Red Bull's Max Verstappen Wins F1 Spanish GP, Lewis Hamilton Returns to Podium

f1 grand prix of spain
Red Bull's Max Verstappen Rules the F1 Spanish GPRudy Carezzevoli - Getty Images

Red Bull's Max Verstappen claimed victory at the Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix for the third successive season, but McLaren's Lando Norris made him work for it.

Lewis Hamilton returned to the podium for the first time in 2024.

Autoweek rounds up the main talking points from the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

Verstappen Holds Off Stubborn Norris

Verstappen took career win No. 61, eight years after his maiden triumph at the same venue, but he was hounded to the flag by Norris.

The race ran green throughout the 66-lap encounter, and both drivers adopted a two-stop Soft-Medium-Soft tire strategy in hot conditions at a high-energy track that punishes the Pirellis.


Verstappen and Norris swapped places off the starting line, with Verstappen passing pole man Norris, but they were both swamped by George Russell, who got the slingshot and surged from fourth to first. Yet while Verstappen swiftly overhauled Russell, Norris was unable to get past his compatriot through the first stint.

By the time Norris had free air, courtesy of Russell pitting, the gap to Verstappen was five seconds.

Norris extended both his stints by a few laps, to have a tire advantage through the closing stages of the second and third stints, and was able to close the margin to leader Verstappen. But the reigning champion preserved his position up front and crossed the line 2.2 seconds clear.

“The race… not good enough, simply because we should have won today,” Norris said. “I think we had the quickest car. But I just lost it at the start, and then I couldn’t get past George for the first stint. I think we quite easily had the best car out there today, I just didn’t do a good enough job off the line, and then that one thing cost me everything. From Turn 2 onwards, 10 out of 10, I don’t think I could have done much more and I think as a team, we did the perfect strategy. I was very happy with what we did. But yeah. The one part of the start, the 1 per cent elsewhere, wasn’t good enough.”

f1 grand prix of spain
Max Verstappen, right, overtakes race-leader George Russell in Spain.Vince Mignott/MB Media - Getty Images

Verstappen was fully aware of how critical getting past fast-starting Russell was to his race.

“I think what made the race was the beginning,” said Verstappen. “I took the lead, and that’s where I had that buffer then in that first stint where I could eke out the gap a little bit, because I think after that, we had to drive quite a defensive race. Lando and McLaren, they were very, very quick today. Especially on deg, it seems always the last few laps of the stint, they were very fast.”

While Verstappen’s title advantage is now a likely insurmountable 69 points, for Red Bull to have been worked so hard at a circuit such as Barcelona—a track which should play to the strengths of the RB20—is encouraging for the upcoming rounds.

“If you ignore 2023, we’re having an amazing year,” Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said. “2023 was a unicorn, and this is normal, this is Formula 1, and it’s normal there’s great teams, there’s great drivers, there’s going to be competition, We’re having to fight really hard for the wins at the moment, we’re having to be on the top of our game as a team, and the drivers have to be at the top of their game as well. That’s Formula 1, that’s as it should be.”

f1 grand prix of spain
Lewis Hamilton extended his own record with his 198th podium finish.Vince Mignott/MB Media - Getty Images

Hamilton Back on the Podium

After a wait of almost seven months, and half a season’s worth of races, Lewis Hamilton is back on the podium.

Following on from George Russell’s pole position and podium in Canada, Mercedes again displayed encouraging performance throughout the weekend in Barcelona. Hamilton and Russell locked out the second row of the grid, only three tenths away from pole position, and converted their respective positions in the race.

Third and fourth is still not what a team of Mercedes’ caliber is striving for it but it was keen to assess the pace of the upgraded W15 at a conventional circuit, and to allay fears that the quirky Montreal layout could have been a one-off. The signs are good.

“Considering where we’ve come from, just having consistency at Mercedes and being further up in the points should be the target,” Hamilton said. “We are currently in a position to fight for wins. George should have won in Montreal. We will see in the next few races, high speed circuits. I am hoping we are able to eek closer to them and give them trouble in the next four or five races.”

Russell dropped away in the final stint, with Mercedes erring by fitting the Hard tires, but the Briton was still boosted by the overall display.

