Max Verstappen’s 9-Win Streak Ended By Stuck Brake In Australia

Photo: Scott Barbour / POOL / AFP (Getty Images)
Photo: Scott Barbour / POOL / AFP (Getty Images)

Max Verstappen’s Australian Grand Prix and his nearly historic winning streak were unexpectedly cut short when the right-rear brake on his Red Bull caught fire. Alex Palou took home a half-million-dollar check in IndyCar’s erroneously named $1 Million Challenge. It’s Monday, March 25, 2024 and this is Racing Recap, your summary of last weekend’s motorsports action.

Ferrari Unexpectedly Takes 1-2 In Melbourne

Photo: Mark Thompson (Getty Images)
Photo: Mark Thompson (Getty Images)

It turns out we were wrong: Verstappen can be stopped, but not by any other driver. Max Verstappen was obviously favored to win Formula 1’s annual trip to Melbourne. He had won the last nine races and was one victory away from tying his record win streak. However, the world champion’s Sunday went downhill fast. Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz passed Verstappen for the lead on Lap 2. Not long after, smoke began billowing from the right rear corner of Verstappen’s car due to a brake clamping shut. By the end of the third lap, the brake had caught fire. He pulled into the pit lane, and his day was over. The mechanical failure allowed Ferrari to secure a 1-2 finish easily. Verstappen told


“My right rear brake basically stuck on from when the lights went off, so the temperatures just kept on increasing and until the point of course that it caught fire.”

“I had that moment after the first lap, but then already the temperature was increasing and increasing, so it just works like a handbrake. But of course, I didn’t know that stuff was happening. It just felt the problem was the car balance was off.”

Sergio Pérez should have been around to pick up the pieces after his Red Bull teammate left the race. However, he showed underwhelming pace on track as he tried to fight his way to the front. The team claims that Pérez’s performance was compromised by a visor tear-off lodged in his floor, throwing off the aero balance.

Race Results

1. - Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)
2. - Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) - +2.366 seconds
3. - Lando Norris (McLaren) - +5.904 seconds
4. - Oscar Piastri (McLaren) - +35.770 seconds
5. - Sergio Pérez (Red Bull) - +56.309 seconds

IndyCar’s (Half) Millon-Dollar Challenge

Alex Palou wasn’t just handed a briefcase filled with $500,000 to help cover his legal fees; he had to race for it at the Thermal Club. The pair of heat races began with Scott Dixon punting Romain Grosjean into the rest of the field as they rounded the first corner. The second heat featured all three McLaren cars trying to push their way into the top six places to advance.

Rahal Letterman Lanigan was the only team to have all its cars qualify for the main event, but the organization became the poster child for how cobbled together this ruleset was. Pietro Fittipaldi was disqualified for starting the main event without a full tank of fuel. Graham Rahal dealt with a stuck throttle and was forced to retire during halftime because his team wasn’t allowed to repair it. The 20-lap main event featured a halftime caution, but work done during the ten-minute break was heavily restricted.

Christian Lundgaard was the last remaining RLL entry. He and Andretti’s Colton Herta attempted to game the race format. They drove as slowly as possible during the first half to save their tires without getting lapped. It wasn’t exciting to sit through a 12-car race, but their teams hoped they would push during the second half on fresher tires. The gamble failed for both Herta and Lundgaard, with the Andretti driver finishing fourth and the RLL driver coming home ninth.

Race Results

1. - Alex Palou (Ganassi)
2. - Scott McLaughlin (Penske) - +5.792 seconds
3. - Felix Rosenqvist (Meyer Shank) - +9.758 seconds
4. - Colton Herta (Andretti) - +13.112 seconds
5. - Marcus Armstrong (Ganassi) - +15.093 seconds

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