MAX VERSTAPPEN: “It’s a very special feeling. 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!”
DANIEL RICCIARDO, Finish Position: 4th, Start Position: 3rd
“Mixed emotions today, for sure. Some of it was just bad luck today, I was leading and then went on a three stop strategy, which meant I had to try and pass three cars on track, which isn’t easy. Seb had already jumped us on the pit stop, which resulted in more overtakes to get back to the front. In hindsight, a three stop strategy was the wrong thing to do, but maybe during the race it seemed like the right thing to the team. I wasn’t content sitting in fourth so I tried to pass Vettel, I had a crack, but it didn’t work out. It really sucks to not even be on the podium and then the puncture at the end just rubs salt in the wound. It’s a big day for Max with his first race win, so congratulations to him. He got the job done, everyone questioned the decision during the week but he has proven today that he is a top class driver. It’s not hard for me to see Max on the podium, it’s just hard not to be there myself. Let’s move on to Monaco and hopefully we will both be on the podium next time.“
CHRISTIAN HORNER, Team Principal: “A quite remarkable day for Max Verstappen who, on his debut for the team, has become the youngest ever race winner after producing an exemplary drive. After the first lap incident between the Mercedes, we were in a great position to get some points, but to take on the Ferraris who had a very fast race car was always going to be difficult. We had to make some difficult decisions in the race, as it wasn’t clear whether the two or the three stop was going to be quickest, so we elected to split the strategies. We felt that the two stop was right at the limit, but Max made the tyres last and didn’t make any mistakes to score a very impressive victory. Daniel was obviously coming back through the field with much younger tyres, but unfortunately picked up a puncture with a couple of laps to go; otherwise I am sure he would have been on the podium too. But, there’s a lot to look forward to and it’s great to be back on the top step of the podium.”



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.

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.

That prevented the Australian 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 Dutchman 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.



ART Grand Prix’s Alexander Albon records victory ahead of Oscar Tunjo
Alexander Albon made it two wins out of two for French squad ART Grand Prix in the opening round of the 2016 GP3 Series season. Thai racer Albon made a perfect start and produced a stunning overtake on the outside of reverse pole-sitter Oscar Tunjo (Jenzer Motorsport) at Turn One to claim a maiden victory. Tunjo finished second ahead of Trident and Ferrari Driver Academy’s Antonio Fuoco.
Tunjo started from reverse pole at the Circuit de Catalunya alongside Arden International’s Jake Dennis but it was Albon from the second row who made a lightning getaway and made the move stick on the Colombian around the outside of the first corner. Fuoco also gained two places at the start, whilst Nyck De Vries jumped up four places to jump into the top five.
Yesterdays’ race winner Charles Leclerc dropped a few places at the start but fought back into ninth by the end of the opening lap. The Monegasque rookie was behind the DAMS duo of Kevin Jörg and Jake Hughes as they enjoyed a race long tussle for the final points on offer.
Albon’s margin at the front over Tunjo was around 1s and remained fairly consistent in the early stages, with Fuoco and Dennis five seconds adrift of the race leader. As the laps ticked down, the ART Grand Prix rookie started to increase his advantage by a tenth or two: The Thai’s strength being his pace in sector two and three, compared to Tunjo having the edge in sector one.
In the closing stages, Dennis was looking ready to attack Fuoco for the final spot on the podium; however the Italian was able to hold the Brit at bay until the chequered flag. The DAMS duo continued to be hunted down by Leclerc, with Hughes looking particularly racy on the final lap as he was eager to pass his teammate Jörg.
Albon remained calm and confident at the front and took the chequered flag 1.2s ahead of his nearest rival Tunjo to claim his maiden win in the category in his first race weekend. Fuoco celebrated his first podium of the season in third ahead of Dennis and de Vries. Koiranen GP’s Matevos Isaakyan finished sixth: The Russian drove a great race after qualifying P11. Jörg held off Hughes until the flag with Leclerc narrowly missing out on the final point.
Leclerc leaves Round 1 with the lead in the Drivers’ Standings – he holds a four point advantage over his teammate Albon and DAMS debutant Jake Hughes. Due to their double success; ART Grand Prix leads the Teams’ Standings over newcomers to the Series DAMS with Trident in third.
The second round of the season takes place at Spielberg in Austria on July 01-02-03, with the GP3 teams testing at the Red Bull Ring next month on June 07-08.



Englishman controls sprint race for win
Alex Lynn has opened his win account for 2016 with a dominant victory in this morning’s sprint race in Barcelona: the Briton made use of a quick getaway and some early overtakes for a lead he was never to relinquish, controlling the pace for victory ahead of Pierre Gasly and Jordan King.
The win was set up at the start when poleman Rafaelle Marciello made a good start to hold from fellow front row starter King into turn one, delaying the Englishman just enough to allow Lynn to sneak through at turn two: the Williams tester only needed two more laps to dispatch the Italian for the lead before building up a buffer over his rivals.
Marciello looked unhappy in his car, dropping places to King and Gasly next time by, while the Red Bull tester was looking very pleased indeed with his set up as he sliced up from sixth on the grid to dispatch King for P2 on lap 6 and set off after his former teammate for the inevitable battle for the win.
Further back Sergey Sirotkin and Luca Ghiotto were keen to put yesterday’s travails behind them as they sliced through the field at will, but with Lynn and Gasly pulling away from their rivals it was clear that it was now a two horse race for victory. Unfortunately for the fans lining the circuit that fight was to be denied when Antonio Giovinazzi and Sean Gelael came together: the Italian went over his rival’s rear wheel and tagged an innocent Arthur Pic on the way to the barriers, bringing out a safety car which would last for all but the final turn of the race.
Lynn managed the drag race for his first win of the year ahead of Gasly, who could console himself with two podiums for the weekend, with King claiming his first of the season in third ahead of Artem Markelov, who did a great job of slicing through the field for P4, and teammate Marciello, while Oliver Rowland mugged Nicholas Latifi for 6th just before the safety car, with Nobuharu Matsushita doing the same to Sergio Canamasas for P8.



