Max Verstappen (Red Bull) wins the Spanish Grand Prix and takes the Championship lead

Max Verstappen (Red Bull) wins the Spanish Grand Prix and takes the Championship lead

At the start of the season which has seen F1 adopt new regulations, an unexpected rule seems to be confirmed: for Max Verstappen, it’s either retirement or victory. The world champion won his fourth Grand Prix of the season in Spain on Sunday. He won ahead of his teammate Sergio Perez, and also took the lead in the World Championship thanks to the retirement of Charles Leclerc, who was in the lead when his Ferrari dropped him, due to mechanical breakdown. Double blow for Red Bull which is ahead of the Scuderia in the constructors’ classification. George Russell (Mercedes) completes the podium.

Charles Leclerc’s ideal weekend seemed set to continue. Perfectly launched in front of Verstappen, the Monegasque managed his tires well, gradually increasing his lead at the head of the race. But a sudden engine problem forced him to throw in the towel on lap 27, when he was 13 seconds ahead of George Russell. “Had badly”, confided the Ferrari driver after the race. Especially since the team could not count on Carlos Sainz to take over. The Spaniard, who came off the grid badly, quickly went from 3rd to 5th, before spinning off at the 4th corner of the 7th lap. Out of the points, he was finally able to climb back to the foot of the podium.

Perez, model teammate

Verstappen also exited at this 4th corner, trapped by the tailwind on lap 9 as he gave ground behind Leclerc. After 4th, he saw Perez give up his place to him to be able to attack Russell. But Verstappen’s faulty DRS, already seen in Q3, annoyed him for a long time and prevented him from returning to a fast Silver Arrow. The abandonment of Leclerc served as a trigger: Verstappen rushed to the pits to put on soft shoes, while Perez, more efficient, chased Russell. The Mexican took the lead on lap 31, Russell came back on lap 37, leaving the Red Bulls in front.

In a three-stop race, Verstappen finished in mediums, taking advantage of a team order to pass Perez and take the lead on lap 49. The Mexican then returned to put on tenders and steal the fastest lap from a Hamilton launched into a fantastic comeback. The seven-time world champion, hit by Magnussen in the first lap, left 19th, quickly announcing on the radio that he was perhaps better “save that engine”. He would have taken it badly, since his finally efficient single-seater allowed him to gradually climb up to 4th position on the 60th lap. He finally finished 5th behind Sainz, after having had to save his fuel at the end of the race.

Ocon in the points, Gasly far

The two French drivers experienced a diametrically opposed Spanish Grand Prix. Esteban Ocon had pace at the wheel of his Alpine. Starting 12th, he immediately entered the points and took a good 7th place. The French team scores points with its two single-seaters since Fernando Alonso, who started last after changing his power unit, managed a good comeback to 9th place.

Far behind, Pierre Gasly was never able to fight to enter the 10th. Starting 14th, the Frenchman suffered throughout the race, finally scratching a small place at the checkered flag. A frustrating Sunday for the AlphaTauri rider, who saw Tsunoda score a point in 10th place.

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