Verstappen stuns F1 by seizing victory chance after Mercedes crash

2016 Spanish Grand Prix review

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“I just saw one car going onto the grass and as soon as you go onto the grass and you spin, then you can’t do anything. I think it was Lewis unfortunately, he spun and hit Nico but I don’t know why he got into the grass.”

This was how Max Verstappen witnessed the first-lap collision between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg which eliminated both of the all-conquering W07s in a single, crushing moment for Mercedes.

Like an alignment of the planets, this was the second of three crucial moments which conspired to produce an extraordinary result in the Spanish Grand Prix, one that would have been almost unthinkable when the chequered flag fell on the previous round in Russia two weeks ago.

The first crucial moment happened the previous week, when Daniil Kvyat was elbowed out of Red Bull to make way for 18-year-old Verstappen. The final turning point came on lap 27 of the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix. And it made Max Verstappen a race winner in his first race for his new team.

Disaster for Mercedes

Start, Circuit de Catalunya, 2016
Rosberg led – briefly
As the red lights went out and pole sitter Hamilton edged away fractionally quicker than Rosberg, it seemed for a few seconds the world champion was on course to put his shaky start to 2016 behind him. But Rosberg was immediately tucked up into his slipstream, forcing Hamilton to think defensively as they rushed to turn two.

Covering the inside line, Hamilton braked cautiously on the slippery side of the track while Rosberg used all the grip of the racing line to sweep around him. Hamilton’s vital lead was gone.

But perhaps not for long. As Rosberg clung tightly to the inside of turn three Hamilton traced a wider line in clean air, and was gaining. At the exit of the corner Rosberg’s rear light flashed four times. Did Hamilton immediately suss his team mate’s power unit had begun harvesting energy because it was not in the optimal engine mode?

As they headed for turn four Hamilton was 17kph quicker than his team mate. This is more than the spread from the slowest car in the field to the quickest, and explains why Hamilton was gaining so rapidly, even without DRS, at a point on the circuit where overtaking is uncommon.

Rosberg defended his place as firmly as he had done in Bahrain four years ago. But while on that occasion he’d edged Hamilton onto dusty asphalt, this time Hamilton found himself on gripless grass. One Mercedes spun into the other, and both were out. For their rivals, the race was thrown wide open.

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Sainz stars

Carlos Sainz Jnr, Toro Rosso, Circuit de Catalunya, 2016
Sainz had the Toro Rosso running close to the front
The Safety Car was despatched to cover the rescue scene and it picked up the two Red Bull drivers, still in grid order, Daniel Ricciardo ahead of Verstappen. Vettel had briefly separated the pair on lap one, only for Verstappen to reclaim the place.

“I was behind Daniel,” Vettel explained, “I got a lot of understeer, lost a lot of downforce following him so close and Max did a good job, going on the outside, go the clean air and just used it to pass me so well done to him.”

Vettel’s loss of pace in turn three allowed had Carlos Sainz Jnr to claim the scalps of both Ferrari drivers. Having already beaten Kimi Raikkonen off the line he now audaciously drove around the outside of Vettel at turn four while the Mercedes drivers were spinning off.

Raikkonen’s sluggish getaway also lost him a place to Valtteri Bottas untilhe re-passed the Williams on the outside of turn three. He now queued up behind team mate Vettel, but both would have to clear Sainz before they could go hunt Bulls.

Sainz, performing brilliantly in front of his home crowd, kept Vettel at bay until lap eight. Raikkonen didn’t get an easy pass either, Sainz forcing him wide at turn one on lap nine, but the next time by Raikkonen got the job done with DRS.

Once clear of the Toro Rosso the Ferrari drivers were able to match Ricciardo’s pace at the front but not close in. Verstappen held his position just over a second behind. The race now was all about whether Ferrari could use their pace over a stint to forge a path to the front.

Haryanto hinders Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, Circuit de Catalunya, 2016
Verstappen kept his team mate in sight
The running order was unchanged by the first round of pit stops as all four front runners switched to new medium compound tyres. But while Verstappen had maintained a consistent one-and-a-half second margin to Ricciardo in the opening stint, now Vettel was bearing down on him and Ricciardo.

