Verstappen becomes new championship leader following Spain victory

Max Verstappen is now the new championship leader by winning in Spain. The Red Bull driver recovered from a half-spin to take the important 25 points following Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc retirement.

In a frenetic first half of the Spanish Grand Prix, Verstappen cost himself second position by losing the rear end and careering across the gravel before mounting a remarkable recovery run.

Aided by runaway leader and polesitter Leclerc suffering the misfortune of a terminal power unit failure, Verstappen was able to force Red Bull to take a change for position.

That left Sergio Perez to concede a potential victory, which in turn allowed Verstappen to complete a run of three race wins to finish 13 seconds at the flag.

The 25-point swing in the early title race gives Verstappen a six-point standings lead heading to Monaco.

George Russell, meanwhile, completed the podium for Mercedes as Carlos Sainz fought back from an early error to claim fourth thanks to a late pass on Lewis Hamilton’s poorly W13.

Verstappen enjoyed the marginally better initial launch from second place but on a used set of softs versus the new C3s for Leclerc, the Ferrari clawed away in the second phase.

That gave Leclerc just enough breathing space to pull to the right and put Verstappen off from attempting a lunge into Turn 1 to enable the 13-time polesitter to retain first place.

Sainz, however, was starting on old softs and bogged down to fall back from third behind Russell, Perez, and then Hamilton nabbed fifth around the outside of Turn 3.

But that left the Mercedes squeezed and he and Kevin Magnussen collided to give Hamilton a front-left puncture and the Haas driver came away with a front-right flat and both pitted.

Leclerc moved ninth tenths clear at the end of lap one, maintained the gap to Verstappen next time around and then critically toured 0.3 seconds faster to move clear of the DRS range when the aid was enabled.

His Ferrari teammate then committed his latest mistake as Sainz spun unaided on entry into Turn 4 and careered over the gravel on lap seven, but two laps later Verstappen made a similar mistake in the tail wind as the rear slid out and he ran over the gravel.

That rare error promoted Russell to second but with a hefty 8.5 seconds deficit to leader Leclerc.

As Perez attempted to pick up the mantle for Red Bull by challenging Russell, the battling duo enabled Leclerc to further escape up the road so as Verstappen recovered, the team allowed him to pass Perez out of Turn 6 to take the challenge to the defensive Mercedes.

But the reigning champion’s attack on Russell was thwarted by a DRS issue, as he had suffered in qualifying to abandon his pole lap, and despite a change of actuator on his RB18 for the race that had meant Verstappen was a late arrival to the grid.

Russell and Verstappen pitted for mediums on lap 13 to leave Perez almost 14 seconds behind Leclerc as the pre-event points leader pumped in laps sixth tenths quicker than his rivals.

Perez was then called to box on lap 18 for a stint on the medium tyre to leave Leclerc alone with a seemingly insurmountable 30 seconds lead as Verstappen nearly dropped his RB18 chasing Russell, having to deftly catch a slid after clipping the inside kerb at Turn 8.

As the Dutch racer grew agitated by his temperamental DRS, Leclerc was called to pit for mediums on lap 21 and Ferrari aced a 2.2 seconds stop to take give Leclerc a 5.7 seconds lead over Russell.

Out alone, Leclerc stretched his lead to 11.2 seconds as Verstappen and Russell avoided any reprimand from the stewards for a robust battle through Turn 3.

But then Leclerc suddenly began to slow on lap 27 with a power unit failure and had his 12 seconds lead evaporate as he crawled to the pits and retired.

That left Russell to defend from Verstappen into Turn 1 for what had become first place, but the Mercedes driver was given respite when the Red Bull pitted on lap 29 for another set of softs.

Verstappen passed the baton to teammate Perez, who could overtake Russell for the lead into Turn 1 thanks to a double helping of DRS and the Red Bull engine overspeed.

As Verstappen nailed an accomplished outside pass on Valtteri Bottas through Turn 12, he recaptured third which soon became second when Russell was pitted again on lap 37.

