Race Report: Spanish GP- Verstappen makes it ‘youngest ever’

With all of the action over the Spanish Grand Prix, you may have missed this small tidbit of information—Max Verstappen is the youngest-ever Formula 1 race winner at just 18-years-old! Probably didn’t hear that from anyone did you?

The Plucky Teen Max Verstappen said the champagne tasted good (is his old enough to drink alcohol?) and he wasn’t expecting to win but then I’m not sure his teammate Daniel Ricciardo was expecting Max to win either. Ricciardo was rather blunt in post-race interviews saying he wasn’t sure why the team had chosen to move him to a three-stop strategy as Vettel had already jumped them in the pit stop and he was leading the race early on. I think I have a good idea of why they chose that strategy Daniel and you won’t like the answer.

The Plucky Teen was marked all day by the 2007 champion Kimi Raikkonen in his Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari had marked Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull for much of the race. Ferrari read the strategy moves by Red Bull and efficiently covered both drivers perhaps thinking that Ricciardo was the focus for Red Bull Racing so they had Vettel on his tail. As it turns out, Max was their focus and Kimi was on his tail.

The race was a clear battle between Ferrari and Red Bull with the latter coming out on top and this was due to the first lap incident between Mercedes teammates Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton. While at the time of writing this race report, team boss Toto Wolff says it is too early to apportion blame in the incident, non-executive chairman Niki Lauda clearly felt it was Hamilton’s fault as Nico has no reason not to the shut the door and Lewis was too aggressive. Toto has learned his Spa 2014 lesson and playing it cool will go a long way to keeping the #TeamLH mobocracy at bay.

WinWin

A huge win for Max Verstappen and Red Bull who not only faced stiff questioning over their demotion/promotion move this week of Kvyat and Verstappen but also will face some questions as to how they managed to orchestrate a Verstappen win at the expense of Daniel Ricciardo’s race lead and possible win. There is no reason not to be elated for what Verstappen has achieved for sure but it does make you feel a bit sorry for Daniel as he was in the groove, five by five and looking great for a race win.

Max’s career has been certainly helped and promoted but none of that is possible if he didn’t possess the talent and natural-born ability he clearly has. He deserves every accolade he’s gotten this weekend and given the car, he’ll deliver. He drove and incredibly mature race and perhaps one of the most frequent comments about this young man is his maturity which seems beyond his years. This was the first race in a brand new car in high-pressure situations and he managed it better than many of the champions did when they were new to F1.

A win for Williams who found Valtteri Bottas driving a lonely but effective race to 5th place with his teammate, who created a little controversy inside the team on Saturday’s qualifying, managed a recovery drive from 18th to 8th putting Felipe Massa in the points.

Kimi Raikkonen marked Max Verstappen for most of the day and while he couldn’t get around the young Dutchman, such is aerodynamic life in F1 and Ferrari’s awkward lack of performance in Spain, he did manage to get 2nd and a good podium finish and didn’t fail to mention with a smile that he had raced against Max’s dad in F1.

A win also for Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz who was running third early on and managed to finish 6th just behind Bottas. His recently demoted teammate, Daniil Kvyat, managed to pip Haas F1’s Esteban Gutierrez for the final points position in 10th and was actually driving extremely well toward the end of the race.

A win for Marcus Ericsson and Jolyon Palmer who bested their teammates in some decent intra-team duels to finish 12th and 13th respectively. Jenson Button also gets a win for bringing the McLaren home in the points but a far cry from where they really want to be.

FailFail

Mercedes clearly had a major fail this weekend and taking both cars out denies the team a result that respects all of their hard work and effort over the weekend, as Toto says, but that’s true of any F1 weekend where a car(s) crash out or experience a DNF. Lewis could argue the same over the prior two race weekends if I’m honest. It’s a little heavy handed to add gravity to how the drivers let the team down and how that’s an unconscionable sin while leaving a driver stranded for two races in a row due to mechanical issues. It’s all part of the game and it happens either in the garage or on track, that’s the risks involved in F1.

