Teen Max makes his­tory af­ter Mercedes mess

Ros­berg and Hamil­ton elim­i­nate each other on first lap

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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