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Winners and losers - Spain

16 May 2016

There was no shortage of talking points in Barcelona on Sunday - from intra-team carnage to record books being torn up. So who left Spain on cloud nine - and who would rather forget the entire weekend?

The winners...

Max Verstappen

Simply sensational. Verstappen had hoped a podium might be possible before the race, but he admits not even in his wildest dreams did he envisage himself winning in Spain.

Yes, circumstances and strategy played into his hands. But this was only Verstappen's 24th race. It was his first for Red Bull. And, of course, he is still only 18. Put another way, no other driver has even competed in F1 racing at such a young age. Verstappen is a Grand Prix winner.

He deserves that record too. This was a superbly calm, measured driver under intense pressure from Kimi Raikkonen, but its foundation was laid at the start, when Verstappen swept around the outside of Sebastian Vettel at Turn 3 - a move which had more than just a faint echo of Fernando Alonso in 2013.

Fans sung his name in the grandstands, and at sporting matches across his homeland. The Dutch Prime Minister even called. The message is emphatically clear: Verstappen has well and truly arrived.

Red Bull

They were not as fast as Ferrari, but Red Bull showed their class by extracting the most from their RB12s in qualifying. Verstappen's lap was stunning, Daniel Ricciardo's breathtaking - and both would prove crucial as they put the blue cars ahead of the Ferraris on race day. The Scuderia was never quite able to get a man ahead of Red Bull's lead runner - initially Ricciardo, then Verstappen.

Putting Ricciardo on a three-stop strategy proved to be a mistake that cost the Australian badly, but in covering Kimi Raikkonen's two-stop plan via Verstappen, the Milton Keynes team kept themselves in play and the Dutchman did the rest.

If you thought that Red Bull had forgotten how to win races after all its recent struggles, this was a reminder to think again.

The Netherlands

No Dutch driver had ever led a Grand Prix until Daniel Ricciardo pitted on the 11th lap of the Spanish race, promoting Verstappen into first temporarily. He led again through the second round of stops, and again on lap 44 - and this time he stayed out front until the chequered flag.  

In the process he became the youngest-ever F1 winner at 18 years, seven months and 16 days, but of even greater moment to his countrymen, he became the first Dutchman to win a Grand Prix. The future's bright, the future's orange…

Race fans

With the two Mercedes removing themselves early on, the race became a truly nail-biting affair fought out every inch of the way by two teams and four drivers on a circuit that traditionally does not always generate close racing.

Red Bull versus Ferrari was big enough in itself, but throw in the inexperience of Max Verstappen and the great story of his sudden and unexpected promotion to the big league with Red Bull, and suddenly you had an even bigger event that had fans across the globe on tenterhooks.

Barcelona diversity

Nine different winners in nine years became ten in ten at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, as Verstappen wrote his name into the history books. No other track can boast that record.

Carlos Sainz

Former team mate Verstappen took all the headlines, but this was a reminder that Sainz's moment in the spotlight will surely come too. Eighth on the grid became third on lap one, and a career-best sixth at the flag. As the Spaniard himself put it, it was nigh on a perfect weekend on home soil.

And the losers...


Confidence was sky high at Mercedes after qualifying. Not only was Lewis Hamilton back on pole, with Nico Rosberg riding shotgun, but all the hard work that had gone into creating a new ERS and turbo installation to alleviate the Englishman's recent technical problems appeared to have been completely successful.

It quickly came undone. Hamilton's getaway was good, but he was still overtaken by Rosberg at the start. That still wasn't a problem for the team, who were first and second - until the approach to Turn 4.

If you ever doubted the intensity with which Mercedes go racing, you only had to watch the television images of uber-bosses Dieter Zetsche and Thomas Weber as they witnessed their cars slithering into the gravel bed on the exit to the corner. In a flash 43 world championship points disappeared, and nobody can afford to throw them away like that.

The fallout from this latest incident won't be forgotten soon within the Brackley/Stuttgart camp.

Lewis Hamilton

The world champion came to Spain determined to kickstart his title hopes, and he seemed set to do just that after taking a brilliant pole position. 

Once again though he lost out at the start - fast becoming a significant problem given he is yet to lead past Turn 1 on the opening lap this year - and then of course had his now famous collision with Rosberg on the approach to Turn 4.

Rosberg still has a handy lead of 39 points over Kimi Raikkonen in the standings, but Hamilton dropped to third place, four points behind the Finn, with Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo uncomfortably close on 48 each.

There are still 16 races to go in this longest-ever F1 season, but already there seems to be a cloud over the triple champion. Another acrimonious bout with his team mate isn't going to do anything to smooth over the ripples of Hamilton's worst-ever start to a season.


With Ferrari boss Sergio Marchionne speaking confidently of the team winning this weekend, the mood within camp was low after qualifying left Raikkonen and Vettel sharing the third row of the grid, upstaged not just by Mercedes but also the upstart Red Bulls.

When the Silver Arrows collided on the first lap hearts must have fluttered in the Ferrari camp, even if the Red Bulls and Carlos Sainz's Toro Rosso led the red cars in the early laps. Surely it was only a matter of time before they overhauled all three?

They had the faster car, after all, but in the end they were unable to make it count. Raikkonen was kept at bay by Verstappen, both men making use of a two-stop plan. And while clever strategy helped Vettel jump Ricciardo, both found the three-stop plan was a mistake. 

Had Ferrari kept the German on a two-stopper he might just have prevailed. Instead Verstappen took the plaudits, and Ferrari left with faces almost as red as their cars.

Daniil Kvyat 

A harsh inclusion in the losers section in some ways, particularly after setting the fastest lap for the first time in his career - which was also the first in Toro Rosso's history. But this was a stinging weekend for the Russian: not only was he well beaten by new team mate Sainz, he also had to contend with the sight of Verstappen winning in 'his' car. A character-testing Grand Prix if ever there was one.

Fernando Alonso

By his own admission, the Spaniard made a poor start and found himself trapped in dirty air, chasing Jenson Button. Having been told by McLaren to keep station behind his team mate, his Honda engine then gave up the ghost after 45 laps. Not the script he would have had in mind for his home Grand Prix.