F1: Frustrating drive for Ricciardo as teammate Verstappen makes history


Daniel Ricciardo leads the pack in the Spanish Grand Prix immediately after the front-row Mercedes-Benz pair of Rosberg and Hamilton crashed out on turn four of the first lap.
Daniel Ricciardo leads the pack in the Spanish Grand Prix immediately after the front-row Mercedes-Benz pair of Rosberg and Hamilton crashed out on turn four of the first lap.

THE Spanish Grand Prix had all the makings of a Hollywood action thriller that few would believe with 18-year-old Dutchman Max Verstappen becoming the youngest driver to win an F1 Grand Prix.

Mercedes-mounted race favourites Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton took each other out in a spectacular first lap crash, leaving Daniel Ricciardo in charge of the 66-lap race on the Catalunya circuit.

For more than half the race it seemed the Duncraig star was in for his first win of the season but a series of unfortunate team tactics and a puncture on the penultimate lap put him back in his most frequent finishing position of the season: fourth.

However, teammate Verstappen had a sensational outcome, winning his debut race for Red Bull Renault and claiming several other records in the process.

At 18 years and 277 days, he is the youngest winner of a F1 Grand Prix, and the first Dutchman to take the top podium position.

With the two Mercedes out of contention, it became a Red Bull/Ferrari race, with both teams copying each other’s tactics.

Red Bull put Ricciardo on a three-stop strategy for tyres, and Verstappen on two stops; Ferrari responded with three stops for Vettel and two for Kimi Raikonnen.

The two-stop system proved better.

Verstappen managed to hold Raikonnen at bay and Vettel did the same with a frustrated Ricciardo.

Towards the end, the four leaders were all within a four-second timeframe.

“It was hard for me not to be on the podium,” Ricciardo said.

“The race was in our hands. I don’t know why the team had me on a three-stop strategy, which they used too late anyway.

“I had a go at getting past Vettel, then I got a puncture. But it wouldn’t have made a difference to the outcome. It was very frustrating.”

Verstappen, who replaced the crash-prone Daniil Kvyat as second-string driver to Daniel Ricciardo, drove a faultless race and finished strongly, despite his car’s tyres rapidly losing grip.

He eclipsed the performance of his father, Jos Verstappen, who was on the podium twice in 1994, in Belgium and Hungary, but never won a Grand Prix.

“It feels amazing, I can’t believe it,” he said.

“It was a great race. I have to say thank you to the team for giving me a great car. To win in my first race, amazing.”

Valtteri Bottas in his Williams was fifth, followed by Carlos Sainz Junior, who put in a great drive in the Toro Rosso, and held down third spot for the first nine laps, much to the embarrassment of Ferrari.

The Toro Rosso has last year’s Ferrari engine and the two new Ferraris of Vettel and Raikkonen had great trouble getting past the popular young Spaniard.

Seventh was Sergio Perez in his Force India, with Felipe Massa eighth for Williams, Jenson Button ninth in the McLaren Honda and demoted driver Daniil Kvyat rounded out the top 10 in a Toro Rosso.