From my perspective, it seems clear that Nico’s car was harvesting mid-corner and he made the adjustment and pressed the overtake button to defend as he saw Lewis, who was aware of what was happening via Nico’s flashing rear light, and moved over to block the pass attempt.

The race stewards deemed it a racing incident with no penalties and the team say they will continue to let the two drivers race against each other as the hard lesson was learned. It was indeed. Regardless of blame, Nico is leading a championship and I said last year that he has to stop letting Lewis shove his way around him like he did in last year’s USGP. Nico was aggressive on the block and Lewis was aggressive on the pass attempt in a gap that was probably too late to take knowing the car ahead of close the door. Nico’s engine setting was wrong and Lewis knew that and tried to capitalize on it and Nico wasn’t going to let that happen.

Ferrari was being marked by Red Bull and as it turns out the two teams covered each other and it was Max Verstappen’s race strategy of two stops that was the better solution even though it seems that Ferrari thought Kimi and Max’s tires would drop off and they didn’t. This is a race that Ferrari should have won and once again, the team’s strategy was slightly askew.

A fail for Haas F1 who couldn’t come to grips, no pun intended, with the tires this weekend as Romain Grosjean sunk backwards and eventually retired with brake issues and Esteban Gutierrez attempted to bring home points only to be pipped by Kvyat. The team felt they had the strategies right but just couldn’t get on top of the car’s setup and tire heat issues. The result drops the team to 6th in the championship. Gutierrez did have his best race of the year.

WTHWTH

Ferrari sticking with Medium compounds when the soft was a much better performing tire for them…Huh?

McLaren’s recurring mechanical issue and I’m unclear as to what it was as the team seem relatively mum but it could have been #justthewind given the location of his retirement.

Unfortunately, Toro Rosso thought the three-stopper would be best for Daniil Kvyat which scuttled his race and that’s got to sting given Verstappen’s result in Daniil’s old car.

Another Hulkenberg DNF with a flaming engine due to oil leaks and potentially the same issue as Perez had but the team are investigating. What does Hulk have to do to buy some decent luck this year?

 

Pos Driver Car Gap
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Renault 1h41m40.017s
2 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 0.616s
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 5.581s
4 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 43.950s
5 Valtteri Bottas Williams/Mercedes 45.271s
6 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso/Ferrari 1m01.395s
7 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1m19.538s
8 Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes 1m20.707s
9 Jenson Button McLaren/Honda 1 Lap
10 Daniil 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 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1 Lap
15 Felipe Nasr Sauber/Ferrari 1 Lap
16 Pascal Wehrlein Manor/Mercedes 1 Lap
17 Rio Haryanto Manor/Mercedes 1 Lap
Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari Retirement
Fernando Alonso McLaren/Honda Retirement
Nico Hulkenberg Force India/Mercedes Retirement
Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Collision
Nico Rosberg Mercedes Collision

DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP

Pos Driver Points
1 Nico Rosberg 100
2 Kimi Raikkonen 61
3 Lewis Hamilton 57
4 Sebastian Vettel 48
5 Daniel Ricciardo 48
6 Max Verstappen 38
7 Felipe Massa 36
8 Valtteri Bottas 29
9 Daniil Kvyat 22
10 Romain Grosjean 22
11 Carlos Sainz 12
12 Fernando Alonso 8
13 Sergio Perez 8
14 Kevin Magnussen 6
15 Nico Hulkenberg 6
16 Jenson Button 3
17 Stoffel Vandoorne 1
18 Jolyon Palmer 0
19 Esteban Gutierrez 0
20 Marcus Ericsson 0
21 Pascal Wehrlein 0
22 Felipe Nasr 0
23 Rio Haryanto 0

CONSTRUCTORS’ CHAMPIONSHIP

Pos Constructor Points
1 Mercedes 157
2 Ferrari 109
3 Red Bull/Renault 94
4 Williams/Mercedes 65
5 Toro Rosso/Ferrari 26
6 Haas/Ferrari 22
7 Force India/Mercedes 14
8 McLaren/Honda 12
9 Renault 6
10 Sauber/Ferrari 0
11 Manor/Mercedes 0