Formula 1: Max Verstappen wins in Barcelona

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The world champion in the Red Bull benefits from the loss of World Cup competitor Charles Leclerc at the Spanish Grand Prix. However, Verstappen also has technical problems and is not having a relaxed afternoon.

Formula 1 World Champion initially experienced a stressful race in Barcelona, ​​but triumphed in the end

“What the hell is going on there?” Max Verstappen cursed annoyed in the direction of the box. “We can't even get the damn DRS to work.” After almost a third of the distance at the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona had been completed, it did not look at all as if the Formula 1 world champion from the Netherlands could still win the race. As in qualifying on Saturday, his Red Bull had technical problems with the DRS system. With the DRS, the rear wing can be positioned transversely in certain zones of the route if you are less than a second behind the person in front.

However, Verstappen had the problem that his rear wing could either not be opened at all or only for a brief moment. So he couldn't get past George Russell in the Mercedes – and he despaired a bit. His race engineer had to listen to a lot of curses and curses over the radio. But Verstappen didn't know that everything would end well for him. Because in the end he won the race easily ahead of his teammates Sergio Perez and Russell.

“The fact that my DRS didn't work made it really tough,” said Verstappen, who has already won the last two races in Miami and Imola, after the race. “But we then changed our strategy and were still able to win the race. So: difficult start, great end,” said the 24-year-old, who not only celebrated his fourth win in the sixth race of the season, but also took the lead in the championship .

Leclerc: “It came out of nowhere”

Verstappen benefited from the fact that his fiercest competitor, the Ferrari driver and former world championship leader Charles Leclerc, surprisingly had to park his car after 27 laps. Until then, everything had looked like a clear Ferrari victory. The Monegasse started the race from pole position, won the start and was able to quickly pull away from the competition. While Verstappen in the ninth lap – apparently because of a gust of wind – even afforded a short ride into the gravel bed, which caused him to fall behind Perez and Russell in the first place, and then fought in vain with his  DRS, everything went according to plan at Leclerc.  When he got fresh tires after 21 laps, his lead was so comfortable that he was able to effortlessly steer his Ferrari back onto the track, a few seconds ahead of Russell in first place.

Disappointment with Charles Leclerc, who does not finish the race and loses the championship lead

Six laps later, however, came the disillusionment: Suddenly Leclerc's engine had no more power. He had to drive into the pits and park his car. The Scuderia later reported a power unit problem that had not yet been identified. “It came out of nowhere. I didn't feel anything before,” Leclerc said afterwards on Sky. “I don't think there was a heat problem. In Miami it was even hotter in the end. It's a real shame. We had put our main focus on our tire management and then something like this happens.” Leclerc was clearly kinked. Instead of leading by a large margin, he is now six points behind Verstappen in the fight for the world title.

Team order at Red Bull 

For Verstappen, after Leclerc's failure, it was basically just a matter of form to bring victory home. He changed to fresh tires earlier than Russell and after his pit stop quickly made up almost all of the time lost to the Mercedes driver. When Verstappen appeared in his rear-view mirror on lap 37, Russell also turned into the pits. Verstappen was now second and only had his team-mate Perez ahead of him, who was no obstacle. The team told the Mexican that he was on a different strategy than Verstappen and that he should let the Dutchman pass.

Although Perez complained that it was “very unfair”, he acquiesced and let Verstappen through 49 gritted teeth over. Verstappen later praised Perez as a “great team player”.

Schumacher misses the points again

The hopes of German driver Mick Schumacher to finally make it into the points were not fulfilled on the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona either. The son of record world champion Michael Schumacher started from tenth place in his Haas and even moved up to sixth place shortly after the start, but then he lost position after position and ended up twelfth.

The The last competitor Schumacher had to let pass was Sebastian Vettel in the Aston Martin. Unlike the last Grand Prix in Miami, the two Germans kept enough distance when overtaking. They were still crashed in Florida. “After the first lap, hopes were high,” said Schumacher. “After the next few laps, there was a feeling that it could be difficult. Now we have to wait one more race.” This next race will take place in Monaco next weekend.