Max Verstappen wins Spanish GP as Lewis Hamilton and George Russell make podium
By Philip Duncan, PA F1 Correspondent, Barcelona
Max Verstappen recorded a dominant victory at the Spanish Grand Prix as Lewis Hamilton and George Russell finished second and third for Mercedes.
Verstappen led all 66 laps at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya to record his fifth win from the opening seven rounds and extend his championship lead.
Hamilton started fourth but finished runner-up, with team-mate Russell completing the podium places on a strong afternoon for the Silver Arrows.
Sergio Perez secured fourth spot after moving ahead of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz with a dozen laps remaining.
Verstappen’s title lead over his Red Bull team-mate now stands at 53 points, with a week off before the next round in Canada on June 18th.
A day on from crushing his opposition to take pole, Verstappen held off the advances off Sainz on the long run to the opening corner and from there, his 40th career victory, which takes him just one shy of Ayrton Senna’s career tally, never looked in doubt.
Red Bull have won all seven rounds this year, and 17 of the last 18 races contested, and their stranglehold on the sport shows few signs of easing.
Mercedes have endured a turbulent season in their pursuit of Red Bull, but the Brackley team will take significant pleasure from their performance here.
The seven-time world champion, who started fourth, survived a prang with Lando Norris on the second corner.
Hamilton leapfrogged his countryman off the start-line before Norris nibbled at the Mercedes’ gearbox, and broke his front wing in the process. The McLaren man was forced to stop for repairs.
Hamilton lost a position to Lance Stroll, but on lap eight he was back ahead of the Aston Martin driver.
Further behind and Russell, who started 12th following a bizarre collision with Hamilton in qualifying, was on the move, too.
After ending the opening lap in seventh, Russell cleared Fernando Alonso, before slipstreaming his way ahead of Alpine’s Esteban Ocon.
On lap 15, Sainz stopped for rubber, promoting Hamilton to second, with Verstappen eight seconds up the road.
Nine laps later, Hamilton made his first stop, dropping him back behind Sainz, with Russell pitting for fresh rubber on the next lap.
But the Mercedes men, in their upgraded machines, were flying on new tyres, and on lap 28, Hamilton roared past Sainz to assume second position.
Seven laps later, Russell was also ahead of the Ferrari man following a fine move down the Spaniard’s inside at Turn 1.
“Solid work,” was the verdict of Russell’s race engineer, Marcus Dudley.
“Just solid?” replied Russell. Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff was next on the radio. “It was pretty good,” the Austrian said.
Mercedes hauled Hamilton and Russell in for a second pit-stop, but the team-mates, hung on to second and third on the road, with both Verstappen and Perez also needing a second change of tyres.
Verstappen was handed the black and white flag for exceeding track limits, but took a bonus point for setting the fastest lap, and crossed the line 24 seconds clear of Hamilton, who finished eight seconds ahead of team-mate Russell.
Stroll was sixth, one spot ahead of home favourite Alonso, who, despite a move on Ocon in the latter stages, provided the packed grandstands with little to cheer as he registered his worst finish of the season.
Charles Leclerc finished only 12th on a weekend to forget for the Ferrari driver, with Norris, who qualified third, 18th, following his first-lap accident.
“It is a big pleasure to drive a car like this,” Verstappen said afterwards. “It showed again today. A win here is incredible.
“I had another strong weekend and that is what I like, and hopefully we can keep that up throughout the year.”
Hamilton said: “What a result for our team. We definitely did not expect that, so I want to take my hat off to the team and everyone back at the factory.
“The Red Bulls are still ahead, but we will keep working at it and chasing them down.”