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Motorsport Monday | Max Verstappen makes history!

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Spanish Grand Prix 2016, Circuit de Catalunya. A shocking weekend of Formula One action was crowned by the victory of 18 year old Red Bull driver Max Verstappen. Breaking all sorts of records, Verstappen becomes the youngest F1 driver to win a grand prix. At 18 years and 220 days, he beats the previous record holder Sebastian Vettel by over two years. The shock victory capped an incredible race day that had drama from the very first lap.

Rosberg and Hamilton Collide on Turn Three

The rivalry between Hamilton and Rosberg is well documented, with both driver’s desperate to get one over the other. The last two seasons have seen Hamilton claim the upper hand, cruising to the world title on two occasions. So far, this season has been the opposite, with Rosberg winning every race of the season up until this weekend. Hamilton has struggled, with performance and engine issues disrupting his title defense.

The signs were there that Hamilton was back to his best, having secured pole position for the race. But a poor start saw Rosberg get off the line quicker than Hamilton and he was ahead by the end of turn one. Going into turn three, Hamilton was pushing to reclaim top spot. A mistake by Rosberg meant that he was in the wrong engine mode, meaning he was moving slower than he should have been. Hamilton saw a gap down the inside and was moving much faster. Rosberg moved to close the gap. Running out of track, Hamilton took to the grass and lost control, spinning into Rosberg and sending both of them out.

 

 

Stewards and race officials decided not to punish either driver, with Mercedes calling it an unfortunate coming together with both drivers not entirely faultless. Hamilton apologised, speaking to the BBC he said, “Today we lost 43 points and there is only two of us part of doing that. The apology is that on my behalf I didn’t score those points for the team. These things happen but it is the right thing to apologise just like when the engine fails they say sorry to me.”

Verstappen steals the headlines

The crash of the two championship rivals was set to dominate the headlines until Verstappen crossed the finish line. It has been a remarkable week for the young Dutchman. Having been promoted to the main Red Bull team after Daniil Kvyat’s demotion, little was expected of Verstappen in his first race. Limited time with his new car meant that he had not completed the race distance in the new car outside of the simulator. Qualifying on the second row of the grid looked set to be the highlight of his weekend until Mercedes took themselves out of the race.

In the end, Verstappen’s two stop strategy combined with some excellent tyre management allowed the youngster to take top spot on the podium. He was behind Ricciardo going into lap 38 when Red Bull decided to change the Aussie driver’s strategy from two to three stops. Great defensive work meant that he managed to hold off Raikkonen, keeping the Ferrari driver (who is twice Verstappen’s age) behind despite the DRS advantage and fresher tyres. Verstappen showed excellent concentration and did not let the excitement get the better of him. It is not a shock that Verstappen has won an F1 race, just how soon it happened.

Not a happy Aussie

Ricciardo’s fourth place finish would have been a good result any other weekend, but the Aussie driver was left raging after Red Bull changed his strategy mid race. Moving from a two stop to the slower three stop strategy effectively ended Ricciardo’s pursuit of the win. A puncture in the last few laps also ended his pursuit of a podium finish, an aggressive attempt to overtake Vettel the closest he came to top spot. In post race interviews, it was clear to see how angry Ricciardo was, although he was quick to congratulate Verstappen. Talking to the BBC “I’m a bit devastated. A big part of me is happy the team are on winning form but it’s hard to celebrate,” he said, “To not be on the podium sucks. I will pull the guys aside who I need to ask them what the deal was today.”

Race results

1. Max Verstappen
2. Kimi Raikkonen
3. Sebastian Vettel
4. Daniel Ricciardo
5. Valterri Bottas
6. Carlos Sainz Jnr
7. Sergio Perez
8. Felipe Massa
9. Jenson Button
10. Daniil Kvyat
11. Esteban Gutierrez
12. Marcus Ericsson
13. Jolyon Palmer
14. Kevin Magnussen
15. Felipe Nasr
16. Pascal Wehrlein
17. Rio Haryanto
DNF: Romain Grosjean, Fernando Alonso, Nico Hulkenberg, Lewis Hamilton

Next up: The iconic Monaco Grand Prix

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