Start, Circuit de Catalunya, 2016

Praise for surprising Spanish GP – and new winner Verstappen

2016 Spanish Grand Prix Rate the Race result

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It was clear from your responses to the Spanish Grand Prix that Red Bull’s young talent has made a big impression.

Max Verstappen was hailed as a new star for F1 after his breakthrough victory.

And with an average rating of 8.7 out of ten from readers, this was the most popular Spanish Grand Prix since we began Rate the Race in 2008, earning 13th place on your all-time favourites list:

I just couldn’t believe my eyes the last couple of laps. Surely he was going to pit again for softs, right? No!

I’ve been following F1 since 1994, watched Jos Verstappen’s day in the sun that year, but that moment just got totally eclipsed by what his son did today. Very, very proud of my young countryman today. Goosebumps.
@Ogw86

Congratulations to Max Verstappen, clearly deserved victory and probably the first of many. Excellent to see Red Bull fighting for victories again too.

Gutted for Daniel Ricciardo, though. Brilliant drive from him deserved better than fourth. Weird Red Bull didn’t give him clearly the better strategy.
Adam (@Rocketpanda)

Strategy played a pivotal role in deciding the outcome of the race with both Red Bull and Ferrari’s leading drivers dropping back after they switched to three-stop strategies.

Some of you appreciated this aspect of the race more than others:

Very exciting! It’s been a while since there have been four drivers in with a decent shot at victory right up until the end of the race. With DRS having a less obvious effect compared to other tracks it felt like 2010 again.

Shame about Riccardo’s puncture but an excellent drive from both Ferrari and Red Bull drivers. I knew Verstappen would get a win, didn’t think it would be so soon and with such style! It takes some real talent to hold back a driver like Raikkonen for that many laps. Best race since Bahrain 2014.
Finlay (@fintard96)

Obviously the start was fantastic and the last few laps were really good. The middle of the race, not so much.

Definitely some re-watch potential and therefore stronger than average.
Oli (@Dh1996)

A wonderful race from start to finish, and Verstappen showed that he is definitely a future world champion. Not this year though – I almost forgot Mercedes for a second there but they’re still in F1 guys!

But there’s a sense for me that strategy decided the results of the race. Of course kudos to both Red Bull, Ferrari, and their drivers. But I think Verstappen was on the first step of the podium today instead of Ricciardo, despite being behind in both qualifying and the early stages of the race, and Raikkonen getting second instead of Vettel, despite being quite visibly outclassed by Vettel in the early stages of the race, was down to the fact that Red Bull and Ferrari made strategic options that paid off for one driver and not the other.

Obviously the teams had to make decisions to maximise their chances of winning, regardless of which driver is on top. But who knows, Vettel and Ricciardo may be qutestioning their team bosses about strategies right now!
Duc Pham (@Ducpham2708)

The Circuit de Catalunya tends not to see a great deal of overtaking and this year was no exception:

For a race which had very few overtakes, the tension, drama and entertainment level was unexpectedly high. Who said we need 40 overtakes per race to get excited?

Also, one of the few overtakes of the race, Verstappen getting back on Vettel in the first lap, was probably the key to his race. If Verstappen couldn’t get back behind Ricciardo so fast, the outcome would have probably been much different.
@Gechichan

It was a great race, the best I have seen for a long time. The two Mercedes crashing out made for an excellent contest between the Ferrari and Red Bull drivers, it wasn’t clear until the last few laps which of those four drivers was going to win and it was really nice to see a fresh face on the top step of the podium. Very well done to Max Verstappen.

Sadly this race showed very clearly that in modern F1 racing it is very difficult for the drivers to follow close to one another with relatively equal performance, this means that for the majority of the time the race is decided by pit strategy than by driving skills. They need to change this if they want to have really great racing, today’s race showed that the potential is there to have great races with positions decided on the last lap but it would be so much better and more exciting for everybody if the drivers are able to get close enough to each other to pass and re-pass without the need for tools like DRS and multiple tyre compounds which just makes much of the close action very much a biased contest.
Robert (@rob91)

Spectacular crash, unexpected winner – but the first four followed each other home, and never really looked like swapping positions (thanks again, downforce-sapping regulations).

