Max Verstappen may have taken his first race win on Sunday but it was the fourth time F1 Fanatic readers have voted him in Driver of the Weekend.
However the breakthrough race victory for Red Bull’s newest driver made him overwhelmingly your favourite choice for the Spanish Grand Prix Driver of the Weekend.
Verstappen took over three-quarters of the votes cast – highest since Lewis Hamilton won with 76.6% at the 2011 German Grand Prix.
Max Verstappen’s Spanish Grand Prix
Verstappen’s weekend was impressive from the off. Just eight days after being announced as a Red Bull driver he jumped into a car he’d never driven before and took it to sixth-quickest in opening practice, less than two-tenths of a second behind team mate Daniel Ricciardo. There was a similar margin in second practice, though both Red Bulls found themselves slightly lower on the time sheets.
Come Saturday morning Verstappen reversed the deficit with a time now one tenth in his favour for fourth fastest, and Q1 and Q2 – where he was quicker than Ricciardo by an ever increasing margin – raised questions as to whether there may well be a shock on the cards. It wasn’t to be – Ricciardo turned the tables on his young team mate with a single flying effort in Q3 – but Verstappen lined up right behind him on the second row.
Verstappen didn’t make the best getaway from the dirty side of the grid and Sebastian Vettel beat him to turn one. But he calmly picked off Vettel on the outside of turned three and moved up into second as the Mercedes cars ploughed into the gravel.
Despite his limited time in the car an impressive opening stint from Verstappen kept him in touch with Ricciardo. He lost time pitting later for his first stop, but showed speed to quickly close the gap back up.
As Ricciardo and Vettel switched to three-stop strategies, Verstappen found himself in the lead. From then on, he controlled the race with a calm maturity far beyond his mere eighteen years. Kimi Raikkonen loomed large in his mirrors late on but Verstappen never looked like faltering – he calmly stuck to the racing line without as much as a locked brake giving a hint at the pressure he was under. His first victory will surely not be the last.
Yes Ricciardo out-qualified him but at no point in the race did Ricciardo look like the faster driver. Verstappen’s first stint was as impressive as his last. His first race and immediately on Ricciardo’s heels, closing the gap down to under a second against a driver who was voted best of class in 2014. And the last stint, lap after lap of continued pressure from Raikkonen. He didn’t make a single mistake.
Even if Ricciardo had been kept on the same strategy and won, a second or third for Verstappen still would have led to me calling him Driver of the Weekend. He kept pace with Ricciardo all weekend in a car he is not nearly as familiar with, and then he went on to have a mistake-free race. Of course, the fact that he did win just seals the deal.
Spanish Grand Prix winners and losers
It was a Red Bull one-two in the voting with Ricciardo earning much praise, though he only picked up 7.9% of the votes. Verstappen’s former team mate Carlos Sainz Jnr also earned plaudits:
Arguably still, I think, considering the fantastic qualifying lap and the fact for no fault of his own he came fourth Ricciardo is for me the best driver. Verstappen was gifted this win by Red Bull’s poor strategy on Ricciardo’s side, lets not forget. Verstappen did a faultless job after the gift but it was a team gift nevertheless.
Verstappen will probably win – and is a worthy winner, but I chose Ricciardo.
Brilliant qualifying and deserved far more than fourth in the race – I tend to think Red Bull gambled on his strategy and it didn’t pay off. But I think his job out there was peerless, so I give it to him.
Also credit to Sainz, can’t imagine it’s been easy to see his old team mate get promoted but he responded in the best possible way. Red Bull house looks very strong.
Carlos Sainz has to be the most underrated driver on the grid..
Today he absolutely trashed Kvyat convincingly. He beat him handily in qualifying, and by no less than 32 seconds in the race. Carlos was even in P3 for the opening 7 laps of the race, while Dan got lapped.
At the other end however, neither Haas or Manors drivers received any votes after rather inconspicuous races, and Valtteri Bottas ended up with very few votes despite a fine drive to fifth.
2016 Spanish Grand Prix
- 2016 Monaco and Spanish Grands Prix team radio transcripts
- Vettel’s strategy “screwed” my race in Spain – Ricciardo
- Ricciardo still coming to terms with losing Spain win
- F1 Fanatic presents new podcast Motorsport Extra
- Landslide Driver of the Weekend win for Verstappen
16 comments on “Landslide Driver of the Weekend win for Verstappen”
20th May 2016, 13:15
Esteban Gutiérrez’s drive was awe-inspiring in the middle of the race. Sadly for him, his final stint proved far too long, and with his tyres having gone over the cliff, he sunk out of the points-scoring positions like a brick. He deserved at least one vote.
F1 in Figures (@f1infigures)
20th May 2016, 14:17
Yeah. Probably Haas’ decision to stick with just one sets of mediums in the race backfired.
20th May 2016, 13:35
Just shows how pointless this poll is and why I stopped voting a long time ago, he didn’t do a better job than Vettel or Ricciardo but lucked into the win thanks to getting track position on a track that is virtually impossible to pass on.
The poll should really be titled, “Which driver got the most surprising result of the race?”
Not that I have anything against Max, I think he’s great :)
20th May 2016, 15:32
Being the youngest driver ever to do a job as good as an 4 times world champion accounts for nothing in your book?