Lap 24 was a critical one for Ricciardo. Rio Haryanto left the pits in front of him and Ricciardo was close enough to the Manor to be affected by its turbulence. As he reached the end of the lap waved yellow flags for Nico Hulkenberg’s stationary Force India meant he couldn’t pass. And on the long straight the downforce-poor Manor with its class-leading Mercedes engine was in the region of 13kph quicker.

Ricciardo lost nine-tenths of a second, his lap time restricted to 1’31.352 – just four-tenths quicker than Haryanto. The Manor driver waited another whole lap to let the leader through, and when he did he also yielded to Verstappen and Vettel, the leading trio now covered by just two seconds.

Back in clear air, Ricciardo edged a tenth clear of Verstappen on the next lap. But then came the third crucial moment: Red Bull decided to switch one of their drivers to a three-stop strategy – and that driver was Ricciardo.

Tactical errors

Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo, Circuit de Catalunya, 2016
Ricciardo’s attacks vexed Vettel
With 39 laps remaining, it was too big an ask to run to the end on a set of mediums and the hard compound tyre wasn’t quick enough. Ricciardo therefore took a set of soft tyres and banked on a return to the pits for another stop later in the race.

Vettel shadowed his move on the following lap, but the Ferrari driver would be back in just eight laps later. An early switch back to mediums gave him the chance to use the undercut to jump back in front of Ricciardo. The erstwhile race leader’s afternoon was unravelling quickly.

Ricciardo pitted for the final time facing a 23-lap run to the end on mediums. His pace indicated he was just quick enough to catch Verstappen this way assuming he lost no time passing the two Ferraris. This may have been realistic as far as Raikkonen was concerned, as he was now running around on fairly old tyres, but not Vettel, which was Ricciardo’s first target.

Nonetheless Ricciardo gave it his all, including a spectacular lunge on lap 59 which drew a silly response from Vettel on the radio. By now Ricciardo’s situation was looking desperate, and his hopes were finished for good when a puncture sent him into the pits for a fourth time.

Kvyat’s consolation prize

Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso, Circuit de Catalunya, 2016
Kvyat took the final point
Despite that delay Ricciardo still emerged ahead of Bottas. The Williams driver had a quiet day after leapfrogging Sainz through his first pit stop. Following his poor showing in qualifying Felipe Massa used an aggressive three-stop strategy to reclaim eighth place, and spent the final laps contemplating Sergio Perez’s rear wing.

Jenson Button was the only McLaren driver to see the chequered flag, a power unit failure having claimed Fernando Alonso much earlier. The final point went to Kvyat, a meagre consolation prize for the former occupant of the race winner’s car.

Only one Haas saw the chequered flag and for once it was Esteban Gutierrez instead of Romain Grosjean. However his mammoth 35-lap stint on mediums was to no avail – he slipped from ninth to eleventh with four laps to go. Marcus Ericsson was too far back to take advantage.

Jolyon Palmer had impressively passed Gutierrez early in the race but ended the grand prix in a contretemps with his own team mate. Kevin Magnussen was penalised for the contact between the pair four corners from home, promoting Nasr to 14th behind Palmer.

The two Manors brought up the rear, Pascal Wehrlein leading home Haryanto again. Following his inadvertent role in deciding the outcome of the race Haryanto has also earned the ire of Button. “I know he thinks he’s quick but he’s not” was the McLaren driver’s withering assessment.

Verstappen makes history

Helmut Marko, Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Circuit de Catalunya, 2016
Helmut Marko masterminded Verstappen’s move
During his brief rise through the junior categories of racing Verstappen’s battling style was his trademark. His daring, late-braking passes thrilled F1 fans last year.

But in this breakthrough victory – the youngest for any F1 driver and the first for the Netherlands – he had little cause to display much of his characteristic flair. That vital first-lap move on Vettel was the only time he had to get his elbows out.

What was most ominous for Verstappen’s rivals was the immediate ease with which he was on Ricciardo’s pace in Spain. With a world champion filling his mirrors Verstappen never came off his line, never locked a brake, he brought the car home as if he’d done it a dozen times before.

Yes a few things had to fall his way for things to work out the way they did, but what matters is he was there in the first place.