Ricciardo had to near-enough punt Vettel off-track to make a pass, and even that was unsuccessful.
@newfangled

Obviously an outstanding race, however, I would have liked to have seen a move made successfully on track for one of the cars at the front just to show that it can be done at Catalunya. But that is a minor quibble, great tense strategic race.
@Jonners99

Red Bull out-qualifying the Ferraris ultimately set up a thrilling race. More evidence F1 doesn’t need Bernie Ecclestone’s ‘time ballast’ qualifying idea?

Proves that there can be an exciting race even without rain or drivers completely out of position in qualifying, or whatever reverse grid orders or stupid ideas of such.
Stefano (@Alfa145)

2016 Rate the Race Results

RaceAverage score
2016 Spanish Grand Prix8.706
2016 Chinese Grand Prix7.853
2016 Australian Grand Prix7.757
2016 Bahrain Grand Prix7.382
2016 Russian Grand Prix5.396

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2016 Spanish Grand Prix

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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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24 comments on “Praise for surprising Spanish GP – and new winner Verstappen”

  1. I do wonder what the voting would’ve been like had this race happened in Sochi…

    1. You mean if Kvyat managed to win in Sochi or if the swap happened before Sochi and Verstappen won there?

      Also.
      “Gutted for Daniel Ricciardo, though. Brilliant drive from him deserved better than fourth. Weird Red Bull didn’t give him clearly the better strategy.
      Adam (@Rocketpanda)”

      If they had given Ricciardo the “clearly better strategy” no Red Bull car would have been in P1. Some comments are so shortsighted.

      1. Agreed, Vettel would have stayed on two stop and won.

    2. @xtwl
      I doubt the response would be much different. Barcelona is not exactly the darling of circuits among F1 fans. It gets its fair share of criticism and has been nicknamed “Borecona” before. People were able to admit that Abu Dhabi 2012 was a great race despite it being held around a circuit that is wildly despised around here.

      The “darling circuits” among F1 fans are Spa, Suzuka, Silverstone, and Interlagos. These circuits can seemingly do no wrong regardless of how poor of a race they throw up occasionally.

      1. @kingshark
        Good point. Most tracks have a reputation based on the races before the DRS/Pirelli era. Tracks like Barcelona and the Hungaroring have generally produced interesting races since 2011, while for example Suzuka and Interlagos (except for the wet race in 2012) have not.

  2. @PorscheF1 it would have been a barn burner if Max had won in a Red Bull in Sochi, everyone asking “How’d he get in that car?”

  3. It was definitely an interesting race. Unfortunately there are still some overtaking misconceptions:

    “The Circuit de Catalunya tends not to see a great deal of overtaking and this year was no exception:

    For a race which had very few overtakes, the tension, drama and entertainment level was unexpectedly high. Who said we need 40 overtakes per race to get excited?
    @Gechichan

    Actually there were 54 overtakes in the race (after the first lap), see: http://cliptheapex.com/overtaking/. Sadly, most of those overtakes were not broadcast as they were not too relevant for the race. The Ferrari and Red Bull drivers only swapped places in the pits, but actually the difficulty to overtake made the race more interesting.

    1. Exactly… Entire show was made by overtaking difficulties.

    2. Have to agree, actually, remarkable amount of overtakes in the race itself, in all manner of corners (not necessarily overtaking corners), but the race up front was so damn tense, nobody paid attention to what happened behind

    3. Michael Brown (@)
      20th May 2016, 0:49

      Because what makes a race great is tension. There’s none of that with DRS, with exceptions where it doesn’t do a lot to help, like this race.

  4. I’ve been watching F1 religiously since 2010 and that ranks up there as one of the best races I’ve seen.

    1. Same here. From memory only Canada 2011 was truly leagues ahead of this.

      This reminded me of Turkey 2010 a lot as well. Teammates crashing and a four-way fight for the lead, without much overtaking but heaps of tension.

