The first race back in Europe has traditionally been the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona. It’s also the track that the drivers know the best as most pre-season testing is performed here as well. The race often represents an opportunity for teams to bring a serious amount of developmental changes to their cars and there is a tangible excitement to see who may have solved whatever issues they’ve had in the first four fly-away races of the season.
The development of the cars is one interesting talking point but there was also discussion over a special Barcelona thin-tread tire that Pirelli brought to the race due to the resurfacing of the circuit which prompted issues during pre-season testing.
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen echoed rumors in the paddock that the new tire compounds were favoring Mercedes more than anyone else. Merc boss Toto Wolff rubbished that thought and said that all the teams struggled in pre-season testing so the new tires were benefitting everyone.
Regardless, what became clear was the dramatic race pace that Mercedes seemed to gain between Baku and Barcelona. Lewis Hamilton managed to pull out a 10s lead in just 10 or so laps.
Ferrari, usually kind to its tires, seemed to struggle all day long with the medium and soft compounds. There is no doubt that all the pre-season testing Mercedes did on the medium compounds paid dividends in Spain seeing a dominant one, two with Lewis Hamilton taking a commanding win and lead in the driver’s championship. The third step of the podium filled by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen who inherited that spot by a pitting Vettel during the VSC period.
A win for Mercedes who were murmuring accusations of sandbagging against Ferrari on Friday but as it turns out, perhaps Lewis himself was the sandbagging driver as his race pace was radically different than anything they’ve showed against Ferrari in the first four races of the season. A clear, dominant drive from Lewis mirrored by his teammate, Bottas, ensured a terrific one, two for Mercedes.
There could be several factors at play. Did Mercedes cure their early-season ills with massive development and new kit for the Spanish Grand Prix? Was it down to the special tires that Pirelli brought for Spain that played in to Mercedes hand? A combination of both? Today’s performance from Mercedes, who have not shown this level of race pace all year, could mark a change of tide for the German marque as well as the moment Lewis Hamilton charges forward for his fifth title.
A win for Red Bull who managed to get Max Verstappen on to the podium despite having a damaged front wing from hitting Lance Stroll under the VSC period.
Another big win for Sauber’s Charles Leclerc who scored points again by bringing his car home in 10th and had a terrific battle against Alonso and other in the process. Also a win for Haas F1’s Kevin Magnussen who brought the car him in 6th and is clearly leading the team at this point.
A fail for Ferrari who lost power for Kimi Raikkonen and retired the car. The team then tried a VSC pit for Sebastian Vettel and that cost the German 6 points by losing a place to Max Verstappen. Mercedes were never in bother about the medium tires and certainly didn’t need to stop again and as Ferrari was out of new soft compounds, they opted for a fresh set of Mediums for Vettel but he made no gains on Verstappen for the podium. Despite Ferrari being typically kind on its tires, these compounds were a negative impact on the Ferrari cars.
It may be difficult to know as the next race is in Monaco but if the Spanish Grand Prix wasn’t down to tire compounds making the Mercedes cars come alive, then the car development has just pummeled Ferrari and the red team will have to come up with an answer quickly because they just took a serious nose dive in the championship.
A fail for McLaren and Stoffel Vandoorne who struggled in the back and eventually stopped his car on lap 47 with a loss of power. Force India had an equally tough race with Esteban Ocon out with a smoking engine on lap 40.
Not a good race for Daniel Ricciardo who had good pace but spun under VSC period and lost 12s to the leaders. He set fastest lap but had a tricky car and not easy to drive.
A WTH for Hass F1’s Romain Grosjean who spun on the first lap and collected Hulkenberg and Gasly in the process. To be fair to Romain, he did have to check up when his teammate, ahead of him, got out of shape and this forced Grosjean to react and he lost the rear of his car.
Ferrari must be scratching their heads as they are typically kind to their tires and yet they were suffering a lot with the compounds in Spain and Mercedes looked to be miles ahead in sheer race pace so definitely a WTH moment for Ferrari who will have to crunch some numbers.
Spanish GP Result
|3||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||66||26.873s|
|5||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||66||50.058s|
|6||Kevin Magnussen||Haas/Ferrari||65||1 Lap|
|7||Carlos Sainz||Renault||65||1 Lap|
|8||Fernando Alonso||McLaren/Renault||65||1 Lap|
|9||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||64||2 Laps|
|10||Charles Leclerc||Sauber/Ferrari||64||2 Laps|
|11||Lance Stroll||Williams/Mercedes||64||2 Laps|
|12||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso/Honda||64||2 Laps|
|13||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber/Ferrari||64||2 Laps|
|14||Sergey Sirotkin||Williams/Mercedes||63||3 Laps|
|–||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||38||Retirement|
|–||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso/Honda||0||Collision|