The fifth Formula One race of the season the Spanish GP at the Circuit de Catalunya proved to be the most controversial and dramatic so far. Come pre-race on Sunday Mercedes looked like they would dominate the race with Hamilton on Pole and team-mate and current F1 Championship leader Rosberg starting second on the grid.
However, the race proper was turned on its head before the first lap was even completed. Rosberg made another electric start relegating Hamilton to second, but in his attempt to regain the lead from his team-mate, Hamilton spun off at turn three, losing control of his car and disastrously for Mercedes he took out his team-mate in the process.
The collision handed the lead to Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, who led the early phase of the race, from team mate Max Verstappen. Verstappen, who was promoted to the Red Bull team from sister team Torro Rosso in place of Daniel Kyvat only last week, found himself in the lead with 22 laps remaining thanks to a clever two-stop pit strategy. The young Dutch driver showed maturity beyond his years as the vastly experienced Kimi Raikonnen of Ferrari in second pressured him to the line. However, Verstappen held on by six hundredths of a second to land a famous Spanish GP win and he became the youngest ever winner of a Formula One GP at the tender age of 18.
With Championship leader Rosberg and team-mate Hamilton out of the race Ferrari confirmed their position as the second best team in F1 at present and made up the podium, with Raikonnen finishing second ahead of team-mate Sebastian Vettel in third. However, it could easily have been a one-two for Red Bull, if Ricciardo had not experienced a tyre puncture on the penultimate lap, which meant he missed out on second place and could only finish fourth.
There were signs this weekend that Red Bull may become serious challengers to Ferrari for the remainder of the season as Ricciardo and Verstappen qualified third and fourth fastest on Saturday, ahead of Ferrari in fifth and sixth place. This should ensure that both the drivers and constructors Championship race for second place is spiced up for the remainder of the season, but it’s highly unlikely anyone will catch Rosberg in the race for the driver’s Championship as it’s more than likely he’d have won an eighth straight GP this weekend if Hamilton had not forced him out of the race.
Verstappen’s win moved him up to sixth in the Drivers’ Championship, ten points behind team-mate Ricciardo in fifth, who is level on 48 points with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel. Vettel is playing second fiddle to team-mate Kimi Raikonnen so far this season and the Finn’s second place this weekend moved him up to second in the Drivers Championship, four points ahead of Lewis Hamilton in third.
The F1 roadshow returns in a fortnight’s time for the famous Monaco GP, which takes place on the famous Monte Carlo street circuit. Mercedes Nico Rosberg will aim to win a fourth consecutive Monaco GP and if he does, he’ll be within one race of matching Ayrton Senna’s amazing feat of winning five consecutive Monaco GP, which he achieved between 1989 and 1993.