  5. Max and Kimi were the best. They were given the hardest task. Kimi’s performance was worth a win too.
    RBR had prepared Max’s car better for the race then Ferrari, because Ferrari achilles heel was sector 3. Or maybe RBR is a better car for Spain.

    Had Max been behind Kimi it would probably have been easier for Max to overtake Kimi then the other way around.

    Max has shown before how to overtake faster cars, by having a better exit into the strait last year.

    Very exiting race.

    1. If a Ferrari on equal tyres was in front of a Red Bull it would have pulled away. Ferrari were faster in clean air but Saturday they suffered the weird tyre temp issue as Merc did in Singapore last year.

      1. Maybe Max could have pulled away from Kimi, but he didn’t because he knew he had to save tires to make it to the end. So he didn’t go to the Max on them. And he knew Kimi couldn’t pass him if he had a good exit into the strait. He let Kimi get closer.
        That’s what I got from what Max said about his battle with Kimi.

        It’s hard to say who is faster on the same tires, because if you are faster but your tires wear off faster then the once on the slower car, it’s not really being faster in the end.

        Key is that you make your pass on the opponent before your tires go bad. That’s what Daniel tried to do on Vettel.

    2. Interestingly, Räikkönen was actually by far the fastest driver in the race. He only lacked track position, otherwise he would have won the race easily. In hindsight, his last pitstop was probably too early, as he didn’t have a big enough pace advantage to overtake. If his tires had been a few laps fresher he might have been quick enough in the final corners to overtake.
      Ricciardo was able to stay relatively close to Vettel in the final sector, but he lacked top speed to get past as the Ferrari engine is still a bit more powerful than the Renault engine. Ricciardo also had a bit more of a high-downforce setup. So the Ferraris were too slow in the final sector and the Red Bulls were too slow in a straight line to overtake.

  6. Since the 2 leaders were on a strategy which included “saving your tires” we don’t know how much faster they could have gone. In my opinion they were not driving at their max speed.
    So being “faster” was not really the most important factor in the race.

  7. i find it fascinating that this race is deemed exciting but a very similar type of race on the same track in 2011 was deemed dull by many. i found that to be a cracking race, entirely dependent on vettel not making an error in the last sector (same as verstappen last sunday) and falling prey to a faster car with better straightline speed (hamilton/raikkonen).

    it all comes down to finely balancing circumstances – remember imola in 2005, which would have been a snooze with DRS (MSC would have jumped alonso early on and sauntered to the finish). in these two barcelona races we had (with the DRS) a balance of circumstances which kept everything tense almost to the end. we’ve lost that paradigm at places like china, montreal and spa because the DRS effect is too great.

    1. Michael Brown (@)
      20th May 2016, 12:37

      Even the following year, the Spanish GP threw up a good race. I suppose it was because 2012 and 2016 featured new winners that they got ranked higher.

    2. That 2011 race was quite interesting indeed. Alonso took the lead at the start and it took Vettel and Hamilton two stints to get ahead of him. Alonso then was fighting Webber and they were both passed by Button who had an awful start, but managed to save a pitstop in the race. The Ferraris were struggling on the hard tires and Alonso ended a lap down in fifth place. Vettel and Hamilton were nose to tail in the second half of the race and there were great recovery drives from Heidfeld and Kobayashi in the midfield. Maybe it was not really a spectacular race, but I think it was still one of the better races in 2011. Possibly many people didn’t like that race because it was another Vettel win…

  8. Michael Brown (@)
    20th May 2016, 12:34

    An exciting race in Barcelona? Well, I never. Turns out we don’t need a million overtakes per race. What we do need are battles and tension. DRS and Pirelli tires sometimes take that away because overtaking is done in the DRS zone and if you’re in the dirty air too long, you destroy the tires.

    It’s why I disagree with the assessment that Abu Dhabi 2010 was a bad race. At least Alonso was trying to overtake, rather than look after his fragile tires.

  9. ILuvSoundtracks (@)
    20th May 2016, 15:53

    This unbelievable race should have scored 9…

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