Verstappen ‘very happy’ with maiden Australian GP win – but says rules were ‘not followed’ in Lap 1 Hamilton tussle
Max Verstappen was delighted to take his first career Australian Grand Prix victory at Albert Park – but the Red Bull driver did seem to take issue with Lewis Hamilton's pass on him at Turn 3 on the opening lap...
Verstappen started on pole position after blowing away the competition on Saturday, but Sunday saw him passed by both Mercedes at the start of the race as George Russell took the lead and Hamilton snuck by soon after. The Dutchman soon complained over the radio that Hamilton pushed him wide and out of the confines of the track, but ended up retaking the lead later in the race.
"From my side, I just tried to avoid the contact, it’s quite clear on the rules what is allowed to do now on the outside, but clearly, it’s not followed. But that’s okay. We had good pace, we passed [Hamilton] anyway but it’s something for the next race to take into account," said the Red Bull driver after the Grand Prix.
"We had a very poor start and then [on] Lap 1 I was careful because I had a lot to lose, and they had a lot to win," he added.
Verstappen retook the lead with an overtake on Hamilton around Turn 9 later in the race while Russell retired from P5 with an engine issue. The two-time champion reflected on a chaotic day that saw a number of Safety Cars and red flags, with numerous drivers crashing out in a late restart after which the race restarted again behind a Safety Car for a final lap, and Verstappen confirmed his victory.
"I think the pace of the car was quick, you could see that straight away, we were always there waiting for the DRS to open up, to have a chance to pass. But with these red flags, the first one maybe you can do… but I think that second one, I don’t really understand.
"It was a bit of mess but we survived everything, we had good pace on the car today again, and we won, which of course is the most important."
Ultimately, the race winner was pleased to break his duck with a win in Australia, where he clinched Red Bull's first victory at the circuit since 2011.
"It’s great to win here, my first win as well. It’s been a while for the team as well but very, very happy. But also, it’s still great to see that the fans are having a good time even now. They had a long wait for the whole day, so I’ll say a big thank you to them as well for sticking around," concluded the Dutchman.