That left Verstappen 6.2 seconds behind Perez as Red Bull closed in on a 1-2 finish before Checo pitted for mediums to allow Verstappen to complete an eventual rise to the lead.

With the Red Bull pit crew earning their pay cheque, Verstappen made his third stop and took on a pair of medium tyres, and he emerged 5 seconds behind Perez but 1 seconds ahead of Russell.

Red Bull used the argument of its drivers running different strategies to call on a disgruntled Perez to let Verstappen by, and the positions changed at Turn 5 on lap 49 to give Verstappen the lead.

He duly converted it into a fine victory by 13 seconds over Perez, as his early season recovery from Red Bull unreliability morphs into a championship challenge.

The Mercedes duo were hobbled by a late water leak, meaning Russell finished 20 seconds adrift of Perez to complete the podium on a weekend when the updated W13 took a step forward.

But Sainz was able to depose Hamilton at the start of the penultimate lap, as the seven-time champion was told to lift and coast and the Ferrari gained DRS down the main straight.

Alfa Romeo’s bold call to put Valtteri Bottas on a two-stop strategy had looked potentially sound enough for a podium but the late decline of his medium tyres dropped him to sixth.

Esteban Ocon finished seventh for Alpine as Lando Norris, who had been particularly ill before the race and was filmed keeled over and with streaming eyes, ran to eighth.

Fernando Alonso, meanwhile, recovered strongly from a team strategy error that eliminated him in Q1 to land ninth as Yuki Tsunoda completed the top ten.

Aston Martin lost all data on Sebastian Vettel’s car late on as the four-time champion complete a recovery similar in scale to Alonso to rank P11 ahead of Daniel Ricciardo and Pierre Gasly.

Mick Schumacher fell from a fair chance of a top ten down to P14 thanks to a two-stop strategy that left him on leggy mediums as Lance Stroll landed 14th after spinning following a Turn 1-2 coming together with Gasly.

Nicholas Latifi was P16 as Haas put Magnussen on a mammoth hard-tyre stint to rank P17 ahead of Alex Albon, who was given a 5 seconds penalty for repeated track limit violations.

So congratulations to Max Verstappen. New championship leader for the defending title winner. But this race was eventful with a spin in Turn 4. DRS issue working not correctly when trying to get pass George Russell. In the end, the pitstop strategy and race pace allowed Max to take the win.

Spanish Grand Prix, race results:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:37:20.475
2 Sergio Perez Red Bull 13.072
3 George Russell Mercedes 32.927
4 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 45.208
5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 54.534
6 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo 59.976
7 Esteban Ocon Alpine +75.397s
8 Lando Norris McLaren +83.235s
9 Fernando Alonso Alpine +1 lap
10 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri +1 lap
11 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin +1 lap
12 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren +1 lap
13 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri +1 lap
14 Mick Schumacher Haas +1 lap
15 Lance Stroll Aston Martin +1 lap
16 Nicholas Latifi Williams +2 laps
17 Kevin Magnussen Haas +2 laps
18 Alex Albon Williams +2 laps
– Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo DNF
– Charles Leclerc Ferrari DNF

4 thoughts to “Verstappen becomes new championship leader following Spain victory”

  1. Spanish Grand Prix race review as reported by

    Max Verstappen won an action-packed 2022 Spanish Grand Prix as pole-sitter Charles Leclerc retired from a comfortable lead. Sergio Perez took second place to secure Red Bull’s second one-two of the season, as George Russell finished third for Mercedes, having been involved in an epic bout with eventual winner Verstappen.

    Soaring temperatures weren’t the only problem on Sunday; huge gusts into Turn 4 caused both Carlos Sainz and Verstappen to go off track and drop down the order early on. That left Leclerc with a comfortable lead and a free pit stop by Lap 22, and it seemed a straightforward victory for Ferrari – until Leclerc’s engine gave way on Lap 27.

    Before that, Russell and Verstappen (whose DRS was malfunctioning) had sparred – going wheel-to-wheel on numerous breath-taking occasions – for P2. Now they were battling for the lead. So Verstappen pitted a second time from mediums back to softs on Lap 29 and caught up to Russell’s tail by Lap 37, when Russell swapped for another set of mediums. Sergio Perez was briefly in the lead now – but pitted soon after for a new set of mediums.

