MONTMELO, SPAIN - MAY 15: Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing celebrates his first win on the podium during the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Catalunya on May 15, 2016 in Montmelo, Spain. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images). Image courtesy of RedBull Racing.

Max Verstappen Wins the 2016 FIA Formula One Spanish Grand Prix

I’m eighteen
And I don’t know what I want
Eighteen
I just don’t know what I want
Eighteen
I gotta get away
I gotta get out of this place
I’ll go runnin in outer space

With apologies to rock legend Alice Cooper, 18-year old Max Verstappen knows what he wants.  And at yesterday’s 2016 Spanish Grand Prix, the foolishness of AMG Petronas was the catalyst to him getting it, becoming the youngest winner of a Formula One race.

The race began in a bizarre way.  The golden boys of the past 3 years, AMG Petronas’s Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, found a way to muck it up by crashing into each other in the first lap of the race.  They went from the two coolest drivers on the planet to a couple of bumbling idiots, incapable of putting aside their own feud for the good of the team.

But let’s get back to the point.  With Hamilton and Rosberg’s self-immolation, the race was pretty wide open.  And Verstappen, Vettel, Ricciardo, and Raikkonen gave us 65 laps of racing drama.  With the win, Verstappen not only beat Vettel on the circuit, bested Seb’s record as the youngest F1 winner.



Below are comments from race personnel, courtesy of team media.

Max Verstappen, RedBull Racing

“It’s a very special feeling. Of course I didn’t expect to win; after the Mercedes pair crashed then you’re targeting a podium, but in the end to come out on top, it’s incredible. To hear the Dutch national anthem for the first time in Formula One, I have to think about my dad for sure and I heard he was crying, so yeah it’s unbelievable. He invested a lot of time in me and this achievement is also because of him. I wasn’t nervous during the race, I was just trying to focus and drive the best I could. We focused a lot on keeping the tyres alive because at my last stop I still had to do 32 laps until the end, but it worked out well! With five laps to the end I saw Kimi was dropping off a bit, he tried a few times and of course it kills your tyres and from there I just like ‘okay, focus on the tyres now and bring it home’. I will for sure remember this and at the moment it’s just a great feeling. It’s amazing, I have no words for it. It was very good company on the podium, I mean Kimi even raced against my dad, so it’s very funny! I was celebrating a lot on the in lap and I got a bit of cramp, but that’s part of it!”

Lewis Hamilton, AMG Petronas

I had a decent start from pole but got slipstreamed on the way to the first corner and lost the lead. Coming out of turn three, I was catching Nico really quickly and went for the gap on the right – I had part of my car alongside but then had to take to the grass. The gap was there and, if you’re a racing driver, you go for that gap. We saw what happened after that. I’m hurt and disappointed for the team most of all because we lost 43 points today. We’re all here working together towards the same result and the team give me the opportunity to race with the work they do. When I came to a stop in the gravel trap, all I could think about was how gutted I was for the team – that’s where I feel the pain. But we will move on together and come back stronger in Monaco.

Nico Rosberg, AMG Petronas

I had a great start and I was ecstatic after passing Lewis around the outside of turn one. At that point, it was my race to win. I came out of turn three and realised I was down on power with the wrong mode selected due to the engine mode switch being in the incorrect position. Lewis was closing in, so I decided to make a clear move to the right hand side as soon as possible, to close the door and show him that wasn’t an option. I was very surprised that Lewis went for the inside anyway. The next thing I knew, we were in the gravel trap. I’m gutted, not just for myself but for the whole team, it’s the worst feeling as a driver.

Sebastian Vettel, Scuderia Ferrari

Today there was a big chance to win the race, so definitely I was attacking to win, that was what I was hoping for. But that lasted up to the point where I came out after the last stop and I realized the advantage I had, with a set of tires that were a couple of laps fresher, over the guys ahead was practically not there. We struggled on the Medium tires, where Red Bull was strong, and this is the reason why Kimi and I couldn’t attack, but we were very strong on the Soft tires. We decided to split the strategies between the two cars: I went for the three stop strategy, then I tried to attack the leader and I succeeded, but in the end both Daniel and myself came out behind the two stoppers. So all in all we were lacking pace, which is something we need to understand. There is nothing wrong with our car, it’s good, it works well, and the stuff we brought here seems to work. My congratulations to Verstappen. The first win is one of the best moments you can have, it’s something really special. So ‘chapeau’, Max managed to stay ahead, even if he had a lot of pressure from Kimi.

Kimi Raikkonen, Scuderia Ferrari

I had a poor start, with massive wheel spin when I released the clutch. I managed to recover some places in the first few corners and then I caught up with Max pretty easily. The car was ok and the speed was good, but once you are following another car for many laps this doesn’t help the tires and I was missing a bit of grip and downforce. It was a struggle to follow him close, I never really had a good run on him out of the last corner because he was really fast there. It’s a bit disappointing when you get that close and you don’t win, but after a difficult weekend we have to be somehow happy for this result. As a team we keep working as hard as we can and try to get the wins, we keep fighting and when we have difficult weekends likes this one, we have to keep the fight alive and be up there to score points. Max really deserves this win, for me he’s not a surprise. He was doing a very good job already last year and today in a better car he was able to win.

Daniel Riccardo, RedBull Racing

“Mixed emotions today, for sure. Some of it was just bad luck today, I was leading and then went on a three stop strategy, which meant I had to try and pass three cars on track, which isn’t easy. Seb had already jumped us on the pit stop, which resulted in more overtakes to get back to the front. In hindsight, a three stop strategy was the wrong thing to do, but maybe during the race it seemed like the right thing to the team. I wasn’t content sitting in fourth so I tried to pass Vettel, I had a crack, but it didn’t work out. It really sucks to not even be on the podium and then the puncture at the end just rubs salt in the wound. It’s a big day for Max with his first race win, so congratulations to him. He got the job done, everyone questioned the decision during the week but he has proven today that he is a top class driver. It’s not hard for me to see Max on the podium, it’s just hard not to be there myself. Let’s move on to Monaco and hopefully we will both be on the podium next time.“


 

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