Max Verstappen Wins Dramatic Spanish Grand Prix to Take Championship Lead

Max Verstappen took advantage of Ferrari’s misfortune to propel himself into the Formula One points lead in Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix. His Red Bull team managed a one-two finish, while title rival Charles Leclerc was forced to retire from the race.

Polesitter Charles Leclerc drove away to a huge early lead, which seemed secure after Verstappen and teammate Carlos Sainz drove off track, but suffered engine failure on lap 27. That left only Mercedes driver George Russell in the way of a win for Verstappen, who he passed with pit strategy. The win came despite Verstappen’s complaints of a DRS problem that persisted from qualifying.

Of his problems early, Verstappen said: “I suddenly had a lot of tail wind, so I just lost the rear and went off.” And he added that “my DRS was not always working, so that made it very tough.”

“But we managed,” he said, “due to the strategy, to get ahead again and do our own race and eventually win the race. So, difficult beginning but a good end. At the end, happy to win and happy for Checo you know. It was a great result for the team.”

Sergio Perez, who briefly held the lead, ended up being a casualty of the title fight. He followed team orders to let Verstappen past, with only a small complaint over the radio. “It’s unfair, but okay,” he told his team after being asked to give up a chance for a third career win.

George Russell ended up third for Mercedes, highlighting a big recovery for the struggling team. “Today was very tough,” he said. “I gave everything I could do to hold Max off, but he did an amazing job. I am proud to be standing here, it is a lot of points on the board.”

Leclerc was left to watch the end of the race. “It is a shame,” he said. “We will look at this issue and we cannot afford for this to happen many times in the season so we need to find the problem.”

His teammate, Spanish driver Carlos Sainz, still finished fourth, delighting the crowd in Barcelona. Fellow Spaniard Fernando Alonso had an immense recovery from his seventeenth starting place, ending up ninth on the grid.
1 1 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING RBPT 66 1:37:20.475 25
2 11 Sergio Perez RED BULL RACING RBPT 66 +13.072s 19
3 63 George Russell MERCEDES 66 +32.927s 15
4 55 Carlos Sainz FERRARI 66 +45.208s 12
5 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 66 +54.534s 10
6 77 Valtteri Bottas ALFA ROMEO FERRARI 66 +59.976s 8
7 31 Esteban Ocon ALPINE RENAULT 66 +75.397s 6
8 4 Lando Norris MCLAREN MERCEDES 66 +83.235s 4
9 14 Fernando Alonso ALPINE RENAULT 65 +1 lap 2
10 22 Yuki Tsunoda ALPHATAURI RBPT 65 +1 lap 1
11 5 Sebastian Vettel ASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES 65 +1 lap 0
12 3 Daniel Ricciardo MCLAREN MERCEDES 65 +1 lap 0
13 10 Pierre Gasly ALPHATAURI RBPT 65 +1 lap 0
14 47 Mick Schumacher HAAS FERRARI 65 +1 lap 0
15 18 Lance Stroll ASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES 65 +1 lap 0
16 6 Nicholas Latifi WILLIAMS MERCEDES 64 +2 laps 0
17 20 Kevin Magnussen HAAS FERRARI 64 +2 laps 0
18 23 Alexander Albon WILLIAMS MERCEDES 64 +2 laps 0
NC 16 Charles Leclerc FERRARI 27 DNF 0
Owen Johnson