Red Bull’s Max Verstappen has won a chaotic Australian Formula One Grand Prix.
Verstappen emerged unscathed from four starts of a crash-filled race on Sunday at Melbourne’s Albert Park circuit.
Verstappen won from Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso while Melbourne-born Oscar Piastri finished eighth to collect his first F1 points.
Eight of the 20 drivers didn’t finish a race which featured the original start, two standing re-starts and one rolling re-start.
“It was a bit of mess but we survived everything,” Verstappen said.
Verstappen was powering to a comprehensive victory with just two laps remaining when a crash halted racing – the second red flag of the grand prix.
The Dutchman had been leading by a whopping eight seconds but his advantage disappeared as the standing re-start dictated drivers resume from the grid.
In a boom-or-bust resumption, Verstappen clung to the lead but a mass collision behind him on the first turn forced four drivers out of the race and caused yet another red flag stoppage.
Melbourne-born Piastri, in his McLaren, narrowly avoided the carnage.
Verstappen, the reigning world champion, started from pole position but was overtaken on the first corner by Mercedes’ George Russell, who began second on the grid.
Last year’s Australian victor Charles Leclerc didn’t make it through the first corner, his Ferrari was clipped by Lance Stroll and spun into the gravel, his race over.
Verstappen was soon overtaken by Russell’s Mercedes teammate Hamilton before Williams’ Alex Albon lost control on lap seven and crashed, forcing the first of the three red flags of the race.
With Russell opting to pit moments before Albon’s messy exit, Hamilton held the lead from Verstappen.
But the Brit was only able to briefly hold off a charging Verstappen, with the Dutchman sweeping to the front on lap 12. Russell’s race ended six laps later when his Mercedes’ engine caught fire as Verstappen increased his lead.
But with Verstappen on lap 56 of the 58-lap event, Haas’ Kevin Magnussen crashed, causing another red flag.
The re-start’s mass collision followed, forcing the third red flag of the race.
But after lengthy deliberations, stewards decided the next resumption for the final lap would be a rolling start – effectively, a ceremonial procession when drivers couldn’t change positions.
That allowed Verstappen to claim a second win from three races this season – he also has a second-placing.
A record 444,631 spectators attended the Albert Park circuit over the four days, eclipsing the previous best aggregate crowd of 419,114 set last year.