George Russell held the lead and Lewis Hamilton second keeping Verstappen in third at the restart as the red flag returned on lap 6 when Williams’ Alex Albon slammed into the barriers at turn 7.
Russell pitted before the flag came out while under a Safety Car meaning Hamilton took the lead for the restart, Verstappen soon overtook and then went on to dominate the race.
Lap eighteen and more drama as Russell’s race end in flames as the British driver ground to a halt and a Virtual Safety Car.
With the race seeming done Haas’ Kevin Magnussen hit the wall bringing out the second red flag.
The two lap sprint didn’t last long with Carlos Sainz Ferrari clipping Fernando Alonso’s Aston Martin and the resulting spin cause many to collide behind.
The Alpine duo of Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon collided, Williams’ Logan Sargeant hit Nyck De Vries’ AlphaTauri, Sergio Perez’s Red Bull and Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin both found the gravel.
Race control brought out the final red flag to sort out the finishing order as the race was to conclude under a Safety Car.
Verstappen led the grid with Hamilton and Alonso completing the podium.
Stroll took fourth with Perez completing a comeback driver from starting the day in the pit lane in fifth.
McLaren picked up their first points of the season with Lando Norris in sixth and Oscar Piastri in eighth with Nico Hulkenberg claiming seventh.
In ninth was Zhou Guanyu for Alfa Romeo with AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda claimed the last point in tenth with Valtteri Bottas and Sainz the last of the finishers.
Alpine’s Gasly and Ocon, AlphaTauri’s De Vries, Williams’ Albon and Sargeant, Haas’ Magnussen, Mercedes Russell and Ferrari’s Leclerc not finishing the race.
The Constructors Championship is even more ominous with Red Bull holding a 49 point lead over Aston Martin and Mercedes who are on the same points.
Round four of the 2023 Formula One season takes place in Azerbaijan on the streets of Baku on April 28-30.
- Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 69
- Sergio Perez (Red Bull) – 54
- Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin) – 45
- Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 38
- Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) – 20
- Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) – 20
- George Russell (Mercedes) – 18
- Lando Norris (McLaren) – 8
- Nico Hulkenberg (Haas) – 6
- Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) – 6
- Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) – 4
- Esteban Ocon (Alpine) – 4
- Oscar Piastri (McLaren) – 4
- Pierre Gasly (Alpine) – 4
- Zhou Guanyu (Alfa Romeo) – 2
- Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) – 1
- Kevin Magnussen (Haas) – 1
- Alex Albon (Williams) – 1
- Logan Sargent (Williams) – 0
- Nyck De Vries (AlphaTauri) – 0
- Red Bull – 123
- Aston Martin – 65
- Mercedes – 56
- Ferrari – 26
- McLaren – 12
- Alpine – 8
- Haas – 7
- Alfa Romeo – 6
- AlphaTauri – 1
- Williams – 1