“I don't care what other people think, as long as I am happy.” - Sebastian Vettel
|Max Verstappen, last year|
There was a large amount of controversy within the world of Formula 1 following the recent transfer of Verstappen from Toro Rosso to Red Bull; a lot of this stemming from the demotion of Daniil Kvyat after an unimpressive race in the Russian Grand Prix which featured two crashes into Sebastian Vettel. This of course was not the only reason, since Kvyat had finished on the podium at the Chinese Grand Prix only two weeks before, landing Red Bull their first podium finish of the season. Anyhow, the change was made and put a lot of pressure upon the team as they approached the Barcelona Grand Prix which would be Verstappen’s first race in his new car on his new team.
Verstappen said that he was approaching the race with ‘no expectations’, whilst Kvyat planned on giving an ‘as loud a response as possible’, refraining from any signs of bitterness. The qualifying landed Verstappen in fourth behind Hamilton and Rosberg, both Mercedes, and his Red Bull team mate Ricciardo in third, followed by the two ferrari's in fifth and sixth; Raikkonen and Vettel. Kvyat was down in thirteenth, providing a seemingly quiet response so far. It may have been predicted that the race would be handed to the more experienced drivers- most likely the Mercedes- however the first lap brought about a game changer. As could've been suspected, Mercedes sped out in front with Rosberg overtaking Hamilton, however turn three brought about the largest game changer of the whole race. As Rosberg took on the third corner, he left a gap which Hamilton tried to pass through into the lead, however Rosberg was travelling at a slower pace and began to close the space, causing Hamilton to have to swerve onto the grass to avoid a collision. Nonetheless, the two cars still collided and resulted in both Mercedes skidding over to the other side of the track in a crash of disappointment for both them and the team. Despite the fact that the team have not pointed the blame towards either driver, Hamilton later claimed that his teammate had ‘made a mistake’, whilst Rosberg simply said he was ‘very surprised’. No one expected them to hug it out, especially after Lewis had already admitted that they couldn't be friends earlier on in the year.
This left Daniel Ricciardo on pole followed by Verstappen, both ferraris taking up fourth and fifth position. Vettel eventually passes Sainz and Daniel Ricciardo pits for the first time which brings Verstappen up to the lead. For a while this continued until the final laps resulted in Verstappen still on pole, followed by Raikkonen, Vettel and Ricciardo down in fourth; under a second between first and second place and the same between third and fourth. Notorious for his executions of overtaking, Ricciardo never ceased his attempts at surpassing Vettel, however the two-stop strategy that Red Bull had settled on fell through and resulted in a flat back-left tyre for Ricciardo which meant he had to pit and develop a forty-four second gap between him and first place. It was unsurprising that he admitted to being ‘bitter’ in a post-race interview after missing out on a podium position so narrowly. This left the main battle between racing legend Kimi Raikkonen and new-kid-on-the-block Verstappen, still with a minuscule gap between them. If Verstappen won, he would end the slack that Red Bull were receiving for the swap, as well as becoming the youngest driver to ever win a Grand Prix, especially on his debut race. Finally on the last few turns, the gap increased to just over a second and Max Verstappen became the youngest man to ever win a Formula 1 Grand Prix. Those who had criticised him last year when he first drove for Toro Rosso were eating their words as he sprayed champagne at an unhappy Kimi Raikkonen and a slightly more humble Sebastian Vettel, whilst an emotional Jos Verstappen watched on, probably thinking back to the single time he landed third place all those years ago.
Sunday in Barcelona brought about a record breaking race for 18-year-old Max Verstappen as he won against racing legends such as Kimi Raikkonen, Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel in the Spanish Grand Prix. It just goes to show that even when chances are small, the chance is still there. Determination won this weekend, and it will be remembered for years to come.