Carlos Sainz on track during the Australian Grand Prix. (Pirelli Photo)

Sainz Leads Ferrari 1-2 Sweep In Australia

It turned into a banner day for Scuderia Ferrari in Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix as Carlos Sainz, a little over two weeks removed from appendicitis surgery, led the prancing horse brigade to a 1-2 finish in the third round of the Formula 1 season.

Teammate Charles Leclerc followed suit, 2.366 seconds behind Sainz. The victory was Sainz’ third career F-1 victory, and his first since the Singapore Grand Prix last September. 

“It was a really good race; I felt really good out there,” said Sainz. “Of course, [I’m] a bit stiff, especially physically, it wasn’t the easiest, but I was lucky that I was more or less on my own and I could manage my pace, manage the tires, manage everything. It wasn’t the toughest race of all, but yeah, very happy, very proud of the team.

“I’m happy to be in a one-two with Charles here. It shows that hard work pays off. Life sometimes is crazy, what happened at beginning of year, then the podium in Bahrain, then the appendix, the comeback, the win… it’s a rollercoaster but I loved it and I’m extremely happy.”

While polesitter Max Verstappen had the early advantage, brake issues began to plague the Oracle Red Bull Racing driver as Sainz took over the lead on lap two. 

Verstappen’s issues worsened as smoke bellowed from the rear of his race car. He retired shortly after to the garage for the first time in two years. His exit also meant a streak of nine straight F-1 victories would come to an end. 

“It is unfortunate about what happened today, but we can see so far in the data that as soon as the lights went off the right rear brake just stuck on and locked,” Verstappen said. “It was basically like driving with the hand brake on so, of course, the temperature just kept on increasing and then I could see smoke appear as it had caught fire. This at the time was very confusing as the car was really weird to drive in some corners. At turn three, I braked and lost the rear end of the car; it felt weird on the rear axel, then on turn six and seven it snapped on me.

“The team will investigate and we will see if there are any answers but there are some things you can’t control. It’s a shame as the car felt really good in the laps to the grid, but you cannot control these issues and these things happen. Of course, I am disappointed we didn’t finish the race as we had a good shot at winning and the car has been improving throughout the weekend,” Verstappen continued.

“We knew a day like could come at some point so we need to be proud that we have had a great run with nine races in a row and we can come back stronger for Suzuka.”

Behind Ferrari’s one-two effort, Lando Norris gave McLaren a podium result in third place, while his teammate and Australian Oscar Piastri claimed fourth. 

Red Bull’s lone finisher was Sergio Perez in fifth position.

While battling for sixth late in the race with Fernando Alonso, Mercedes’ George Russell crashed out in turns six and seven, ending his race and drawing a virtual safety car for the rest of the event.

Alonso was later penalized for playing a “potentially dangerous” part in the accident, sending the Aston Martin driver to eighth place with a 20-second penalty.

That vaulted teammate Lance Stroll to sixth and Yuki Tsunoda to seventh for RB Formula One Team. 

The American team of Haas F-1 enjoyed a double points finish for the first time this year with Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen rounding out the top 10.

Seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton endured an engine issue during the race and retired.