An entertaining race is not always how you would describe a Spanish Grand Prix but 2022’s edition absolutely deserved that tag, at a sweltering hot Circuit de Catalunya on Sunday.
Indeed, from the get-go there was drama as Lewis Hamilton and Kevin Magnussen tangled on the first lap, causing both to drop outside of the top 10 and out of the points.
Up at the front, Leclerc led from Verstappen whilst George Russell and Sergio Perez had got by Carlos Sainz, who was looking for a good result in front of his home crowd.
The Spaniard, though, fell foul of some blustery conditions up at turn four and found himself trundling through the gravel trap and out of the top ten, meaning, like Lewis and Kevin, a recovery drive was needed.
More drama would follow at turn four, though, with Verstappen the next to be caught out by a big gust followed by a trip to the gravel but, like Sainz, he recovered and only dropped two places down to fourth, with Russell and Perez now in behind Leclerc.
Max was soon back up close behind Russell and Perez, however, and was allowed through by the Mexican to try and overtake the Mercedes man, though stout defending from the Briton combined with a DRS issue Max was suffering meant getting by was proving difficult.
Indeed, it wasn’t long before Perez was wanting back past to try and have a renewed attempt at overtaking Russell but Red Bull opted against letting him, with him only getting the chance once Max had pitted.
By that point, too, Leclerc had retired with a power unit issue which, given the battling behind him that had let him pull away, really did deny him the victory on a weekend where he’d topped every session.
Soon after, Perez overtook Russell for the lead but he’d not be able to keep it, with Verstappen on fresher tyres in the closing stages being allowed to take P1 once he too had cleared Russell.
Perez was told they were on a different strategy to Max and that’s why he had to abide instructions to let Max past if he was quicker, with the Mexican responding: “That’s very unfair, but ok,” on the radio.
The Red Bulls would then coast to a one-two whilst coasting (and lifting) was what both Mercedes had to do in the final stages.
Indeed, Hamilton, who had worked his way back up to P4 ended up dropping to 5th behind Carlos Sainz to the adulation of the home fans, whilst Russell just about held on to his podium.
Verstappen it was then that took victory here in Spain, and he now leads the Drivers’ standings as he maintains that record of winning every race he’s finished this season.