Max Verstappen wins chaotic Australian GP after late red flag drama

The Dutchman hung on to clinch a dramatic Australian Grand Prix victory


Max Verstappen survived a poor start and three red flags, including a dramatic restart with two laps to go, to win a chaotic Australian Grand Prix and extend his championship lead to 15 points over his teammate.

The Dutchman lined up on pole but found himself third after a nightmare first lap in which he was passed at lights out by George Russell and then into Turn 3 by Lewis Hamilton.

Alex Albon’s crash on Lap 7 brought out the first red flag, allowing the world champion to make up a place when Russell opted to pit, and he then made light work of Hamilton at the restart to reclaim top spot.

But any thoughts of strolling to the chequered flag were dashed when Kevin Magnussen hit the wall on Lap 54, as race control once again opted to red flag the session, this time with just two racing laps to go.

That set up a grandstand finish from a standing start with a top three of Verstappen, Hamilton and Alonso, and the trio held station into Turn 1 until chaos ensued behind.

Carlos Sainz, who made a sluggish restart from fourth, torpedoed up the inside and into the back of Alonso, sparking a chain reaction that left the Alpines beached in the wall and the Albert Park layout showered in debris, bringing out the third red flag.

Max Verstappen on track during the Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park | Image credit: (Robert Cianflone/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

After another lengthy delay, the FIA reset the order, restoring Alonso to third, with the pack ironically ordered to complete the final lap behind the safety car, guaranteeing Verstappen his second win of the season.

“We had a very poor start, and lap one I was careful because I had a lot to lose and they had a lot to win,” Verstappen said.

“After that, the pace of the car was quick – you could see that straight away. We were always there, waiting for the DRS for the chance to pass.

“But with these red flags, I don’t know. The first one, maybe you can do it but the second one I don’t understand.

“So, it was a bit of a mess, but we survived everything and we won, which, of course, is the most important thing.”

Behind the top three, Sainz picked up a five-second penalty that dropped him from fourth out of the points, while Pierre Gasly was the biggest loser, unable to restart from fifth.

That promoted Lance Stroll to fourth and a grateful Sergio Perez, who started from the pit lane, to fifth.

Lando Norris and Nico Hulkenberg finished sixth and seventh respectively, ahead of Oscar Piastri and Zhou Guanyu, with Yuki Tsunoda rounding out the top 10.

Drivers question late red flag – why?

Magnussen‘s incident with four laps to go initially brought out the safety car and struck an eerily similar chord to the drama of the 2021 Abu Dhabi title decider.

But rather than risk finishing under safety car conditions, the red flag was waved, meaning the race could restart with two proper laps to go, leaving many of the drivers perplexed.

Verstappen, Hamilton and Alonso were all critical on team radio, with the Spaniard calling it a “stupid rule” and the world champion questioning it again in the aftermath.

Hamilton: I still feel uncomfortable

The seven-time world champion was powerless to keep Verstappen behind but drove well to hold off Alonso, who was within two seconds for the majority of the 58-lap shootout.

Mercedes undoubtedly looked to have a far better package around the streets of Melbourne, but despite finishing second, Hamilton insists he is still struggling to tame the W14.

“I still feel uncomfortable in the car, I don’t feel connected to it so I am driving as best I can with that disconnect and I am working as hard as I can to try and create that connect but it is a long project,” he told David Coulthard.

“But still, considering we have been down on performance and the straight pace compared to the Red Bulls, for us to be up here fighting with Aston, it is just amazing at this point in the season.

“If we can close that gap, it is going to be tough, but it isn’t impossible.” 

Andrew Wright
Andrew Wright
Sports Journalist for
- Advertisment -


Liam Lawson prepares for free practice at the 2022 Mexican Grand Prix | Peter Fox/Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Red Bull bosses agree on Liam Lawson F1 prospects in 2025

Christian Horner and RB CEO Peter Bayer refused to back Liam Lawson's prospects for a full-time Formula 1 drive...
Carlos Sainz looks on at the 2024 Monaco GP | Ferrari

After Carlos Sainz’s Mercedes denial, why does his future remain an enigma?

Ferrari swinging the axe on Carlos Sainz's career in scarlet must have stung, but the Spaniard at least had...
Charles Leclerc dives into the Monaco harbour | Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

Where does Charles Leclerc rank 2024 Monaco Grand Prix win?

Charles Leclerc is a race winner for the first time in almost two years as the Ferrari ace crushed...
Charles Leclerc celebrates winning the 2024 Monaco GP | Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

What we learned from the 2024 Monaco Grand Prix

The 2024 Monaco Grand Prix may not have served up a classic, but it wasn’t short on storylines as...
Sergio Perez talks to his engineer Hugh Bird and team principal Christian Horner in the garage | Mark Thompson / Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Look away Checo – Horner praises Perez’s F1 rival as star fights for Red...

Christian Horner insists Red Bull will make a decision about Sergio Perez's Red Bull future "in the fullness of...
Max Verstappen during 2024 Monaco Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

F1 Winners and Losers of 2024 Monaco GP

Charles Leclerc vanquished his Monte Carlo demons to finally take victory at his home race, while Red Bull continued...
Daniel Ricciardo of Visa Cash App RB during the 2024 Monaco Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

F1 Driver Ratings – Monaco GP 2024

Charles Leclerc was in dreamland as the Ferrari driver finally celebrated an elusive victory at home race at the...
Josef Newgarden drinks his milk after winning the 2024 Indy 500 | Penske Entertainment: James Black

2024 Indy 500 Race Results

Josef Newgarden joined an elite group of drivers by winning the Indy 500 for the second consecutive year in...
Josef Newgarden celebrates winning the 2024 Indy 500 | Penske Entertainment: Amber Pietz

Newgarden takes sensational Indy 500 win after epic battle for glory

The Indianapolis 500 never fails to excite and even a four-hour rain delay couldn't dampen the drama for IndyCar's...
Tom Blomqvist crashes in Lap 1 at the 2024 Indy 500 | Penske Entertainment: Aaron Skillman

2024 Indy 500: Results and Highlights as Newgarden wins

Welcome to this Total Motorsport live blog for the 2024 Indy 500, is among the most prestigious motorsport events...
- Advertisment -