Verstappen wins Spanish Grand Prix, Mercedes crash

18-year old Max Verstappen claimed victory in the Spanish Grand Prix on his Red Bull debut, after the favoured Mercedes took each other out on the first lap of the race.

Lewis Hamilton started on pole for the first time this season, with championship leading team-mate Nico Rosberg alongside. Rosberg grabbed the lead at the first corner, sweeping round the outside. But, with no energy left in his car’s battery, Rosberg was slow out of Turn 3, prompting Hamilton to dive for the inside line into Turn 4. As he drew level, Rosberg pushed him towards the edge of the road and onto the grass. Hamilton lost control and span back onto the track, collecting Rosberg on the way to the Turn 4 gravel trap. Watch the crash here.

Both cars were out. Neither the Mercedes team nor the race stewards apportioned blame for the incident, though the drivers aimed it squarely at each other. Safe to say their frosty relationship won’t be warming any time soon. Rosberg still holds the championship lead after winning the first four races of the season while Hamilton now lies third, 43 points in arrears.

With the Silver Arrows out of the running, a race of strategy developed between Red Bull and Ferrari. Daniel Ricciardo led the way after a safety car period to clean up Mercedes’ mess, followed by Verstappen, opportunistic Toro Rosso man Carlos Sainz Jr and the Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen.

Ricciardo and Vettel ran a three stop strategy, while Verstappen and Raikkonen pitted twice. That turned out to be the better option. As the former pair made their final stops, the latter were left out in front.

Throughout the remaining 22 laps, Raikkonen was glued to Verstappen’s gearbox but couldn’t line up an overtake. The youngster didn’t put a foot wrong either on the way to claiming a sensational first victory in Formula 1, vindicating Red Bull’s decision to move him up to the ‘prime team’ from Toro Rosso in place of Daniil Kvyat just a few days before the race.

With his win, Verstappen takes a clutch of records. He is the youngest driver ever to lead a race, to score points, to finish on the podium and, of course, to win. He’s also the first Dutch winner in F1 history.

Vettel rounded out the podium, while Ricciardo was a disappointed fourth, despite suffering a puncture on the last lap. Valtteri Bottas was fifth ahead of Sainz and Sergio Perez.

Felipe Massa battled through from 18th on the grid to finish eighth, while Jenson Button was ninth for McLaren. Team-mate Fernando Alonso had qualified inside the top ten, a first for the McLaren/Honda partnership, but retired with engine issues.

The under-pressure Kvyat finished tenth, having been outperformed by Sainz all weekend. The Russian can’t afford another performance like that if he doesn’t want to be booted out of Red Bull.

Despite the fact he didn’t even have a driving license when he made his F1 debut last year, few doubted Verstappen’s potential as a future world champion. That he has won a race so early in his career, in very mature fashion, at an age when most other drivers are still three or four rungs down the ladder, proves the point. Ferrari will be breaking his door down…

The next race is the Monaco Grand Prix on 29 May.

Spanish Grand Prix results 66 laps

  1. Max Verstappen — Red Bull-TAG Heuer — 1:41:40.017
  2. Kimi Raikkonen — Ferrari — +0.616
  3. Sebastian Vettel — Ferrari — +5.581
  4. Daniel Ricciardo — Red Bull-TAG Heuer — +43.950
  5. Valtteri Bottas — Williams-Mercedes — +45.271
  6. Carlos Sainz Jr — Toro Rosso-Ferrari — +1:01.395
  7. Sergio Perez — Force India-Mercedes — +1:19.538
  8. Felipe Massa — Williams-Mercedes — +1:20.707
  9. Jenson Button — McLaren-Honda — +1 lap
  10. Danil Kvyat — Toro Rosso-Ferrari — +1 lap
  11. Esteban Gutierrez — Haas-Ferrari — +1 lap
  12. Marcus Ericsson — Sauber-Ferrari — +1 lap
  13. Jolyon Palmer — Renault — +1 lap
  14. Felipe Nasr — Sauber-Ferrari — +1 lap
  15. Kevin Magnussen — Renault — +1 lap
  16. Pascal Wehrlein — MRT-Mercedes — +1 lap
  17. Rio Haryanto — MRT-Mercedes — +1 lap
  18. Romain Grosjean — Haas-Ferrari — DNF (brakes)
  19. Fernando Alonso — McLaren-Honda — DNF (engine software)
  20. Nico Hulkenberg — Force India-Mercedes — DNF (oil leak)
  21. Lewis Hamilton — Mercedes — DNF (crash)
  22. Nico Rosberg — Mercedes — DNF (crash)

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By Only Motors

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