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Red Bull’s Max Verstappen became the youngest winner of a Formula 1 Grand Prix by triumphing in Spain, following a disastrous opening lap for Mercedes.
Nico Rosberg, having overtaken pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton around the outside of Turn 1, blocked off the inside line on the approach to Turn 4, resulting in a spin for Hamilton and terminal contact between the Mercedes cars.
In his first race for the senior Red Bull team, Verstappen took full advantage by employing a brave strategy to superbly spring to victory, holding off Kimi Raikkonen during the closing phase.
The Finn finished second, a spot ahead of his fellow Ferrari driver, Sebastian Vettel.
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo had led early on but dropped back to fourth late in the day, being classified in the spot despite suffering a puncture prior to the race's conclusion.
Williams ended a difficult weekend by finishing in fifth place through Valtteri Bottas, while Carlos Sainz came from eighth of the grid to take a fine sixth place for Toro Rosso.
Another impressive performance by Force India’s Sergio Perez saw him finish seventh, with Felipe Massa coming from 18th on the grid to take eighth in the second Williams.
McLaren looked to be set for a double finish in the points until Fernando Alonso’s Honda engine lost power late on, although Jenson Button secured ninth place for the Woking-based team.
Daniil Kvyat, demoted from Red Bull to Toro Rosso as Verstappen moved in the other direction, grabbed the last available point, but may fall further out of favour with the two-tier squad for unlapping himself with a pass on Ricciardo.
At the top of the drivers’ standings, Raikkonen takes over second place from Hamilton, who is four points behind the Finn and 43 adrift of leader Rosberg, following the calamitous first-lap incident between the Mercedes drivers.
As the starting lights went out at the Circuit de Catalunya, drama quickly ensued. Rosberg forced his way around Hamilton at Turn 1 but a poor run from the German through Turn 3 allowed the Englishman an opportunity to pass. When Rosberg aggressively closed the door, however, Hamilton ran onto the grass and spun into the rear of his teammate’s machine, taking both out of the race.
Ricciardo inherited the lead and, following the return of the resultant safety car to the pit-lane, got away well at the front.
After the opening round of pit-stops, the Australian held a two-second lead over Verstappen, with Vettel in hot pursuit of the youngster.
Ricciardo, though, pitted again just after mid-distance and took on soft tyres, revealing that he was employing a three-stop strategy, along with Vettel.
Ricciardo struggled badly towards the end of his third stint, reappearing in fourth place following his final stop of the afternoon, with Verstappen leading, Raikkonen second, and Vettel third.
Vettel survived a thrilling, brave overtaking attempt from Ricciardo at the beginning of the eighth-to-last lap, and it proved to be the Red Bull man’s best opportunity.
Up front, Verstappen was supremely unmoved by the pressure and advances of his fellow two-stopper, Raikkonen, to secure a quite stunning triumph.
Long since touted as a future champion, the confident young Dutchman’s stunning rise continues apace, but even Verstappen himself could not have believed that 2016 would include a visit to the top step of a Formula 1 podium.
Spanish Grand Prix result
Pos. Driver, Team, Time/Gap
1. Max Verstappen, Red Bull, 1hr41:40.017
2. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, +0.616
3. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, +5.581
4. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, +43.950
5. Valtteri Bottas, Williams, +45.271
6. Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso, +1:01.395
7. Sergio Perez, Force India, +1:19.538
8. Felipe Massa, Williams, +1:20.707
9. Jenson Button, McLaren, +1 lap
10. Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso, +1 lap
11. Esteban Gutierrez, Haas, +1 lap
12. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, +1 lap
13. Jolyon Palmer, Renault, +1 lap
14. Felipe Nasr, Sauber, +1 lap
15. Kevin Magnussen, Renault, +1 lap
16. Pascal Wehrlein, Manor, +1 lap
17. Rio Haryanto, Manor, +1 lap
Driver, Team, Laps Completed
Romain Grosjean, Haas, 56
Fernando Alonso, McLaren, 45
Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, 0
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 0
Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 0
By David Maher