F1 news: Martin Brundle ‘feels guilty’ for thoughts on Max Verstappen as pundit ‘relieved’ | F1 | Sport

The dominant Dutchman arrived in Melbourne on a nine-race win streak, having comfortably crossed the line first in the season’s opening two Grands Prix in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

But he was passed by Sainz on turn nine of the second lap before retiring on lap four with a mechanical failure, which sparked a fire at the right rear of his vehicle that the Red Bull crew had to extinguish.

Sainz, who will lose his seat at Ferrari to Lewis Hamilton at the end of this season, finished ahead of Charles Leclerc in the Scuderia’s first one-two since the 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix.

The Spaniard now trails Verstappen in the Drivers’ Championship by just 11 points despite missing the second weekend in Saudi Arabia to undergo surgery for appendicitis.

And Brundle heaped praise on him in the aftermath, admitting it was refreshing to see a changed line-up on the podium at Albert Park.

“I feel guilty for thinking it, but it was a relief to see a different winning team and driver in Melbourne,” Brundle wrote for Sky Sports.

“Nothing against Red Bull or its drivers, they’ve been immense, but the chorus of ‘F1 needed that’ echoed through the paddock post-race.

“Carlos Sainz was the hero of the day and fans’ driver of the day for the second time in his two races this season.

“Even when I chatted to him on the grid just before the race, I was perturbed that he still looked fragile and moved more slowly than normal after his surgery for appendicitis.

“There was nothing slow-moving about his race pace, though; he was sensational throughout.

“In his words, he is ‘jobless’ for next year, and that was one hell of an advert for his talents yet again. If he’d driven in Jeddah, it’s highly likely he’d be leading the world championship now.”

Ferrari are now just four points behind Red Bull in the constructors’ standings. Sergio Perez only managed fifth in Melbourne behind McLaren duo Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri.

Verstappen and Perez will undoubtedly be eyeing vengeance in the Japanese Grand Prix in a fortnight. Still, Sainz has every right to be confident in continuing to show Ferrari what they will soon be missing.

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