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Six years ago today: Verstappen takes his first F1 victory with Red Bull
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Six years ago today: Verstappen takes his first F1 victory with Red Bull

15 May - 15:17 Last update: 17:35
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GPblog.com

Today is exactly six years ago that Max Verstappen scored his first victory in Formula 1. With that victory he silenced the critics who claimed that his switch to Red Bull Racing came much too soon. In his very first race for the team, he immediately proved why Helmut Marko made the much-discussed decision, by keeping Kimi Raikkonen 's Ferrari behind him for forty laps.

Verstappen made an immediate impression by qualifying on the second row of the grid alongside teammate Daniel Ricciardo. While it was fully understood that the young Dutchman would need time to get used to the RB12, in practice he proved to have little need for it.

Bitter rivalry at Mercedes reaches explosive climax

Nobody would have dared to predict that a victory would be within reach, because it was the era of Mercedes, which effortlessly raced to both world titles year after year. Nico Rosberg mostly had to watch while Lewis Hamilton strung the titles together, but in 2016 he was completely done with his role as second driver.

It resulted in a bitter rivalry between the Mercedes drivers, which first peaked just after the start of the Spanish Grand Prix. Hamilton started from pole, but Rosberg dived past his teammate on the inside to take the lead. A brief but powerful duel ensued, which saw both drivers end up in the gravel pit.

Different strategy for Verstappen and Raikkonen

A safety car followed, after which Red Bull suddenly seemed to be on its way to a double victory. Ricciardo led the race ahead of Verstappen but was brought in for a pit stop on lap 12, after which the Dutchman drove into the lead for the first time in his Formula One career. He came in for his pit stop one lap later.

On lap 28, Ricciardo came in for a second stop, after which Verstappen again took the lead. Sebastian Vettel did the same, leaving Verstappen with Kimi Raikkonen in his wake. This set the tone for the rest of the race.

Verstappen came in for his second stop on lap 34, Raikkonen followed a lap later. It became clear that the drivers were on a different strategy than their teammates, who both made a third stop.

Verstappen cashes in on first chance at Red Bull in victory

The next 31 laps were marked by the duel between the young Dutchman and F1 veteran Raikkonen. The Ferrari driver frequently came within DRS range of Verstappen, but Verstappen managed to fend off the attacks time and time again. This resulted in the first-ever victory for the eighteen-year-old Verstappen, who saw Raikkonen cross the finish line just six tenths of a second behind him.

First win for Verstappen in pictures

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