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Max Verstappen wins Spanish F1 Grand Prix in Red Bull 1-2

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MONTMELÓ, Spain — Max Verstappen reclaimed the Formula One points lead as the reigning world champions won the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday for a third straight win after Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari broke down while he was comfortably ahead.

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However, Verstappen needed an assist from Red Bull team-mate Sergio Pérez for his fourth win of the season. Pérez led the race after Leclerc withdrew when his team told him to let Verstappen go through Lap 49 of 66.

“It’s unfair but okay,” Pérez told his team.

Pérez, who could have grabbed a third win of his career, finished second ahead of Mercedes’ George Russell in third.

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Verstappen overtook Leclerc in the standings and now leads by six points after six races.

“It wasn’t an easy start to the race, but we turned it around,” said Verstappen, who has previously enjoyed wins at Imola and Miami. “Thanks to the team for their great job and thanks to Checo (Pérez), he’s a great team-mate.”

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Leclerc kept his pole position early, and Verstappen left the track early. But disaster struck when Leclerc’s car lost power on Lap 27, when he shouted “No! No! No! What happened?”

Lewis Hamilton, who had won here for the previous five years, had a good push to finish fifth behind Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz after the seven-times world champion was relegated to the back row on Lap 1 when his Mercedes needed a tire change following a knock. with Haas Kevin Magnussen.

Verstappen looked like he had to settle for a podium finish to limit the damage after he left the track and into the gravel — an incident his team blamed on a gust of wind — on the opening lap, knocking him from second to fourth. .

Things got even worse for the Dutchman when the same DRS flap damage that had ruined his chances of trying the last flying lap of Saturday’s qualifying resurfaced. He was unable to get past Russell at that time in an exciting duel.

“We couldn’t even get DRS to work, unbelievable,” Verstappen shouted on the team radio as Leclerc stepped up and picked up new tires without losing his lead.

But after the Leclerc race exploded, Verstappen’s fate changed drastically.

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