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Charles Leclerc seals Australian Grand Prix victory while Max Verstappen’s surrender gives George Russell a podium finish

CHARLES LECLERC won the Australian Grand Prix, his second win in three races this year.

It was another impressive performance from the Frenchman that left Ferrari unconcerned from start to finish.

Charles Leclerc clinched his second win of the season in a direct race for the Frenchman

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Charles Leclerc clinched his second win of the season in a direct race for the FrenchmanPhoto credit: Getty
Lewis Hamilton was third despite a difficult race

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Lewis Hamilton was third despite a difficult racePhoto credit: AFP
Max Verstappen retired from the race on lap 39

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Max Verstappen retired from the race on lap 39Credit: AP

Two safety cars couldn’t disrupt his flow, nor could Max Verstappen’s shock demolition on lap 39.

Verstappen had consistently outperformed Leclerc in second place, but had a problem with his engine forced his resignation.

That pushed his team-mate Sergio Perez into second place, with the Mercedes pair also benefiting – George Russell clinching a podium finish with him Lewis Hamilton fourth.

Hamilton got off to a dream start, gaining two places on the first corner after passing Lando Norris and Sergio Perez for third place.

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But Red Bull man Perez’s pace was too high and he overtook Hamilton on lap ten.

Perez lost his position to a safety car but had no problem passing Russell with Red Bull showing how strong their straight line pace is.

McLaren duo Lando Norris and Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo finished fifth and sixth, earning the team’s first double points of the season.

Elsewhere, Ferrari’s day of celebration had a bitter note – Carlos Sainz crashed on lap two.

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The Spaniard had a nightmare weekend after starting ninth on the grid in qualifying after a red flag prevented him from setting a faster time.

Sainz slipped to 14th in the first few corners and in the battle for position he lost control and went off the track before landing in the dirt.

Leclerc said after his win: “It’s the first where we controlled the gap – what a car today.

“Race pace was extremely strong, we handled the tires extremely well. i’m just so happy Unbelievable to win here.

“We’re only in the third race, so it’s difficult to think about the championship, but to be honest we have a very strong car, a very reliable car.

“We’ve always been like this at the moment. I hope it continues like this and if it does we probably have a shot at the championship, which makes me smile after the last two years.”

After his first podium finish of the season, Russell said, “We have to be there to win it and capitalize on other people’s misfortunes.

“To be on the podium is something special.

“We will never give up, we will keep fighting and this weekend we were way behind our rivals but still got a podium.

“We have to keep going like this when we’re on the backfoot and I’m sure we’ll get there after a couple of races.”

https://www.thesun.co.uk/sport/18221803/leclerc-australian-gp-verstappen-hamilton/ Charles Leclerc seals Australian Grand Prix victory while Max Verstappen’s surrender gives George Russell a podium finish

Ashley

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