Race Report: Hamilton claims Spanish gold

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Photo by: www.kymilman.com/f1

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.

Win

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.

Photo by: www.kymilman.com/f1

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.

Fail

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.

WTH

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

Pos Driver Car Laps Gap
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 66 1h35m29.972s
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 66 20.593s
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Renault 66 26.873s
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 66 27.584s
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
Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren/Renault 45 Retirement
Esteban Ocon Force India/Mercedes 38 Retirement
Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 25 Retirement
Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 0 Collision
Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso/Honda 0 Collision
Nico Hulkenberg Renault 0 Collision

Driver’s Championship

Pos Driver Points
1 Lewis Hamilton 95
2 Sebastian Vettel 78
3 Valtteri Bottas 58
4 Kimi Raikkonen 48
5 Daniel Ricciardo 47
6 Max Verstappen 33
7 Fernando Alonso 32
8 Nico Hulkenberg 22
9 Kevin Magnussen 19
10 Carlos Sainz 19
11 Sergio Perez 17
12 Pierre Gasly 12
13 Charles Leclerc 9
14 Stoffel Vandoorne 8
15 Lance Stroll 4
16 Marcus Ericsson 2
17 Esteban Ocon 1
18 Brendon Hartley 1
19 Romain Grosjean 0
20 Sergey Sirotkin 0

Constructor’s Championship

Pos Constructor Points
1 Mercedes 153
2 Ferrari 126
3 Red Bull/Renault 80
4 Renault 41
5 McLaren/Renault 40
6 Haas/Ferrari 19
7 Force India/Mercedes 18
8 Toro Rosso/Honda 13
9 Sauber/Ferrari 11
10 Williams/Mercedes 4
REVIEW OVERVIEW
Overall Race
An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry focusing on technology integration, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.

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B52RockLobster
Guest
B52RockLobster

Your previous article seems particularly on point now. Ferrari definitely struggled with their tires far more than Mercedes and Red Bull, and the outcome was predictable as a result.

Not a huge fan of tires having such an outsized influence on the outcome of races. Hopefully Ferrari can figure out why this is happening and get on top of it quickly.

subcritical71
Member
subcritical71

It was a shame to see Kimi retire with power unit issues and seeing that he already changed 3 elements this weekend it doesn’t seem the team are on top of the original issue just yet.

What was the race time OTT like today?

Terry
Guest
Terry

The differing factor here was track temperature. The Mercedes 2018 car has struggled when the track is cool,which it was in the first 3 of 4 fly away races ( Melbourne was hotter so they did better there as well) they just can’t make use of the engines power in cool conditions due to limited grip.

When the track warms up they are able to apply far more power and therefore speed.

Matt
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Matt

Is anyone else annoyed at the lack of podium interviews? I liked hearing the drivers talk to the fans.

PMR
Guest
PMR

They do that when they come out of the cars now

Matt
Guest
Matt

Yeah I know, it’s just not that engaging.

It’s better when they talk to the crowd. We could miss classic moments such as rosberg singing or making Martin brundle do a shoey.

Member

F1 fans were a little immature and kept booing a certain driver on the podium so that’s “why we can’t have nice things anymore.” Maybe they’ll bring it back when we return to Asia where fans are little more respectful.

Jimmi
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Jimmi

Even though he got away with another dodgy bobble today, I am beginning to think that Max is not the sharpest knife in the drawer despite his physical gifts. World champions are usually clever and almost always shrewd. Max seems to be a blunderer–fun to watch in the moment but not the one you bet on much beyond that.

Would love to see future world champion Charles Leclerc against him in matched equipment.

SpeedinIan
Member
SpeedinIan

You visit any track day; you will hear (without fail) at the drivers meeting “If you spin, two feet in”. Clearly Grosjean forgot he only has two petals and a Tilke levels of paved run-off area. It was overly aggressive and I think he maybe looking at a 10 spot penalty to keep him well back of the kill-zone should it happen again, even at the ‘impossible to pass’ Monaco. Is it just me or did I detect a larger amount of mechanical failures then we have seen yet this season? And while no particular supplier seemed especially prone; could… Read more »