Mercedes returned to the scene of the crime where just 10 weeks earlier, the world felt Ferrari had the measure of the field coming out of pre-season testing. Barcelona is a track the drivers know well as it hosts the pre-season winter testing and Ferrari gained the moniker of “the team to beat” but since then, Mercedes has delivered four one, two on the trot and looked set for a similar result having locked out the front row in qualifying.
Valtteri Bottas had pole position and his recent win suggested the momentum was with him heading into the Spanish Grand Prix but Lewis Hamilton had other plans. A terrific start from second on the grid, Hamilton launched into the lead and never looked back. Bottas held on as Hamilton put the brakes on the Finn’s recent momentum to finish second delivering Mercedes their 5th one, two finish of the season.
Ferrari had no answer for the well-oiled Mercedes machine on track or off track on the pit wall. This combination of passion of logic at Mercedes is a lethal combination and it has secured five wins on the trot.
A win for Mercedes who never looked threatened by Ferrari’s new power unit in Spain. Lewis held the lead the entire race, after a Bottas-jumping start, and Valtteri held on to his tail to give Mercedes a one, Two finish at every race this season. The car looked planted, the power ample and the drive measured to perfection. Capable of pulling out time against their rival at any point they wanted to and even benefitted from a late-race Safety Car for fresh rubber and the fastest lap.
A win for Red Bull’s Max Verstappen who managed to keep the Ferrari’s off the podium through a great performance and some confusion over at Ferrari regarding what race strategy they actually wanted to engage for the afternoon. His teammate, Pierre Gasly, was racing for position and managed to finish behind the two Ferraris in 6th.
A win for Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat who had a good weekend and a good race to 9th for points with some very impressive passes on the way. His teammate, Alex Albon was racing hard too but couldn’t get around Romain Grosjean for points.
A win for Haas who somehow managed to find pace in Spain with tires that have conspired to thwart their pace in the first four races. Returning to the track that flattered them in pre-season testing, Haas brought both cars home in the points with Kevin Magnussen in 7th and Romain Grosjean in 10th despite both drivers banging wheels.
I’m unclear on exactly what McLaren’s issues were in Spain but they struggled to run in the points so an 8th place for Carlos Sainz is a testament to the home field advantage energizing the Spaniard to bring the car home which his teammate, Lando Norris, failed to do.
A fail for Ferrari who struggled to get their race strategies to work in concert with each other to reach the podium. Sebastian Vettel struggled with a flat spot early which held Charles Leclerc up for several laps but eventually the team reversed the running order. The same was repeated when Leclerc held Vettel up and it took too long to figure out if both race engineers understood which strategy they were running with their respective drivers. It’s these errors that possibly cost them a podium finish.
I did find Sky Sports F1’s Martin Brundle’s comments interesting when he said the team was too concerned about the drivers racing each other and the running order. That’s odd because two times this season the broadcast has lamented the treatment that Charles Leclerc has gotten when asked to move for Vettel. Which is it? Orchestrate the best result or favor Leclerc? Paul di Resta said the same thing, Ferrari have to issue team orders and make the decisions quicker. Most folks weren’t too happy about that very thing earlier in the season.
A fail for Racing Point who struggled all weekend to find pace in Spain. Lance Stroll fell afoul of a punt from Lando Norris in a clash that ended both of their races. Sergio Perez finished down in 15th.
A fail for Alfa Romeo who were running well off the pace in Spain with little hope of claiming points. Kimi Raikkonen running wide on the first lap didn’t help matters but the car clearly wasn’t working well with the tires.
I am not sure what is happening at Renault but failing to get both cars in the points and their inability to run for “best-of-the-rest” is truly a difficult year so far given you have the driving talent of Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg.
With 12 or 13 laps remaining in the race, the TV graphic was stuck on the tire compounds and not showing the time gaps. This went on for lap after lap and it was difficult to watch the closing laps without seeing the time gaps.
Not sure what was wrong with the left rear gun or gunner at Ferrari but it impacted both Vettel and Leclerc’s race.
Spanish GP results
|3||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Honda||66||7.679s|
|6||Pierre Gasly||Red Bull/Honda||66||19.576s|
|8||Carlos Sainz Jr.||McLaren/Renault||66||32.342s|
|9||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Honda||66||33.056s|
|11||Alexander Albon||Toro Rosso/Honda||66||35.445s|
|14||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo/Ferrari||66||41.803s|
|15||Sergio Perez||Racing Point/Mercedes||66||46.877s|
|16||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo/Ferrari||66||47.691s|
|17||George Russell||Williams/Mercedes||65||1 Lap|
|18||Robert Kubica||Williams/Mercedes||65||1 Lap|
|–||Lance Stroll||Racing Point/Mercedes||44||Collision|
|11||Carlos Sainz Jr.||10|