BARCELONA, SPAIN - Dutch teenager Max Verstappen stunned Formula One with victory at the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday, taking advantage of a crash by Mercedes teammates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg to become the sport’s youngest winner only a few days after being promoted by his team Red Bull.
The 18-year-old Verstappen drove like a veteran to secure the victory after fending off a late challenge by Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, who not long ago was racing against Verstappen’s father, former F1 driver Jos Verstappen.
“It feels amazing. I can’t believe it,” Verstappen said. “To win straight away in my first race with Red Bull is incredible.”
The spectacular victory — the first ever by a Dutchman in F1 — comes with Verstappen nearly three years younger than the previous youngest winner, Sebastian Vettel, who was 21 when he won for the first time.
Vettel, now 28, was third in Sunday’s race. Verstappen’s teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, was fourth.
“It’s very special to win your first race and today is his day. It’s an incredible achievement,” said four-time world champion Vettel. “If you are quick enough you belong here. I don’t think it matters whether you are 18 (or older.)”
Verstappen also became the youngest driver to make it to the podium.
“It’s a very big surprise, of course I didn’t expect that,” Verstappen said. “I couldn’t believe that I was leading the race. Today everything went well. Unbelievable.”