Friday April 12th, 2024 8:35AM

Verstappen an early retirement from Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton also out

By The Associated Press

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — An angry Max Verstappen was an early retirement from the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix on Sunday, with the Red Bull driver sustaining a fiery engine failure on the fourth lap of the race, enduring his first race retirement since Albert Park in Australia in 2022.

Minutes after his retirement, he was seen on TV coverage of the race in a heated discussion with Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.

Verstappen had won the first two F1 races of the season in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia and was on a nine-race winning streak.

“My right rear brake basically stuck on from when the lights went off,” Verstappen said. “The temperatures (in the car) just kept on increasing until the point that it caught fire. They (mechanics) could see what was going on but they don’t know what what caused it.”

“We had a lot of good races in a row, I knew that the day would come when you end up having a retirement and unfortunately that day was today.”

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton was another early retirement with an engine failure on lap 17.

Verstappen, the three-time F1 world champion, began the race from pole, but was passed by Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz on lap two at turn nine. Verstappen kept on the Spaniard’s tail, but just two laps later was spewing smoke from the back of his car, with fire following, forcing his retirement from the race.

The 26-year-old had earlier complained on team radio about “losing the car.” Soon afterwards, smoke appeared at the rear of Verstappen’s car and he was forced into the pits, with no hope of a return.

Verstappen won 19 races last season — the most in F1 history — on his way to a third straight title.

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AP Formula 1: https://apnews.com/hub/formula-one

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