F1: Max Verstappen wins Spanish Grand Prix to continue Red Bull sweep
Max Verstappen won the Spanish Grand Prix from pole position on Sunday to stretch his Formula One lead to 53 points and continue Red Bull’s sweep of the season with the team’s seventh success in as many races.
Seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton was second for Mercedes, but 24.09 seconds behind, with teammate George Russell completing the podium on a cloudy but dry afternoon at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya.
Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, Verstappen’s closest rival in a season that looks sure to crown the dominant Dutch 25-year-old for a third time, finished fourth after fighting back from 11th at the start.
The victory was Verstappen’s fifth of the season, third in a row, third in Spain and the double world champion’s 40th in Formula One.
The man who took the first grand prix win of his career at the Spanish circuit in 2016 and also triumphed last year, secured the bonus point for fastest lap to cap a day of domination.
“It’s a big pleasure to drive with a car like this. I think it showed again today,” said Verstappen, who fended off Ferrari’s home hero Carlos Sainz at the start in the only challenge of an otherwise straightforward afternoon.
“I had the harder compound so I knew the start would be a bit tricky. Going around the outside at Turn One is always quite difficult but luckily nothing happened.”
Verstappen was also shown a black and white flag for exceeding track limits late in the race but the risk of a five-second penalty was hardly going to trouble someone so far up the road from the rest.
“Well done Max, that was mega. Very well controlled, even though you went over the white lines a few times,” said team boss Christian Horner.
McLaren’s Lando Norris, who started third on the grid, suffered a broken front wing on the first lap after contact with Hamilton and had to pit, plunging down the order and finishing 17th.
The form of the Mercedes drivers, with a re-designed car after a disappointing start to the season, provided a main talking point.
Mercedes moved up to second in the championship on 152 points to runaway Red Bull’s 287 and with Aston Martin dropping to third on 134.
“Mega job guys, mega job,” said Hamilton over the radio. “Thank you so much to everyone back at the factory, continuing to push. This is a real showing for all your hard work. Let’s keep pushing.”
Russell went off into the gravel on his way to the grid, where he lined up 12th, but his car was undamaged and his pace strong.
“It definitely feels better,” he said of the car. “You are just putting in those lap times and comparing it to the guys around you — the Ferraris and Astons — and you are going quicker and quicker.”
Sainz was fifth, and said it was the best he could do, with the Aston Martins of Lance Stroll and Fernando Alonso sixth and seventh.
Alonso was 10th after his final stop but made a charge back up the order before settling in behind Stroll and assuring the Canadian he was no threat.
“I damaged one floor yesterday already, I didn’t want to damage another one today,” said the Spaniard, who had finished five of the previous six races on the podium.
“I didn’t want that he damaged a floor either, by defending. For us it was the same, sixth and seventh, same points so bringing it home seemed the right choice.”.
Alpine’s Esteban Ocon was eighth, Alfa Romeo’s Guanyu Zhou ninth and Pierre Gasly, who qualified fourth before a six-place grid penalty, took the final point for Renault-owned Alpine.
AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda collected a five-second penalty for forcing Zhou off the track, dropping him from ninth out of the points.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who started from the pitlane after a nightmare in qualifying left him on the back row, finished 11th.