Ten days ago Red Bull decided his predecessor wasn’t up to that task and they made the tough call to swap them around. They took a lot of flak for it – just as they did when they hired Verstappen in the first place.

But my, hasn’t it paid off?

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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76 comments on “Verstappen stuns F1 by seizing victory chance after Mercedes crash”

  1. We’ve already talked about most of what happened in the race already at this point.

    But the most shocking thing for me, after such a race, after watching something that could define the sport in the future develop right in front of us on the telly or at the Circuit, was the decision to put Placido Domingo on the podium again.

    I know it’s irrelevant, but somehow it isn’t…

    1. Couldn’t agree more.

    2. Agree 100%. It sounded like he called Max “Mark” at the beginning. I’m not 100% sure, but I don’t want to go back and re-watch it to find out. The little I saw of the interview was total cringe. I skipped it.

      Great race though.

      1. pretty sure he did indeed call Max “mark” @lateralus. I guess they had thought it would be a nice moment after another relatively boring race with the mercs following eachother home from start to finish.

      2. @lateralus, @bascb – Maybe it’s worth knowing that “Max” looks to some Spanish speakers as though it should be pronounced something like “Mash” – maybe that was the mistake, rather than not knowing the right name. Or not, just a thought.

        1. good to know @tribaltalker, its also possible that he just struggled to pronounce the X and it came out sounding more closer to Mark or Marsh.

      3. Yeah, it was horrible to watch. Once again he talked more than the drivers, his ridiculous “question” to Vettel was impossible to understand, and he topped the interviews off with some football thingy. I’m all for local interviewers who can get the crowd going in their native language, but this time someone with slightly better English skills and understanding of the sport would have been essential.

    3. People at the Circuit, when race finishes they go really fast to grab their cars and avoid the traffic jams. I was at the circuit and very few people remained there. Appart from that, its strange decission to use Placido Domingo, he is a legend but not very suited to do interviews, but i didnt know how it went, looks like bad.

    4. My first thought was…….George Lucas !!

  2. On the Lewis incident, do you not think the whole radio ban is causing unintended consequences. 17kph speed differential is dangerous just because Nico’s engineers couldn’t tell him he was on a wrong setting. Hamilton could have potentially went straight into the wall just because we don’t want drivers to look like robots (even though they still do what they were doing re. settings previously).
    On Max, that was a brilliant drive I believe his skill and renaults ERS deployment was spot on, to give him best traction in the final corner.
    If Ric had 2 stopped he’d have lost the race to Vet, gap to Vet who would have shadowed him was too small as compared to the Ves/Rai gap to avoid an undercut.
    Well done Carlos, having Max out of the picture seemed to have worked a treat.

    1. I kind of agree and I don’t. I never saw any issue with driver coaching to be honest. I don’t think we’ve seen better racing since it’s ban and if anything it’s made the radio chatter less interesting.

      But if thems the rules thems the rules, a driver should know how to operate the car just like they should know how much throttle to apply or how much steering lock to use.

    2. I’d rather see teams making it easier for the driver on the technical side than having a guy reading a whole intruction sheet before every start. This is motorsport. The drivers should cope with it. It’s not commercial aviation. It was a mistake on Rosberg’s part, and I’m sure he’s not going to do it agian.

      Starts are always dangerous anyway…

      1. IrukaViking
        16th May 2016, 2:55

        ”It’s not commercial aviation” LOL……nice one!!

      2. Tony Mansell
        16th May 2016, 12:05

        Agreed. Id turn the radios off completely, along with the computers and take all the switches off the steering wheel. Cant get a wrong setting then. Maybe put a horn there instead so Nico can be made aware of passing traffic

        1. Tony that is actually a brilliant idea. Require a mandatory horn of a prescribed tone and volume. Allow drivers to use it as they please. It helps with the idea that racing is too quiet, adds a bit of entertainment and also makes it more like actual driving in many of the new markets F1 is trying to target.

    3. Hm, I think there was not much time to tell a driver anything really.

      It seems that Rosberg noticed it at about the same moment Hamilton did (from seeing the rear light), immediately pushed the “overtake” button – which immediately brings the car into the top level engine setting – but in that short time span the missing power already had Hamilton going so much faster out of the corner that it resulted in a speed differential.