20th May 2016, 17:50
@rethla That is exactly the question, did he do a better job than Vettel in Spain? Sainz for example has no titles but imo he did a better job than both of them.
20th May 2016, 18:47
@xtwl He did a job at least as good as Vettel and accounting for his age and first win i say he deserves driver of the weekend.
20th May 2016, 18:52
@rethla I agree he deserves it, but so did Sainz and Ricciardo. But the question rises every single time is that in what sense is DOTW not just a poll to see who surprised us the most by finishing high, who got the most screentime or made that one great overtake. For all we know Nasr drove the best race of his lifetime and his his engineers have been scratching their heads about his pace, but nobody cares because an 18 year old just won a GP. I’m mostly replying to you because Sainz really is the unsung hero of the Spanish GP.
20th May 2016, 19:03
@xtwl Well Nasr i know for sure didnt make a good race ;)
Ericsson outraced him all weekend. Afterwards Nasr was salty becouse he didnt get to do Ericssons strategy and the engineers replied he didnt had the pace to pull it off. He now has the requested brand new chassis and still is a complete lackluster.
Ericsson on the other hand had one of his best races.
20th May 2016, 14:25
‘Verstappen didn’t make the best getaway from the dirty side of the grid and Sebastian Vettel beat him to turn one’.
Maybe the writer has to watch the start a couple of times again, Verstappen’s getaway was in fact better than Ricciardo’s.
20th May 2016, 17:08
@Matn – Maybe you have to watch the start a couple of times again, Vettel’s getaway was in fact better than both Ricciardo and Verstappen. If Vettel had started P3, there was every chance that he would have ended up P1 by first corner.
20th May 2016, 17:45
I dont see how anything you two guys say contradicts each other or the article and yet you think the other one is wrong?
20th May 2016, 16:11
I think Verstappen drove as well as he could have in the race, but the bottom line is he wasn’t demonstrably better than some other guys on the track, and wasn’t substantially better than Ricciardo either…..Verstappen, just like Raikonnen, got the good fortune of tire strategy that happened to work in his favor. How that equates to an overwhelming driver of the weekend tally does not compute for me. Again, congrats to the kid on his first win, it was very well earned. But without the difference in strategy from the team, it doesn’t happen. Reminds me of the Mercs last year in the last few races when Lewis was begging the pits for a different tire strategy, and the team refused to do it because they didn’t want Nico to be upset if Lewis ended up in front due to a strategy gamble.
21st May 2016, 11:38
It’s his first time in that car, in the team and immediately he’s at the same pace as the guy who’s already been there for several seasons.
I understand that when Verstappen makes these things look so easy, but how many drivers stepped into a(nother) F1 car mid season and were up to speed right away? Look at how Kvyat fared in his first race in a new team.
Ricciardo didn’t make the best of his strategy. His speed was unimpressive when he was actually supposed to be able make up for an extra pitstop using faster tyres. The strategy was supposed to be the fastest one, but he simply wasn’t driving well enough to make it work. Same for Vettel.
Although arguably Vettel and Ricciardo ruined both their races by their hard battle for third. Vettel and Ricciardo was closing up to the lead couple until they started fighting and then they dropped back a lot.
Verstappen was driving slower because he was supposed to make his tyres last longer. Yet he was almost on the same pace as Ricciardo.
Besides, Verstappen held back Raikkonen for many laps without making a single mistake. How many drivers can keep that up? How many drivers can do that while driving for the first time in their new car? We have seen veterans like Rosberg and Vettel fly off plenty of times when they were put under a bit of pressure.
21st May 2016, 4:57
Let’s see how Max goes when he has to fight through some front runner traffic
HAM ,RIC,and Vettel will dine on this lamb for lunch.
21st May 2016, 12:02
He dealt with Raikkonen quite well and he has had Vettel under control before too (Austin I think).
21st May 2016, 9:43
Of course it was Verstappen. All tribalism aside, it was astonishing what he showed all weekend. Even if the Mercedes duo hadn’t collided, even if the strategy hadn’t been advantageous to Verstappen (whether or not he caused that by being faster and better on the tyres isn’t relevant for that), even if he hadn’t won, his performance was absolutely staggering. First ever weekend in the car. Everything, literally everything was different from his previous car. Against a team-mate many consider amongst the best in the field. In his second season of F1, third in motorsport, at eighteen years of age. And he was on it. Not close, not good, but great. He was absolutely on it. As fast as Ricciardo all weekend long in a car that is new to him, in a team that is new to him, with that level of experience? You wonder why Christian Horner was so full of praise for his qualifying, it’s exactly because of that, because of his lack of experience and time, and because they know it took a perfect lap AND a wing adjustment for Ricciardo to beat him.
And the race, well, enough has been said. He was absolutely brilliant. And when you factor in everything that has been in play, his inexperience with the car, his age, you can’t even try to argue this wasn’t one of the great individual performances we’ve seen in Formula One’s recent history. Yeah, he absolutely got me going, because I’m not even a Verstappen fan, in fact he held off my favourite racer to finish first, but the fact some still aren’t giving him due credit for what is absolutely extraordinary perplexes me.
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