“We’re all feeling excited for the remainder of the season,” Russell said. “I’m confident we’ll win races this year now and going into next year. Who knows what can happen. We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves but, you know, the pace we showed last week and the pace we showed this week, you know, we’ve led two races in two weekends now since having the upgrades. I don’t think we’d have expected that at the start of the season.”

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff was buoyed by the team’s performance.

“When you look where we ended up, obviously George on the hard tire was the wrong strategy, clearly that goes on the team,” Wolff said. “And we had a slow stop that was three seconds. If you look at where Lewis was, 15 seconds behind the leaders, whilst taking the pace out at the end, so maybe call it 10 seconds, so that’s much closer. They weren’t holding back, Max and Norris. So there’s a reason to be carefully optimistic that we are much closer and will be able to fight."

f1 grand prix of spain
Fernando Alonso was never in the fight in Spain.Vince Mignott/MB Media - Getty Images

Poor Outcome for the Home Favorites

Spain has two representatives on the grid but it was a lackluster day for both Carlos Sainz and Fernando Alonso.

This year’s Barcelona round likely represented Sainz’s last chance of success on home soil—at least for a while—given his expected move to Williams for 2025. But Ferrari did not have the performance all weekend and he was able to finish only sixth, one spot behind team-mate Charles Leclerc.

“Not our best weekend,” Sainz said. “This was the track where we struggled the most last year, too. So, that's kind of our hope, that it's just a bogus track for us and that there will be other tracks that we will be a bit more competitive.”

Sainz at least left with points, which was more than could be said for Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso. The team’s struggles continued and Alonso was able to finish 12th.

“We didn’t have the pace, I think Barcelona at the end it puts you in the pace order, there’s nothing to hide over 66 laps and you end up in the position you deserve, today we are P12,” Alonso said. “The car was not great the whole weekend, a lot of sliding especially in the high speed which obviously kills the tires, so you get into a bad spiral.”

Alonso is expecting the next rounds in Austria and Britain to also be “painful” for Aston Martin before it is able to bring its next raft of updates.


F1 Spanish Grand Prix

  1. Max Verstappen, Red Bull, 1:28:20.227, 25 points

  2. Lando Norris, McLaren, +2.219 seconds, 19 points

  3. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, +17.790, 15 points

  4. George Russell, Mercedes, +22.320, 12 points

  5. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, +22.709, 10 points

  6. Carlos Sainz, Ferrari, +31.028, 8 points

  7. Oscar Piastri, McLaren, +33.760, 6 points

  8. Sergio Perez, Red Bull, +59.524, 4 points

  9. Pierre Gasly, Alpine, +1:02.025, 2 points

  10. Esteban Ocon, Alpine, +1:11.889, 1 point

  11. Nico Hulkenberg, Haas, +1:19.215

  12. Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin, +1 lap

  13. Zhou Guanyu, Kick Sauber, +1 lap

  14. Lance Stroll, Aston Martin, +1 lap

  15. Daniel Ricciardo, RB, +1 lap

  16. Valtteri Bottas, Kick Sauber, +1 lap

  17. Kevin Magnussen, Haas, +1 lap

  18. Alexander Albon, Williams, +1 lap

  19. Yuki Tsunoda, RB, +1 lap

  20. Logan Sargeant, Williams, +2 laps

Constructors' Championship

  1. Red Bull 330

  2. Ferrari 270

  3. McLaren 237

  4. Mercedes 151

  5. Aston Martin 58

  6. RB 28

  7. Alpine 8

  8. Haas 7

  9. Williams 2

  10. Kick Sauber 0

Drivers' Championship

  1. Max Verstappen 219

  2. Lando Norris 150

  3. Charles Leclerc 148

  4. Carlos Sainz 116

  5. Sergio Perez 111

  6. Oscar Piastri 87

  7. George Russell 81

  8. Lewis Hamilton 70

  9. Fernando Alonso 41

  10. Yuki Tsunoda 19

  11. Lance Stroll 17

  12. Daniel Ricciardo 9

  13. Oliver Bearman 6

  14. Nico Hulkenberg 6

  15. Pierre Gasly 5

  16. Esteban Ocon 3

  17. Alexander Albon 2

  18. Kevin Magnussen 1

  19. Zhou Guanyu 0

  20. Valtteri Bottas 0

  21. Logan Sargeant 0