Nothing was going right for Max Verstappen at the Spanish Grand Prix: the wind had blown his car off course, his Red Bull was struggling, and top rival Charles Leclerc seemed headed for a sure victory.
His fortunes turned when Leclerc lost power and his Ferrari suddenly sputtered to a near stop. Then Verstappen’s own Red Bull team intervened by ordering Sergio Pérez to get out of Verstappen’s way.
The reigning Formula One champion went from from minimizing damage Sunday to winning the race and reclaiming the points lead.
Then the Dutchman thanked Pérez, who might have won himself but settled for second when Red Bull issued team orders, said AP.
Pérez, who registered the fastest lap in Sunday’s race, is third in the standings and 19 points behind Leclerc.
Leclerc, meanwhile, had a terrific start and easily cleared Verstappen and controlled the race until Lap 27. Once out of his Ferrari, he said it was an engine failure.
Sainz was beaten by George Russell, who finished third for his second podium of the season with Mercedes. Russell also had an impressive battles with Perez and Verstappen and held the champion up as Verstappen tried to recover from his own spin.
Mercedes had won the race the past five consecutive years with Lewis Hamilton, and the seven-time champion finished fifth on Sunday. He’d fallen to the back of the grid on the opening lap because of contact with Kevin Magnussen at the start and Hamilton had to stop for new tires.
Mercedes has struggled through the first six races of the F1 season as its new 2022 car is still a work in progress. Russell, in his first season with Mercedes, has finished higher than Hamilton in five of the six races.
The circuit is notoriously difficult with limited passing zone and the pole-sitter has won 23 of 32 times on the 4.6-kilometer (2.8-mile) Barcelona-Catalunya circuit. If not for Leclerc’s power failure, Verstappen probably wouldn’t have had a chance.
Valtteri Bottas finished sixth for Alfa Romeo, Esteban Ocon was seventh in his Alpine and Lando Norris was eighth for McLaren, despite being seen vomiting just before the start of the race.
Local favorite Fernando Alonso, who has struggled all season, recovered nicely from a last-place start after Alpine changed his car’s engine. He finished ninth ahead of Yuki Tsunoda in his Alphatauri.
Next up: Leclerc’s home race in Monaco.