From prospect to top-step in just two weeks, Max Verstappen’s immense talent was on full display in Barcelona There’s an age-old saying that good things come to those who wait – apparently no one ever told that to Max Verstappen. Now a Formula 1 race winner at the age of 18, the Dutchman’s career to date has been something of an exercise in impatience. It took him two years to go from karting to a full-time seat in F1, all by the age of 17. In his rookie season, he quickly developed a reputation for performing banzai passing moves on any opponent, and never shying away from demanding a slower teammate make way for him. Two weeks ago, he was able to parlay that reputation into a bidding war for his services that could only be headed off by Red Bull displaying the same sort of temperament and giving him a shock early-season promotion. With all that considered, perhaps it’s no surprise that the Dutchman would take only a weekend to record his first victory. Of course, such a storybook result couldn’t have happened if it weren’t for one of the most extraordinary sequences of events in the sport’s recent memory, so read on for a look at both the high and low-points of an historic 2016 Spanish Grand Prix. Verstappen comes out on top in four-way fight to the finish And thus the prophecy has come to pass – the Verstappening has begun. If there were any doubts about Max Verstappen’s place as the “chosen one” of Formula 1, surely they have to be laid to rest after what transpired on Sunday. In a race that right till its very end, had four different drivers who looked like they could win, three were multiple race-winners, two were world champions, and one was in his third day on the job – the fact that it was the latter is almost comical in its improbability. Coming into the race it was difficult to define just what would be a “successful” first weekend for Verstappen given the suddenness of his promotion and Red Bull’s own uncertain place in relation to Ferrari. In that context it seems fair to say the Dutchman had already done enough after Saturday, qualifying fourth ahead of both prancing horses, while pushing teammate Daniel Ricciardo for third right until the end of Q3. A debut podium would’ve just been icing on the cake, but then the incident happened (more on that later), and Verstappen found himself staring down the barrel of an improbable victory. Mercedes aside, it’s fair to point out how fortuitously things fell for Verstappen, who found himself sandwiched between the three-stopping Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel for the first half of the race. Vettel’s pace had forced the Dutchman to improvise, and adopt the ambitious strategy of Kimi Raikkonen in taking his third set of tyres all the way to the end of the race. However, from that second and final stop on lap 35, he was pure brilliance. Given the task of making a set of mediums last 31 laps while fending off a hard-charging Raikkonen who was often less than a second away, he drove the perfect race. Raikkonen always had Verstappen in sight, but never in reach, as the Dutchman calmly managed his pace through the first two sectors of the Circuit de Catalunya, only to blitz the final sector and extend his car just out of passing range. If Raikkonen was waiting for a mistake, or his tyres to hit the “cliff”, it never came, and that is 100% because of Max. In a way it’s sort of perfect that Raikkonen would be the one to follow Verstappen home, as it makes it easy to appreciate just how superb he truly was. Had the Dutchman not been in front of him, Raikkonen would’ve been lauded for being back to his brilliant best, delivering a masterful drive in a difficult situation to take the victory. And while the truth is this was Kimi exactly that, Verstappen was his equal who stands out not just for the obvious win at such a young age, but so comprehensively banishing the unfamiliarity any driver in his position also had to contend with. All in all it can’t be understated just how truly amazing the last two weeks have been for Verstappen. Gaining a Red Bull seat was the target for 2017, not next race. Suddenly, he finds himself thrust into the team, and with the brightest of spotlights on him only goes out and wins the next bloody race, in the process overcoming his teammate, two faster Ferraris and a tyre that was never supposed to last for 31 laps. He’s gone from being “the future” to very much “the now” – hell, the only way things could currently get better is if he’d finally hit puberty. Here we go again… Rosberg and Hamilton in costly first-lap spill Is it that time already? Yup, five races into the season, and everyone’s favourite frenemies, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, are back at it again. It was bound to happen at some point, so in a way it’s nice they’ve done it this early in the season, because if there’s one thing their rivalry needed more of, it was spiciness. As is the case with all their incidents, the first (and let’s face it, most fun) question is: how should we apportion the blame? The game got off to a rousing start with Niki Lauda being the first to point the finger, putting the onus on Hamilton for what he termed an “unacceptable” mistake. In real time it wass pretty easy to see where Lauda was coming from, as the gap Hamilton sought down Rosberg’s right was always going to be defended, and with Rosberg moving over just so happened to evaporate faster than Daniil Kvyat’s chances of a continued Red Bull career. With nowhere to go but the grass, a crash was the unsurprising outcome. However, the story changed dramatically post-race, with the news coming out that Rosberg had started the race with his Mercedes set to a lower power setting which made him vulnerable to being passed. The German didn’t realise his mistake until Hamilton was gaining on him with a 17 kph speed advantage out of turn 3 (according to the stewards’ report), and that obviously made a huge difference in Hamilton’s decision-making. Rosberg had left a gap that was very much there for the trying, if not the taking, and that likely wouldn’t have been the case had Rosberg had his engine modes in order to begin with. As such you can make a case for both drivers, but the stewards decision of a racing incident was the right one. Speaking afterwards, neither Hamilton, Rosberg or team principal Toto Wolff seemed particularly incensed by the situation, and thankfully for us, it seems Mercedes is content to let their drivers continue to battle. Blame aside, there’s two things to take away from the crash, and neither is helpful for Hamilton. The first is pretty simple – that’s once less chance to close his considerable gap to Rosberg, and the second, is that this is proof that the confidence Rosberg has gained in the past six months is starting to pay off. Beating Hamilton around the outside of turn 1, slamming the door on him prior to the crash, Rosberg was pulling the same tricks he’d been on the receiving end of in races past. Now even in weekends where he doesn’t get pole, the German is willing and able to fight for the lead, and that’s only going to further complicate things for the three-time world champion. Through Rosberg and Verstappen we’re seeing a very different sport in 2016, with as much excitement as we’ve had in a long time. Bring on Monaco. What do you expect of Verstappen over the rest of the season? How do you apportion the blame in the latest Hamilton-Rosberg incident? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.