Nico Rosberg believes he was robbed of a certain victory following his sensational opening-lap collision with Lewis Hamilton in the Spanish Grand Prix.
Pole-sitter Hamilton lost the lead and then lost control of his car, crashing into Rosberg, before both drivers ended up in the gravel trap in what is likely to be the defining image of the season.
Max Verstappen, the 18-year-old making his debut for Red Bull, capitalised on the crash to become Formula 1s youngest-ever winner ahead of the Ferrari pair of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel. But while the Dutchman, who only obtained his road driving licence in September, must be lauded for the maturity of his drive, his achievement has somewhat been overshadowed by the incredible scenes at Mercedes.
The collision here is the first between the championship protagonists since the Belgian Grand Prix in 2014.
Rosberg, who was bidding to become only the second driver in the modern era to claim eight consecutive victories, passed Hamilton on the run down to turn one, but an engine setting, incorrectly deployed by the German, enabled Hamilton to decrease the gap to his team-mate at a greater speed.
In defending his lead, Rosberg moved to block his team-mate, Hamilton took to the grass, spun, and then collided with the German.
“I was really ecstatic about the first-corner move, to get the lead, and from then I was sure it was my race to win,” a frustrated said Rosberg. “I saw Lewis closing in, and as soon as I could, I closed the door with a clear strong move. I was very surprised that he went for it.”
Eighteen-year-old Verstappen showed maturity beyond his tender years on his Red Bull debut to fend off the challenge from Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel crossed the line in third, while Daniel Ricciardo, who led the opening phase of the race, Ricciardo recovered from a late puncture to finish fourth, ahead of Valtteri Bottas and Carlos Sainz.
Jenson Button crossed the line in ninth for McLaren.