Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

sunnuntai 15. toukokuuta 2016

Spanish GP: Unstoppable Verstappen took victory in his Red Bull debut!

What a race we saw today! My hands are still shaking and my heart is pounding... What a breath-taking afternoon this has been! No doubt the Spanish GP has been the most entertaining and exciting race for a long time!

Everything started when the lights went out. Rosberg in his Mercedes got a superb start, and the German stormed to the lead. But going into the first corner, Hamilton was determined to get past his teammate. Hamilton made a move to the outside of Rosberg, but ended up going wide, which caused the Briton to spin. Spinning Hamilton crashed into his teammate´s car, and both Mercedes drivers got stuck in the sand, and their race was over! What a turn at the beginning of the race! I guess it was only a matter of time, when something like this would happen...

Safety car was deployed. Ricciardo in his Red Bull was leading the race with his new teammate Verstappen second! Toro Rosso´s Sainz had taken a spectacular start from P8, and the Spaniard was third, right ahead the Ferrari duo of Vettel and Räikkönen. When safety car came in a couple of laps later, Sebastian started to put pressure on Sainz, and Kimi, too was right at his teammate´s tail. After a few laps of intense battle, Sebastian finally managed to get past the Spanish Toro Rosso driver and jumped third. Then it was Kimi´s turn to put pressure on Sainz, who finally had no chance to keep the Iceman behind him.

Ricciardo was the first top four driver to pit on lap 12. He opted for a fresh set of medium tyres. The young Red Bull debutant Max Verstappen was now leading the race! Both Räikkönen and Verstappen pitted on the following lap; they also opted for the white-marked medium tyres. Now it was Sebastian, who took the lead in the race. Sebastian was called into the pits on lap 16; medium tyres were his choice as well. Sebastian rejoined the track in P3 behind the Red Bulls of Ricciardo and Verstappen.

By lap 20 Sebastian had decreased the gap to Verstappen into just a second. The German seemed determined to challenge the young Dutchman for P2. On lap 22 there was suddenly smoke coming out the back of Hulkenberg´s car, and his race was over. By this time it was obvious, that the battle for victory was going to be between four drivers: the Red Bull duo and the Ferrari teammates. The top three were separated by just two seconds, and Kimi was also catching them lap by lap.

Once again it was Ricciardo, who pitted first of the top four on lap 29. This time he opted for a fresh set of soft tyres, as well as Sebastian, who pitted a lap after the Australian. Verstappen was leading the race with Kimi second, and they decided to stay on the track, which gave an indication of a different pit stop strategy. Verstappen pitted not until on lap 35, and the Dutchman opted for a fresh set of medium tyres. Ferrari reacted immediately and took Kimi in a lap later; the Iceman´s tyre choice was similar to Verstappen´s. Kimi rejoined the track in P4 behind Verstappen.

Surprisingly, Sebastian pitted for the third time on lap 38 and dropped down to P4. Race leader Ricciardo had his third pit stop on lap 44; another set of medium tyres for the last stint. Ricciardo dropped down to P4 due to his pit stop. Verstappen, who was on a two-stop strategy, was leading the race, but the Finnish Ferrari ace Kimi was only a second off the Dutchman; the Finn, too was on a two-stop strategy.

For the last 20 laps there was an intense battle going on between Max and Kimi. The Iceman was able to get into the DRS distance, but unfortunately he couldn´t follow Max close enough in the last corner, so there wasn´t any real chances for trying an overtaking move. Behind these two Ricciardo had also closed the gap to Sebastian, and the Australian seemed persistent to overtake his ex-teammate. 7 laps before the chequered flag there was a hair-raising moment in Turn 1, when Ricciardo made a move on Sebastian, but ended up going wide, so Sebastian took his position back. My heart was pounding, I was very worried, that Ricciardo could really get past Sebastian before the race was over! On the second last lap, however, Ricciardo suddenly suffered a puncture, and his fight with Sebastian was over. The Australian had to pit for a fresh set of tyres, but in spite of the pit stop, he managed to keep his 4th place.

No matter how much pressure Kimi put on Verstappen, he was simply unable to get past. Max drove an absolutely flawless race and seemed utterly determined to take his maiden win. With this win Max has rewritten the F1 history by being the youngest race leader, youngest podium scorer, youngest race winner and the first Dutchman ever to win an F1 race! What an absolutely staggering race from the 18-year-old Red Bull debutant! I feel there are no words to describe Max´s driving today, it was absolutely phenomenal! What a diamond Red Bull Racing has in Max Verstappen! Max proved it was a brilliant move from Red Bull to promote him to the team. Kimi finished the race second and Sebastian 3rd, so it was a dream podium from my point of view! It was so touching to see all my three favourites up on the podium celebrating and spraying champagne.

Ricciardo had to settle for P4, which must have been a disappointment for him. Williams´ Bottas finished 5th, Sainz 6th, Perez 7th, Massa 8th, Button 9th and Kvyat 10th. Due to the first-corner incident of the Mercedes teammates, Kimi is now second in the drivers´ championship standings, 39 points down on Rosberg. Hamilton is now 4 points off Kimi. Since Mercedes scored zero points today, Ferrari is now "only" 48 points off Mercedes, but Red Bull is also decreasing the gap to Ferrari. Red Bull has now 94 points to Ferrari´s 109.

Verstappen has got a dream start to his career in the new team. A win in the first race for the new team must have been more than he ever dreamed of. Now it´s all about keeping his feet firmly on the ground and not let the success get into his head. I´m so so happy for this young man! He reminds me of Sebastian Vettel and his first years at Red Bull... I clearly have a new idol!

P.S. You can read my thoughts on the Spanish GP also on Scuderia Ferrari Club Riga´s web site:

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