Max claimed the 24th podium finish of his career with a measured drive to third place in the Spanish Grand Prix, as Pierre added to the Team’s Barcelona points haul with a solid drive to sixth place.
Max’s third Barcelona podium finish was set up at the start. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel squeezed Pole sitting Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas into turn one who was passed by fast-starting teammate Lewis Hamilton.
And when Vettel locked-up as he tried to go around the outside, Bottas was forced to correct. Max kept calm and held fire until the drama played out.
When Vettel then got a slow exit out of the corner, Max pounced, passing the Ferrari driver to claim P3 behind leader Hamilton and the unfortunate Bottas.
Behind the front four Pierre was battling hard with the second Ferrari of Charles Leclerc and also coming under pressure from Haas’ Romain Grosjean. The Red Bull driver managed to hold firm, however, and the Frenchman kept P6 as the field crossed the line to start lap two.
Vettel was now nursing a flat spot after his first-lap lock up and as the laps counted down Leclerc swiftly reeled him in. With the Monegasque driver clearly quicker, Vettel sensibly moved aside at the start of lap 12 and let his teammate through.
Ahead of the first round of pit stops the gaps now began to spread. Hamilton carved out a four-second lead over Bottas, while Max stretched to a five-second advantage over Leclerc, who in turn had 5.6s in hand over Vettel.
Vettel finally surrendered to his damaged front right tyre at the end of lap 19 and pitted for medium tyres. That allowed Pierre to sweep past and the French driver then attempted to make up some time on Vettel who rejoined in P10 after a slightly slow stop.
Max was next into the pit lane and at the end of lap 20 he made a clean stop for a new set of soft tyres. Pierre made his first visit to the pit lane at the end of the next tour, though unlike his team-mate he took on a set of medium tyres. The French driver rejoined in ninth place, two behind Vettel and with Toro Rosso’s Alex Albon directly in front of him.
Vettel quickly began to close up on Leclerc and as the race hit the halfway mark he began looking for a way past his teammate, who was now on hard tyres. The German was clearly quicker on his medium tyres and after a few laps the battling Leclerc eventually gave way, backing off into turn four to let Vettel through to fourth place.
The four-time champion then began to eat into the 11.6s advantage Max had enjoyed over the Ferraris. By lap 40 Vettel had reduced the deficit to 10.4s and he was over three tenths of a second quicker than the Red Bull. He chose then to pit, however, taking on a set of mediums at the end of the lap and emerging in P6 behind Pierre.
Max was next to make his second stop and at the end of lap 43 he took on medium tyres. He emerged behind Leclerc and quickly began to reel in the Ferrari driver. Bottas pitted too, with the Finn taking on soft tyres in the hope of attacking Hamilton.
On lap 45, though, the safety car was brought into play when McLaren’s Lando Norris and Racing Point’s Lance Stroll collided, with both being forced to stop.
Both Hamilton and Leclerc elected to pit during the cautionary phase, with Hamilton switching to softs and Leclerc taking on medium tyres. Behind the Safety Car the order, on lap 50, was Hamilton followed by Bottas, Max, the Ferraris of Vettel and Leclerc and Pierre in P6.
When the SC left the track, the order at the front remained static. Further back, though, Pierre attacked Leclerc around the outside into Turn 2. The Ferrari driver locked-up briefly but managed to hold on to P5.
Haas’ Kevin Magnussen saw an opportunity and after tangling with his own teammate, Romain Grosjean, the Dane drew alongside Pierre. The Red Bull driver stayed calm, however, and holding a firm line he held onto P6 behind Leclerc and then swiftly opened up a 2.0s gap to the Haas behind.
At the front Hamilton set blistering pace on the restart to set the fastest lap of the race and to keep Bottas at bay. Max also steadily eked out a gap to Vettel and 15 laps later the Dutchman crossed the line to take the Team’s 163rd podium finish, and the 24thof his career.
Behind him Vettel stayed fourth ahead of Leclerc and Pierre finished as he started, in sixth place. Kevin Magnussen was seventh for Haas ahead of home hero Carlos Sainz. Daniil Kvyat took two points for Toro Rosso with ninth place but despite putting enormous pressure on Romain Grosjean in the closing laps, Alex Albon couldn’t make it two Toros in the points and Haas driver Grosjean managed to cling on to tenth place at the flag.
OUR RACE IN NUMBERS:
163 – Podium finishes for the team.
24 – Career podium finishes for Max Verstappen.
3 – Spanish GP podiums now for Max. He was P1 in 2016 and P3 in 2018 and this year.
6 – Pierre’s second sixth-place finish this year leaves him sixth in the Drivers’ Championship, on 21 points.
Spanish Grand Prix - Race Result Top 10:
1. Lewis Hamilton
2. Valtteri Bottas
3. MAX VERSTAPPEN
4. Sebastian Vettel
5. Charles Leclerc
6. PIERRE GASLY
7. Kevin Magnussen
8. Carlos Sainz
9. Daniil Kvyat
10. Romain Grosjean