Verstappen wins Spanish GP despite DRS issue; Leclerc retires

    Verstappen assumes the championship lead after his Spanish GP victory. Perez and Russell complete the podium.

    Published On May 22, 2022 10:25:00 PM

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    The Spanish GP could very well prove to be a decisive turning point in the 2022 F1 championship, as Max Verstappen took victory to grasp the overall lead. Heading into the race, Charles Leclerc held a 19-point advantage atop the standings, but walked away with zero points after retiring from the lead.

    Sergio Perez finished second, handing Red Bull a 1-2 finish. He was followed by Mercedes’ George Russell in the final podium spot.

    • Verstappen has won every race that he has completed this year
    • Leclerc six points behind in the championship
    • Hamilton recovers to fifth after Magnussen clash

    Leclerc retires from Spanish GP lead

    Leclerc appeared to have a clear shot at victory, with Verstappen suffering DRS problems. He was holding a comfortable lead when his victory hopes came to a grinding halt on lap 27 as his Ferrari lost power. “I had no indications before and then it just broke, lost the power completely,” he explained.

    Incidents like this can lose a championship, something that the Ferrari driver is well aware of. “We cannot afford for this to happen many times during the season, so we need to find the problem,” Leclerc added.

    Verstappen overcomes DRS trouble to win race

    It wasn’t an easy path to victory for Verstappen. He’d lost time early on after sliding into the gravel on Turn 9. Just as he closed the gap to third-placed Russell ahead of him, it soon became apparent that his DRS was malfunctioning. He almost made it past on Lap 24, but Russell showcased some strong defending and held firm.

    As frustrations inside the cockpit grew, Red Bull opted to switch Verstappen on to a different strategy and pit him early, attempting the undercut. Out at front, his teammate Perez found a way past Russell to take the race lead. Mid way through the race, Verstappen pitted once again, to cover off his rivals’ tyre advantage, and was running in second place.

    On Lap 47, Red Bull ordered Perez to let Verstappen through. Despite calling the team order “unfair”, Perez complied and moved over, handing the lead to Verstappen. It was smooth sailing for the reigning world champion from there on, as he won by a margin of 13.027 secs.

    With this, Verstappen continues his record of winning every single race that he has completed this year. The only two races that he hasn’t won – Bahrain and Australia – are the ones where he suffered DNFs.  “I was in the train and I tried to pass but my DRS was not always working, so that made it very tough. But we managed, due to the strategy, to get ahead again and do our own race and eventually win the race. So, difficult beginning, but a good end. At the end, I’m happy to win and happy for Checo [Perez]. It was a great result for the team,” Verstappen said after the race.

    Red Bull ended up securing their second 1-2 finish this season as Perez crossed the line in second place. The Mexican also bagged an extra point for setting the fastest lap after pitting for soft tyres. Russell was third, while Carlos Sainz recovered from his own trip through the gravel early on to take fourth place.

    Hamilton recovers to fifth place

    At one point, Lewis Hamilton wanted to pull out of the race to save his engine after making contact with Kevin Magnussen. But Mercedes encouraged him to continue, telling him eighth place was possible. The seven-time world champion surpassed that prediction, and after a strong recovery drive was running as high as fourth place. He dropped to fifth at the finish line as Mercedes asked him to lift and coast to avoid overheating.

    Valtteri Bottas ended up sixth for Alfa Romeo, followed by Alpine’s Esteban Ocon and Mclaren’s Lando Norris. Fernando Alonso also displayed a spirited recovery drive from last on the grid, to finish ninth. AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda completed the top 10, keeping Sebastian Vettel out of the points.

    F1 2022 championship standings

    Leclerc now trails Verstappen by six points in the championship. Red Bull, meanwhile, are 26 points ahead of Ferrari in the teams’ standings. There’s no break in action as F1 now heads to Monaco for the next round on May 27-29.

    2022 Spanish GP results

    2022 Spanish GP results
    PosDriverTeam
    1Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing
    2Sergio PerezRed Bull Racing
    3George RussellMercedes
    4Carlos SainzFerrari
    5Lewis HamiltonMercedes
    6Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo
    7Esteban OconAlpine
    8Lando NorrisMcLaren
    9Fernando AlonsoAlpine
    10Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri
    11Sebastian VettelAston Martin
    12Daniel RicciardoMcLaren
    13Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri
    14Mick SchumacherHaas
    15Lance StrollAston Martin
    16Nicholas LatifiWilliams
    17Kevin MagnussenHaas
    18Alexander AlbonWilliams
    NCZhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo
    NCCharles LeclercFerrari

    Also see:

    Verstappen fends off Leclerc to win Miami GP

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