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Verstappen wins Spanish GP as Leclerc retires

May 22, 2022

World champion Max Verstappen overcame a sequence of problems on Sunday to claim the lead in this year's title race on an afternoon of anguish for Charles Leclerc and Ferrari at a scorching Spanish Grand Prix.

Formel 1 Spanien Barcelona | Max Verstappen, Red Bull
Image: Joan Monfort/AP Photo/picture alliance

World champion Max Verstappen took a dramatic victory at the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix on Sunday to take the standings lead from Charles Leclerc, who had to retire his Ferrari from a winning position.

Verstappen too had problems with an early spin and DRS issues blocking his progress but fresh tyres for a final stint let him easily catch Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez to win.

Leclerc looked to have driven off into the distance from pole position only for an unidentified power unit issue to end his race on the 27th of 66 laps around the 4.675-kilometre Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. He led by 11 seconds at the time.

Verstappen's third successive triumph put him on 110 points to Leclerc's 104 going into next weekend's classic in Monaco. George Russell of Mercedes completed the podium in third, ahead of Carlos Sainz in the other Ferrari.

Lewis Hamilton was fifth in the second Mercedes despite a first lap collision with the Haas of Kevin Magnussen dropping him to the back of the grid.

Leclerc had seen a huge standings lead over Verstappen cut over the last two races but seemed to have done everything right in Spain. After holding off Verstappen at the start, he cruised away until losing power and being forced to limp back to the pits.

"I don't know anything more than what happened," he said. "I had no indications and then it broke. It is a shame. In those moments I believe there is nothing else I can do except look at the positives which there are plenty.

"It gives me the confidence for the rest of the season. On the other hand we will look at this issue."

 "It was a race of two halves," said Red Bull team boss Christian Horner. "Our pace was very strong and it was a shame for Charles [Leclerc] as I think it would have been an interesting fight."

mf/ (AFP/dpa9