Verstappen reigns in chaos as Fernando Alonso stays on the podium
Dutch driver Max Verstappen (Red Bull) won Sunday’s chaotic Australian Grand Prix, the third round of the Formula 1 World Championship, which had to be interrupted three times to end with the cars entering the finish line behind the safety car, with Spaniard Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin) third behind Britain’s Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) and Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) twelfth and last after being penalized with five seconds for taking the Spaniard ahead of him at the restart.
First red flag
The first red flag came on lap eight at Albert Park after Thailand’s Alex Albon (Williams) lost the rear of his car when he hit the barriers at Turn 6. Verstappen was then second behind Hamilton and struggled on the restart, but found his rhythm and soon after accounted for Hamilton.
Second red flag
As the reigning champion was about to celebrate the victory, with only two laps to go, the race had to be interrupted again; the Haas of Denmark’s Kevin Magnussen hit a wall and lost the right rear tire, and the red flag was waved again.
Third red flag
The FIA decided to restart the race with a restart, but a multiple accident, with the Alpines touching each other and Sainz taking out Alonso, led to a third red flag. «What a stupid rule! Check it, because a year ago at Silverstone the same thing happened and everything was restarted. Check it quickly!», Alonso asked over the radio, reporting that the car was «fine».
Severe five-second penalty for Sainz
Race Direction decided to restart the race behind the safety car in the order of the previous start, i.e. with the two-time world champion third and the Spaniard fourth, considering that the cars had not gone through the first sector and that any overtaking did not count. In addition, it also reported a severe five-second penalty for Sainz, who was definitely out of the points. «It’s unacceptable, you must wait until the end of the race and discuss it with me. Please tell you,» he told his team over the radio. However, the penalty was not revoked.
Second win for Verstappen
In this way, Verstappen celebrated his second win of the year ahead of Hamilton and Alonso, with only 12 cars finishing the race. Thus, he consolidates his lead in the Drivers’ World Championship with 69 points, ahead of his teammate, Mexican Sergio ‘Checo’ Pérez (Red Bull), with 54, and Alonso, with 45.