Spanish GP: Sensational stuff from Max Verstappen as Mercedes’ ticking time-bomb finally goes off

History is made at the Barcelona circuit as Max Verstappen becomes the youngest ever Formula One winner and silences critics of Red Bull’s controversial driver swap

Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton finally raced wheel to wheel – for four corners.

After a beautifully executed pass from the German in turn one, Lewis Hamilton tried to come back at his teammate – he went up the inside, Rosberg shut the door, and they both ended up in the gravel trap.

Daniel Ricciardo inherited the lead of the race ahead of brand-new teammate Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jr.

Vettel and Raikkonen were in fourth and fifth as the Safety Car was deployed. Their poor qualifying meant they had it all to do to capitalise on the Mercedes’ DNFs when really they should have cruised to the finish line.

A strange decision from Ferrari and Red Bull to split their strategies meant that Vettel and Ricciardo switched onto a three stop race. This left them in third and fourth for most of the race, and ultimately didn’t pay off.

Max Verstappen was stalked by Iceman Kimi Raikkonen for much of the race, and though the Finn put as much pressure as he could muster on the flying Dutchman, he was able hold off to take the win in his debut race with Red Bull.

There will be mixed emotions in the Red Bull camp as Ricciardo’s race went from bad to worse. A late puncture after duelling with Vettel in the closing stages of the race. He recovered to remain in fourth ahead of Vallteri Bottas. He later told Channel 4 he was “bitter with the situation” after the change of strategy cost him the lead of the race.

Carlos Sainz, the forgotten Toro Rosso-er in the Verstappen/Kvyat switch, recorded his best ever finish in Formula One around his home circuit. Daniel Kvyat, still smarting from his demotion to the junior team, put in a strong performance to finish in tenth.

The Mercedes contingent took a further hit as Nico Hulkenberg found himself adding “impromptu fireman” to his CV as his engine caught fire.

Fernando Alonso joined the list of DNF’s as his McLaren ground to a halt, as did Romain Grosjean.

Red Bull winning a race before Ferrari – who would have predicted that?

Mercedes must be jumping for joy at Verstappen’s maiden victory, as focus shifts away from their tension-filled driver lineup. This title fight just went up a notch.

Spanish GP 2016 results

  1. Max Verstappen RED BULL
  2. Kimi Raikkonen FERRARI
  3. Sebastian Vettel FERRARI
  4. Daniel Ricciardo RED BULL
  5. Valtteri Bottas WILLIAMS
  6. Carlos Sainz JR TORO ROSSO
  7. Sergio Perez FORCE INDIA
  8. Felipe Massa WILLIAMS
  9. Jenson Button MCLAREN
  10. Daniel Kvyat TORO ROSSO
  11. Esteban Gutierrez HAAS
  12. Marcus Ericsson SAUBER
  13. Jolyon Palmer RENAULT
  14. Kevin Magnussen RENAULT
  15. Felipe Nasr SAUBER
  16. Pascal Wehrlein MANOR
  17. Rio Haryanto MANOR

DNF: Romain Grosjean; Fernando Alonso; Nico Hulkenberg; Nico Rosberg; Lewis Hamilton

The Monaco Grand Prix is in two weeks time on 29th May

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