ART Grand Prix’s Charles Leclerc victorious in opening race of the season
Monegasque Charles Leclerc made the most of an excellent start from the second row to sneak into the lead by Turn One and claim the honours for the first race of the 2016 GP3 Series season. The ART Grand Prix and Ferrari Driver Academy ace controlled the race perfectly at the Circuit de Catalunya from then on to record his maiden win in the category with a six seconds advantage over pole-sitter Jake Hughes (DAMS). ART Grand Prix’s Nirei Fukuzumi was third.
Light rain fell ahead of the forty-minute race with all teams looking up to the heavens wondering if a wet race were on the cards. Slick Pirelli tyres were used on all 24 cars as the anticipation was finally over as the season commenced. It was an all DAMS front row with Hughes and Kevin Jörg but Leclerc in third made a lightning getaway to race into the lead before they reached the first corner. The Swiss debutant lost several places at the start, whilst Fukuzumi and Antonio Fuoco made great getaways to move into third and fifth respectively.
In the opening few laps, Hughes was glued to the rear of Leclerc’s machine, eager to fight back into the lead but the Monegasque resisted his efforts. Meanwhile behind the duo at the front was a squabble between Jörg and Alexander Albon with the DAMS driver managing to hold the Thai at bay.
As the laps ticked down, Leclerc maintained a small margin at the front of around 1.7s with Fukuzumi in third a few seconds adrift of Hughes. All eyes were on the battle for P10 as there was a tasty dice between the Koiranen GP trio of Ralph Boschung, Matevos Isaakyan and Matthew Parry – they remained tight throughout the 22 lap race.
At the midway point, Leclerc’s lead over Hughes was 2.2s as the dark clouds remained menacing above. Fuoco in fourth had his mirrors full of Jörg, Albon, Jake Dennis and Oscar Tunjo in the latter stage, but the positions remained the same.
At the chequered flag, Leclerc was jubilant to record an impressive win whilst Hughes recorded the first podium for newcomers DAMS with Fukuzumi completing the rostrum. Fuoco, Jörg, Albon, Dennis, Tunjo, Nyck de Vries and Boschung completed the top ten.



Frenchman powers to victory in feature

Norman Nato has claimed his first GP2 victory in style, overtaking poleman Pierre Gasly late on in a dramatic season opener in Barcelona and holding on in a feature race which saw three safety car periods before the Frenchman was greeted by the chequered flag ahead of Nicholas Latifi and Gasly.
The grid lined up for the start of the 2016 season in glorious sunshine and were soon underway, with the Red Bull tester easing in front of his countryman into turn one as they just held off a fast starting Sergey Sirotkin, who easily dispatched Alex Lynn and Latifi into the first corner and who themselves held off Gustav Malja  and Artem Markelov (who dispatched the Swede in short order) around the circuit.
A virtual safety car for Luca Ghiotto’s escape at turn four a lap later quickly turned into a real one, but the track was cleared for a lap five restart, comfortably held by Gasly as Sergio Canamasas mugged Malja further behind, with Lynn and Jordan King starting the pit visits for the super soft shod drivers one lap later: the Williams tester was looking to mug his former DAMS teammate on strategy, but it soon became clear that Gasly had the pace to control the race. 

Sirotkin was pushing Nato all around the circuit as he looked to take more from the race, but the Frenchman was a rock in defence until lap 23 when the Russian uncharacteristically spun at turn two, stalling the car and prompting another safety car period for the distraught Renault tester and opening a window for the remainder of the field to pit for free, with Gasly, Nato, Latifi, and Sergio Canamasas emerging before Lynn rolled around. 

With potentially 14 laps remaining the race wasn’t over yet as all eyes were watching to see how long the leaders’ super softs would last. Artem Markelov wasn’t waiting to find out: the Russian made quick use of his new rubber to easily dispatch Jordan King and Lynn  for P5 when the race went live on lap 26, while Nato saw his countryman was struggling and mugged him with a courageous move in the final complex for the lead of the race. 

The displays showed that the race had moved to time rather than laps, prompting a lot of drivers to jump to action: Latifi had a practice alongside Gasly on the front straight before driving right around him into second on lap 32 as Markelov echoed the move on Canamasas behind them, and the Spaniard was mugged by Lynn in the same manner one lap later. Rafaelle Marciello was tapped into a spin by Antonio Giovinazzi a few corners later, bringing out the safety car as the chequered flag fell. 

Nato was overjoyed to grab his maiden win on his Racing Engineering debut, with Latifi on his tail for his first podium. Gasly brought home PREMA Racing’s first podium in the team’s debut but was disappointed to have lost more, but Markelov was delighted to be in P4 right behind him. Lynn was the first of the early stoppers in 5th, ahead of Canamasas, King and Giovinazzi, the rookie making it a double haul for his countrymen on the pitwall, while Malja and Oliver Rowland closed out the points paying positions in P9 and 10 respectively ahead of tomorrow’s sprint race.

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