The 2016 Spanish Grand Prix will go down in history as Max Verstappen secured his maiden Formula 1 race victory and thus became the youngest driver in history to see the chequered flag first.
The Red Bull Racing driver adopted a two-stop pit strategy that ultimately turned out to be the correct decision, and he held off the close challenge of Scuderia Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, remaining calm to take the victory at the end of the 66-lap race at the Circuit de Catalunya.
After expecting to use the Spanish weekend as a learning experience following his switch post-Russian Grand Prix from Scuderia Toro Rosso, Verstappen admitted he stayed calm throughout the race, keeping his focus and ensuring he retained some life in his tyres so to be able to maintain position, which he did superbly to become the first ever Dutchman to win in Formula 1.
“It’s a very special feeling,” revealed Verstappen. “Of course I didn’t expect to win; after the Mercedes pair crashed then you’re targeting a podium, but in the end to come out on top, it’s incredible.
“To hear the Dutch national anthem for the first time in Formula One, I have to think about my dad for sure and I heard he was crying, so yeah it’s unbelievable. He invested a lot of time in me and this achievement is also because of him.
“I wasn’t nervous during the race, I was just trying to focus and drive the best I could. We focused a lot on keeping the tyres alive because at my last stop I still had to do 32 laps until the end, but it worked out well!
“With five laps to the end I saw Kimi was dropping off a bit, he tried a few times and of course it kills your tyres and from there I just like ‘okay, focus on the tyres now and bring it home’.
“I will for sure remember this and at the moment it’s just a great feeling. It’s amazing, I have no words for it. It was very good company on the podium, I mean Kimi even raced against my dad, so it’s very funny!
“I was celebrating a lot on the in lap and I got a bit of cramp, but that’s part of it!”