    Covering off Perez’s alternate strategy and tyre life advantage, Verstappen too was pitted for softs on Lap 45, a new set of mediums now giving him a prime opportunity at prying the lead off Perez. Verstappen was allowed past and eventually won by 13 seconds; Perez took P2 and fastest lap having stopped for softs late on.

    Russell finished third despite having fended off Verstappen’s threats for much of the race, while Sainz finished fourth despite having dropped outside the top 10 early on after his Turn 4 spin. Hamilton passed Sainz for P4 with a brilliant move at Turn 1 with five laps left, but then dropped to P5 having been told to lift off by his Mercedes team.

    Valtteri Bottas’s soft-medium-medium strategy saw him lose out to soft-tyred finishers Sainz and Hamilton, the Finn taking a still-solid P6 finish for Alfa Romeo. In seventh was Esteban Ocon, up five places for Alpine with two soft-tyred stints. Lando Norris mirrored the Frenchman’s strategy but finished a few seconds behind in P8 from P11 for McLaren. Alpine’s Fernando Alonso (from the back of the grid) and AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda (from P13) rounded out the top 10 on the same soft-medium-soft-soft gambit.

    Sebastian Vettel’s two-stop strategy saw him finish 11th for Aston Martin, 14th-placed Mick Schumacher facing a similar fate as he dropped out of the points late on for Haas with Daniel Ricciardo and Pierre Gasly promoted to P12 and P13 respectively.

    Late contact with Gasly at Turns 1-2 put Lance Stroll 15th for Aston Martin.

    Kevin Magnussen made contact with Hamilton early on at Turn 4 and ended up 17th – between the Williams drivers – having opted for a soft-medium-hard strategy. At Williams, Alex Albon finished 18th and Nicholas Latifi 16th.

    Along with Leclerc, Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu was the other retiree in Spain.

    A capacity crowd endured unseasonably stifling heat to create a feverous atmosphere ahead of the 2022 Spanish Grand Prix, colours of all teams shining in the sun – but there was no doubt that Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and two-time home winner Fernando Alonso were enjoying the lion’s share of support.

    Alpine’s Alonso was set to start at the back behind the Williams drivers having taken a new Renault power unit; Sainz third on the grid behind Max Verstappen and Ferrari team mate Charles Leclerc. Behind Sainz was George Russell, Sergio Perez from P5, and Lewis Hamilton from P6.

    Mercury indicating air temperature of 36 degrees Celsius and a track temperature of 49 degrees C, the heat was most definitely on. As for the tyres, Leclerc was to start from pole on new softs – the rest of the top 10 on used softs – while Hamilton was the only one to choose a new set of mediums for his start.

    Away they went: Leclerc’s launch was decent, but Verstappen was almost alongside him into Turn 1. Sainz fell to fifth as Russell and Perez snuck through. Magnussen jumped from eighth to challenge Hamilton through Turn 4 but the pair banged wheels – the Haas driver taking a trip through the gravel and falling to last after pitting to mediums, and Mercedes’ Hamilton emerging 19th after a pit for softs.

    Hamilton was despondent as he said on the radio: “I would save this engine, guys. I’m sorry.”

    Leclerc retained the lead, Verstappen right on his tail – with Russell holding firm in the final podium place ahead of Perez. Further down, Esteban Ocon managed to pry P8 off Daniel Ricciardo on the main straight at the start of Lap 5 – while Alonso was up to 14th at the expense of Lance Stroll. Ocon took another one off Mick Schumacher one lap later, Alonso continuing the Alpine show with a DRS pass on Vettel for P13 soon after.

    The home fans were jubilant, but only for a minute. At Turn 4 on Lap 7, Sainz spun and fell from fifth to 11th – fortunately avoiding the barriers.

    Lap 9 saw more plumes of gravel on the outside of Turn 4, Verstappen going off at that corner to drop from P2 to P4 behind Perez. Tailwinds seemed to be the issue for both him and Sainz.

