VICTORY FOR VERSTAPPEN:Max Verstappen raced to victory at the 2016 Spanish GP. Image: AP / Emilio Morenatti
Barcelona - Teenager Max Verstappen became the youngest yet Formula 1 winner on Sunday when he took full advantage of a spectacular first lap crash that eliminated both Mercedes cars and drove to triumph at the 2016 Spanish GP.
In his maiden outing with the Red Bull team following his unexpected promotion from Toro Rosso, the 18-year-old Dutchman showed supreme composure under pressure as he resisted all attacks to claim a memorable victory in only his 24th F1 race.
He became the youngest race winner, replacing four-time champion Sebastian Vettel who had also taken that record as a Red Bull driver.
Good drive, great strategy
Verstappen, heralded as the sport's hottest property, proved he has everything required to be a future world champion, but owed some of his good fortune also to Red Bull's decision to put him on a three-stop strategy while his senior team mate Daniel Ricciardo was on a two-stop plan.
Read: As it happened - 2016 Spanish GP
That prevented the Ricciardo from turning his early control of the race into victory after the opening lap collision between championship leader Nico Rosberg and his Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton had left them fuming in a gravel trap at Turn Four and out of the race.
Ricciardo eventually came home fourth, despite suffering a puncture on the penultimate 65th lap, behind the two Ferraris of Kimi Raikkonen who finished second ahead of Vettel.
Verstappen's maiden win on his Red Bull debut was the first in the sport by a Dutch driver and the first by the team without Vettel involved in one of their cars.
"It's unbelievable, I can't believe this," said Verstappen's father Jos, who on Saturday had announced he had stood down as his son's manager.
Valtteri Bottas came home fifth for Williams ahead of Carlos Sainz in a Toro Rosso, Sergio Perez of Force India, Felipe Massa in the second Williams, Jenson Button of McLaren and Daniil Kvyat on his return to Toro Rosso.
2016 Spanish Grand Prix results in Barcelona:
1 Max Verstappen (NED/Red Bull) 1hr 41min 40.017sec,
2 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN/Ferrari) at 0.616sec
3 Sebastian Vettel (GER/Ferrari) 5.581
4 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/Red Bull) 43.950
5 Valtteri Bottas (FIN/Williams) 45.271
6 Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP/Toro Rosso) 1:01.395
7 Sergio Perez (MEX/Force India) 1:19.538
8 Felipe Massa (BRA/Williams) 1:20.707
9 Jenson Button (GBR/McLaren) 1 lap
10 Daniil Kvyat (RUS/Toro Rosso) 1 lap
11 Esteban Gutierrez (MEX/Haas) 1 lap
12 Marcus Ericsson (SWE/Sauber) 1 lap
13 Jolyon Palmer (GBR/Renault) 1 lap
14 Kevin Magnussen (DEN/Renault) 1 lap
15 Felipe Nasr (BRA/Sauber) 1 lap
16 Pascal Wehrlein (GER/Manor) 1 lap
17 Rio Haryanto (INA/Manor) 1 lap
Hamilton started from pole but was quickly overtaken by his Mercedes team mate Rosberg. As Hamilton tried to retake the lead, his car ran onto grass and smashed into Rosberg. Both cars then span out of control into the gravel.
The crash triggered the safety car to be deplpyed on track.
Mercedes' non-executive chairman NIki Lauda appeared to lay the blame for the incident at Hamilton's feet.
McLaren's Fernando Alonso ended his home race in frustration after his car lost power and spluttered to a halt at Turn 3 on lap 47.