Max Verstappen Cruises to Victory in 2022 Spanish F1 Grand Prix

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVMay 22, 2022

BARCELONA - Max Verstappen (1) with the Oracle Red Bull Racing RB18 Honda during the F1 Grand Prix of Spain at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on May 22, 2022 in Barcelona, Spain. REMKO DE WAAL (Photo by ANP via Getty Images)
ANP via Getty Images

Max Verstappen may have just taken control of the 2022 Formula One season.

Verstappen cruised to victory in Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix, earning his fourth win of the season and overtaking the points lead.

Charles Leclerc, who entered the weekend with a 19-point lead in the standings, is now six points behind Verstappen after a disappointing 20th-place finish.

Sergio Perez finished second behind Verstappen, while George Russell, Carlos Sainz Jr. and Lewis Hamilton rounded out the top five. 

Leclerc looked like he had the best car in the field throughout the early part of the race before bowing out on Lap 28 because of power-unit problems. 

"We will look at this issue and we cannot afford for this to happen many times during the season, so we need to find the problem," Leclerc told reporters. "The lead of the championship will go down to basically nothing or maybe we will lose it actually, but that's fine. I'm not looking at it.

"I think what is the most important is your own performance, and performance-wise we are performing very well so I can't wait to go at home next week, and hopefully we'll have a great result [in Monaco]."

By contrast, Verstappen spent much of the early part of the race growing frustrated with his car's performance. He was heard over the radio bemoaning the failure of his drag-reduction system before finally settling in and eventually moving to the front of the pack.

Verstappen, Formula One's defending champion, now looks well on his way to winning a second straight drivers' title. He's captured the last three races, digging himself out of the hole created by a 19th-place finish in Bahrain and a retirement in Australia.

Meanwhile, Leclerc's failure could not have come at a worse time. He'd managed to keep the points lead by turning in consistent performance after consistent performance, finishing sixth or better in each of the season's first five races.

Hamilton, the sport's most famous face, is now six races into a season without a victory for the first time since 2016. It's looking increasingly like he will finish out of the top two in final points standings for the first time since 2013.