    Leclerc enjoying a comfortable lead, Perez attempted to pry P2 off Russell on Lap 10 but was held off masterfully by the Mercedes into Turn 1. The Silver Arrow was holding not just Perez but Verstappen, who was allowed past his team mate on Lap 11 as Red Bull ordered the reigning champion to take on Russell. The Briton was getting warnings to cool the car, making his task even harder.

    Lap 11 also saw Sainz, Alonso, Pierre Gasly, and Zhou Guanyu pit for mediums. One lap later, Ricciardo swapped to softs and Alex Albon mediums, Norris taking the mediums on Lap 13, and Schumacher softs, to shuffle the pack.

    Verstappen and Russell were called in to pit at the start of Lap 14, both enjoying clean stops for mediums – the latter hoping his DRS issues from qualifying weren’t making a reappearance (despite the team having changed the mechanism).

    The Mercedes emerged ahead of the Red Bull in the battle for third, and on Lap 16 Verstappen was right on Russell’s tail. He pressed the DRS button and the system only worked for a split second before snapping shut again. To his frustration, Verstappen’s DRS was clearly malfunctioning.

    Leclerc and Perez were still in the top two spots, the Monegasque over 16s seconds ahead of the Mexican by Lap 16 – neither having yet stopped. Perez would finally swap for mediums on Lap 18 to emerge fourth.

    Meanwhile, Sainz was working his way back up the pack, making it up to seventh after the first pit stops – while Verstappen was gearing up for another run at Russell. Lap 19 saw Russell keep the Red Bull at bay throughout. This was progress from Mercedes and solid execution from Russell.

    With a 27-second lead over Russell, Leclerc was called into the pits and emerged on Lap 22 – the free pit stop sending him back out into a five-second lead. Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel also pitted then, having made it up from P16 to P8 by going long on his first stint.

    Verstappen was still sticking on Russell’s tail, frustrations over DRS continuing as his team attempted a remote diagnosis. Lap 24 saw the Dutchman breathing down Russell’s neck, almost making it past at Turn 1 but Russell holding firm at Turn 3.

    Agonisingly for Verstappen, even though he was within striking distance on Lap 25, that DRS just wouldn’t open and give him that extra burst of pace. The following corners saw another epic display of racecraft between the two, though they were close to making contact at Turn 3.

    “Get… Max out of the way so I [can] overtake quickly,” Perez proposed as he had now rejoined the fray on much fresher tyres than the pair. Negative, was the answer, causing Perez to continue stating his case on the radio.

    Leclerc’s lead seemed assured. That was, until Lap 27. He screamed “no!” on the radio, the F1-75 slowing dramatically and a swarm of Ferrari mechanics waiting to retire his car in the pits.

    The following lap began with Verstappen therefore attacking Russell for the lead, Perez vying for a starring role just behind. Red Bull responded to the situation by pitting Verstappen for softs at the start of Lap 29 – an attempted undercut to give Russell a choice to make.

    Perez had his chance now; Lap 31 saw the Mexican bear down on the leading Briton and easily snatching the lead.

    Verstappen had emerged fourth from his stop but around the outside of Turn 12 made a stunning move on Bottas to get back to P3 for the start of Lap 32, when Sainz took the opportunity to pit for mediums from P5.

    Midway through the race it seemed that the Red Bulls would be facing off for victory. Verstappen had caught up to Russell by Lap 37 but this time the Mercedes pitted for medium compounds, intending to make it to the end of the race, emerging in P3 ahead of Bottas. Perez responded by pitting one lap later for mediums, emerging a comfortable second ahead of Russell.

    Covering off Perez’s tyre life advantage, Verstappen was swapped for a new set of mediums on Lap 45 and emerged second, just ahead of Russell, and with only 5.5 seconds’ deficit to leader Perez. That deficit was almost halved two laps later and Perez was told that he would soon be forced to let his team mate through – that team order considered “unfair” by the Mexican driver.

