Max Verstappen steered the magnificent Red Bull RB19 towards an unchallenged victory at the 2023 Spanish Grand Prix, and enjoyed every minute of it.
The reigning Formula 1 Champion took his fifth win of the season, and his 40th career win, one short of Brazilian legend Ayrton Senna after a commanding driver on Sunday afternoon in Barcelona were he lead from lights to flag, also bagging the extra point for the fastest lap.
“To win here again feels incredible,” Verstappen said after winning at the venue of his first ever F1 win in 2016. “It’s a massive pleasure to drive a car like this.
“It was important to try and keep the lead into turn one, it was quite tight,” he added, referring to the brief challenge from Carlos Sainz (on Soft tyres) going into Turn 1.
“From there onwards it was about managing the tyres, I was able to create a big gap. We went on to the hards but I didn’t seem to have much grip, I was sliding around quite a lot, the pace was okay but I couldn’t create more of a gap, so we switched to softs and then I just needed to bring it home.
“We’ve had another strong weekend and that’s of course what I like to see for the Team, hopefully we can keep this up throughout the year,” Verstappen concluded.
Sergio Perez had a decent drive to fourth after starting from 11th on the grid following his disappointing Qualifying on Saturday. In the end he ran out of laps as he tried to catch George Russell for the final podium position.
Perez paid the price of his Qualifying
“I am disappointed with today, we have ultimately paid the price for a bad qualifying,” Perez said. “We did have a good strategy but, looking at where we started from, there was only so much that we could do. I think P3 was possible but, if we wanted more points, then I would have had to take more risks on lap one and potentially compromise my race.
“George went really deep on that first lap, gaining a lot of positions but we took it easier to ensure we had more of a clean start,” he said of the start of the race.
“Then we got stuck behind the Aston Martin and Fernando was quite hard to pass, so it meant I couldn’t progress through the field as quickly as we would have liked. This weekend, in general, has been a step back and we weren’t quite there, but there are plenty of things we can do better,” the Mexican explained.
“All in all, we brought home twelve points today and I think, looking forward, Canada should be a strong race for us. Everything is pretty close right now so that will be an interesting one,” Perez concluded.
Christian Horner, Red Bull Team Principal, hailed Verstappen’s performance; he said: “Another great performance from Max.
Horner: Max totally in control, team operating at an elite level
“The start was strong, he had to be firm but fair with Carlos into the first turn and from there he managed the race really well. We ran all three compounds today and he had the pace to cover whatever was going on behind him finishing with a 24 second gap by the end of the race,” he explained.
“Max was totally in control. But it’s not just Max, the whole Team is operating at an elite level,” the Briton added. “We have a phenomenal car, we have two great drivers and we are continuing to evolve and become more polished.”
As for Perez; Horner added: “It was a good recovery from Checo, especially the second part of the race and I think that will give him a lot more confidence. He had a difficult Monaco, a difficult qualifying but a better Sunday. Looking at the gap between the two drivers, the pressure is off now and we know what Checo is capable of.
“I’m sure he will re-find that form from the early races in the near future,” the Red Bull boss concluded.
Red Bull now lead the F1 Constructors’ Standings by 135 from second-placed Mercedes who overtook Aston Martin, while Verstappen now leads Perez by 53 points in the Drivers’ Championship, the Mexican only 18 points clear of Fernando Alonso in third.