Max Verstappen beats Lando Norris in pits to win strategic Spanish GP

The Red Bull star fought off a late challenge from Norris after a strategic battle fought in the pits

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Max Verstappen won the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on Sunday, beating Lando Norris to earn his seventh Formula 1 victory in 2024.

Norris had qualified on pole with only 0.02 between himself and Verstappen, and the fine margins in pace carried forward into the race as the pair were clearly quicker than the rest of the top 10.

As an intriguing pit-stop strategy battle unfolded between McLaren and Red Bull, it was Verstappen who had enough of a gap to be comfortable as he crossed the finish line to clinch his seventh race win of the season.

Lewis Hamilton passed George Russell to secure his first podium finish in 12 races to confirm Mercedes’ best team result in 2024. They were rarely troubled by the two Ferraris behind, with Charles Leclerc fifth and Carlos Sainz sixth on another disappointing weekend for the Scuderia.

Max Verstappen leads Lando Norris at the 2024 Canadian GP | Mark Thompson / Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Max Verstappen saw off Lando Norris at the 2024 Spanish GP | Mark Thompson / Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Norris‘ team-mate Oscar Piastri took seventh ahead of Sergio Perez, Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon, who ensured a double-points finish for Alpine for a second race in a row.

Norris was so occupied trying to keep Verstappen behind him that he forced the Dutchman onto the grass, but both were oblivious to the threat of Russell, who launched superbly off the line and snatched first place to lead out of the first corner.

Verstappen wins Spanish GP in the pits

It didn’t take long for Verstappen to reel him in, however, as he passed Russell under DRS on Lap 3. The Mercedes star began to drop back and dived into the pits to put on the medium tyres after being overtaken by Norris, who was looking like the only driver capable of fighting Verstappen for the win.

Norris extended his stint by a further six laps from Verstappen in a bid to have fresher tyres at the end of the race and finally pitted on Lap 24, with the new race leader Leclerc coming in on the following lap.

Lewis Hamilton during 2024 Spanish GP weekend | Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton passed George Russell to claim third at the 2024 Spanish GP | Mercedes

Hamilton was the unfortunate victim of the Ferrari undercut, with the 39-year-old coming out behind Sainz, but found some pace on the medium tyre and briefly set the fastest lap of the race. He even lined up a move on Russell under DRS as Russell fought valiantly with Norris, scrapping it out for second place on Lap 35.

The McLaren driver had more grip, but they were matched for determination as Russell – having been passed at Turn 3 – got his revenge at Turn 5. But Norris again got the better traction and made another pass on Turn 6, with their battle bringing Hamilton into play.

Hamilton gets better of Russell

Norris began his hunt to close the gap on Verstappen from nine seconds adrift and the elongated first stint had given him the opportunity to take the fight to the championship leader.

Verstappen pitted on Lap 44 with a 4.4-second gap to Norris, putting on the soft tyres. Norris was told on the radio “this is our chance now” and with Verstappen 17 seconds behind him, the race victory was in his hands.

Norris opted to pit for a third time in the race for soft tyres, giving him an eight-second gap to close to Verstappen at the front and only 17 laps to do so. But it gave him too much to do as the Red Bull showed its speed in a straight line.

Mercedes came alive in the final stint, with Russell and Hamilton dispatching Piastri and Sainz on the same lap to put themselves in podium contention. But Hamilton, on the soft tyre, closed up to his team-mate at the end as Russell struggled to fire up the hard compound.

But after homing in on Russell, he finally got the move done around the outside on Lap 52, and fortunately it was a wholly clean move from the seven-time world champion to move up into the final podium place.

Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who has worked for a number of media organisations, including the Daily Express, The Mirror, Evening Standard, The Independent and Bleacher Report. Joe has been following F1 since when he watched Mika Hakkinen clinch the 1999 drivers' championship, and his first taste of real-life racing action was watching David Coulthard spin off into the gravel at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2001.
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