Max Verstappen counterattacked from the start to win the Spanish Grand Prix after title rival Charles Leclerc retired from an overwhelming lead.
This is Verstappen’s fourth win of six races this year thanks to Red Bull’s imposition of team orders on Sergio Perez.
And that gave him his first championship lead in 2022 and he heads for Monaco next weekend, six points ahead of Leclerc.
Mercedes’ George Russell took a strong third place after a long and valiant attempt to stop Verstappen early in the race.
And his teammate Lewis Hamilton fought back for fifth place after Kevin Magnussen’s first lap clash with Haas, flattened the seven-time champion and dropped him off the field. I did.
Hamilton moved Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz from the outside of turn 1 with six laps left, finishing fourth behind Russell.
However, Hamilton lost his position again after two Mercedes drivers were instructed to enter a corner by lifting them from the last two laps after they overheated due to a leak in the power units of both cars.
Verstappen saves victory from mistakes
Verstappen has had some bad luck in Spain, including retiring twice in the first three games this season, but he’s been lucky in Spain.
Leclerc was on course for a comfortable win after seeing Verstappen’s rare mistake turn to gravel on Turn 4 of Lap 9.
By the time Leclerc had a two-second lead, the race seemed to be well-coordinated between the two, but Verstappen’s spin changed the race’s complexion.
That puts him behind Russell, and despite the Red Bull’s much faster speed, Verstappen was unable to overtake the Mercedes.
Verstappen was stopped by a barely working DRS overtaking support, but at the same time, Russell had an excellent defensive drive that stopped the Red Bull for 19 laps.
Eventually, Red Bull changed their strategy to have Verstappen overtake Russell and stop him for a soft tire set on lap 28.
That allowed him to run in the fresh air, and when he stopped again on lap 44 for the final medium set, he came ahead of Russell, only Perez ahead.
Red Bull instructed the Mexican not to catch Verstappen, and after a few laps he held the lead. Perez said the decision was “unfair.” In a slow rap, he said, “I’m happy with the team, but we have to talk later.”