Max Verstappen emerged as the winner of a dramatic Australian Grand Prix, which marked the third round of the 2023 Formula 1 World Championship.
The race was interrupted by three red flags due to multiple accidents on the circuit. Verstappen initially lost his pole position to the Mercedes pair of George Russell and Lewis Hamilton. However, he regained control of the race after a restart following a massive crash involving Alex Albon. Verstappen passed Hamilton in the ultra-fast section ahead of Turn 9 while Russell had to retire from the race due to an engine fire. Despite a brief off, Verstappen looked set for an easy victory, but the race was again red-flagged when Kevin Magnussen crashed his Haas, leading to a multi-car crash during a two-lap restart attempt. The remaining cars then completed the final lap behind the safety car in the order of the previous restart.
At the start of the race, Verstappen had a wheel spin and could not maintain his lead on the run to Turn 1, allowing Russell to take the lead ahead of Hamilton, who overtook Verstappen at Turn 3. The race was then interrupted by a safety car after last year's winner Charles Leclerc spun his Ferrari into the gravel while attempting to overtake Lance Stroll's Aston Martin. Russell led the race ahead of Hamilton, Verstappen, Carlos Sainz (Ferrari), and Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin) after the safety car. However, the safety car was required again when Alex Albon crashed out heavily, missing Pierre Gasly and Nico Hulkenberg. Russell pitted, dropping to seventh, and Hamilton took the lead. Verstappen passed Hamilton using DRS after the restart, with Gasly and Sainz following suit.
The FIA red-flagged the race to clean the track surface, which allowed those who had not pitted to make a tire change in the pits, ruining the strategies of Russell and Sainz. The race restarted with Hamilton on pole, followed by Verstappen and the Astons. Hamilton led the race, with Verstappen cruising past him with DRS on the ultra-fast run to Turn 9. Russell's race ended on Lap 18 due to an engine fire, and Sainz passed Gasly to take fourth. Verstappen led the race by 7s from Hamilton and Alonso, but the race was red-flagged again when Magnussen went off at Turn 2 with four laps remaining, and his car and detached tire needed recovery. Verstappen was in the lead when the race resumed for a two-lap sprint, with Hamilton in second place. Sainz pushed Alonso into a spin, and both Alpines collided and ended their races in the wall, with Nyck de Vries and Logan Sargeant also going off into the gravel.
After the incident, the cars returned to the pits, and the race officials decided to restart the race in a different order. However, the cars completed the final lap behind the safety car in the order of the last restart for those still running, which elevated Alonso to third place, with Sainz receiving a 5s penalty that dropped him from fourth to 12th. Stroll was classified fourth, followed by Perez, Norris, Hulkenberg, Piastri, Zhou, and Tsunoda.
TRAVELLING TO THE RED BULL RING
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