There was plenty to talk about after the Spanish Grand Prix, not the least of which was that first, amazing, win for Max Verstappen. When I predicted a few weeks ago on this site that Max would win a race in 2016 with the Red Bull A-team I certainly didn’t imagine that both Merc drivers would be eliminated on lap one in Barcelona. What was clear – despite the pre-race predictions of one N. Rosberg – was that Red Bull were always going to be right there with Ferrari in Spain – or ahead of Ferrari, given their phenomenal traction and therefore their speed through Barcelona’s all-important Sector Three.
And it was Max who burst through. You had to feel for the excellent Daniel Ricciardo, who drove beautifully throughout, but – like Ferrari’s “lead” driver, Seb Vettel – found himself mid-race on a switch to soft tyres in an attempt to make a break. It was at this point that Max – and his shadow, Kimi Raikkonen – gained momentum: their medium tyres proved quicker and more durable than predictions had indicated. Nothing new in that: F1 loves to go into panic mode after a tyre-graining/wearing couple of sessions on a Friday.
Max’s “tyre management” was also a part of the transformation: not even Kimi Raikkonen – he of the svelte throttle and steering inputs – could eke out an advantage (or pry open a gap). And, as the race wound down, and Kimi’s tyres began to go away, he would have been thinking: “this guy drives like me. He isn’t going to overload anything.”
So here are some thoughts from Spain. The interesting thing about the YouTube platform is that you get to see some thumbs-up or thumbs-down opinions. I’m very grateful for the number of positives you kindly apply – but we can’t ignore the number of negatives associated with my assessment of the Lewis-Nico shunt (currently 240 in favour of Lewis, 92 in favour of Nico). Express an opinion – as I have, in favour of Lewis – and there are always going to be those on the opposing side. I respect these views, of course – but I don’t get them: I don’t see how anyone could blame Lewis for darting to the right when the car ahead of him suddenly slows.
Another point to note: as dramatic as the Lewis-Nico shunt was at the time – and as “big” as the British press tried to play it – it seems, based on the YouTube viewing figures, as though many more people are interested in celebrating this new star called Max Verstappen. Nice that a positive story is on this occasion out-weighing a negative.
My thanks, as ever, to LAT Photographic for the superb images.