Red Bull's Max Verstappen celebrates on the podium after winning the Australian Grand Prix. Reuters
Although Red Bull’s first triumph in Melbourne since 2011 was expected, the carnage that unfolded in the latter stages of the race at Albert Park made it an extremely hard-fought win.
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Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, who drove superbly in his Mercedes, finished second, while Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso took third spot on the podium.
"That is a really good weekend for us. I am happy with that,” Verstappen said to his team on radio.
Max Verstappen (centre) attends a press conference next to Lewis Hamilton (left) and Fernando Alonso in Melbourne. AFP
Verstappen had appeared to be coasting to victory with an eight-second lead when debris from Kevin Magnussen’s Haas forced the second of three red flags in the race with three laps remaining.
On the restart, Verstappen was able to hold Hamilton to the first turn as bedlam unfolded behind his Red Bull, sparking a massive reshuffle of the finishing order in the 58-lap race.
Alonso, who had challenged Hamilton for second throughout much of the race, was hit by Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz on the first corner of the restart. Sainz, whose Ferrari showed good speed throughout the race, was issued with a five-second penalty that relegated him to 12th.
Williams driver Logan Sargeant also drove into the back of Nyck de Vries and Alpine’s Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly also crashed.
Earlier, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc exited after crashing on the opening lap, while the Mercedes of one-time leader George Russell caught fire on Lap 18.
Australian Oscar Piastri claimed his first championship points when finishing eighth in his McLaren.
Brown, the architect of McLaren's resurgence after a spell in the doldrums, told the Daily Mail he believed Max Verstappen of Red Bull and George Russell of Williams will be recruited by Mercedes in an all-new line-up for 2022.
The 36-year-old Briton had been out of contract since the end of last year but the negotiations had turned into something of a saga, with questions raised about why it was taking so long.
The six-time world champion and current standings leader has always drawn energy from the big crowds that support him at Silverstone, but this year's event will be run behind closed doors in front of empty grandstands.
"After two seasons in the French capital, Leo Messi’s adventure with Paris St Germain will come to an end at the conclusion of the 2022-23 campaign," PSG said in a statement.
The event featured a diverse group of emerging talents and classified athletes from prestigious clubs and academies giving excellent performances eyed enticing prizes worth more than Dhs1 million.
The four Emirati players, Abdullah Ahli, Abdullah Abdulaziz Abdullah, Fares Aljanahi and Salem Alhouli, will join a distinct team in the unique global championship.
Top-seed GM Yu Yangyi of China scored an emphatic win in Friday night’s seventh round to grab a share of the lead with defending champion GM Aravindh Chithambaram of India, who continued to struggle pulling the trigger in another promising position. Yu and Chithambaram now have 5.5 points from seven games,