Max Verstappen won a double stop/start F1 Australian GP in dramatic situation from Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso.

Even before the start of the F1 Australian GP weekend, Red Bull’s Sergio Perez and Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas were to start from the pitlane after the former got a new CE and ES while the latter changed the set-up of the car in parc ferme conditions.

The start from pole-sitter Max Verstappen in the Red Bull wasn’t too good as Mercedes’ George Russell got through him at Turn 1 to lead the race with the other Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton barging his way through to second at Turn 3.

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz was fourth from Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso with Williams’ Alexander Albon up to sixth from the other Aston Martin of Lance Stroll, as Alpine’s Pierre Gasly was eighth, Haas’ Nico Hulkenberg ninth and AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda 10th.

There was contact between Leclerc and Stroll which resulted in disaster for the Monegasque who retired immediately after his car was beached in the gravel. The Monegasque turned right in a tight corner with Stroll and Alonso on his right.

The safety car re-start saw Russell hold off Hamilton and Verstappen from Sainz, Alonso, Albon, Stroll, Gasly, Hulkenberg and Tsunoda with multiple drivers outside the Top 10 deciding to pit under safety car. Perez did two stops to be sure of no more stops.

But it went in vain after Albon lost his car and hit the barrier. The safety car was deployed when Russell pitted from lead and Sainz from fourth but the FIA red-flagged the F1 Australian GP to clean up debris and gravel on the road.

It was Hamilton on lead from Verstappen, Alonso, Stroll, Gasly, Hulkenberg, Russell, Tsunoda, McLaren’s Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri in the Top 10.

Post red flag re-start –

The starting procedure was put under investigation after Hamilton took it slow in the first part of the circuit which caused a bit of a mayhem at the back of the field with few going off too. It wasn’t a clean start from Verstappen as Hamilton led F1 Australian GP.

Alonso was third from Gasly as Russell moved up to fifth from Stroll, Hulkenberg, Tsunoda, Norris and Sainz in the Top 10 where the Spaniard gained on Piastri on the re-start. At the front, Verstappen didn’t waste much time to pass Hamilton to lead F1 Australian GP.

Alonso steadied in third from Russell who passed Gasly while Sainz got on the tail of the Frenchman after clearing multiple drivers in a space of few laps. Stroll was behind him in seventh with Hulkenberg eighth, Norris ninth and Tsunoda 10th.

There was a slight contact between Tsunoda and Piastri at Turn 1 but no major damage was reported. There was also a contact between Alpine’s Esteban Ocon and AlphaTauri’s Nyck de Vries where the Dutchman went airborne for a moment after their wheels touched.

As things started to settle in, there was a Virtual Safety Car period for a mechanical issue for Russell who stopped at the pit exit. Fire blew from the rear of his car as Verstappen led Hamilton and Alonso at the front, with Gasly running a good fourth.

He had Sainz and Stroll on his tail, while Hulkenberg was seventh from Norris and Perez, who cleared multiple cars in the space of few laps. As Verstappen went into the distance, Hamilton and Alonso steadied on as Sainz passed Gasly for fourth.

But the Frenchman kept him honest with Stroll not far behind. Hulkenberg was a distant seventh from Norris, whom Perez was catching but at a slow pace. Ocon was up to 10th after clearing Tsunoda and Piastri, where the Australian passed the Japanese driver.

It all got a bit steady at the front with Verstappen leading comfortably, Hamilton kept second from Alonso as Sainz had to defend from Gasly. Stroll was at a bit of distant in sixth as Perez cleared Hulkenberg and Norris to be up to seventh in the Canadian’s chase.

Hulkenberg had Norris on his tail then with Ocon at a long distance in 10th. The German lost eighth to the Brit after a bold move with the Haas going over the gravel. A few laps later, the other Haas of Kevin Magnussen slammed onto the wall.

He did it on himself as his right-rear flew off with debris on road. The safety car was deployed but it was soon red-flagged with a couple of laps to go. It was Verstappen – who surprised a small off at Turn 13 – from Hamilton, Alonso, Sainz, Gasly, Stroll, Perez, Norris, Hulkenberg and Ocon in the Top 10.

Post red flag re-start 2 –

The re-start was chaos for all as Verstappen led Hamilton but everyone behind were left shell shocked. The order had Sainz, Hulkenberg, Tsunoda, Norris, Piastri, Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu, Bottas and Perez in the Top 10 behind the Top 2.

