Verstappen wins chaotic F1 Australian GP
Red Bull's Max Verstappen survived the drama of three red flags and a late restart to take victory in Sunday's Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park.
Verstappen had been leading the race comfortably, but a late red flag to clear debris after Kevin Magnussen had hit the wall led to a standing restart on Lap 56 of 58, wiping out Verstappen's advantage.
The Dutchman led away from the restart, but there was chaos behind him, as Carlos Sainz tipped Fernando Alonso into a spin, and the two Alpines of Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon collided, bringing out the red flag again.
Though there was confusion about the correct finishing order, Race Control decreed that the results would be taken from the race order as it stood at Lap 56, minus the cars that had retired after the restart.
The final result thus saw Lewis Hamilton take second behind Verstappen, while Alonso was reinstated into his third consecutive third-place finish for Aston Martin.
Having started the original race from the pole position, Verstappen lost out to the two Mercedes of George Russell and Hamilton at the start and settled into third place.
A crash from Alex Albon on Lap 8 initially brought out the Safety Car, prompting Russell to elect to pit for new tyres, but the Safety Car period soon turned into the race's first Red Flag, as Albon's crash had left gravel strewn about the circuit.
With drivers allowed a free choice of tyres ahead of the race restart, this played into the hands of those who had not pitted such as Hamilton and Verstappen, who lined up first and second on the grid for the restart on Lap 10.
Though Hamilton initially led the field away, Verstappen took advantage of the potency of his Red Bull's DRS to breeze past the Briton and settle into a comfortable lead that he would keep to the flag, despite the late drama.
"We had a very poor start, Lap 1 I was careful as I had a lot to lose," said Verstappen.
"After that, the pace of the car was quick. With these red flags, I don't know, I don't really understand.
"It was a bit of a mess but we had a good pace and won, so that's important. It's great to win here, my first win [here] as well."
Behind the top three, Alonso's teammate Lance Stroll took fourth, with Verstappen's teammate Sergio Perez salvaging fifth after having started the race from the pit lane following problems in qualifying and a component change.
Lando Norris finished sixth for McLaren, ahead of Nico Hulkenberg in his Haas. Norris' teammate Oscar Piastri scored his first F1 points at his home race in eighth places, with Zhou Guanyu ninth for Alfa Romeo, and Yuki Tsunoda rounding out the points in tenth.
Sainz was initially classified fourth but dropped to 12th and last after being slapped with a time penalty for his late contact with Alonso.
In addition to the two Alpines, Magnussen and Albon, other drivers to fail to finish included Charles Leclerc, who was tipped into the gravel on Lap 1, and Russell, whose Mercedes suffered a rare power unit failure.
Verstappen's win sees him extend his championship lead to 69 points. Perez remains second with 54, and Alonso is third with 45 points.
In the Constructors' standings, Red Bull has a commanding lead with 123 points. Aston Martin is second with 65, with Mercedes third with 56.
The fourth round of the 2022 Formula 1 season is the Azerbaijan Grand Prix at Baku on April 29.