The Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona is a track the drivers and teams know well but warmer weather was a talking point heading into the weekend. As it turns out, Mercedes wasn’t bothered but the tire issues they experienced in the UK and they took Lewis Hamilton’s pole position to victory.
Hamilton’s teammate, Valtteri Bottas, left too much on the table with a slow start and that left the window open for Red Bull’s Max Verstappen to claim second ahead of him. Racing Point picked up the pieces but a Blue-flag penalty for Sergio Perez neutered an otherwise brilliant 1-stopper performance.
A big win for Lewis Hamilton who claimed pole and never looked back. He had plenty of pace in hand, managed his tires perfectly and took his 88th victory in Formula 1. Managed pace and tires were key to making his weekend a good one. Lewis made the right call by telling the team he didn’t want the Red compounds on his final stint and that, as Bottas showed, was the right decision. Lewis lapped up to third place slapping the rest of the grid like a drunk man at a bar making inappropriate comments.
A win for Red Bull and Max Verstappen who took second and it was touchy affair with Max and team arguing over the radio about the best way forward. Max was frustrated with the team and their coaching and told the team to keep it simple, stop focusing on Lewis’s race and focus on their own. The team were most likely doing just that.
A win for Racing Point who managed to get both cars into 4th and 5th. Maximizing their pace and performance for critical points. Despite the protests and appeals, the team are making the best use of their Mercedes relationship. Switching Lance Stroll to a 2-stopper (given he wasn’t pushing because he thought he was on a 1-stopper) was a very good result for the team-owners son and a terrific drive by him.
A win for Carlos Sainz who made a brilliant 2-stopper work for P6 and although Racing Point beat them, they managed to make the best of it for Carlos with Lando Norris squeaking into the points in P10.
A win for Sebastian Vettel who had the tough job of limping home on old Red tires to P7 and taking the F1 driver of the day vote with his efforts. Having to change his race strategy and go nearly 40 laps on Red compounds was a real challenge.
A fail for Valtteri Bottas who had a slow start and couldn’t get back around Max Verstappen, who was on an older engine. He did set fast lap, thanks to a late stop but leaving doors open at the start for the Racing Point cars and the lack of race pace on his second stop added to his downbeat posture on the podium. Valtteri is a terrific driver but I tend to think Nico Rosberg is right, he needs to be less agreeable.
A fail for Ferrari who left Sebastian out to dry by not managing his strategy. Asking him to push early on and then asking him to make it to the end was a mess. Vettel made it clear he wasn’t happy with the team’s lack of focus and communication, he would have managed his tires better when he asked earlier about going to the end on the Soft compounds. Brundle was right, his radio message was a sort of, “hey, I’m still out here, do you remember me?”
A fail for Alex Albon and Red Bull. First, Alex’s poor qualifying left him out of the mix and exposed his teammate to a Mercedes sandwich from a strategy standpoint but fitting Alex on the Hard compound tires on lap 18 was a bad call given the tire was 1.7s slower than the Medium compounds. He narrowly managed to finish ahead of Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly but the sound of the clock ticking for Albon could find Gasly swapping seats sooner than later.
A fail for Renault who had the CEO of the company at the race and couldn’t find a point and that’s a reversal of pace from Silverstone. Not a good showing for Cyril Abiteboul when his boss was at the race. Never good to get beaten by your customer team, McLaren.
Not sure what happened to Charles Leclerc other than an electrical issue that stalled the car mid-corner causing a spin. Loosening his seat belts didn’t help matters because he got the car re-fired but had to box to tighten straps but apparently that took too much time and they retired the car. Probably best given the electrical issues.
Not sure what happened to the pace of Haas F1 but it evaporated compared to what they showed in Free Practice and Qualifying. Romain Grosjean floundered to last place.
I appreciate Mercedes boss, Toto Wolff, saying that Lewis had terrific instinct to not choose the Red compound but that is a sort of back-faded compliment suggesting that Valtteri should have refused the Red tires as well but he didn’t. He took what the team gave him and it was the wrong tire.
Spanish Grand Prix race results
|2||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Honda||24.177s|
|4||Lance Stroll||Racing Point/Mercedes||1 Lap|
|5||Sergio Perez||Racing Point/Mercedes||1 Lap|
|6||Carlos Sainz Jr.||McLaren/Renault||1 Lap|
|7||Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||1 Lap|
|8||Alexander Albon||Red Bull/Honda||1 Lap|
|9||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri/Honda||1 Lap|
|10||Lando Norris||McLaren/Renault||1 Lap|
|11||Daniel Ricciardo||Renault||1 Lap|
|12||Daniil Kvyat||AlphaTauri/Honda||1 Lap|
|13||Esteban Ocon||Renault||1 Lap|
|14||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo/Ferrari||1 Lap|
|15||Kevin Magnussen||Haas/Ferrari||1 Lap|
|16||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo/Ferrari||1 Lap|
|17||George Russell||Williams/Mercedes||1 Lap|
|18||Nicholas Latifi||Williams/Mercedes||2 Laps|
|19||Romain Grosjean||Haas/Ferrari||2 Laps|