Max Verstappen created Formula One history at the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix by becoming the youngest ever race winner. Also, the first Dutch driver ever to clinch victory, the 18-year-old put on a stunning performance to taste the champagne at the top step of the podium. The fifth race of the 2016 season turned out to be a thriller as both Mercedes drivers took each other out in the opening lap.
Nico Rosberg, the points leader in the drivers’ championship for Mercedes, and reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton were involved in a tangle when fighting for the lead of the race. The sustained damage put them out of the proceedings and handed over the lead to Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo with Max Verstappen closely behind.
Max Verstappen’s debut season sparked controversy and forced F1 rule makers to ratify regulations for entering into F1 as the pinnacle of motor racing was deemed too easy. The Dutchman, son of former F1 driver Jos Verstappen, shattered the morale and proved his talent from the get go. He was driving for Red Bull’s sister team, Toro Rosso, until the last race but was given promotion as Daniil Kvyat demoted due to outrageous conflicts following his two collisions with Lewis Hamilton.
The Spanish GP at Barcelona in which Max made his senior team debut was a timely reminder of his talents behind the wheel. It was clear after Mercedes incident that the race would be a straight fight between the Red Bull and Ferrari pairs and strategy would be key in deciding the outcome at the chequered flag as the Maranello-based team had good long run pace than the Bulls.
As quartet-time champ Vettel in the Ferrari chased Red Bull’s Ricciardo, Kimi Raikkonen in the other Ferrari and Max Verstappen followed a different strategy and tried to make their tyres last long until the end in the closing stages. As Vettel and Ricciardo bolted on fresher rubber, they slipped down the order to third and fourth respectively.
In the final laps, they had time to catch up the leading Verstappen and Raikkonen but their own wheel-to-wheel battles made the chase difficult. Verstappen, on the other hand, managed his tyres and consistently put on a gap between him and Kimi. Even when Kimi got within the DRS range in the closing laps, Verstappen steered clear on a circuit where overtaking is traditionally a hard task. He took the chequered flag by driving a composed race and didn’t put a wrong throughout. With the dedicated and calculative performance, he opened his winning account in the F1 history books. A future world champion has arrived!
Image Source: @Max33Verstappen