    4. I agree to a point but having said that, if the team had said “Nico – remember to flick that switch” before the lights went out, wouldn’t we all be on here moaning about yet another boring Mercedes-dominated race? Instead, we had a modern-day classic!

      1. For all the positives that nico’s mistake led to it could have also gone horribly wrong just like fernando ploughing into Gutierrez / Ves into grojean / Webber into that hrt. All those were due to speed differentials. I remember last year button complaining that he didn’t feel safe because of the speed difference due to his lacking Honda engine.

        It’s not possible to get the same performance from those regs if it’s going to a steering wheel with just peddles radio and drinks button. Don’t hold back innovation

  3. Yes (@come-on-kubica)
    16th May 2016, 0:15

    Fantastic work Merc, another first lap crash please?

    1. Where are the Mercedes conspiracy theorists when we need them? We saw the bosses of Red Bull and Mercedes huddled together on the grid! Anyone who doubts they were negotiating a payoff and planning the first-lap crash so that a Red Bull could take the win has forgotten to wear their tin-foil hat.

  4. Stunning ofcourse……

    But what is more unbelievable to me is that I was telling this to my friend yesterday after qualifying that “You never know Max could end up the winner of this race !!!!”. Although I must admit that it was just a deep feeling in my heart. My brain said that with 99% certainty Lewis has it in the bag. I never imagined a Mercedes duo mutual take out. !!!!!

    Congrats Max…. this is starting of a new page in History…. I watched Alonso win his first race, I watched Vettel win his First race, I watched Lewis win his first and Today I got the same feeling watching Max winning this race. A Proud moment for Dr Marko on the podium standing together with 2 of his prodigies !!!!! unbelievable !!!!!

    I am sure Ricciardo will be feeling what Vettel felt like in 2014 ………

    It starts to seem like an Uphill battle for Alonso to win a WDC with so much talent overflowing in the teens and Early 20s !!!!

    1. After seeing his performance in qualifying I was confidently predicting that Max would get a win sometime in the next year or so …

  5. It almost felt scripted. That race was just about the best thing that could have happened to Formula 1, a story that will go down in F1 folklore. It’s races like that that remind me why Formula 1 always has been and always will be my favourite thing.

    1. It was scripted. Red Bull first moved Kvyat, then moved Ricciardo out of Verstappen way. He was slower than Ricciardo. And obviously slower than Kvyat. Jos seems paid a lot Marko. Wouldn’t surprise if he actually paid someone from Mercedes as well.

      1. So thats the 2nd time a paydriver wins at Spain!

      2. yeah, the Verstappen family clearly have so much money lying around that they can pay billionaire Mateschitz’ team o giving him a race seat and then on top bribe Multinationals Mercedes to ruin their almost given race win/1-2 and hold back their run towards the championship.

        I would love to see what you are on if you are serious @regs!

      3. @regs
        “He was slower than Ricciardo.”

        That explains Verstappen getting within a second of faster Ricciardo AND making his tyres last longer despite being in dirty air.

        But I suppose next we’ll hear how Red Bull sabotaged Ricciardo’s car to make Verstappen look faster….

      4. Eddie Jordan
        16th May 2016, 9:05

        And you really think this is true? What are you on? So Max is a lousy driver but get his success from pay offs…paying RBR for the seat, 2 Mercedes drivers for the crash, Raikkonen for not passing, Vettel and Riciardo’s race strategists for giving the a 3 stop strategy… Anyone I missed? This must be bigger than the Kennedy conspiracy… LOL

      5. Michael Steel
        15th July 2016, 12:26

        Sorry, But I think you have watching a other race.

  6. Congrats to Max on a brilliant race.

    And while on the subject of fine behavior by the RBs, I think I noticed some kind of reverse DRS while
    watching the view from the rear facing cam on Ves’s car.

    Under braking, there seem to be a movement in the rear wing that would induce additional drag and downforce. Also, I believe RB’s great performance is attributable to an extreme rake built into the car, in the sense that the car is constructed so that the normal attitude is a negative angle of incidence of at least 15degrees from horizontal.

    This coupled with a roll center located a few inches under the pavement contributes to an even more negative rake under cornering, which means more down force than the others.

