UNLUCKY IN MELBOURNE: Max Verstappen speaks with Toro Rosso technicians after retiring from the 2015 Australian GP. Image: AFP / William West
MELBOURNE, Australia - Max Verstappen's dream of scoring points on his 2015 debut as Formula 1's youngest driver went up in smoke on Sunday (March 15).
Verstappen, 17-year-old son of former F1 driver Jos, held his own for more than half of the 58 laps of the season-opening Australian GP before Toro Rosso ordered him to stop as smoke wafted into the cockpit.
He deserved better after moving up the order in a depleted field with only 11 finishers.
TRUDGE BACK TO GARAGE
"There's smoke in the car," the teenager reported over the team radio before his race ended on lap 34.
After stopping, it was a trudge back to the garage accompanied by a warm applause from fans behind the safety fences for a driver who has time on his side.
The previous youngest driver was Jaime Alguersuari in 2009 at 19 years and 125 days.
Verstappen was left a spectator as 2014 F1 Drivers' champion Lewis Hamilton led home a Mercedes 1-2.
Verstappen said of his performance: "Bit unlucky... I think the first stint I had on the mediums (tyres) was quite good. I could reasonably stay with the pack in front of me on softs. And behind me I didn't really have big pressure.
"Until the pit stop everything was going very well. Unfortunately I saw some smoke coming out of the car and reported it to the pit wall and they said to stop the car."
TORO ROSSO GRABS POINTS
Despite the retirement it was a positive day for Toro Rosso, with rookie Carlos Sainz holding on for ninth position to grab points on his debut after bumping into the back of Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen during a chaotic start.
Sainz might have had a better run but for a very messy tyre-change that saw precious seconds eaten as mechanics struggled to secure an uncooperative wheel.
Sainz said: "It was a great race, I was enjoying it a lot and with the front wing damage that we had to be fighting with a Red Bull in my first race was amazing."
"From that (pit-stop) problem onwards it was just about bringing it home and being safe.
"We had a lot of problems with fuel consumption and all that so to finish ninth in my first race, I would have signed for it before. I know there is a lot more potential than P9 but we need to keep positive and look forward."
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