Max Verstappen moves atop, bad luck for Charles Leclerc
Formula One world champion Max Verstappen won the Spanish Grand Prix in a Red Bull one-two on Sunday to take over at the top from Ferrari’s luckless Charles Leclerc, who retired with an engine failure while leading.
Mexican Sergio Perez finished a dutiful second, 13 seconds behind but with the consolation of a bonus point for fastest lap, after being told to let his teammate pass for a third victory in a row after Imola and Miami.
The 24-year-old Dutch driver is now six points clear of Leclerc after winning four of six races — all those he has finished.
Britain’s George Russell came third for a revived Mercedes and after going wheel-to-wheel with Verstappen early on in a thrilling display of defensive driving as they battled for second place behind Leclerc.
Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz was fourth, after fighting back from a slow start and a spin into the gravel, but it was scant rewad for a team who had brought upgrades to try and turn the tables on Red Bull.
Leclerc was leading comfortably from pole position but a sudden loss of power before the halfway mark led to his retirement in the pits.
“No, no, no! Lost power,” the Ferrari driver shouted over the radio as a seemingly sure victory was plucked from his hands by the engine failure. The Monegasque waved to the capacity Circuit de Catalunya crowd but from then on could only watch his 19-point advantage evaporate in the searing heat.
“I had no indications before then. It just broke and lost the power completely,” he told Sky Sports television.
Verstappen also suffered intermittent problems with his car’s drag reduction system (DRS), leading to plenty of cursing over the radio, and he went off into the gravel at turn four on lap eight.
Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton was fifth for Mercedes with a fine recovery drive after an opening lap collision with Kevin Magnussen’s Haas dropped him to 19th.