Max Verstappen has surprised friend and enemy by winning the Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona. Mercedes somewhat helped by eliminated themselves on the first lap, while a strategy gamble turned out to be the right choice to ensure the first victory for the half-Dutch, half-Belgian youngster.
As the lights went out, Hamilton made a decent getaway with with such a long run to the first corner, Rosberg dove into the slipstream, took the outside approach to turn 1 and braked later to get ahead. Hamilton however was considerably faster through turn 3 and attempted to get past again in turn 4. However, as he turned right, Rosberg defended violently and forced Hamilton into the grass. As the latter lost control of his car there, he slid into Rosberg, ending both Meredes' races after just a few 100 meters.
After 3 laps of safety car, the race could effectively start with Ricciardo leading team mate Verstappen. Sainz made a strong start to move up into third, ahead of Vettle, Raikkonen, Bottas, Perez, Button, Alonso and Grosjean. Kvyat was just out of the top 10 after 4 laps, followed by Hulkenberg, Magnussen, Gutierrez, Palmer, Massa, Nasr, Ericsson, Wehrlein and Haryanto.
By lap 7, Vettel had enough of shadowing Sainz, getting past the Toro Rosso on the straight. By that time, Ricciardo was already 4.5s ahead, with Verstappen in between, trailing his team mate at approximately 1.5 seconds. Raikkonen similarly past home driver Sainz on the straight two laps later, with Bottas next to try to move forward.
On lap 11, most front runners pitted to change their softs of new mediums. This included Button, who was surprisingly pitted before Alonso, despite having been able to start the race on brand new tyres, contrary to Alonso's qualifying tyres from Q2. Vettel stayed out for three more laps, changing little, except for being able to complete his second stint on newer tyres than the cars around him.
By lap 20, Ricciardo still leads, but Verstappen was within DRS range, and Vettel had caught up with the two Red Bulls, leaving team mate Raikkonen behind, approximately 4 seconds down the road in 4th position. Bottas in 5th was another 6 seconds further behind, followed at a distance by Sainz, Perez and Button. Alonso was 9th, but chased closely by Massa and Grosjean.
On lap 30, things started moving at the front, and both Ricciardo and Vettel on the next lap decided to switch to soft tyres. This enabled both to push hard in the next laps while Raikkonen also closed the gap to Verstappen who ended up leading the race for the first time in his career.
Verstappen then pitted on lap 35 for mediums, followed by Raikkonen doing exactly the same one lap later. Another three laps later, Vettel already pitted again to change to mediums, undercutting Ricciardo and forcing the latter to continue for longer if he would not want to drop behind the Ferrari driver. Vettel's first lap on new mediums was immediately 3 seconds quicker than Ricciardo on the softs.
On lap 42, having completed 2 thirds of the race, Ricciardo led the race, 9s ahead of Verstappen, 2 more to Raikkonen and another 5.5 to Vettel. Another two laps later, Ricciardo pitted and rejoined the race 6 seconds down on Vettel, following which he started to close that gap, while Vettel himself was losing ground on the two cars ahead.
Meanwhile, Fernando Alonso retired from the race at turn 3, as he simply lost drive and had to park his car. Earlier, Hulkenberg parked on the other side of the track after an engine fire occurred on his Force India.
At 10 laps from the end, Raikkonen closed in to 0.5s on race leader Verstappen while Ricciardo got similarly close to Vettel.
At the front, nothing really changed, and Verstappen didn't even have to fend off an attack from Raikkonen to win his first Grand Prix. Ricciardo was less fortunate and even suffered a puncture in the penutimate lap, requiring an extra pitstop. He did however manage to stay 4th, which will be some solace at least.
|1||Max Verstappen||Ned||Red Bull Racing||1:41:40.017||25|
|4||Daniel Ricciardo||Aus||Red Bull Racing||+43.950s||12|
|6||Carlos Sainz||Esp||Toro Rosso||+61.395s||8|
|7||Sergio Perez||Mex||Force India||+79.538s||6|
|9||Jenson Button||Gbr||Mclaren||+1 Lap||2|
|10||Daniil Kvyat||Rus||Toro Rosso||+1 Lap||1|
|11||Esteban Gutierrez||Mex||Haas||+1 Lap||0|
|12||Marcus Ericsson||Swe||Sauber||+1 Lap||0|
|13||Jolyon Palmer||Gbr||Renault||+1 Lap||0|
|14||Kevin Magnussen||Den||Renault||+1 Lap||0|
|15||Felipe Nasr||Bra||Sauber||+1 Lap||0|
|16||Pascal Wehrlein||Ger||Manor||+1 Lap||0|
|17||Rio Haryanto||Ina||Manor||+1 Lap||0|
|NC||Nico Hulkenberg||Ger||Force India||DNF||0|