Podium for Max Verstappen in F1 season opener

Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen finished the opening race of the 2019 F1 season on the podium as he claimed third position at the Australian Grand Prix.

The Red Bull Racing man stopped 10 laps later than rivals Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton ahead of him, and a strong move up the inside of the Ferrari man allowed him to battle it out with the Mercedes in the closing stages. However, the Dutchman was never close enough to make a move on Hamilton for second, - especially after a brief excursion at Turn 1 - as both trailed race winner Valtteri Bottas.

Pierre Gasly, making his debut for the Red Bull team in Australia, was knocked out in Q1 on Saturday and had to start 17th, compromising his race on a track with notoriously few overtaking opportunities. Despite running deep into the race before making his only pit-stop, he was trapped behind Daniil Kvyat - the man who replaced him at Toro Rosso - as he came home a disappointing 11th in the end, just outside the points scoring positions.

Speaking ahead of the podium ceremony, Verstappen said: "I had to overtake Seb to get on the podium, which is not easy here, and challenging Lewis at the end - I'm pretty pleased with that. To start the season on the podium and challenging Mercedes is a good start."

Alex Albon, who lives in Willen, brought home the other Toro Rosso in 14th on his debut.

Verstappen had to pass Vettel for third spot

Verstappen had to pass Vettel for third spot

Valtteri Bottas took the lead at the start and never looked back

Valtteri Bottas took the lead at the start and never looked back

Pierre Gasly was stuck behind Daniil Kvyat

Pierre Gasly was stuck behind Daniil Kvyat