Teen Max makes history after Mercedes mess
Rosberg and Hamilton eliminate each other on first lap
M ax Verstappen took advantage of a jaw-dropping first-lap collision between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg to become Formula One’s youngest-ever winner of an incredible Spanish Grand Prix.
The 18-year-old showed maturity beyond his tender years on his Red Bull debut to fend off the challenge from Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, who at 36 is twice as old as the hugely talented Dutchman.
“It feels amazing I can’t believe it, it was a great race,” said a shocked Verstappen.
“I have to say thank you to the team for giving me such a great car. To win in the first race is such an amazing feeling.
“My dad helped me a lot to achieve this, this is amazing.”
The tone was set for a race that will live long in the memory after pole-sitter Hamilton lost control of his car and crashed into Rosberg at turn three, taking both Mercedes drivers out of the grand prix in one swoop. “It is stupid, we could’ve won this race,” said Mercedes nonexecutive chairman Niki Lauda. “Lewis is too aggressive. I need to talk to them and hear their explanation and then we will see what happens.” The early exit of the Mercedes duo opened up the race and it was Verstappen who took advantage, eclipsing Sebastian Vettel’s youngest-ever winner record, set at the 2008 Italian Grand Prix, by an incredible two years and 137 days.
“Max made a two-stop which was right on the limit and it worked beautifully for him,” said Red Bull chief Christian Horner. “It is fantastic for F1 to have a new winner, a youngster on the top step of the podium at 18. Max has not put a foot wrong all weekend.”
Ferrari’s Vettel crossed the line in third to complete the podium, while Daniel Ricciardo, who led the opening phase of the race, was forced to pit on the penultimate lap with a puncture and had to settle for fourth place.
“I don’t want to come across as a bad sportsman. Whatever happened on track, Max crossed the line first,” said Ricciardo.
“Sure, it is every man for himself and I’m bitter, but not at Max, he did what he had to do, but I’m bitter at the situation.”
Williams driver Valtteri Bottas was just behind in fifth, while the Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz was sixth.
But ultimately the day belonged to Verstappen who was only promoted from Toro Rosso to Red Bull after Daniil Kvyat was dropped last week following a string of high-profile crashes.