    But on Lap 49, Perez complied – Verstappen thanking him – before skating away to win by 13.072s and retake the championship lead. Perez would pit again on Lap 54, going for softs and taking fastest lap and P2 to give Red Bull their second one-two of the season.

    Russell completed the podium and Hamilton took P5 and Driver of The Day too. Shrugging off his early clash with Magnussen, the seven-time champion pulled off a brilliant recovery – even passing Sainz for P4 late on – but was swiftly told to lift and coast to avoid overheating. As a result, Sainz re-took P4 having passed not only Hamilton (on Lap 65) but Bottas (on Lap 57, along with Hamilton).

    Bottas’s two-stop strategy therefore did not pay off and he finished sixth for Alfa Romeo ahead of Ocon – seventh for Alpine. Norris, despite suffering from illness, started 11th but finished eighth on the same strategy as Ocon (soft-medium-soft-soft) while Alonso took ninth from last on the grid for Alpine with a similar strategy.

    Tsunoda also used the three-stopper to take 10th place for AlphaTauri, keeping two-stopper Vettel out of the points in P11. McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo missed out on points in P12 as he couldn’t keep pace with his team mate – while Schumacher dropped to 14th at the end as his medium tyres dropped off and his two-stop strategy did not pay off.

    In 15th was Lance Stroll having taken damage in a duel with 13th-place Pierre Gasly late on. Stroll’s compatriot Nicholas Latifi took P16 for Williams while team mate Alex Albon struggled to 18th with a five-second track limits penalty adding insult to injury.

    Between them was Magnussen, damage sustained from his early squabble with Hamilton and a two-stop strategy keeping him 17th for Haas.

    Neither Zhou nor Leclerc saw the chequered flag in Spain.

  2. Charles Leclerc commented that he “can’t afford” more Formula 1 DNFs after Spanish Grand Prix exit. has the news story.

    Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc said his team can’t afford many more unforced errors after retiring from a dominant lead in Formula 1’s Spanish Grand Prix.

    Leclerc had been easily leading the first half of the race until the Monegasque driver reported a loss of power on his Ferrari on the 26th of 66 laps.

    The issue proved terminal, as Leclerc coasted into the pitlane into an early retirement.

    Ferrari soon confirmed that an undiagnosed power unit issue was the cause of his early exit. Leclerc said he had received no early warning, with the engine suddenly giving up.

    “No, I don’t know anything more than what happened basically. I had no indications before and it just broke and I lost the power completely, so it’s a shame,” Leclerc told Sky Sports.

    On a sweltering and windy Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, which had forced both teammate Carlos Sainz and title rival Max Verstappen into early mistakes, Leclerc had been producing a flawless performance which looked poised to rebuild his championship lead.

    After seeing Verstappen and Red Bull draw closer in Miami, Ferrari’s vast suite of upgrades allowed Leclerc to take pole, which he looked set to convert into a crushing victory.

    Instead, his retirement opened the door for Verstappen to win the race, and also net the Dutchman a championship lead for the first time in 2022.

    Leclerc said he wasn’t too concerned about the prospect of losing hold of the points lead but acknowledged he could not afford many more DNFs like Spain.

    “We will look at this issue and we cannot afford for this to happen many times during the season, so we need to find the problem,” he added.

    “The lead of the championship will go down to basically nothing or maybe we will lose it actually but that’s fine. I’m not looking at it.

    “I think what is the most important is your own performance and performance-wise we are performing very well so I can’t wait to go at home next week and hopefully we’ll have a great result [in Monaco].”

    A silver lining for Leclerc is that its Barcelona upgrades appeared to work well and the team went some way in addressing its relatively poor tyre management over the past few races.

    He added: “In those moments, I believe there’s nothing else I can do apart from looking at the positives and there are plenty this weekend.

    “There’s the qualifying pace, the race pace and, most importantly, the tyre management. That has been a weakness in the last few races.

    “I think we’ve definitely found something this weekend on that, so it gives me the confidence for the rest of the season.”

  3. Spanish Grand Prix winner Max Verstappen commented that his DRS issues made the team change strategy to win the race. has the full details.

