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Max Verstappen cruised to an easy win in Spain, one that mirrored a leisurely Sunday drive through the countryside. Here’s what you need to know:

  • The Spanish Grand Prix was a mega day for Mercedes, as Lewis Hamilton and George Russell navigated from P4 and P12 starts to finish on the podium. Mercedes moves ahead of Aston Martin for second in the constructors’ standings.
  • The victory marked Verstappen’s 40th F1 win.
  • Lando Norris started P3, but after he made contact with Hamilton on the opening lap and suffered damage, he never recovered. The McLaren driver finished near the back of the grid.
  • Yuki Tsunoda received a five-second time penalty after a battle with Zhou Guanyu, ultimately forcing the Alfa Romeo off track. Zhou said over the radio, “He pushed me off.”

For more on the Spanish Grand Prix, check out The Athletic’s live coverage.

Provisional race results

  1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
  2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
  3. George Russell (Mercedes)
  4. Sergio Pérez (Red Bull)
  5. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)
  6. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin)
  7. Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin)
  8. Esteban Ocon (Alpine)
  9. Zhou Guanyu (Alfa Romeo)
  10. Pierre Gasly (Alpine)
  11. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
  12. Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri)
  13. Oscar Piastri (McLaren)
  14. Nyck de Vries (AlphaTauri)
  15. Nico Hülkenberg (Haas)
  16. Alex Albon (Williams)
  17. Lando Norris (McLaren)
  18. Kevin Magnussen (Haas)
  19. Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo)
  20. Logan Sargeant (Williams)

The Athletic’s instant analysis:

Verstappen’s growth on display in Spain

Sunday’s race marked a full circle moment for Verstappen as he put on another masterclass en route to yet another Grand Slam.

The Dutchman joined the F1 grid with Toro Rosso (now known as AlphaTauri) in 2015, finishing his rookie year ranked 12th with 49 points. He stayed with the team for the first four races the following season before being promoted to Red Bull ahead of round 5 at Catalunya.

The 2016 Spanish Grand Prix was hectic from the get-go, as Mercedes teammates Hamilton and Nico Rosberg collided on the opening lap, leaving both cars in the gravel and forcing a double DNF. This left a battle between Ferrari and Red Bull, as differing strategies played out among the four drivers. Daniel Ricciardo, who was at Red Bull at the time, and Sebastian Vettel faced a three-stop race after the soft tires didn’t give the performance they’d hoped. Meanwhile, Verstappen and Kimi Räikkönen battled on the two-stop strategy. In the end, Verstappen didn’t miss a beat and topped the 2007 F1 world champion, becoming the youngest driver to win an F1 race.

Now, seven years later, Verstappen put on a similar masterclass, though this time without anyone really coming close to his Red Bull after the opening laps. The Dutchman’s tire management skills were on full display again, as he kept the lead on a medium tire while a vast majority of those behind him started on the soft compound.

“I knew everyone behind me mainly was on a soft, and I think especially those last eight laps of that stint, I could really create a big gap,” Verstappen said. “Then, of course, we went onto the hard tire, and I actually expected them to be a little bit better, but somehow they just didn’t have a lot of grip and I was actually sliding around quite a bit. I mean, of course, the pace was still okay, but I couldn’t really create much more of a gap, not how I would’ve liked.”

The Dutchman raced on a two-stop strategy, swapping his hard tires for a set of softs, and he finished 24 seconds ahead of Hamilton, who brought home a P2 finish for Mercedes. And if it was absolutely necessary, Vestappen’s RB19 still had some pace left.

“If you had to try and catch up, let’s say probably yes, but it’s not necessary,” the 25-year-old said. “It’s all about managing your tires, also trying to reach the stint length.”

Did Verstappen make any mistakes? 

The only error he made was exceeding track limits multiple times — enough so that if he did it one more time, he would’ve faced a five-second time penalty.

Verstappen crossed the white lines on three separate occasions, and he noted, “Some tracks it’s a bit easier to do, and I was struggling a little bit with the harder tires to keep it within the white lines. But I knew once, of course, I had that last warning I had to keep it within the white lines, but it’s not really an issue.”

How this race impacts championship standings

Verstappen sits 53 points ahead of Pérez in the championship standings and 71 points clear of the next non-Red Bull car, Alonso. The Dutchman had a near-perfect weekend, topping every practice and nearly every qualifying session (didn’t record the fastest time in Q1) and proceeded to not only lead every lap of the race but also secure the fastest lap.

“It’s a good period, but you know, we have to keep on working and trying to find more performance. I’m happy in the car, and I think the last few race weekends have been definitely a lot more positive for me,” Verstappen said. “But this is one weekend where I think it went really well, but we also know that maybe some other tracks, it’s not like this. So still a lot of races to come where we, again, have to perform really well to try and win the race.”

Required reading

(Photo: Adam Pretty / Getty Images)



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