|Photo Credit: FOTO STUDIO COLOMBO PER PIRELLI MEDIA|
Fans in Spain were treated to one of the most unusual and suspenseful Grand Prix of the young 2016 Formula 1 at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. The aftermath of 66 laps at the 4.655-kilometer track has seen a first-time winner emerge. Racing in his 24th Formula 1 grand prix, Max Verstappen achieved an impressive win in his debut with the Red Bull Racing team. Transitioning from the Scuderia Toro Rosso race team to Red Bull Racing, Verstappen's success came in his first competitive weekend, the 18-year-old Dutch driver swap rides with Daniil Kvyat.
The 2016 Spanish Grand Prix will be known for both Max Verstappen's triumphant and for a spectacular incident that resulted in no Mercedes AMG cars being around for the race's finish. After winning the opening four rounds of the season, Nico Rosberg's first loss in 2016 and reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton's retirement were related to an early race collision.
Hamilton started on pole with Rosberg beside him but was passed by his teammate through turn one. As the field exited turn three, Lewis Hamilton rapidly closed on the Rosberg's car (it was later discovered the #6 car of Rosberg was running in a wrong engine mode). As Hamilton motioned to pass for lead, the #6 car dived to block the advance by the #44 machine out of turn three. The slower car of Rosberg and Hamilton's faster car collided resulting in a crash taking out both Mercedes AMG vehicles. "The gap was there and, if you’re a racing driver, you go for that gap." said Lewis Hamilton following the incident. Both drivers have expressed remorse for the effect their collision had on the team. A very rare scoreless grand prix in Spain for the Silver Arrows, the last race where neither race car campaigned by Mercedes AMG finished within the points was at the 2013 United States Grand Prix.
|Photo Credit: Mercedes AMG|
A strong day overall for the Red Bull Racing team, the early part of the Spanish Grand Prix saw Australian Daniel Ricciardo leading the first 28 laps. A contender early, Red Bull Racing decided to place Ricciardo on a three-stop strategy as opposed to the two-stop plan exercised for Max Verstappen's car. The intended three-stop strategy would ultimately become a four pit stop race for Ricciardo's vehicle as a late race tire puncture resulting in the inability for Red Bull to position both cars on the podium. Daniel Ricciardo finished fourth and expressed displeasure after the Spanish Grand Prix on the pit stop plans that differed from Verstappen.
Max Verstappen's path to the finish line was closely followed by the two Scuderia Ferrari team cars. Kimi Raikkonen challenged the Red Bull drivers in a match where a seasoned veteran and former Formula 1 world champion tried to find a way around who could possibly be the sport's youngest grand prix winner. Entering DRS zone in the late laps, there wasn't enough the Ferrari driver could do to deny the record-setting youngster in the Red Bull powered by a Tag Heuer badged Renault engine. Finishing the race with just a 0.616-second margin over Raikkonen, Max Verstappen's victory rewarded his new race team with their first win since 2013 (before Verstappen had arrived in Formula 1).
As Red Bull Racing was able to score a massive amount of points for the constructor's championship, the team remains in third place thanks to the double-podium result for the team placed in second place in the standings. Ferrari welcomed Kimi Raikkonen across the across the line in the runner-up spot who is now in second place in the driver's points following the first-lap retirement of Lewis Hamilton. 5.581 seconds behind the winner, Sebastian Vettel collected third-place resulting in Ferrari's first double-podium finish of the season. Prior to the completion of this race, Vettel's 2013 Brazilian Grand Prix victory was Red Bull Racing's last victory.
|Photo Credit: FOTO STUDIO COLOMBO PER PIRELLI MEDIA|
Crossing the line after Daniel Ricciardo's Red Bull-Tag Heuer machine was Valtteri Bottas highest-positioned Mercedes-Benz powered car finished fifth for Williams Martini Racing. Bottas' teammate Felipe Massa surged from an 18th place starting spot to claim 8th place after 66 laps in Spain. With the demise of the Mercedes AMG race cars, the Williams Martini Racing drivers Bottas and Massa now enjoy the distinction of collecting points in every race so far this season.
Scuderia Toro Rosso is the last remaining team leaving the Spanish Grand Prix with a both cars scoring points. Carlos Sainz Jr achieved his season-best finish with the Ferrari-powered Toro Rosso machine while Daniil Kvyat first race back at the team he started his Formula 1 career resulted in 10th place. Sainz finished ahead of Force India's Sergio Perez while Kvyat followed the Honda-powered McLaren of Jenson Button to the chequered flag.
Just outside of the points, honourable mention is due for Mexican driver Esteban Gutierrez. At the beginning of the race weekend in Spain, Gutierrez mentioned how team issues with Haas F1 Team have been effecting the way he has been perceived in the first races of the 2016 season. Since his teammate Romain Grosjean has posted three finishes in the points during the first five races with the rookie organization, the comments made by the Mexican Formula 1 driver were criticized. On track this weekend, Gutierrez achieved an 11th place finish.
The next race for the 2016 Formula 1 schedule is set for the streets of Monte Carlo for the Monaco Grand Prix. Planned for May 29th, the Monaco Grand Prix is the first race part of a day of racing that includes the Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600.
2016 Formula 1
Spanish Grand Prix
Pos # Car # Driver Team Engine
1 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull TAG Heuer
2 7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Ferrari
3 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari Ferrari
4 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull TAG Heuer
5 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams F1 Mercedes-Benz
6 55 Carlos Sainz Jr Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari
7 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes-Benz
8 19 Felipe Massa Williams F1 Mercedes-Benz
9 22 Jenson Button McLaren Honda
10 26 Daniil Kvyat Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari
11 9 Esteban Gutierrez Haas F1 Team Ferrari
12 9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari
13 30 Jolyon Palmer Renault Renault
14 20 Kevin Magnussen Renault Renault
15 12 Felipe Nasr Sauber Ferrari
16 28 Pascal Wehrlein Manor Mercedes-Benz
17 98 Rio Haryanto Manor Mercedes-Benz
18 14 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda
19 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes-Benz
20 8 Romain Grosjean Haas F1 Team Ferrari
21 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
22 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz