Verstappen enjoys the winners moment on his debut in F1
Spain, May 15, 2016 – Strategy was at the forefront of the Spanish Grand Prix, with the final result remaining in doubt right to the very end as the race protagonists adopted different thinking in the timing and choice of tyre changes. In the end, Max Verstappen (18) became the youngest grand prix winner in history on his Red Bull debut, finishing the race on a set of medium tyres that had completed 32 laps: one lap more than those on the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen, who finished second. Both Ferrari and Red Bull split their strategies: each team stopping twice with one car and three times with the other. Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg both failed to finish the Grand Prix at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya after a collision on the 1st lap. Stewards ruled no further action will be taken against either driver after it was deemed a racing incident. Nico Rosberg still leads the Drivers’ Championship by 39 points while Lewis Hamilton is in P3.
MAX VERSTAPPEN, Finish Position: WINNER! Start Position: 4th
“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!”
All three compounds – hard, medium and soft – were used throughout the 66-lap grand prix, with a race-long battle between Red Bull and Ferrari, while tyre management provided an essential key to success. Four drivers were still in contention for the win all the way to the final lap, although Daniel Ricciardo was affected by a slow puncture at the very end, probably caused by debris.
The Formula One teams now remain in Barcelona for the first in-season test of the year, which will take place on Tuesday and Wednesday. A number of teams will run young drivers, while the tyres used will be the usual 2016 compounds seen since the start of this year, chosen by each team for testing purposes.
DANIEL RICCIARDO, Finish Position: 4th, Start Position: 3rd
“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.“
CHRISTIAN HORNER, Team Principal: “A quite remarkable day for Max Verstappen who, on his debut for the team, has become the youngest ever race winner after producing an exemplary drive. After the first lap incident between the Mercedes, we were in a great position to get some points, but to take on the Ferraris who had a very fast race car was always going to be difficult. We had to make some difficult decisions in the race, as it wasn’t clear whether the two or the three stop was going to be quickest, so we elected to split the strategies. We felt that the two stop was right at the limit, but Max made the tyres last and didn’t make any mistakes to score a very impressive victory. Daniel was obviously coming back through the field with much younger tyres, but unfortunately picked up a puncture with a couple of laps to go; otherwise I am sure he would have been on the podium too. But, there’s a lot to look forward to and it’s great to be back on the top step of the podium.”
Lewis Hamilton –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 –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.