Australian GP: Max Verstappen holds off Lewis Hamilton for victory after wild finish to chaotic race

Race winner Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing celebrates in parc ferme during the F1 Grand Prix of Australia.

Peter Fox | Getty Images Sport | Getty Images

Max Verstappen held off Lewis Hamilton to claim a maiden Australian Grand Prix victory after a chaotic race, which finished with a processional safety-car lap following a wild late restart.

Verstappen looked to be cruising to a comfortable win having reclaimed the lead after losing out to George Russell and Hamilton during a frantic opening, but Kevin Magnussen’s crash and an ensuing second red flag of the race set up a two-lap sprint to the finish from a standing start.

The reigning world champion stayed in front of Hamilton off the line, before a crash between third-placed Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz behind him set off a series of other collisions, with Alpine team-mates Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon taking each other out from points-scoring positions.

A third red flag followed, along with further confusion and controversy as there was a long wait before the FIA decided to restore the order from before the restart because the cars had not made it far enough around the track before for the new classification to be confirmed before the red flag came out.

That meant that Alonso returned to third, but Sainz was left devastated as a five-second penalty for causing the collision saw him relegated to 12th, leaving Ferrari pointless after Charles Leclerc’s first-lap retirement.

More than two and a half hours after the race had begun, Verstappen was left to take the chequered flag unchallenged and complete his second win in three races this season, while Hamilton secured his first podium of the campaign.

Russell, who had given up the lead when pitting under Safety Car conditions – not expecting the red flag that followed – when Alex Albon crashed out on lap 6, retired on lap 18 after a technical failure.

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