Teenager Max Verstappen became Formula One’s youngest winner on Sunday when he took full advantage of a spectacular first lap crash that eliminated both Mercedes cars to claim a memorable triumph in the Spanish Grand Prix.
In his maiden outing with Red Bull following his unexpected promotion from Toro Rosso, the 18-year-old Dutchman showed supreme composure under pressure as he resisted all attacks to claim a stunning victory in only his 24th F1 race.
He became the youngest race winner, at 18 years and 228 days, replacing four-time champion Sebastian Vettel who had also taken that record as a Red Bull driver.
“It feels amazing, I can’t believe it,” said Verstappen.
It was a great race and it felt like an endurance race. To win straight away, in my first race, it’s an amazing feeling. From a very young age, my dad has helped me a lot – it’s just amazing.
Verstappen, heralded as the sport’s hottest property, proved he has everything required to be a future world champion, but owed some of his good fortune also to Red Bull’s decision to put him on a three-stop strategy while his senior team-mate Daniel Ricciardo was on a two-stop plan.
That prevented the Australian from turning his early control of the race into victory after the opening lap collision between championship leader Nico Rosberg and his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton had left them fuming in a gravel trap at Turn Four and out of the race.
Verstappen’s maiden win on his Red Bull debut was the first in the sport by a Dutchman and the first by the team without Vettel involved in one of their cars.
“It’s unbelievable, I can’t believe this,” said Verstappen’s father Jos, who on Saturday had announced he was standing down as his son’s manager.
Feature image source: AFP