UNPREDICTABILITY PREVAILS: After the two Mercedes cars exited the race, the 2016 Spanish GP turned into an unpredictable affair that delivered all the thrills and spills. Image: AP / Manu Fernandez
Cape Town - The 2016 Spanish GP looked to turn into a predictable affair after Mercedes locked out the front row in qualifying.
A first lap crash saw both Mercedes drivers being eliminated from the race. The grand prix transformed into a four-way tussle as Red Bull and Ferrari battled for supremacy. Teenage driver Max Verstappen ultimately won the Spanish GP during his debut for Red Bull Racing.
Verstappen was followed by the Ferrari duo of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel.
We look at five moments that defined the 2016 Spanish GP.
1. Hamilton-Rosberg crash
The 2016 Formula 1 Spanish GP started off with a bang...literally. After a fantastic start from second on the grid, Nico Rosberg surged past his Mercedes team mate, Lewis Hamilton, on turn 1.
Rosberg went all out in search for his fifth win of the season and eighth in succession.
Hamilton, plagued by reliability issues throughout 2016, attempted to pass Rosberg at Turn 4 but lost control, hitting the gravel. The Briton bumped into Rosberg and ultimately led to both Mercedes drivers crashing out of the race.
READ: Hamilton, Rosberg escape punishment
2. Teenager Verstappen grabs his maiden win
Following the Mercedes crash, Ferrari and Red Bull battled it out for the win.
Both teams were superb on track, playing musical chairs with race strategies switching the front-runners throughout the GP. Ultimately, Red Bull rookie Max Verstappen was victorious in Spain.
READ: 'That champagne tastes nice'
After his promotion to the Red Bull team, the young Dutchman grabbed his chance with both hands, saw off a late charge by Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and held onto first place.
At 18-years (and 227 days old), Verstappen is the youngest winner in F1 history yet.
3. Ferrari’s strategy gamble
Ferrari was never in a position to challenge Mercedes in a straight fight but had more of a chance to beat Red Bull on track, even if the latter out-qualified the Scuderia.
Red Bull’s superior grip proved too big a challenge to overcome and Ferrari gambled on its drivers’ tyre strategies.
READ: Marchionne pressure causing Ferrari mistakes - Lauda
Raikkonen finished in second place using a two-stop strategy, while team mate Sebastian Vettel finished in third (three-stop strategy).
Though Vettel’s second stint on soft tyres barely lasted 10 laps, it was enough for the Ferrari ace to push past Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo.
4. McLaren’s woes continue
Fernando Alonso, during qualifying, managed to drive his race car into Q3 for the first time in 2016 for the renewed McLaren-Honda team.
READ: Q3 a 'small milestone'
The team felt positive that both cars would gain points when the chequered flag dropped in Spain but sadly for McLaren-Honda that was not the case.
Alonso’s car unexpectedly lost power and forced the two-time champion to pull off the side of the track, ending his involvement in the Spanish GP.
Alonso and team mate Jenson Button were both among the top 10 during the early parts of the race but with Alonso's power woes, their race unravelled and Button eventually finished in ninth place.
READ: No customers until first title - Ron Dennis
5. Niki Lauda: 'I blame Lewis...'
After Hamilton careered into Rosberg, the pair was expected to be investigated by race stewards not to mention receiving stern words from Mercedes team boss Toto Wolf.
Wolff was diplomatic in his response but Mercedes chairman Niki Lauda didn’t mince his words, stating that Hamilton carried more responsibility for the incident than Rosberg.
Lauda said: “Lewis was too aggressive, why should Nico give him room? He's in the lead. I blame Lewis more than I blame Nico."
READ: 'I blame Lewis more than I blame Nico' - Lauda