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Verstappen pinpoints moment that ‘made my race’ after beating Norris to Spanish GP win

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BARCELONA, SPAIN - JUNE 23: Race winner Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull

Max Verstappen has described the opening moments of the Spanish Grand Prix as the crucial factor behind taking victory and extending his lead at the top of the Formula 1 drivers’ standings.

Red Bull driver Verstappen started the race second behind the pole-sitting McLaren of Lando Norris only for both of them to be overhauled by George Russell’s fast-starting Mercedes into the first corner.

READ MORE: Verstappen holds off Norris challenge to seal victory at the Spanish Grand Prix

However, as that bold overtake unfolded, Verstappen also managed to find a way past Norris and, just a couple of laps later, cleared Russell around the outside of Turn 1 to move into the lead.

From there, Verstappen managed tyre degradation and a late charge from Norris, who opted for a different strategy by extending his first stint, to secure victory number seven from the 10 Grands Prix staged so far this season.

2024 Spanish Grand Prix: Russell gets a lightning start from P4 to take the lead on the race start

Reflecting on his efforts, Verstappen said: “I think what made the race was the beginning, I took the lead [at the start of Lap 3], and that’s where I had my buffer then in that first stint where I could eke out that gap a little bit.

“I think after that, we had to drive quite a defensive race, you know? 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, very fast.

AS IT HAPPENED: Follow all the action from the 2024 Spanish Grand Prix

“But then I think we did everything well, we drove quite, I think, an aggressive strategy, but luckily it paid out until the end – it was quite close until the end but very happy to win here.”

Pushed on just how close it got in those opening exchanges, he added: “I had to do a bit of rallying on the straight, I had to go onto the grass a bit, which lost me a bit of momentum, so then of course we braked quite late into Turn 1.

2024 Spanish Grand Prix: Verstappen crosses the line to take his seventh victory of the season

“Then, of course, I was quite determined to try and get the lead. Once I was in the lead, I could look after my tyres a bit better, and that definitely made my race today.”

Verstappen also explained how much of a challenge it was to balance managing his tyres and maintaining enough pace to keep Norris behind amid the Briton’s late-race charge.

DRIVER OF THE DAY: Norris your winner despite narrowly missing out on Barcelona victory

“It’s just managing the tyres, they get very hot around here with all the high-speed corners, so you’re sliding around actually quite a lot,” he said. “It was just managing the race throughout.”

Verstappen’s win brings his championship advantage up to 69 points, with Norris now his nearest challenger and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc slipping back to third place.

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