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Formula 1 Spanish GP

Verstappen "would have been second" without first-lap F1 Spanish GP pass on Norris

The three-time world champion collected his seventh win of 2024 at Barcelona, but says early overtakes were the key

Max Verstappen says his Spanish GP victory was made by his first-lap move down the inside of polesitter Lando Norris, and swift clearance of leader George Russell.

Verstappen threaded his Red Bull down the inside of Norris into Turn 1 after briefly losing momentum through having a wheel on the grass on the run to the first corner.

Although the Dutchman wrested position from Norris, it ultimately proved to be for second as Russell swept around the outside of both drivers and led the first two laps.

Russell's lead lasted for little longer than that, as Verstappen captured a tow on the exit of Turn 14 and cleared the Mercedes driver with DRS to start the third lap out in front.

Verstappen says that this ensured he could control the race, and being in front of Norris was the key to his 61st F1 victory.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 1st position, lifts the winners trophy on the podium alongside Lando Norris, McLaren F1 Team, 2nd position

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 1st position, lifts the winners trophy on the podium alongside Lando Norris, McLaren F1 Team, 2nd position

Photo by: Andrew Ferraro / Motorsport Images

"I think what made my race was getting the lead in lap two and basically getting also ahead of Lando," Verstappen recounted to Sky F1.

"That's where I basically won the race with the gap that I have to Lando, since that first stint I had been driving a very aggressive and defensive race, being quite early with the stops compared to Lando.

"They were definitely just a bit faster today, better on tyres as well and that is of course a little bit concerning. That's not what you like to see but as a team I think we operated really well today. We maximised everything that we had.

"It's of course exciting, but when I really think about myself and not about the sport, I want more performance of course because we are not the quickest at the moment. That's why I have to push till the end.

"Of course I put myself in a position that we were comfortably ahead because of that first stint. If I didn't get by Lando at the start I think we would have been second today."

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner praised Verstappen's decisiveness in his early overtakes, echoing his driver's belief that the first couple of laps were ultimately crucial.

Horner added that Red Bull was confident that it would have the edge on McLaren, even with the tyre offset that the Woking squad had exploited.

"[Verstappen is] so decisive, you see him, he just doesn't mess about," Horner told Sky.

"He's coming up to traffic, he's so, so decisive. And I think that's one of his key qualities, that you know if he's there, he's going to go for it. And the other drivers know that.

"[At the end] I think we felt at that stage that he'd done such a good job in managing the tyres.

"There was only one corner that we could see that Lando was quicker, which was in Turn 1, and the rest of the lap [Max] had it covered.

"He was always going to get closer because of that offset in pit stops, but ee always felt confident from the tools that he had enough in hand."

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