    1. Also, I believe RB’s great performance is attributable to an extreme rake built into the car, in the sense that the car is constructed so that the normal attitude is a negative angle of incidence of at least 15degrees from horizontal.

      This is nothing new – they’ve run the car like this since 2009 and pretty much everyone else has copied them.

  7. Is Max the first race winner not to see Senna in action?

    1. Omar R (@omarr-pepper)
      16th May 2016, 3:37

      @bruns You mean, being born after 1994? Because every race winner you see nowadays hasn’t raced Ayrton.

      1. Max is the first race winner since 1994 to not have seen Senna.
        *Schumacher was the last active race winner to have raced Senna.

  8. IrukaViking
    16th May 2016, 2:05

    A wonderful race to watch…….I almost can’t believe that such a great race was held at the Circuit De Catalunya!! :)

    Naturally, props to Verstappen for an incredible drive. Commisserations to Ricciardo for the dubious strategy call and puncture. Mercedes……well mmmmm…….I think enough has been said there.

  9. While the rear-view camera on Max’s car was showing Kimi close behind I think I also saw some movement of the elements of the rear wing. It could have been an optical illusion caused by light vs dark background showing thru the horizontal parts of the wing. I would swear I saw the gap grow with speed and then decrease under braking.
    It wouldn’t be the first case of ‘bendy bits’ of aero that have no rules governing their rigidity.

  10. I think we really need to get rid of that final chicane at Catalunya. I can’t remember exactly why it was introduced – it was either safety or to improve overtaking – but either way it’s not required. Firstly, safety-wise, there are plenty of other corners out there that are just as fast and with the same or less run-off – corners like Turn 9 (at the top of the hill), Pouhon and Blanchimont at Spa and Copse at Silverstone, to name a few. Secondly, for overtaking, I don’t think slowing the cars down (to reduce aero wake) helps nearly enough to overcome the consatina effect. During Ricciardo and Vettel’s battle in the race, I saw several times where the gap between them coming down the hill into the chicane was around 3 or 4 tenths of a second, and they would be visibly close in the chicane, but then on the way out Vettel pulled a gap of about 7 or 8 tenths. This could be partially due to better traction from the Ferrari, but I think a large part of it is due to the concertina effect.

    Also, that chicane is slightly off-camber (particularly the second apex), and I have made my feelings about off-camber corners clear in a previous comment.

    Even if they decide the chicane is necessary, for whatever reason, I think it wouldn’t hurt to open it up and speed it up a bit, like this.

    1. It’s ironic that Verstappen pulled away from Kimi there because of better traction but so did Vettel towards Ricciardo. They can’t both have better traction ;-)

      1. He said he was making sure he got a better exit, which I thought meant he was saving up his ERS power to use on the exit of the chicane every lap to make sure there was a gap. Anyway, doesn’t matter – you’ve just made my point stronger by saying the front car was always advantaged!

  11. You have to wonder how the likes of Bottas, Grosjean, Hulkenberg and Perez must feel about this. Verstappen’s basically been in F1 for little over a year, and in his first outing for a top team, has already won his first race.

    OTOH, the drivers I’ve listed above have been in F1 for so much longer, the four of them are about 10 years (on average) older than Verstappen, and none of them have won a race yet despite the fact that all four have came close at one point or another.

    At one point or another, all were rated as future World Champions. Perez in 2012, Hulkenberg and Grosjean in 2013, and Bottas in 2014. With every passing year, that is looking more and more unlikely.

    It must be a similar feeling to how the likes of Barrichello, Coutlhard, Montoya, and Ralf Schumacher must have felt when Alonso won the WDC in 2005. To have a guy so much younger than yourself achieve the success which you worked so hard for but could seemingly never achieve.

    1. @kingshark Everyone wrote Button off before 2009 as well.

  12. Tim Bosseloo
    16th May 2016, 6:50

    What puzzles me is that both RB and Ferrari used the same strategy for VES and RAI, which effectively has put them in front of the initial race contenders. This wasn’t the goal initially I guess. I did not have the feeling that VET and RIC could have challenged the front runners in due time without team orders, which – if issued at all – would have been very risky in such a situation with 4 cars contending for the race win. So bottomline: what were Ferrari and RB thinking? Bad strategy moves for their respective leading pilots.

