Max Verstappen OUT of Australian GP after Red Bull car goes up in flames

Max Verstappen had lost the lead of the race to Carlos Sainz and retired from the race

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Max Verstappen was forced to retire from the Formula 1 2024 Australian Grand Prix with a mechanic failure to signal the end of the Red Bull star’s long-spanning streak of race victories.

The 26-year-old came into Sunday’s race on pole position after winning his previous nine races and looked to be favourite to make it three wins out of three for the 2024 campaign.

But the Dutchman was passed by Carlos Sainz on Lap 2 under DRS and shortly after, smoke could be seen billowing from his right rear brake. His car then caught fire and it soon became apparent that he would have to retire from the race.

Verstappen reacted furiously on the radio as he struggled to accept his fate with a sense of resignation.

“F***ing hell, the car is loose,” Verstappen said.

He was forced to bow out on Lap 5 – his first retirement since this race back in 2022 – bringing an end to his incredible record of 43 consecutive race finishes.

And the championship leader was in no mood to face the TV cameras as he stormed off after speaking with his race engineer, Gianpiero Lambiase, in the garage.

A rare opportunity

Verstappen’s retirement provided an opportunity for the rest of the 19 drivers to snatch an unlikely win, and Sainz continued to lead from the front after stretching his first stint on the medium tyres.

He was joined by Charles Leclerc after the Monegasque leapfrogged Lando Norris in the running order, with the McLaren star also stuck behind his team-mate and home favourite, Oscar Piastri.

Max Verstappen of Red Bull leads Carlos Sainz of Ferrari during 2024 Australian Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

To make matters worse for Red Bull, Sergio Perez – their only remaining driver in the race – started sixth due to a three-place grid drop after impeding Nico Hulkenberg in qualifying.

And the Mexican failed to make much progress at the start of the race, with Fernando Alonso among the drivers to benefit from Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton’s respective retirements.

The 34-year-old is the only driver who is able to overtake Verstappen in the drivers’ standings, which may prove as a slight consolation to Red Bull even if Ferrari secure a 1-2 finish.

Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who has worked for a number of media organisations, including the Daily Express, The Mirror, Evening Standard, The Independent and Bleacher Report. Joe has been following F1 since when he watched Mika Hakkinen clinch the 1999 drivers' championship, and his first taste of real-life racing action was watching David Coulthard spin off into the gravel at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2001.
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