Verstappen: DRS issues made Red Bull change F1 strategy to win Spanish GP

Max Verstappen said his intermittent DRS problems made it "difficult" to win Formula 1's Spanish Grand Prix, which is why Red Bull turned to strategy to come out on top.

George Russell, Mercedes W13, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB18

Verstappen, who had lost ground having started second after an early off at Turn 4, was suddenly handed a golden opportunity to grab a second victory at the site of his first ever grand prix win when title rival Charles Leclerc, who had been dominating the race, retired with Ferrari engine problems before half-distance.

But Verstappen's charge was further complicated by an issue with his DRS actuator, which had also ruined his final run in Saturday qualifying.

Despite Red Bull's best efforts to find a cure, the problem reared its head again when Verstappen was attempting to pass Mercedes' George Russell for the lead.

Due to a combination of the intermittent DRS issue and Russell's robust defending, Verstappen and Red Bull decided to change strategy and go for a bold three-stopper, with an extra stint on used softs to try and regain track position.

Verstappen's strategy allowed him to win the race, albeit after Red Bull asking team-mate Sergio Perez to cede the lead in the final stint.

"I suddenly had a lot of tail wind, so I just lost the rear and went off," Verstappen explained.

"Then of course I was in the train and I tried to pass but my DRS was not always working, so it made it very tough, but we managed to use the strategy to get ahead again and do our own race and eventually win the race. Difficult beginning but a good end."

George Russell, Mercedes W13, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB18

George Russell, Mercedes W13, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB18

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Verstappen was extremely agitated on the radio when informed that his DRS woes had returned, but said he attempted to focus his attention on making his alternate strategy work.

"I tried to stay focused - of course, it's not nice when stuff like that happens, but at the end I was very happy to win and also very happy for Checo, it was a great result for the team," he said.

"I think the behaviour of the car was good on the soft but also the medium I think it was working quite well."

Thanks to his win, which includes a bonus point for the fastest lap, Verstappen takes over the lead of the 2022 championship for the first time.

The Dutchman heads to next week's Monaco Grand Prix heading Leclerc by six points.

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