    1. I think they did not really believe he tyres would last to the finish Tim, so that was why both put their “first” drivers on the strategy that they thought would end up being the better.

      With still 20 laps to go, Pirelli also confirmed that both Verstappen and Kimi might run out of tyres some 2 laps before the end of the race

    2. The 2 stop was the riskier strategy, and neither RB or Ferrari could afford to use such a strategy for their front runners when trying to win the race. In theory, the mediums could only last ~25 laps, that was the initial estimation based on Friday’s runnings and Pirelli’s assessments. They went for the faster-on-paper, less-risky strategy, which fell short because VES was able to drive almost to perfection, not using his tyres too much but also being fast enough to keep others behind.

      Also, what RedBull did with VES was even riskier, because they had no idea if the kid is kind on the tyres, having not run a full race in this car before. Congrats to Max, well deserved first win!

      1. RB had all imaginable data about how ‘the kid’ is on the tyres, so they pretty much had the best idea possible. Besides that, do you really think Max is in RB because of Kvyats mistake, i.e. don’t you follow the sport at all then?

  13. Actually yesterday’s race was remarkably, eerily similar to any one of Ricciardo’s wins in 2014. The Mercedes knocking themselves out. The second fastest car of the season somehow not getting in a position to profit. A young driver outperforming his more established teammate. The fans of the more established teammate not handling it well.

  14. Also, this race review reads like somehow Ricciardo lost a race he was definitely winning and Verstappen got lucky. That’s not what happened. Verstappen managed his tyres utterly brilliantly. He won this race on merit.

    1. @hahostolze The point I was trying to make was not so much that he was lucky but that, as I wrote in the introduction, if someone had told you immediately after the Russian Grand Prix, when Mercedes had just won their tenth race in a row, that the next race would be won by a first-time race winner driving for a team he’d never started a race for, you’d have thought they had a very active imagination.

      1. I had that ‘active’ imagination. I was about post it here after qualy that both mercedes will collide at the start, but decide not to. I was too afraid to jinx it and put that thought on Dumbledore’s Pensieve instead.

  15. Just wondering: What if Ricciardo, while waiting for tire change, was whispered in the air: Do not bother fighting Vettel, just follow him peacefully, save your tires, wait for him to catch Verstappen and Raikonnen, kill his tires fighting them, and then jump them all?

    Might have worked.

    1. For that to work, Vettel needed to catch the top 2 faster. He wasn’t doing that.

      1. Vettel was catching them until the fighting with Ricciardo started Sumedh, so @pH does have a point. On the other hand, while getting past Kimi should not have been an issue for Vettel (but Ricciardo would have had to work for it), he would still have been stuck behind Verstappen on a track where its hard to pass. And Ricciardo would still have had to make the same move to get ahead.

        If Daniel had managed to pass Vettel, then he might have had a good shot at getting Kimi himself and being at least 2nd.

    2. Nope. That whisper gonna take more than 3 seconds. It won’t be inaudible too…

  16. I would, naturally, it’s an absolute fairytale. But still think the merit of his drive is slightly lost in this review, but that’s just my two cents, it’s a great writeup.

  17. First off, congratulations to Max. An incredibly achievement, he has cemented his future for sure.

    Unfortunately, I don’t know why everyone is calling it a brilliant race to be honest. I felt that it was more processional than usual. Other than Verstappen around the outside of Vettel on the first lap, did we see any of the top 4 change places on track? There were a couple of good overtakes lower down the field but to me it was another race controlled by the tyres. Don’t get me wrong, I was sat at the edge of my seat wondering if Verstappen could keep Raikonnen behind him, only really worried as they approached turn 1. I just feel like everyone is viewing the race with a shade of rose simply because the Mercedes weren’t taking part in it. Maybe because we didn’t have a fast car coming from the back of the grid, this was the worst race of the season so far for me. The lack of radio messages were also highlighted to me today. I really missed them, I wanted to know what strategies people were on and can you believe what would have been said on the Mercedes channel!

    Am I the only one who feels like this?

  18. Eddie Jordan
    16th May 2016, 9:11

    Tyre management guys. Something Max excells in.

