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Max Verstappen wins the Spanish Grand Prix: 'We did everything well'

Published on 23 June 2024 by Kees-Jan Koster

Max Verstappen won the Spanish Grand Prix. The Dutchman, who started from second on the grid, overtook polesitter Lando Norris in the opening phase, but was passed by a blazing-fast George Russell in the first corner. The reigning world champion took the lead in the third lap and immediately started to pull away. Norris, who was fast throughout the entire race, posed a threat to the Dutchman in the final stages. The Red Bull driver had to work hard to maintain his lead, but he ultimately managed to cross the finish line with a two-second advantage.

After the race Verstappen says: “What made the race was the beginning. I took the lead in lap two and that was where I had my buffer in that first stint. After that we had to drive a defensive race. Lando and McLaren were very quick today, especially on the degradation. Every time I wanted to push the tyres overheated. We won, but we were not the quickest. That is a shame. I am happy with the win, but we cannot keep this up the whole season. On pure pace we were too slow. We did everything well. We had an aggressive strategy, and it paid out. Very happy to win here.”

When asked if Max is concerned about the lack of pace in the Red Bull, he answers: “I have been concerned for a while. We want to be the fastest, and we are not currently. We obviously need to work hard to improve. We need to make our car better and see how we can improve the tyre management.”

Max had a good start despite being pushed towards the grass by Norris. However, Russell had an even better start and passed both. Max said about this: “I had to do a bit of rallying on the straight. I went onto the grass, which caused me to lose some momentum. The slipstream that George had was huge, allowing him to go around the outside. Once I took the lead, I could manage my tyres better, and that made my race today.”

In the final stages of the race, Lando Norris got closer and closer. The Dutchman was asked if it was difficult to keep the Brit behind him. He said: "It was quite tough. Every time I wanted to push, my tyres got too hot. I could not defend very well. There was nothing more I could do."

After yesterday's exciting qualifying, Max managed to put his car in second position, two hundredths behind polesitter Lando Norris. The entire field starts on soft tyres, except for Alexander Albon. The Williams driver starts on medium tyres from the pit lane after making several adjustments to his car. Max, who is wearing a special Orange Tribute helmet this weekend, gets off to a good start despite being pushed towards the grass, and passes Norris. But the real winner of the opening lap is George Russell: the Brit, starting from fourth on the grid, immediately overtakes the number three, teammate Lewis Hamilton. In the first corner, Russell goes around the outside of both Verstappen and Norris, taking the lead.

Verstappen quickly manages to catch up with the Mercedes driver. At the start of the third lap, Max takes the lead with a beautiful overtaking manoeuvre. Sainz moves up to fifth position at the expense of his teammate. The Spaniard shuts the door on the Monegasque, causing slight contact between the two Ferrari drivers. Meanwhile, hometown hero Fernando Alonso continues to fall back. The biggest battle the Aston Martin driver is fighting is with his own car, which does not seem to be responding as he wants. The first pit stops are already being made in lap ten by Zhou Guanyu and Yuki Tsunoda. Russell watches Verstappen pull further ahead and must keep an eye on his mirrors: Norris and Hamilton are right on his tail. By lap fifteen, Max has already built a lead of nearly four seconds. Magnussen, meanwhile, receives a five-second penalty for a false start. This is as long as George Russell's poor pit stop, which almost costs him his place to Sainz, but he just manages to stay ahead.

Verstappen comes in on lap eighteen for his first pit stop. He has medium tyres fitted to his car after a strong stop of 1.9 seconds. He falls back to fourth position, behind Oscar Piastri. Then another moment of contact for Sainz: he is overtaken by Hamilton, but the Spaniard again shuts the door. However, the Brit does manage to get past. Norris and Leclerc, at that moment the first and second in the race, come in on lap 24 for their first stops. They fall back to sixth and eighth. After everyone in the field has made a pit stop, Verstappen is once again leading the Spanish Grand Prix. The top five on lap 26 are as follows: Verstappen, Russell, Hamilton, Sainz, and Norris. Max has a lead of over five seconds.

Meanwhile, the sun is starting to give way to threatening clouds, but it remains dry at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Max reports over the radio that his tyres feel very inconsistent. Nevertheless, he continues to pull away from Russell. Midway through the race, Norris moves up into the final podium place. He is right on the tail of Russell. After a braking mistake by Russell, the McLaren driver manages to get past, but Russell does not give up, resulting in a few corners of side-by-side racing. Norris ultimately wins this battle. The gap to Verstappen is nine seconds, but Norris is getting closer.

Verstappen pits on lap 45 for new soft tyres and drops back into third position. The stop takes 2.8 seconds, slightly longer than desired. Norris also faces a longer stop of 3.6 seconds. He rejoins just ahead of Russell and manages to stay ahead. Norris resumes his pursuit of Verstappen; the Brit continues to close the gap, sometimes by a full second per lap. Meanwhile, Nico Hulkenberg receives a five-second time penalty for speeding in the pit lane. The same penalty is given to Yuki Tsunoda. Hamilton overtakes teammate Russell to claim third place on the podium.

Norris is closing in on Verstappen: with ten laps to go, the gap is down to five seconds. The Dutchman must work hard to maintain his lead, but he ultimately manages to finish with a two-second lead. Norris takes second place, while Hamilton secures the final podium position. Russell and Leclerc complete the top five for the Spanish Grand Prix.

Results Grand Prix Spain:

1Max VerstappenVERRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT661:28:20.22725
2Lando NorrisNORMcLaren Mercedes66+2.219s19
3Lewis HamiltonHAMMercedes66+17.790s15
4George RussellRUSMercedes66+22.320s12
5Charles LeclercLECFerrari66+22.709s10
6Carlos SainzSAIFerrari66+31.028s8
7Oscar PiastriPIAMcLaren Mercedes66+33.760s6
8Sergio PerezPERRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT66+59.524s4
9Pierre GaslyGASAlpine Renault66+62.025s2
10Esteban OconOCOAlpine Renault66+71.889s1
11Nico HulkenbergHULHaas Ferrari66+79.215s0
12Fernando AlonsoALOAston Martin Mercedes65+1 lap0
13Zhou GuanyuZHOKick Sauber Ferrari65+1 lap0
14Lance StrollSTRAston Martin Mercedes65+1 lap0
15Daniel RicciardoRICRB Honda RBPT65+1 lap0
16Valtteri BottasBOTKick Sauber Ferrari65+1 lap0
17Kevin MagnussenMAGHaas Ferrari65+1 lap0
18Alexander AlbonALBWilliams Mercedes65+1 lap0
19Yuki TsunodaTSURB Honda RBPT65+1 lap0
20Logan SargeantSARWilliams Mercedes64+2 laps0