Max Verstappen put on quite a show to win the Spanish Grand Prix.
The reigning champ overcame several issues for 4th win in 6 races.
A large gust of wind knocked Verstappen off the track on lap nine and later struggled with his DRS failing.
Max Verstappen charged from behind to win the Spanish Grand Prix, overcoming several obstacles and firmly announcing that he is once again the favorite to repeat as Formula One champion.
Verstappen's bad luck started in qualifying when DRS issues may have cost him a shot at the pole position. Starting from second in the race, his fortune didn't get any better early in the race.
On lap nine, two laps after a strong tailwind caused Carlos Sainz to spin off the track and into the gravel in turn four, Verstappen suffered a similar fate. However, unlike Sainz, who spun and lost seven places to 11th, Verstappen kept his car straight and only lost two spots to fourth.
The Red Bull team later warned that there was a "strong gust" coming from behind as the cars entered turn four.
But the problems were just starting for Verstappen as his DRS problems came back as he tried to chase down George Russell. For several laps, Verstappen could not get his wing to stay open in the DRS zone.
The problem seemed to be limited to the front stretch before turn one. There was speculation that it might have been related to when Verstappen engaged the DRS while on the curbs.
For more than 10 laps, Verstappen looked ready to overtake George Russell for third place, but even on the laps he did have DRS, the Mercedes driver put up a great defensive fight.
Verstappen was asked about the mechanical failure after the race.
"I tried to stay focused," Verstappen said. "Of course, it's not nice when stuff like that happens, but in the end, of course, very happy to win."
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said after the race that they decided mid-race to change their strategy.
"Nothing really seemed to be working for us in the first half," Horner told Sky TV. "We had an issue with the DRS on Max's car and then he had that moment at turn four, a gust of tailwind, and he did well to get through the gravel and rejoin. At that point, we decided, because he was struck behind George [Russell] and DRS was intermitantly working, we felt our best race was converting him to a three-stop [strategy], and as it panned out, that was the preferred strategy."
Verstappen's luck started to change as the 66-lap race neared the mid-point. Championship leader Charles Leclerc suffered an engine problem and was forced to retire.
Verstappen made it all the way back to the lead on Lap 38 after Russell and teammate Sergio Perez both pitted. Verstappen's earlier pit stop on lap 29 worked as he was able to undercut Russell on his next pit stop and keep second place behind Perez on lap 45.
From there, Perez was asked to make way for his teammate, who took back the lead on lap 49 and cruised to his third win in a row and fourth of the season.
More importantly, Verstappen is on top of the championship race, taking the lead from Leclerc.
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