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Max Verstappen rages as Red Bull car catches fire and forces shock retirement from Australian GP

The reigning world champion made a stunning early exit from the third race of the 2024 season

Kieran Jackson
Formula 1 Correspondent
Sunday 24 March 2024 11:46 GMT
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Max Verstappen retired from a race for the first time in two years after a brake issue set his Red Bull car on fire in the Australian Grand Prix.

It looked business as usual after the three-time world champion – who won the first two races of the season comfortably – led from pole following a decent start.

However, within one lap, Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz overtook the Red Bull around the outside, with Verstappen surprisingly admitting over team radio: “I lost the car, really weird!”

And by lap three, Verstappen fell further down the field with smoke pouring out of the rear of his RB20 car. Replays showed an issue with the brakes, with the right-rear of the car on fire as he entered the pits to retire.

Sainz ended up winning the race in Melbourne, with team-mate Charles Leclerc in second and Lando Norris in third.

Verstappen was visibly fuming after exiting his car and in conversation with mechanics in the Red Bull garage, saying to one engineer: “So stupid!”

It is the first time Verstappen has retired from an F1 race since the 2022 Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park and means he misses out on equalling his own record of 10 consecutive F1 race victories.

Max Verstappen was fuming after retiring from the Australian Grand Prix (Getty Images)

Verstappen said after the race: “As soon as the lights went out, the right-rear brake was stuck on.

“It was like driving with a handbrake on.

“The car felt weird to drive, very snappy. If a brake is stuck on, that doesn’t help. You accelerate and you see the right rear brake stuck on.”

Lewis Hamilton, Verstappen’s 2021 title rival, was also forced to retire early in the race after an engine failure.

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