Recap: How a different strategy helped Verstappen to victory in Spain 2016

Recap: How a different strategy helped Verstappen to victory in Spain 2016

15-05-2021 09:33

Spain, May 15, 2016: Max Verstappen managed to take his very first Grand Prix victory in his first race for Red Bull Racing. A historic moment in Dutch motorsport history. But how did Verstappen win that race again?

Bizarre start thanks to Mercedes teammates

In 2016, Mercedes was incredibly dominant. The team won the first races and also got to start on P1 and P2 in Spain. Behind them were the Red Bull Racing cars of Daniel Ricciardo and, for the first time, Max Verstappen. The two Ferrari's, which had a lean season, started behind them.

At the start of the race, something happened that no one dared to expect: after the third corner of the first lap, Lewis Hamilton went off track, lost his grip and slid back onto the track into the side of his teammate. Nico Rosberg and Hamilton both crashed out. Suddenly the podium seemed within reach for Verstappen, who at that point came second behind his teammate.

Record number one for Verstappen

On lap number 13 Ricciardo came in for a set of fresh tyres, putting Verstappen in the lead of the Grand Prix. It was a first, as he was the first Dutchman and youngest driver ever to do so. A lap later Verstappen also came in for his pitstop.

A different strategy than Ricciardo

From lap 28, it became clear that Ricciardo and Verstappen were on different strategies. While the Australian went for a three-stop, Verstappen only had to stop twice. A masterstroke, as it turned out. Because Ricciardo lost the lead of the race by the strategy. At that point Verstappen only had to deal with an unleashed Kimi Raikkonen, who was on the same two-stop strategy.

Verstappen finally came in on the 35th lap, when he had a 2.1 second lead. Raikkonen went in one lap later. After the pit stops, Verstappen stayed ahead of the Finn. Ricciardo and Vettel had to stop again, losing the lead of the race.

Nail-biting until the finish line

Towards the end of the race things got really exciting: Raikkonen came within a second of Verstappen, allowing him to use DRS. That wasn't all, though, as a Ricciardo tyre burst, even though he was driving on much younger tyres than Verstappen.

The final laps were nail-biting for every Dutchman and everyone on the Red Bull Racing team. But Verstappen stayed calm and kept Raikkonen behind him to become the youngest and first Dutch race winner ever in Formula 1 at the age of 18.

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