Max Verstappen leads the Formula 1 driver championship after securing victory at the Spanish Grand Prix, with teammate Sergio Perez securing a 1-2 for Red Bull and Circuit de Catalunya.
Charles Leclerc looked to be heading for a comfortable win after opening up a big lead from pole position, but an engine issue cost the Ferrari driver.
Perez also secured the extra point for setting the fastest lap of the race, while Mercedes’s George Russell completed the podium.
There was contact on the opening lap as Kevin Magnussen put pressure on Lewis Hamilton, resulting in the Dane being pushed out wide into the gravel, while Hamilton picked up a puncture. Both were able to keep going, but dropped to the back of the field.
Carlos Sainz made a slow start, allowing Perez and Russell to get ahead of him, with the Red Bull and Mercedes almost coming together while battling for third, with the Briton coming out in front.
The Spaniard’s day got worse when he spun, and while he was able to avoid beaching his Ferrari in the gravel, he dropped right down the order, and almost collected Yuki Tsunoda’s AlphaTauri while rejoining the track.
Verstappen made a similar error a lap later, dropping him down to fourth behind his teammate and Russell. The Red Bulls seemed to have the stronger pace, but Perez couldn’t find a way past the Mercedes, so he moved aside to let Verstappen see if he could pull of the overtake, but his DRS flag didn’t open when it should have, leaving him behind.
With hot track conditions, drivers on the soft tyres started to struggle after just 11 laps, with Sainz and Fernando Alonso among the first drivers to come into the pits.
Most of the front runners came in a couple of laps later, but Perez and Leclerc were able to stay out longer, with the championship leader staying out until lap 22.
Verstappen’s DRS woes continued to frustrate the Red Bull driver, as he was unable to get past Russell. He briefly got his front wing ahead, braking late into turn one, but Russell fought back to maintain his advantage.
The battle for second became the battle for the lead when Leclerc suffered a loss of power just under halfway through the race, forcing him to retire from a huge lead at the front of the field.
Verstappen pitted before managing to pass Russell, promoting his teammate up to second, and Perez didn’t need long to get ahead of the Mercedes on fresher tyres, having stopped several laps later.
Guanyu Zhou was the second driver to retire, as like Leclerc he lost power suddenly and had to bring the car into garage, while Pierre Gasly was given a five-second time penalty for tangling with Lance Stroll, leaving the Canadian facing the wrong way.
While Perez stayed out in the lead, Verstappen made a third stop, and this time was able to rejoin the track ahead of Russell.
With Perez holding just over a second lead over his teammate, the Mexican was told not to hold up Verstappen, who was on newer tyres, and the reigning champion sailed past with 16 laps to go.
After his early contact with Magnussen, Hamilton recovered well, passing Valtteri Bottas for fifth place with seven laps remaining, and quickly closing the gap to Sainz in fourth and sailed past the Ferrari to pick up another position.
Hamilton couldn’t keep hold of the position though as Mercedes were worried about cooling issues on both cars, urging their drivers to lift and coast or risk not finishing the race in the final couple of laps, allowing Sainz to move back ahead.
1 Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
2. Sergio Perez (Red Bull)
3. George Russell (Mercedes)
4. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)
5. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
6. Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo)
7. Esteban Ocon (Alpine)
8. Lando Norris (McLaren)
9. Fernando Alonso (Alpine)
10. Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri)
11. Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin)
12. Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren)
13. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri)
14. Mick Schumacher (Haas)
15. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin)
16. Nicholas Latifi (Williams)
17. Kevin Magnussen (Haas)
18. Alexander Albon (Williams)
Guanyu Zhou (Alfa Romeo)
Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)