Max Verstappen Leads Red Bull 1-2 at Barcelona

·2 min read
Photo credit: Mark Thompson - Getty Images
Photo credit: Mark Thompson - Getty Images

Charles Leclerc had built a massive championship lead after just three races, the kind that could have been the beginning of a season running away with a driver's championship unchallenged. He gave up a significant chunk of it when he fell from second to sixth late at Imola. He gave up another handful of points when he finished second to Max Verstappen at Miami. Today, an early issue for his title rival had him looking ready to extend that lead mid-race. Then his car suddenly lost power, forcing him to retire from a significant on-track lead. In just three races, his championship lead is now gone entirely.

The beneficiary is Max Verstappen, who had his own problems to deal with. He got off the grid second and held it through the opening laps, but he went off trying to hunt down Leclerc on lap 9 and fell to fourth. That put him in a battle with George Russell, but Verstappen's DRS system had issues and he could not pass the Mercedes driver for some 30 laps before finally passing him during a cycle of late stops. That, plus the Leclerc retirement, moved Verstappen up to second behind teammate Sergio Perez. One quick bit of team orders to avoid an intra-team battle later, Red Bull had their championship contender ahead of Perez and Verstappen led the 1-2 finish. Team principal Christian Horner would later say post-race that Verstappen's tire advantage on his alternate strategy made allowing the two to battle for position untenable.

George Russell came home third, scoring his second podium of the year after surviving a late issue that threatened the car in the closing laps. Carlos Sainz Jr. recovered from yet another early-race trip into the gravel to lead Ferrari in fourth, a position he took when Lewis Hamilton was forced to give it up in the closing laps after the beginnings of a mechanical issue of his own. Hamilton, who was on a recovery drive all day after taking some damage and pitting on the opening lap, came home fifth.

Valtteri Bottas, Esteban Ocon, Lando Norris, Fernando Alonso, and Yuki Tsunoda finished off the points scorers. The finish from Bottas is particularly notable, his fifth time scoring solid points in six races for an Alfa Romeo team at the back of the field last season. In the same six-race stretch, his rookie teammate Zhou Guanyu has scored points just once.

Formula 1 has a quick turnaround before racing at Monaco next weekend. Max Verstappen now carries a six-point lead into Charles Leclerc's home race.

You Might Also Like