Formula One: Max Verstappen, 18, is youngest race winner in history after Spanish GP win

Max Verstappen (left) celebrates with Ferrari F1 driver Kimi Raikkonen after winning Spanish Grand Prix.
Max Verstappen (left) celebrates with Ferrari F1 driver Kimi Raikkonen after winning Spanish Grand Prix. PHOTO: REUTERS

BARCELONA (AFP/REUTERS) - Max Verstappen became the youngest winner in Formula One history when he claimed the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday.

The 18-year-old Dutchman beat Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel and team-mate Daniel Ricciardo into second, third and fourth respectively.

He vindicated the faith of his bosses at Red Bull, who had replaced Russian Daniil Kvyat with the teenager just last week. Kvyat was demoted back to Toro Rosso following a series on on-track incidents.

 

Verstappen has made waves since entering the sport.

At just 17 years and 166 days of age, he was the youngest driver to start a Grand Prix when he raced in Australia last year.

He had delivered on his promise with a stunning first qualifying for Red Bull on Saturday to secure fourth place on the grid for his debut race with the team.

"Just watch me go" had been the message from the Dutch teenager in the run-up to the event and, with a nerveless display of speed, he demonstrated exactly why he was promoted unexpectedly from Toro Rosso to replace Kvyat.

Verstappen, the son of Jos Verstappen, a team-mate of German legend Michael Schumacher at Benetton in 1994, finished 12th in the 2015 world championship with 49 points.

His achievements were marked at the FIA world governing body awards ceremony in December when he stole the limelight from Lewis Hamilton, collecting the Personality of the Year, Rookie of the Year and Action of the Year awards.

There was less happy news for the Mercedes team.

World championship leader Nico Rosberg and his team-mate Lewis Hamilton collided and retired in a sensational crash on the opening lap.

Defending three-time champion Hamilton took the lead from pole position, but was passed at Turn 1 by the German, who took the initiative with a sweeping pass round the outside.

Hamilton then gained speed on his run from Turn 3 and attempted to pass inside Rosberg at Turn 4 where, in defence of his position, the German driver "closed the door" and forced his team-mate onto the grass.

Hamilton then went into a spin and as his car slewed back across the circuit, he clipped Rosberg, taking the pair of them off into a gravel trap.

Both men were unhurt and climbed from their cars to learn quickly that the stewards would investigate the accident after the race.