Verstappen makes F1 history in Spain

Source:Reuters Published: 2016/5/15 23:38:01

Dutch teenager Max Verstappen made Formula One history as the youngest race winner on Sunday in a sensational Spanish Grand Prix that saw dominant Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg collide and crash out on the opening lap.

Verstappen, only 18 and making his debut for the former world champions after being promoted from junior team Toro Rosso a week earlier, beat Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen - at 36 twice his age - by 0.616 ­seconds.

Verstappen was also the youngest driver to stand on the podium and the first Dutch race winner since the championship started in 1950.

His proud father Jos, who was twice on the podium with Benetton as Michael Schumacher's teammate in 1994 and raced against Raikkonen later in his career, declared it the best day of his life.

"This is really something ­unbelievably special," he told reporters while others acclaimed an exceptional talent.

Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, the previous youngest race winner thanks to his astonishing 2008 Italian Grand Prix victory for Toro Rosso at the age of 21, was third for Ferrari.

Rosberg had his lead trimmed to 39 points, with Raikkonen moving up to second ahead of Hamilton.

The German's dream of an eighth successive win, and fifth of the season, had disappeared in the gravel on the opening lap as he and reigning champion Hamilton crashed out while battling for the lead.

That looked like being the talking point of the day at a circuit that has seen processional races in the past, until Verstappen rewrote the script.

His was a remarkably assured performance for a youngster who could not drive on public roads until last year and whose precocious entry into the sport was questioned by many.

"I was targeting a podium but to win straight away is an amazing feeling," said Verstappen, who had qualified fourth with Australian team mate Daniel Ricciardo third.

Ricciardo might have joined him on the podium but a late puncture left him fourth.

While Red Bull celebrated, and Ferrari rescued a race that had looked like being one to forget after Raikkonen and Vettel qualified fifth and sixth, dominant champions Mercedes were licking their self-inflicted wounds. The collision ended Mercedes hopes of extending the team's winning run to 11 races and equaling McLaren's 1988 record streak of success.

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