Leclerc crash, Sainz penalty cap off dismal weekend for Ferrari

Australian Grand Prix
Formula One F1 - Australian Grand Prix - Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, Melbourne, Australia - April 2, 2023 Ferrari's Charles Leclerc before the race REUTERS/Jaimi Joy

MELBOURNE, April 2 (Reuters) - A crash on the first corner for Charles Leclerc and a late penalty for Carlos Sainz at the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday capped off a dismal weekend for Ferrari, with the Italian team well adrift of leaders Red Bull.

Max Verstappen was victorious at the Albert Park circuit after a chaotic race with three red flags.

Sainz was given a five-second time penalty for making contact with Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso at the second restart. With the race ending under a safety car, that sent him from fourth to 12th in the final standings.

"I think it's the most unfair penalty I've seen in my life," Sainz told reporters.

"I prefer to go back and talk to (the race stewards)... and maybe then I can come back and talk."

"I think it's too unfair and I don't feel well (enough) to speak."

Earlier, Leclerc crashed out on turn one of the first lap after making contact with Aston's Lance Stroll. Race officials determined no further action would be required.

"That's it, Lance touched my rear right wheel," said Leclerc, the winner of last year's race in Melbourne, on the team radio.

After finishing second in 2022, Ferrari sit fourth in the constructors' standings, almost 100 points behind Red Bull and adrift of Aston Martin and Mercedes.

Reporting by Alasdair Pal in Melbourne; Editing by Peter Rutherford and Ed Osmond

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Alasdair leads the team covering breaking news in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific. Before moving to Sydney, he covered general news in New Delhi, where he reported from the front-line of the coronavirus pandemic in India and the insurgency in Kashmir, as well as extended periods in Pakistan and, most recently, in Sri Lanka covering its ongoing economic crisis. His reporting on Islamic State suicide bombings in Sri Lanka in 2019 was highly commended as the Society of Publishers in Asia awards. He previously worked as a financial reporter in London, with a particular interest in hedge funds and accounting frauds. Signal app phone number: +61439529540