Sunday’s Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix served up a battle between Red Bull and Ferrari, with Max Verstappen becoming the youngest F1 winner in history as he took an amazing victory from Kimi Raikkonen in his very first race with his new team.
It came after Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton had dramatically collided into retirement on lap 1.
Verstappen, aged just 18, held off relentless pressure from Raikkonen in the closing stages, while behind them Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel did the same from the sister Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo, until the Australian’s right-rear tyre deflated just a lap from home.
Ricciardo took fourth, followed by Williams’ Valtteri Bottas, Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz and Force India’s Sergio Perez. Williams’ Felipe Massa, McLaren’s Jenson Button and Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat completed the top ten.
As the first Dutch F1 winner, Verstappen pushed all the way by Raikkonen from the 44th to the 66th lap. For much of that, the gap between them was rarely more than a second.
Red Bull’s chances improved significantly as Hamilton was slightly slower off the line than Mercedes team mate Rosberg, enabling the German to get a run on him round the outside of the first corner. Hamilton rallied, and going down the short to Turn 4 had momentum that encouraged him to go to the right of Rosberg just as the latter was moving in that direction. Hamilton got on to the grass and spun, collecting Rosberg as his out-of-control F1 W07 Hybrid arrived almost simultaneously at Turn 4.
Mercedes’ Niki Lauda publicly condemned his world champion, but team boss Toto Wolff said it was a hard one to call. Without the Mercedes, however, the race came alive.
Red Bull and Ferrari went for three-stop strategies with Ricciardo
and Vettel, two-stops with Verstappen and Raikkonen. And just as Pirelli
had predicted, if two-stoppers executed things well, the three-stoppers
would struggle to beat them. Ricciardo stopped again on lap 28, Vettel
on lap 29.
Button scored another two points for McLaren on a day when he led team mate Fernando Alonso until the local hero’s engine lost power and forced him to retire, and Daniil Kvyat salvaged something from a tough weekend with the final point for Toro Rosso and the fastest lap.
Rosberg continues to lead the championship with 100 points but his seven-race winning streak is over; Hamilton drops to third on 57 behind Raikkonen on 61, as Vettel and Ricciardo share fourth on 48, ahead of Verstappen on 38 and Massa on 36.
In the constructors’ stakes, Mercedes still lead with 157, but Ferrari close with 109 to Red Bull’s 94 and Williams’s 65.
First Grand Prix - 1991
Number of Laps - 66
Circuit Length - 4.655KM
Race Distance - 307.104KM
Lap Record - 1:21.670 by Kimi Raikkonen (2008)
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