Max Verstappen has reason to be lucky. The Dutch driver of Red Bull has just chained, after the Grands Prix of Emilia-Romagna (Italy) and Miami, a third consecutive victory at the Grand Prix of Spain on Sunday May 22. The reigning world champion is the new leader of the drivers’ classification, ahead of Charles Leclerc (Ferrari). But nothing was easy for him during this race.
Starting in second position on the starting grid behind his rival from Ferrari, Verstappen first experienced an embarrassing episode, before vehemently attacking his team on his radio. On the ninth lap, the 24-year-old driver made a mistake by losing the rear of his vehicle. The same mistake had been made two laps earlier by Carlos Sainz (Ferrari).
Instantly, Verstappen lost precious seconds on Leclerc and above all had to line up behind George Russell (Mercedes) and his teammate, Sergio Pérez (Red Bull). It was only after the latter had let him go back to third, on the orders of the team led by Christian Horner, that Verstappen experienced the misadventures of DRS, this wing installed at the rear of the car which can s open to facilitate overtaking.
A calmer end of race
For several laps the Dutchman struggled with intermittently working DRS. “Mad Max” then returned, angrily lashing out at his engineers on the radio: “We can’t even get our DRS to work. It’s incredible ! It was on lap twenty-seven that the scorching heat of Barcelona finally smiled on the world champion, when Charles Leclerc had to retire due to a mechanical problem.
All that remained was to pass Russell. Thing done thanks to a passage through the pits and the famous “undercut”. Verstappen only had to manage the end of the race to go to victory, ahead of Pérez (2ᵉ) and Russell (3ᵉ), before putting things into perspective after a race with twists and turns. All quiet this time.
“I had the wind at my back and lost control in turn 4. Then my DRS wasn’t working all the time, so that made things complicated. We managed to get back in front thanks to our strategy. It was a rough start to the race, but a happy ending,” Verstappen said after the race.
Revenge Leclerc in Monaco?
Trailing by 47 points in the drivers’ standings at the end of the Australian Grand Prix in early April, Max Verstappen managed to catch up by winning the next three races. He now has a six-point lead (110 points) over Leclerc (104 points), who once again had bad luck, after a very good start to the Grand Prix which had seen him take the lead in the race.
After five consecutive victories for Lewis Hamilton in Barcelona – the Briton managed to finish 5ᵉ after experiencing a collision at the start of the race – Verstappen won his second race in Catalonia. The first dates back to 2016, when he became the youngest winner in Formula 1 at 18 years and 227 days. Time has passed since then and the Dutchman has established himself as the boss of the discipline.
In a week, Verstappen will try to do it again on the Monaco circuit this time, Grand Prix he won in 2021. The Dutchman should face a Charles Leclerc more determined than ever. The Monegasque is still looking for a victory at home. After his misadventure last year during the Grand Prix of the Principality and that experienced today, the Ferrari driver will have scores to settle.