There was drama from the get go at the 2023 Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix, which took place on Sunday and saw Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen win under the safety car. The win was the reigning champion's first down under.
Mercedes-Benz AMG's Lewis Hamilton claimed second place, while Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso rounded out the podium after Ferrari's Carlos Sainz was dropped to 12th due to a penalty.
The race started with Verstappen on pole and Mercedes' George Russell also at the front of the grid. Russell got the better start and was clear in the lead as Verstappen got held back dealing with Hamilton. Chaos then emerged for the first of many times as Ferrari's Charles Leclerc and Aston Martin's Lance Stroll came into contact, with Leclerc running onto the gravel as a result and exiting the race.
After a brief safety car period that ended on lap three, Russell was still in the lead, ahead of Hamilton and Verstappen. But the safety car would be soon out again after Williams' Alex Albon lost control and crashed at Turn 7. The race was then red-flagged as the track was cleared of debris. The race resumed with a standard restart, this time with Hamilton and Verstappen at the front. Hamilton got the better start but Verstappen was in front by lap 12 thanks to the successful use of DRS.
Ferrari at the 2023 Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix
On Lap 18, Russell's day came to an end when his Mercedes caught fire, requiring another safety car period. Meanwhile, Verstappen was comfortably in the front with a gap of approximately seven seconds to Hamilton, who had a roughly three-second gap to Alonso in third.
The order looked to be set but then more chaos emerged. On lap 54, Haas’ Kevin Magnussen hit the barriers in Turn 2, losing one of his tires which ended up on the turn's exit. The safety car and red flags would follow.
Another standing restart was called, with Verstappen and Hamilton at the front and just two laps remaining. Verstappen got the edge on Hamilton but behind them, Alonso and Sainz came into contact, with Alonso's car spinning and Sainz later copping a five-second penalty. Alpine's Pierre Gasly ran wide to avoid Alonso's car, but ended up colliding with teammate Esteban Ocon. Another red flag period was required to clear debris.
Due to a sector not being completed, the grid was formed based on the previous starting order with the crashed cars removed. Race Control also decided that the safety car would lead the field to the end of the race, due to there only being a single lap left.
Following the eventful third round of the 2023 season, Verstappen leads the Drivers' Championship with 69 points. Fellow Red Bull driver Sergio Perez is second with 54 points and Alonso is third with 45 points. In the Constructors' Championship, Red Bull leads with 123 points, versus the 65 of Aston Martin and 56 of Mercedes. The next race on the calendar is the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on April 30.
2023 Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix
Below are the full results from the 2023 Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix:
1) Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing
2) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-Benz AMG +0.179 seconds
3) Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin +0.769 seconds
4) Lance Stroll, Aston Martin +3.082 seconds
5) Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing +3.320 seconds
6) Lando Norris, McLaren +3.701 seconds
7) Nico Hulkenberg, Haas +4.939 seconds
8) Oscar Piastri, McLaren +5.382 seconds
9) Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo +5.713 seconds
10) Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri +6.052 seconds
11) Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo +6.513 seconds
12) Carlos Sainz, Ferrari +6.594 seconds
13) Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri – DNF
14) Esteban Ocon, Alpine – DNF
15) Nyck De Vries, AlphaTauri – DNF
16) Logan Sargeant, Williams – DNF
17) Kevin Magnussen, Haas – DNF
18) George Russell, Mercedes-Benz AMG – DNF
19) Alexander Albon, Williams – DNF
20) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari – DNF