  19. I will always remember that race very fondly – we were on the 2/3 mark of the race and Max was holding onto the lead firmly, and i thought “do u actually imagine if…” I even wrote this in the live chat of this site.

    There was something in the back of my mind tingling through the afternoon, a sense of deja vu.
    And fifteen or so laps from home, i finally realized what i was remembering. A red car trying desperately to move past a blue-ish car in front, and win the Spanish GP. Four years ago-Maldonado’s only victory.

    That was it for me. From there on, i knew Kimi had no chance -legit- to pass Max with DRS. He couldn’t try a pass īn another part of the track due to not been able to follow up close-turbulent air.
    The only chance Max would lose this one was if the tyres failed him. I even ruled out a driver mistake-the kid hadn’t stepped a foot wrong in the entire race. I was certain he wouldn’t lose-something like being in the zone (even if i wasn’t driving :P)

    Huge congratulations, wholly deserved triumph. A day to saviour and remember for many, many years for sure.

    1. I had a deja vu feeling as well but for me, the race that came to my mind was the Hungarian GP of the same season (coincidently I attended that race) when Raikkonen trailed Hamilton for the last approximately 15-20 laps but couldn’t pass him despite DRS, etc.

  20. This race demonstrated a couple of key considerations:

    1. An exciting race is not defined by the number of passes, not just the DRS variety, but in general.
    2. Manufacturers (aside from Ferrari) are not necessarily good for the sport. That race was far better for Mercedes not being involved beyond the third turn of lap-one.
    3. Williams is a sad remnant of that once great, World Championship team
    4. Bernie is often right, e.g., “Mercedes dominance is ruining Formula One”
    5. Ferrari has passion but they are dysfunctional. While its pit stops are no longer “Ferrari pit stops” (I’m dating myself), it’s race strategy is “Ferrari race strategy”
    6. Formula One teams, aside from Red Bull, do not take enough risk on bringing in new talent and clearing out the old talent.

    1. @1: That maybe, but it sure does help, see (2).
      @2: It did produce the least exciting race of the season so far.
      @3: They don’t win World Championships anymore, but ‘sad’ is a bit too much.
      @4: See (2).
      @5: Ferrari did exactly the same as the race winners. They lost 1st and won 3rd on track position.
      @6: Hmm, Williams brought Hulkenberg, Bottas and Rosberg; McLaren brought Hamilton, Magnussen and Vandoorne; Sauber brought Perez; MRT brought Bianchi (Ferrari) and Wehrlein (Mercedes).

      1. +1 Leo.

        Everyone seems to think that because the two cars at the front weren’t silver that the action was somehow better!

  21. Guybrush Threepwood
    16th May 2016, 9:59

    I have to say, this is one of the best write-ups of an F1 race I have seen. Well done Keith, and if you continue the same level of detail and quality which you never get from the commentators during the race, I will be making sure I visit to keep reading them.

  22. I don’t have the data Ferrari and RB have, but:
    In my opinion RB made a mistake by letting VET undercut RIC, due to his extremely short stint on his softs. They should have copied the strategy and pull RIC the round after that, to keep him in front of VET. And see what would happen from there. Instead they went for the safest tyre strategy with RIC and it didn’t deliver.

    And Ferrari could have gone 2 ways with RAI, they chose to copy VES strategy and try to beat him fair and square. They could have also tried to extent the second stint as long as possible (30/32 laps) and try to attack him with fresher tyres on the final one.

    Does anyone have information about the puncture of RIC, just bad luck?

    1. Michael Steel
      15th July 2016, 12:44

      Ohhh Ifar, you are so right. I had exactly the same toughs about this. If Riciardo had push hard and had pit in the next round, he for sure has end up in front of Vettel. But I think we are the only ones who see it like this I’m afraid.

  23. Tony Mansell
    16th May 2016, 11:57

    Reminded me slightly of Gilles Villeneuve holding off the field in a pig of a Ferrari. For all his flair GV drove a defensive driving masterclass. He wasnt 18 though, this guy can be anything he wants but youthful precocity doesn’t always translate into a stellar career. Hard to see it not doing though.

