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Commanding win for Max in Spain: 'A very strong weekend'

Published on 04 June 2023 by Stefan Meens

Max Verstappen led the Spanish Grand Prix from start to finish to clinch a dominant victory. The Oracle Red Bull Racing driver took the chequered flag 24 seconds ahead of Lewis Hamilton in second place. George Russell made it a double podium for Mercedes by coming home in third.

“It’s a pleasure to drive this car and you could see that today”, said Max after the race. “To win here again is unbelievable. We had a strong weekend, which is what I want from myself and the team. I hope we can maintain this for the rest of the year.”

Max, who has now won 40 Grands Prix, went on to say: “In general everything went well. There were a lot of tyre strategy options and for the majority of the race, we were on the right tyre. It was only the middle stint on the hards that wasn’t ideal, because the hard tyre wasn’t very good. So I tried the manage the gap to Hamilton. On the medium and soft compound, it went well.”

Despite a sovereign drive to his fifth win of the season, the start of the race was tense with Carlos Sainz attacking into turn one. “We started on a harder tyre so we knew the start could be tricky, especially with the slipstream effect. We both braked very late for turn one, but of course I’m not going to give that one up. Going around the outside in turn one is always difficult so luckily nothing happened.”

During the race Max appeared in full control. Nevertheless, race control issued a few warnings to the reigning champion regarding track limits. “I can understand the warnings for turn five, but in turn nine I don’t know how I was outside the white line. But in the end, I knew I was on the limit so I paid more attention and I was able to set the fastest lap staying with the white lines”, smiled a satisfied Max.

At the start of the race, the entire top ten, bar Max, starts on the soft Pirelli tyres. The pole sitter opts to run the medium compound. Max’ choice means he is under pressure from Carlos Sainz in the run into turn one; the Spaniard is able to utilise the extra grip of the red side-walled softs to contest the lead by attempting to pass Max on the outside. The Red Bull Racer is able to maintain the lead with Sainz backing out in the middle of turn one.

Behind the Ferrari, Lando Norris is unable to capitalise on his excellent third place on the starting grid. The McLaren ace damages his front wing in a tussle with Lewis Hamilton in turn two. Meanwhile, Lance Stroll is able to make the most of the kerfuffle between the two British drivers and slots into third place. At the end of first lap, Max leads Sainz, Stroll and Hamilton. Despite being on the slower tyre, Max is able to establish a comfortable gap to the Ferrari within a handful of laps.

Sainz is the first of the front runners to make his pitstop, allowing Hamilton, who has overtaken Stroll in lap nine, to move up into second. Mercedes colleague Russell slots in behind Hamilton after a strong opening stint having started in P12.

Hamilton is the second driver of the leading pack to pits. He does so on lap 25, opting to switch to the medium tyres. Russell pits a lap later, also moving to the mediums. Max makes his first stop on lap 27 but switches to the hard Pirellis.

After a swift pit-stop, 2.2s to be precise, Max maintains the lead, and re-joins the race twelve seconds ahead of Hamilton, after the latter has passed Sainz for P2.

Further back, Sergio Perez, in the second RB19, is working his way through the field after a disappointing qualifying left him starting the Grand Prix from eleventh. At the halfway mark, the Mexican has fought his way to fifth.

On the brink of the final third of the race, the leaders start the second round of pitstops with Russell coming in on lap 46. Hamilton and Perez visit their respective teams five laps later. Max makes his final stop on lap 53, switching to the soft Pirellis for his final stint. The Dutchman once again emerges from pit lane in the lead, with Mercedes consolidating their two podium spots.

Apart from Perez passing Sainz to take fourth place, the top five remains the same for the final dozen of laps, with Max clinching a commanding fifth win of the season and setting the fastest lap in the process.

Results Grand Prix Spain:

1Max VerstappenVERRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT661:27:57.94026
2Lewis HamiltonHAMMercedes66+24.090s18
3George RussellRUSMercedes66+32.389s15
4Sergio PerezPERRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT66+35.812s12
5Carlos SainzSAIFerrari66+45.698s10
6Lance StrollSTRAston Martin Mercedes66+63.320s8
7Fernando AlonsoALOAston Martin Mercedes66+64.127s6
8Esteban OconOCOAlpine Renault66+69.242s4
9Zhou GuanyuZHOAlfa Romeo Ferrari66+71.878s2
10Pierre GaslyGASAlpine Renault66+73.530s1
11Charles LeclercLECFerrari66+74.419s0
12Yuki TsunodaTSUAlphaTauri Honda RBPT66+75.416s0
13Oscar PiastriPIAMcLaren Mercedes65+1 lap0
14Nyck De VriesDEVAlphaTauri Honda RBPT65+1 lap0
15Nico HulkenbergHULHaas Ferrari65+1 lap0
16Alexander AlbonALBWilliams Mercedes65+1 lap0
17Lando NorrisNORMcLaren Mercedes65+1 lap0
18Kevin MagnussenMAGHaas Ferrari65+1 lap0
19Valtteri BottasBOTAlfa Romeo Ferrari65+1 lap0
20Logan SargeantSARWilliams Mercedes65+1 lap0