Verstappen happy to win after 'difficult beginning'

Race winner Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing celebrates in parc ferme. 22.05.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 6, Spanish Grand Prix, Barcelona, Spain, Race
© XPB 

Max Verstappen clinched what could prove to be his most crucial victory of the 2022 championship, overcoming an early spin and an intermittent problem with his DRS system to win the Spanish Grand Prix.

With his chief title rival Charles Leclerc retiring abruptly from the race on lap 27 with an unidentified power unit issue on the Ferrari, the result means Verstappen tops the standings for the first time by six points heading to Monaco.

Summarising his race talking with the world media in parc ferme, Verstappen said: "Difficult beginning, but a good end."

Verstappen had started the race from second on the grid alongside pole winner Leclerc, and made a spirited attempt to take the lead in the run down to the first corner but ultimately had to back off as Leclerc fended him off.

He then played a waiting game, staying close to the Ferrari in the hope that it would chew through its tyres again as it had in previous races.

But it was Verstappen who made the first error, spinning off into the gravel at turn 4. "I suddenly had a lot of tail wind, so I just lost the rear and went off," he explained of the incident which dropped him to fourth place by the time he recovered.

While passing his team mate Sergio Perez was easily achieved, Verstappen then hit a new problem when he attempted to overtake Mercedes' George Russell when he found his DRS was only intermittently activating.

Race winner Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB18 at the end of the race. 22.05.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 6, Spanish Grand Prix, Barcelona, Spain, Race

"I tried to pass but my DRS was not always working, so it made it made it very tough," he explained. "I tried to stay focused. Of course, it's not nice when stuff like that happens.

It meant that the team had so change their pit stop and tyre strategy to overcome the problem another way.

"We managed to use the strategy to get ahead again and do our own race and eventually win the race," he said. "The car was good on the soft but also the medium, so I think it was working quite well."

"At the end I was very happy to win, and also very happy for Checo [in second]," he added. "It was a great result for the team."

The Red Bull 1-2 together with Perez snatching the bonus point for setting the fastest lap of the race means that Red Bull have now pulled out a formidable lead of 26 points in the constructors championship.

And Leclerc's retirement means that Verstappen is in front of the driver standings for the first time this season by six points from the Monegasque heading into next weekend's Monaco grand Prix, the seventh race of the season.

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