    There was a nice symmetry also in Max being flanked by Kimi, another driver who had a big fuss made about him when he first entered the sport ‘too inexperienced’ and Vettel of course the last boy king of Red Bull -though a winner at 21 seems almost tardy now!

  24. More tire choices has definitely made F1 more interesting. Especially when Mercedes is out of the race.
    Lately they do not even show Mercedes anymore during races. Because it’s not even racing what they do. The cruise to victory.

    Hamilton cannot handle the pressure and starts doing risky crazy moves instead of keeping his cool, like Max: after Vettel passes him he just takes advantage on Vettel in the next corner. Or: knowing that Kimi is faster he lets him get closer knowing he can have a better exit into the strait then Kimi ( 0,7 sec is enough to stay ahead). So he can stay ahead anyway if he doesn’t make a mistake. And he doesn’t make 1 mistake: like Hamilton, Vettel, Riciardo and even Kimi ( who makes some spots on his tires).
    The best driver of the day has won.

    Yesterday was very exiting race with the two battles going on. Max deserved to win because he had the most difficult path to victory with 2 stop strategy and the best tire managing driver pushing him in Kimi.
    Max new what to do because he not only has great skill, but also studies the track and how drivers of the past win on it. And he is only 18.

    1. I am all for dropping the tyre rules entirely. Let them switch to whatever they want, when they want, and how much they want.

  25. I find this Verstappen miracle thing quite artificial. Max is a winner because:
    1) 2 Mercs were out after 3 corners
    2) Red-Bull gave him an in-race strategic advantage
    3) A week earlier the team decided to sack Kvyat with F1-historically low tolerance
    4) The timing was perfect to support the move (#3) and back-up administrative intervention (i.e. Helmut Marko)
    5) There was a record-breaking importance to his achievement which was not genuinely and solely gained by his own efforts
    I don’t underestimate Max’s talent or future career, but can’t just simply accept (or agree) what other forces around him want to forcibly seed in our minds.

    1. Tony Mansell
      16th May 2016, 13:51

      Racing is artificial full stop. Its not a tree. You can break everything down to what you’ve just said. Some of the great drives were actually because of circumstances. Just we didn’t know them back then. MS’ drive in the wet in Spain, Senna at Donnington, Senna at Monaco…any of them, had an element you’d say yeh well he was on the right tyres, he was the only one on a wet set up, the turbo cars were a nightmare in the wet….etc. A red herring

      1. Michael and Ayrton drove their way to victory. Max was more driven to victory than not. And took advantage of many “shortcuts” on his way up (some of which -legally- don’t nowadays exist!). He will have plenty of time (and support) to become the new star of F1. It would take half of his talent to make that true. Am I supposed to be “stunned” by this?

        1. Totally agree, it was clear that Ricciardo was faster than Verstappen, Vettel and Raikkonen too. Last laps he was struggling to enter the corners, and only a circuit that is very permissive with the errors and dont allow overtaking helped him. The luckiest guy on the earth.

          1. Riciardo was not faster then Max, because he could not pull away from him early on. Later on he had fresher tires the Max who was driving on old mediums. Even one round older then Kimi’s.

        2. Tony Mansell
          16th May 2016, 15:19

          I suggest you check the facts about Ayrton and MS drive – stunning though they were, your point now makes even less sense though so i’ll leave it at that.

    2. Tim Bosseloo
      16th May 2016, 20:51

      If you put it that way. I’ll put it this way:
      1) Max is only 18, but still kept his cool with multiple WC’s breathing down his neck.
      2) He never drove the RB before. That looks to me as a rather big disadvantage.
      3) RIC, VET & RAI all went faster at some moment in the race then VES, but nevertheless couldn’t get to pass him on the track.
      4) none of his direct opponents had to cope with unforeseen events such as SC – or even their own errors.
      5) Whereas VET & RIC had what turned out to be the losing tyre strategy, RAI had the same weapons as VES.
      Miracle win? No. Bring the Mercs back in the equation and you have a completely different podium. But still a very, very impressive drive from VES. Apart from the Mercedes disaster, not much luck involved if you ask me.

  26. Plus a billion!

    He drove a great race Amply advantaged by all the vested interests wanting such an outcome.

    And by the way – the three stopper was a weak option after a safety car period and hardly suitable for the leader!

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