Max Verstappen relieved after ‘little gremlins’ almost cost him Australia win

Max Verstappen's victory at the Albert Park Circuit on Sunday was his first in Australia.

Sky Sports F1 reporter Ted Kravitz believes “you could sense” Red Bull’s “relief” to have finally claimed a victory at the Australian Grand Prix, with their last win in Melbourne having come back in 2011.

The Albert Park Circuit has been a bit of a bogey venue for the Austrians and for Max Verstappen in recent years, with the Dutchman’s previous best result in Australia before Sunday having been third.

Verstappen, though, added Australia to the rapidly growing list of places he’s claimed victory in, after winning somewhat comfortably on Sunday.

After slipping from first to third on the opening lap, the reigning World Champion did well to get himself back into the lead, something he did with ease.

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Even a late red flag and a standing start with two laps to go couldn’t take the win away from Verstappen, who leads the Drivers’ Championship now by 15 points.

Kravitz gave “credit” to Verstappen for having held on for the win, despite having been faced with “little gremlins” throughout the race.

“I felt it was such a crucial win for Verstappen. It was as much of an achievement as his wins by 30 seconds,” Kravitz said on the Sky Sports F1 podcast.

“There were lots of things out there to trip him up and to make the tantalising Melbourne win, that has been denied him for so long, actually achievable. There was relief, you could sense, from Red Bull after that they’d done it.

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“Do you remember I spoke to Max on Thursday and I said, ‘if I was to offer you second now, would you take it?’ And he was like, ‘no way’. ‘I’ve had terrible luck here, my best finish has been third. I want that win’.

“Alright, between laps nine and 50 or whatever it was, he was going to get that win no problem. But then at the end there were the little gremlins coming out to steal it away from him.

“Credit to Max because he managed to avoid all of them to win.”

The only driver Verstappen had to overtake during the race was 2021 rival Lewis Hamilton, who overtook the Dutchman on the opening lap.

Verstappen ultimately breezed past Hamilton who had absolutely no response, with Kravitz labelling it as a “complete flip” of what was seen just a few years ago.

During Hamilton’s dominant spell, the 38-year-old would typically have to be extremely careful when overtaking any drivers, whilst Verstappen at the time would push to the limit to hamper Hamilton’s momentum.

Sunday was the complete opposite, with Verstappen having taken his time to overtake Hamilton, whilst the seven-time World Champion threw his car down the inside of the Red Bull driver at Turn Three.

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“What’s fascinating to me is, we now have a complete flip of the Mercedes-Lewis Hamilton seasons from 2014 to 2021, when Hamilton has been going for the championship, knowing he has the fastest car and needs to play it safe,” Kravitz added.

“You had the upstart Verstappen challenging him and wanting to get in there. And now you’ve got Hamilton challenging Verstappen, saying, ‘it’s no cares given’, ‘I’m out there to take all the risks’, putting it back on the defending champion.

“Hamilton knows he’s not going to win the championship this year, not unless something really weird happens, so he can go in there and be aggressive with Verstappen, knowing that he is probably going to have to give way.”