3. The Spanish Grand Prix – Round 5 of 21.
This race had drama before, during and after the race. Prior to the weekend, Red Bull announced that Max Verstappen would swap places with Daniil Kyvat, promoting the 18 year old to the main team with less than 25 races of F1 experience.
Mercedes were once again the pace setters with Ferrari following close behind. Qualifying would see Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari occupy the first, second and third rows respectively. During the race, Lewis tried to make a move on Nico at turn 3, and Nico moved to defend. This caused Lewis to go off track and spin, which caused a collision between the two, knocking both cars out of the race. It was the first double retirement of Mercedes since 2011 and the first time since the 2012 US Grand Prix where they failed to score points.
A safety car deployment saw Riccardo led Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz to Vettel and Kimi. Red Bull, anticipated Sebastian Vettel as their main threat and switched Daniel Riccardo onto a 3 stop strategy. When the 2nd round of pit stops took place, Daniel Riccardo and Vettel switched to the soft compounds and fell behind their teammates who were on the 2 stop strategy from both teams.
After the 3rd round of stops for Vettel and Riccardo, the action intensified. Riccardo began to close on Sebastian and Kimi closed in on Max (the latter coming within DRS range). However, the Red Bulls were able to pull away on the aerodynamic friendly 3rd sector, ensuring a buffer for the other two, where Ferrari were quicker. 2 laps from the finish, Daniel Riccardo suffered a puncture and also the Renault teammates collided (though both were far from the points). Max would cross the line as the youngest winner in F1 history.
The Drama continued after the race. Mercedes had emergency talks during the race itself, with Niki Lauda blaming Lewis Hamilton. Opinion was split among who was at fault, while Wolff would let both continue to race. It later emerged that Lewis considered quitting the team at that point of time, showing how tough the crash was on him.
Riccardo was not happy with the strategy that Red Bull gave him, as they later claimed they anticipated Vettel as the main threat in the race.