There was another red flag after a multi-car collision. Sainz hit Alonso at Turn 1 which led him into a spin, while Williams’ Logan Sargeant tagged the back of AlphaTauri’s Nyck de Vries for their off at Turn 1. Stroll had a self-off at Turn 3 but continued.

The red flag was for a big collision between Gasly and Ocon when their wheels touched and they rammed onto the wall where Magnussen hit. Perez also had to avoid the Turn 1 carnage which left him only 10th in the order.

With the race under red flag, it was for the race control to decide the order or have another re-start. They finalised for another re-start as a rolling start with Verstappen leading Hamilton, Alonso, Sainz, Stroll, Perez, Norris, Hulkenberg, Piastri and Guanyu in Top 10.

The FIA handed a 5s penalty to Sainz for a casing a collision at second re-start. The Spaniard would finish last as a result on re-start. The incident between Gasly and Ocon was put under investigation by the stewards as they waited for the re-start.

Upon the re-start, they just did one lap to the chequered flag as Verstappen took the F1 Australian GP win after high dramas from Hamilton and Alonso. It was Sainz in fourth on the road but dropped to last with Stroll in fourth from Perez.

Norris was sixth from Hulkenberg, Piastri, Guanyu and Tsunoda in the Top 10, as Bottas and Sainz rounded out the 12 finishers from the 20 who started.

DNF (but classified): GAS, OCO, DEV, SAR, MAG. DNF: RUS, ALB, LEC.

UPDATE: The stewards cleared everyone for the first red flag re-start where it was found that Russell was slow to get away from the pitlane and so it created a pack behind. Even though it was not hugely safe but the stewards didn’t think it would be wise to penalise for abiding by the pitlane speed rule.

“The Stewards reviewed positioning/marshalling system data, video, timing, telemetry, team radio and in-car video evidence and determined as follows. After a Red Flag period in Lap 9, the safety car resumed the race with the cars following it per the restart procedure under Article 58 of the F1 Sporting Regulations,” said the steward report.

“For a race to resume with a standing start behind a safety car, Article 58.8 of the Regulations require the cars to follow the safety car no more than 10 car lengths apart. The first car in line behind the safety car may “dictate the pace and, if necessary, fall more than ten (10) car lengths behind it”. In this case, Car 44 HAM was the first car in line and when the safety car lights went out at turn 6, dictated the pace by going very slowly (as the regulations entitled it to do).

“Car 63 RUS, got off to a slow start from the pits and as soon as he left the pit lane sped up to make up the gap. That then resulted in the other cars behind RUS to be delayed leaving the pit lane and also speeding up. When RUS and the cars behind caught up with the cars in front, they were met with a significant speed delta between the two groups resulting in a situation where a number of cars had to take evasive action. This was not at all an ideal situation from a safety point of view.

“Although RUS’s start was slow, given that he had to maintain the pit lane speed till he got out of the pits and that he immediately sped up to make up the gap, we did not consider that it would be necessary or appropriate to penalise RUS for a slow start from the pit lane. We therefore took no further action. We do consider that part of the problem is the regulation that permits the lead car to set the pace even when the restart is for a standing start from the pit lane (as opposed to a rolling start). This should perhaps be looked at in the future to see if this is appropriate for a restart of this nature.”

UPDATE 2: Post-race, Haas has filed in a protest against the provisional results of F1 Australian GP which is likely to be regarding the final re-start order where Hulkenberg was fourth on the grid before they went back to the original order.

The hearing is set for 19:30 local time. “Protest submitted by MoneyGram Haas F1 Team regarding the Provisional Classification of the 2023 Australian Grand Prix received at 18h29s,” said the stewards report.

UPDATE 3: In an unusual summon, the FIA Stewards have called up the Australian Grand Prix Corporation at 20:15 local time for spectator track inavsion before the end of the F1 Australian GP. “Spectator track invasion prior to the conclusion of the 2023 Australian Grand Prix,” said the report.

UPDATE 4: Following the stewards visit, it was noted that there will be no further action on the incident between Ocon and Gasly which was deemed as a first lap racing incident.

“The Stewards heard from the driver of Car 10 (Pierre Gasly), the driver of Car 31 (Esteban Ocon), a team representative and reviewed positioning/marshalling system data, video and in-car video evidence and determined that it was a first lap racing incident. Both cars recognised and accepted this as such. In the circumstances, we took no further action,” said the stewards report.

Here’s FIA dimissing Haas’ protest: