Max Verstappen won the Spanish Grand Prix for the first time since 2016 - his first win in his first race for Red Bull Racing. Sunday’s triumph took him to the top of the championship standings
Max Verstappen managed to bounce back from an early trip into the Turn 4 gravel trap to win the Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona on Sunday to take the lead in the championship for the first time in 2022.
Verstappen looked to be second best to Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in the opening stages of the race, trailing the championship leader when a gust of wind caught the Dutchman off-guard and sent him into the gravel.
Dropping him down to fourth but moving team-mate Perez aside, he then got stuck behind Mercedes’ George Russell and discovered a fault in his DRS flap, preventing him from overtaking the Brit.
But when Leclerc pulled over with engine failure, an adjusted pit strategy allowed Verstappen to leap-frog Russell and storm off to claim his third win in a row, and only his second Spanish GP triumph since his first win back in 2016.
“I went off in turn four, I completely lost the rear and they said on team radio that it was a big gust of wind,” explained Verstappen afterwards. “I lost a few positions through that and as soon as I wanted to attack, my DRS stopped working. It was upsetting at the time but then I calmed myself down and focussed on the bigger picture.
“It was a tough battle with George Russell, especially without the DRS, I didn’t want to take too much of a risk as we were fighting for the lead, I had to be patient.
“As for the DRS, I’m not sure why there’s an issue, we’ll look into it and at the end of the day nothing was lost.
“We are on a good trajectory and we can be proud of that as a team, but as you can see, some things are fragile and we need to keep on working hard, we have to be on top of everything.”
Perez, who looked to be going long before short-stopping towards the end, made life easier for Verstappen, allowing his team-mate to pass without challenge twice en route to second place, but aired his displeasure at the situation over the team radio.
Later though, he rebuffed his radio communications, saying: “It’s a great result, we are leading the Constructors Championship so, although I obviously want to win, I have to be realistic and I am happy with the team result.
“My frustration on the radio was in the heat of the moment but I need to speak with the team to understand a few bits from the race. Sometimes when you are driving you can’t get the full picture, so it is a normal thing to debrief things to understand the race.”