Max Verstappen made Formula 1 history by taking victory at the Circuit de Catalunya on his first appearance as a Red Bull Racing driver.
On his debut drive for Milton Keynes-based team after recently swapping seats with Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso graduate Verstappen became the youngest driver to win a race at the age of 18 years and 227 days, beating Sebastian Vettel’s record by more than two years.
Verstappen led for the final 32 of the 66 laps as he completed a two-stop strategy to perfection, finishing just 0.6 seconds ahead of Kimi Raikkonen in his Ferrari, with Vettel third, a further 4.9 seconds down.
While such an achievement was unforgettable, the Spanish Grand Prix will be go down in motor sport history as to what unfolded between Hamilton and Rosberg.
From second on the grid Rosberg enjoyed a slightly better start than Hamilton on pole and passed his team-mate around the outside at Turn 1.
Out of Turn 3 Hamilton managed to gain a superb launch, moving into Rosberg’s slipstream and across to the right as he aimed for an overtake.
Rosberg aggressively covered off what was an ambitious move by Hamilton, who had managed to get his front wing aligned with his team-mate’s right-rear tyre.
Trying to avoid a collision Hamilton took to the grass, but immediately went into a slide and careered into Rosberg, sending both into the gravel at Turn 4.
Hamilton immediately covered his visor with both hands, and after a period of reflection sat in his car, later flung his steering wheel out in a fit of anger.
The incident immediately brought out the safety car, with Daniel Ricciardo leading new team-mate Verstappen, followed by the Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz Jr, who had started eighth, and the Ferraris of Vettel and Raikkonen.
After Vettel and Raikkonen eventually passed Sainz, a tense Red Bull versus Ferrari battle began.
They matched tactics at their first pit-stops for mediums, before both teams then split strategies.
Leader Ricciardo returned to soft rubber after his second stop – immediately indicating a three-stop plan – and was covered off by third-placed Vettel a lap later.
Verstappen, who had closed to within seven tenths of Ricciardo, and Raikkonen remained out, not pitting until laps 34 and 35 respectively and taking on medium tyres to commit to a two-stop strategy with a long stint to the finish.
After just eight laps on the softs, Ferrari made a tactical move by bringing in Vettel again for his third pit-stop, and moving back to the mediums.
Leader Ricciardo, following a poor few laps, took on his set of mediums after 43 laps, emerging some distance behind third-placed Vettel, with Verstappen holding on to a one-second cushion to Raikkonen at the front.
Despite constant pressure from Raikkonen, Verstappen stayed ahead to the chequered flag for a remarkable win.
As the lead quartet bunched up, Ricciardo attempted a pass on Vettel for third into Turn 1 with seven laps left, only to slightly overcook it and allow the four-time champion back through.
Vettel was forced to take evasive action to avoid hitting Ricciardo, and yet again an expletive-laden radio rant from the Ferrari driver.
Ricciardo kept pushing, but on the penultimate lap his right-rear tyre gave way, forcing him into the pits for a late change, and with such a significant gap to fifth-placed Valtteri Bottas in his Williams, he still claimed fourth.
Behind Bottas came Sainz, followed by the Force India of Sergio Perez, Felipe Massa’s Williams – charging from P18 on the grid – Jenson Button for McLaren, with Kvyat taking the final point with tenth.
Nico Hulkenberg was forced to retire after 21 laps following a small fire and with smoke coming from the back of his Force India, with McLaren’s Fernando Alonso following suit 25 laps later, bemoaning “no power”.
So a dramatic Spanish Grand Prix. The Mercedes self-destruct will be the major talking point as both Rosberg and Hamilton not given an inch. Yet, the feel good story from Barcelona is Verstappen winning his first race.
The youngest winner in the sport. On his debut with Red Bull Racing. Fantastic achievement. Here’s to many more for the Mad Max in Formula 1.
Spanish Grand Prix, race results after 66 laps:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Renault 1h41m40.017s
2 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 0.616s
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 5.581s
4 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 43.950s
5 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 45.271s
6 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m01.395s
7 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1m19.538s
8 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1m20.707s
9 Jenson Button McLaren-Honda 1 Lap
10 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1 Lap
11 Esteban Gutierrez Haas-Ferrari 1 Lap
12 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 1 Lap
13 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1 Lap
14 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1 Lap
15 Felipe Nasr Sauber-Ferrari 1 Lap
16 Pascal Wehrlein Manor-Mercedes 1 Lap
17 Rio Haryanto Manor-Mercedes 1 Lap
– Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari Retirement
– Fernando Alonso McLaren-Honda Retirement
– Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes Retirement
– Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Collision
– Nico Rosberg Mercedes Collision
1 Nico Rosberg 100
2 Kimi Raikkonen 61
3 Lewis Hamilton 57
4 Sebastian Vettel 48
5 Daniel Ricciardo 48
6 Max Verstappen 38
7 Felipe Massa 36
8 Valtteri Bottas 29
9 Daniil Kvyat 22
10 Romain Grosjean 22
11 Carlos Sainz 12
12 Fernando Alonso 8
13 Sergio Perez 8
14 Kevin Magnussen 6
15 Nico Hulkenberg 6
16 Jenson Button 3
17 Stoffel Vandoorne 1
18 Jolyon Palmer 0
19 Esteban Gutierrez 0
20 Marcus Ericsson 0
21 Pascal Wehrlein 0
22 Felipe Nasr 0
23 Rio Haryanto 0
1 Mercedes 157
2 Ferrari 109
3 Red Bull-Renault 94
4 Williams-Mercedes 65
5 Toro Rosso-Ferrari 26
6 Haas-Ferrari 22
7 Force India-Mercedes 14
8 McLaren-Honda 12
9 Renault 6
10 Sauber-Ferrari 0
11 Manor-Mercedes 0
Next race: Monaco Grand Prix, May 26-29. Monte Carlo.