Max Verstappen becomes youngest ever Formula One winner

May 16, 2016

Formula one has been my number one sport since childhood but haven’t witnessed historical moments in the sport like what happened in the Spanish Grand Prix.Am lucky to have been among millions of fans worldwide that watched Dutch teenager Max Verstappen become the youngest ever Formula One winner.In his maiden outing with the Red Bull team 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 memorable victory in only his 24th F1 race.The Dutch driver became the youngest race winner, replacing four-time champion Sebastian Vettel who had also taken that record as a Red Bull driver.He took full advantage of a spectacular first lap collision that eliminated both Mercedes cars and drove to triumph in the Spanish Grand Prix. At 18 years and 227 days old, Red Bull driver Max Verstappen dethroned Vettel as Formula One’s youngest-ever grand prix winner. In addition to being the youngest winner, he’s the youngest driver ever on an F1 podium and the first Dutch winner of an F1 grand prix. He is also the first driver to win in a Red Bull car since 2014.“It feels amazing. I can’t believe it. It was a great race. I have to say thank you to the team for giving me such a great car” said the dutch driver, who only became a Red Bull driver last month.

Max Verstappen lifts his trophy after win in the Spanish F1 Grand Prix
Max Verstappen lifts his trophy after win in the Spanish F1 Grand Prix

“To win in the first race is such an amazing feeling. My dad helped me a lot to achieve this, this is amazing. I couldn’t believe I was leading the race. I held onto the tyres. We had the right strategy. It’s a very big surprise. I had quite a bit of pressure from Kimi but it is difficult to overtake here.” He led for the final 32 of 66 laps in Barcelona but only finished just 0.6 seconds ahead of Raikkonen, who  was snapping at his heels throughout. Verstappen had an incredible drive on his last set of tires, making them last for 31 laps around the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Second place finisher Kimi Räikkönen ultimately just couldn’t catch him. His proud father Jos, who was twice on the podium with Benetton as Michael Schumacher’s team mate in 1994 and raced against Raikkonen later in his career, declared it the best day of his life.”This is really something unbelievably special,” teen father has been quoted as saying while others acclaimed an exceptional talent.The 18 year old Verstappen drove like a season driver to secure the victory after fending off a late challenge by Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, who not long ago was racing against Verstappen’s father, former F1 driver Jos Verstappen.“It feels amazing. I can’t believe it,” Verstappen said. “To win straight away in my first race with Red Bull is incredible.”The spectacular victory comes with Verstappen nearly three years younger than the previous youngest winner, Sebastian Vettel, who was 21 when he won for the first time in 2008.

Verstappen’s teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, was fourth.“It’s very special to win your first race and today is his day. It’s an incredible achievement,” said four-time world champion Vettel. “If you are quick enough you belong here. I don’t think it matters whether you are 18 (or older.)” “It’s a very big surprise, of course I didn’t expect that,” Verstappen said. “I couldn’t believe that I was leading the race. Today everything went well. Unbelievable.” Verstappen was in second place behind Ricciardo after the Mercedes crash, but moved to the front after a round of pit stops with less than 25 laps to go and stayed there until the end despite the pressure from Raikkonen, who finished less than a second behind.“Max Verstappen, you are a race winner, fantastic,” Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said over team radio after his driver crossed the finish line. “What a great debut. Fantastic. Great, great job.”The collision between Mercedes drivers was termed as stupid by Niki Lauda although I disagreed with his views of the incident.“It is stupid, we could’ve won this race,” said non-executive chairman Niki Lauda. “Lewis is too aggressive. I need to talk to them and hear their explanation and then we will see what happens.”Head of motorsport Toto Wolff said: “Niki Lauda has the drivers’ opinion and instinct reaction and it is fair enough. From a teams perspective we have looked at all the pictures and looked at the data and it is not clear cut. Lewis tried to dive in, Nico closed the door so I would say let’s wait for what the stewards say. Both of them were upset about the situation and they know what effort went into building the car and there was not any finger pointing.”

Contador Harrison