Max Verstappen takes his first Australian GP victory amidst a chaotic race
Max Verstappen won a chaotic and controversial Australian Grand Prix that finished under a safety car after a crash affected restart
Max Verstappen led Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton and Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso home to set the podium.
That was despite Alonso being tagged into a spin at a restart with two laps to go and dropping to the back. But luckily for Alonso, under FIA regulations, the finishing positions were taken from the last restart, with the cars then having to complete a final lap behind the safety car.
To add to the controversy, Ferrari's Carlos Sainz was given a five second penalty for causing the the crash at the restart in the first corner by tagging Alonso's car, dropping him from 4th to 12th and out of the points.
An emotional Sainz described that decision as "unacceptable", adding: "They need to wait until after the race and discuss with me. Clearly the penalty is not deserved. It is too severe."
Alpine drivers Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon were the other big losers. The two Frenchmen started the final red flag restart from 5th and 10th but crashed into each other and retired at the second corner.
The first corner crash led the FIA to make a decision that a lap had taken place but that most of the events during it had had no effect, other than the crash between the Alpines.
Verstappen's win, coupled with a fifth place for his team mate Sergio Perez after the Mexican started from the back, extended the Dutchman's championship lead to 15 points.
These unprecedented events lead to controversy and accusations that F1 is putting showbusiness before sport.
The extraordinary events at the end of a race that had already had two safety cars and a previous red flag were triggered when Kevin Magnussen's HAAS ran wide at the first chicane and tagged the wall. The impact broke the Danish drivers wheel rim, caused a puncture and left debris strewn across the track. Back down the field, Sainz tagged Alonso's rear wheel and tipped the Aston Martin into a spin. Perez ran wide across the grass and then Gasly, appearing not to see Ocon on his outside, pushed his team mate into the wall, taking both cars out.
The red flag was immediately thrown again and the rules dictated the order had to be that at the restart because the field had not covered enough ground for there to be any other reference to set the start order. The timing of the incident meant that, according to the rules, there would be two racing laps after the restart.
That reinstated Alonso to third, despite him being dropping to the back after his collision, and Perez to fifth, after losing a lot of ground.
The Aston Martin of Lance Stroll was fourth, followed by Perez, McLaren's Lando Norris and Haas driver Nico Hulkenberg. McLaren's Oscar Piastri, Alfa Romeo's Zhou Guanyu and Alpha Tauri's Yuki Tsunoda completed the points positions.