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Max Verstappen had a tough outing at the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday in the third Formula One race of the 2024 season.

After winning the first two races and sitting on the pole for the Melbourne event, Verstappen was in trouble right from the jump. He had Carlos Sainz on his tail and couldn’t hold him off as he slipped in one turn. Then, his Red Bull Racing vehicle started to smoke.

Verstappen began to lose power and was forced to retire from the race in one of the shocking events of the season. As he came into the pits, the back of his car exploded and spewed black smoke briefly. His pit crew came in to extinguish the flames and his day was over quickly.

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“My right rear brake basically stuck on from when the lights went off,” he said afterward. “The temperatures (in the car) just kept on increasing until the point that it caught fire. They (mechanics) could see what was going on, but they don’t know what caused it.

“We had a lot of good races in a row, I knew that the day would come when you end up having a retirement and, unfortunately, that day was today.”

F1 ACADEMY DRIVER’S VICTORY STRIPPED AFTER PENALTY FOR BIZARRE REASON

Max Verstappen's car smokes

Verstappen won 19 races last season on his way to his third consecutive world championship.

“It’s a shame as the car felt really good in the laps to the grid, but you cannot control these issues and these things happen,” he added. “Of course, I am disappointed we didn’t finish the race as we had a good shot at winning and the car has been improving throughout the weekend.”

Sainz – 16 days removed from appendix surgery – held on for the win. His Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc finished in second and McLaren’s Lando Norris took home third.

Max Verstappen drives in

Lewis Hamilton also had engine trouble, which saw him finish in 18th. Hamilton’s teammate George Russell crashed and nearly turned his vehicle over on the last lap trying to get around Fernando Alonso.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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