    Max Verstappen said his intermittent DRS problems made it “difficult” to win Formula 1’s Spanish Grand Prix, which is why Red Bull turned to strategy to come out on top.

    Second-starting Verstappen, who had lost ground after an early off in Turn 4, was suddenly handed a golden opportunity to grab a second victory at the site of his first ever grand prix win when title rival Charles Leclerc, who had been dominating the race, retired with Ferrari engine problems before halfway.

    But Verstappen’s charge was further complicated by an issue with his DRS actuator, which had also ruined his final run in Saturday qualifying.

    Despite Red Bull’s best efforts to find a cure, the problem reared its head again when Verstappen was attempting to pass Mercedes’ George Russell for the lead.

    Due to a combination of the intermittent DRS issue and Russell’s robust defending, Verstappen and Red Bull decided to change strategy and go for a bold three-stopper, with an extra stint on used softs to try and regain track position.

    Verstappen’s strategy allowed him to win the race, albeit after Red Bull asking teammate Sergio Perez to cede the lead in the final stint.

    “I suddenly had a lot of tail wind, so I just lost the rear and went off,” he explained.

    “Then of course I was in the train and I tried to pass but my DRS was not always working, so it made it made it very tough, but we managed to use the strategy to get ahead again and do our own race and eventually win the race. Difficult beginning but a good end.”

    Verstappen was extremely agitated on the radio when informed that his DRS woes had returned, but said he attempted to focus his attention on making his alternate strategy work.

    “I tried to stay focused. Of course, it’s not nice when stuff like that happens, but at the end I was very happy to win and also very happy for Checo, it was a great result for the team.

    “I think the behaviour of the car was good on the soft but also the medium I think it was working quite well.”

    Thanks to his win, which includes a bonus point for the fastest lap, Verstappen takes over the lead of the 2022 championship for the first time.

    The Dutchman heads to next week’s Monaco Grand Prix leading Leclerc by six points.

  4. Red Bull’s Sergio Perez calls for team to have some discussion over Spanish Grand Prix team orders. has the news story.

    Sergio Perez wants to talk to Red Bull chiefs about their team orders calls in the Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix, after being told to not fight teammate Max Verstappen.

    The Mexican was leading towards the end of the Spanish GP when he was told over the radio not to hold up his pursuing teammate – who had been switched on to an alternative tyre strategy.

    But, having earlier not been given clear air to pass Verstappen and attack George Russell when he had a tyre advantage, he made clear that he felt the subsequent call was ‘unfair’.

    While a later switch to softs meant he finished more than 13 seconds behind Verstappen anyway, Perez told his bosses on the team radio after the 1-2 finish that, while happy for the team, he wanted some clarification about events.

    “I’m happy for the team, but we need to speak later,” he said.

    Perez was pushed on the matter in the post-race television interviews, but was diplomatic about the way that a possible win had got away from him.

    “I think it was close,” he said. “But at the end it is a great team result. I’m happy for that.”

    Asked about the frustrations he had expressed on the team radio, Perez said: “We were on different tyre strategies at the time.

    “I let Max by in the beginning, then I thought at the time I could go by and not lose crucial seconds to make my strategy work. But anyway, it’s a good team result.”

    Horner thinks, however, that when Perez is able to better understand how the race was shaping up at that stage with the different tyres, that he will accept Red Bull did the right thing.

    Horner told Sky: “Our responsibility is to bring the two cars home with as many points as we can, and of course what Checo couldn’t see at the time, which he could see perfectly well now, is that he had such a long stint to do on the medium tyre.

    “Max had such a tyre advantage from a team perspective there is just no point in taking that risk with an intermittent DRS, with temperatures raging up and down. So it was absolutely the right thing to do.”

    Horner said that the team’s call was not based on thinking about the championship, but more on what was realistic considering the tyre life on both cars.

    “I think we will discuss it and he [Perez] will see the race plot, and he will see that he had close to 30 laps to do on the tyres, which in the end we needed to pit to make sure we covered Russell.

    “In the heat of the moment you can understand it. If he wasn’t pushing those types of things he isn’t doing his job.”

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