The big question for the traditionally processional Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix was…will the new cars offer better racing? The answer seems to be, yes. Yes they do.
Heading in to the weekend, Ferrari’s new upgrades seemed to work a treat with Charles Leclerc overcoming a spin to take pole position and Carlos Sainz starting from 4th.
The table was set for Sunday and Charles got a good start and had the race in hand while Carlos struggled and drifted backward. Still, Ferrari seemed to have things covered until an engine issue forced a retirement for Charles and Carlos spent the afternoon trying to punch his way back to 4th—a gift handed to him by an overheating Lewis Hamilton.
This left Red Bull to finish 1, 2 ahead of George Russell in Barcelona and a new lead in the driver’s and constructor’s championships.
A win for Red Bull who looked like they may be left with Sergio Perez leading their effort as Max Verstappen had continuing DRS issues and even ran wide at turn 4 drifting from second back to P4. Despite that, some quick strategy changes on the pitfall and a DNF for Leclerc saw Max and Sergio spring back up to the front and the team reversed the order allowing Max to take the win. To be fair, Max had a lot more pace than Sergio, who was leading the race, and the right call was made rather than leaving Perez to fight with Max with two cars that were on the limit of tire wear, heat and reliability given the searing heat.
A big win for Mercedes who seemed to make significant improvements since Miami with a lack of porpoising and a podium result in P3 for George Russell. George had an amazing race of defending and passing and it was a brilliant drive from him—he is the reason Mercedes is still in the hunt. Lewis Hamilton had an altercation with Kevin Magnussen on the opening lap and he rallied to bring it home in 4th until he was asked to lift and coast allowing Sainz to pass in the final laps. Still, a recover to fifth from last was an inspired drive from Lewis who initially wanted to retire the car.
A win for Valtteri Bottas and Alfa Romeo who, despite some disagreement over the radio, may not have had the perfect strategy but they finished in a terrific 6th place.
An equally decent run for Esteban Ocon in 7th and a very inspired drive from his teammate, Fernando Alonso, at his home race to come from last to 9th.
Lando Norris wasn’t feeling well but still managed to drag his McLaren up to 8th while Yuki Tsunoda also beat his teammate wringing the neck of his Alpha Tauri to 10th for a point.
A fail for Ferrari with a weekend with so much promise collapsing on itself. Charles had the race in hand and with Max’s unforced error, it looked like clear sailing for him until he lost power. Carlos is struggling with his own gremlins with a poor start and then never quite showing the pace that the Ferrari car seems to have. He’s got to turn his season around quickly.
It was a fail for Aston Martin—after enduring a weekend of innuendo’s and allegations about their brand new upgrades being a copy of Red Bull’s car—to finish out of the points. If it is a copy, it must not be that good of a copy as the team failed to score points with their new upgrades and that’s not good.
A fail for Red Bull and their DRS on Max’s car. Not sure why Sergio hasn’t thad DRS issues but Max seems to be struggling with his DRS since late last year. How is it that the team can’t solve that issue or are they doing something very tricky with it that makes it a bit fragile?
Not sure what happened to the pace of Haas F1. Kevin had that tangle with Lewis in the opening lap and that explains why he was trundling around at the back but after qualifying well, he wasn’t able to come back through the field like Lewis did. Mick was running well but just couldn’t hang on for his first F1 points of his career.
The new Drone camera was ok but I’m not sure if it is a small one or what the deal was but when in banked and turned, it gave me vertigo just trying to keep my focus and the shots were quite a ways away from the actual action. I would have preferred zoomed track-side cameras.
After eight years of team orders with Mercedes—particularly with Bottas and Hamilton—the Sky Sports crew just weren’t going to let Christian Horner off the hook about letting Max by Sergio were they? Just hammering him on why they did it and how it wasn’t fair. Right, where were you when Valtteri was constantly being asked to be Lewis’s wingman?
Not sure what the issue was with Lewis’s car but they were clear that he had to lift and coast and cede the position to Carlos or suffer a DNF. Lewis had a fantastic race going and that was a shame. George was having heat issues as well so they may have solved some of their aero issues but I wonder if this heat issue will crop up again or was it just the hot Spanish weather?
It surprised me a little bit to hear Lewis want to retire the car. That’s not typically the mindset of Lewis. That alone has me wondering if he’s getting tired of it all.
Pirelli Tire Story:
- Red Bull driver Max Verstappen used a three-stop strategy and went from second on the grid to race victory and the championship lead. He alternated between the P Zero Red soft tyre (with which he started the race) and the P Zero Yellow medium, on which he finished it.
- His team mate Sergio Perez and Mercedes driver George Russell, who also finished on the podium, both used a different three-stop strategy: soft-medium-medium-soft.
- Everyone chose to start on the P Zero Red soft tyre, with the exception of Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, who selected the P Zero Yellow medium. Having dropped to the back of the field following contact on the opening lap, Hamilton climbed back to fourth overall thanks to a three-stop strategy – with his first stop after lap one, making it effectively a two-stopper.
- Valtteri Bottas was the highest-placed actual two-stopper, in P6. Just four of the finishers stopped twice, with three different strategies in play.
- Ambient and track temperatures were the highest they had been all weekend today, peaking at 51 degrees centigrade on track. Despite these punishing conditions, the drivers favoured the soft and medium compounds.
Spanish GP results:
|1||1||RED BULL RACING RBPT||66||1:37:20.475||25|
|2||11||RED BULL RACING RBPT||66||+13.072s||19|
|6||77||ALFA ROMEO FERRARI||66||+59.976s||8|
|9||14||ALPINE RENAULT||65||+1 lap||2|
|10||22||ALPHATAURI RBPT||65||+1 lap||1|
|11||5||ASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES||65||+1 lap||0|
|12||3||MCLAREN MERCEDES||65||+1 lap||0|
|13||10||ALPHATAURI RBPT||65||+1 lap||0|
|14||47||HAAS FERRARI||65||+1 lap||0|
|15||18||ASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES||65||+1 lap||0|
|16||6||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||64||+2 laps||0|
|17||20||HAAS FERRARI||64||+2 laps||0|
|18||23||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||64||+2 laps||0|
|NC||24||ALFA ROMEO FERRARI||28||DNF||0|