Spanish GP Debrief: Verstappen Stuns in Debut Victory

Discussion in 'Formula 1' started by Ben Stevens, May 16, 2016.

  1. Ben Stevens

    Ben Stevens

    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.

    P-20160515-01679_News.jpg 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.

    roshamspain.jpg 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.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 16, 2016
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  2. Donaldinho105


    Perfect example of why he's the future champ!
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  3. crannykart


    I'd say it was the best race of the hybrid era :rolleyes:
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  4. gamer19


    Pure luck. :giggle:

    Nah, just kidding but really... dunno what's Riccardo engineer and rest of the teams have been thinking with that strategy. They blew Ricc's race, then in process - Vettel's. And Raikkonen show us once again that he lost his fire.
    All in all, great race. :D
    Last edited: May 17, 2016
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  5. GAIAjohan


    I think in Monaco he has another chance of winning. The car fits the circuit, and the lack of power isn't an enormous issue there.

    From Canada on Renault will have a 30hp upgrade and hopefully that's enough to make it truely difficult for Ferrari and hopefully Mercedes.

    The Mercedes Battle.. Hmm if they keep going on like this I see a third driver becoming champion. Vettel, Ricciardo or maybe even Verstappen.
  6. Sabine Schmitz

    Sabine Schmitz

    Because I'm Dutch, I am ofcourse a huge Verstappen fan. His talent can't be denied but I have to agree however that luck might have played a tiny role in this race. I think Verstappen needs to focus on all the other races and not get carried away by this dream debut. However I don't think this was all we were going to see from him. I think with the forthcoming engine upgrade, RBR will be a lot more competitive and "lucky" podium finishes for the RBs will decrease. All I'm saying here is: Max will get more podium finishes this season without a doubt.
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  7. Tim.E


    Dear Toto,

    Hereby I gladly ask you to move out of the sport, reason for this is that as you saw it provides for some good racing and less internal relationship issues. Max Verstappen won his first grand prix thanks to your drivers' performance on track and I'd very much like to thank you for giving Max this opportunity. You might want to consider telling Nico to shut the door more often.

    I hope you take this into consideration for the next races.
    Kind regards,

    Tim Engberink
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  8. Bert Austen

    Bert Austen
    Pedal tho the metal Men Premium

    Our landsman max is a great talent en he will wins another race this year , its incredible....listen to the comment of old great drivers like Niki Lauda and David Couthard. Max the world champion of the future. First time in the red bull and so cool and fast. Holland have @ greet race talent in the house....never seen...and 2017 new rules ..... "to be continued" ;) Whe enjoy as fellov
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  9. Thomas Cameron

    Thomas Cameron
    Don't give me your patter

    Great to have a sim racer on the podium...
    Well done max
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  10. Glaurung


    Rosberg eventually has learned Hamilton's tricks.
    Now he's ready for WC.
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  11. MadMaxNL


    so proud !
  12. Blimey


    Well, plenty of races to go, next year the cars will change dramatically? Hopefully.
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  13. Mark Aalberts

    Mark Aalberts

    Oh well i dont think Mercedes is that unhappy with Max winning this race since he is now the talk of the day instead of the Lewis-Nico clash.:D
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  14. Feldenman


    No doubt Verstappen in a huge talent with a very promising future, but I also think that he got lucky here. His tyres should have gone off but held pace to the end (that's luck not skill) and Catalunya is a very tough track to overtake on so Kimi who had more pace just couldn't manage a pass. Not saying he didn't run a very good, fast and clean race, but IMO his win was as much good fortune as good management.
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  15. LacSlyer


    I'm a Raikkonen fan, so I may be biased, but I honestly don't think there was much he could have done to catch up to the Red Bull. You could see in the final corners to the straight the Red Bull just handled so much better giving a massive advantage onto the straight. This was more shown with Ricciardo, who had how many opportunities to pass Vettel in turn 1 because of this? Which also showed that the only real place to pass on this track is turn 1. Vettel was lucky Ricciardo had the flat or he likely wouldn't have been on the podium. The Red Bulls were on fire this weekend.

    I do question the strategy that both teams showed for their number one drivers though. I have a feeling it was them being so focused on Mercedes that they simply weren't sure what to do when they were both out at the start so they kept their initial strategy.

    I also want to add that I agree completely with Ben's assessment of Rosberg. He's shown some considerable mental maturity this year and it's really getting the better of Hamilton. In my opinion, the big test will be if he can keep it up after the summer break.
    Last edited: May 17, 2016
  16. Deleted member 130869

    Deleted member 130869

    I was rooting for Kimi and won't forget Daniil got the first fastest lap in Toro Rosso history, but Max deserves praise for being able to be so consistent in his drive. He ran his lines without overdoing it, trusting his car and his driving. The Red Bull always has a fantastic aero package - so they will also kick butt in Monaco especially with a revised engine - so it did have an advantage over the Ferrari, it was clear how much Kimi was understeering, but still it was up to Kimi to get closer and induce Max into a mistake. The strength of the Red Bull through the very last sector kept giving Max that .25s gap boost to never allow Kimi to get within .5s before the DRS kicked in. The whole struggle everywhere just showed how difficult it is to pass in Barcelona. As usual. It used to be bad before the Tilke chicanes and shortening of the backstraight, now it is even worse. The race itself for me wasn't fun, the proper excitement came from people crashing.

    Yes, the Mercedes duo being out and the 3-stop gamble on the main drivers of Ferrari and RBR really helped Max. Red Bull also gambled on his strategy, keeping him out much longer than expected on the middle stint and having him go until the end but it worked out perfectly. He seized every opportunity when provided with so much fortune. I think it's safe to say he will renew with RBR until at least 2018, and with this premier seat, Red Bull will keep him from being lured by Ferrari.

    I believe given the same opportunity, Ricciardo or Kvyat could have had the same success, but they didn't have that chance. Still, Red Bull has 3 very talented drivers and I hope they won't destroy Kvyat's career. It is quite clear Williams has dropped off to 4th best team, and Sauber is on a very bad position, likely fighting only Manor.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 17, 2016
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  17. Trimaz


    I wasn't expecting much from another Spanish GP, but I was wrong. Some of the best racing I've seen in quite some time. Great performance by RB and Ferrari. It's a shame my boy, Ricciardo wasn't in the top three because of RB's bizarre pit strategy, but he performed well. Good to see Max on top, and even if the Merc's were still in he would have given them a run for their money for sure.
    Last edited: May 17, 2016
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  18. Rodent


    As a Ferarri fan this confirms it. F1 is simply a more enjoyable sport without Mercedes. They need to get back to making large cars for old people. :D

    Great win for Verstapen, sure luck factored in but defending like he did proved he's got genuine skill and really, luck is a factor in every race ever anyway. For now Red Bull has another driver capable of winning races and I can't help but feel this puts them in a race of their own. Make their car more competitive with Ferarri and Mercedes or risk loosing (more) drivers looking for that driver's championship title. No doubt in my mind this is why Kvyat was bumped in the first place.

    Wonderful race and good for the sport. Will no doubt be one of those races we all keep referring to years down the line.
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  19. Vojko Music

    Vojko Music

    And there we have it! Put the Mercs out and good old F1 is back! ^^

    Congrats to Max! He deserved it for sure!
    • Like Like x 3
  20. MoerasGrizzly


    Or do a WTCC and give them an 80kg weight penalty :geek:
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