Race Report: Rosberg wins Spanish GP in flawless fashion

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It was an off weekend for Lewis Hamilton but that wasn’t the story for his teammate, Nico Rosberg who claimed victory on Sunday at the Spanish grand Prix. The German needed to dig deep, find the qualifying pace he had once enjoyed in 2014 and convert that pace to victory—he did exactly that.

For Nico, the season was turning into a Lewis Hamilton exhibition on how to win a world championship with ease and perhaps Hamilton’s globe-trotting over the last two weeks with movie appearances, Met Gala, LA, Vegas, New York, London and much more was a schedule that was hard to recover from. Regardless of the reasons, Lewis was uncomfortable all weekend long with an unbalanced car and little insight on how to improve it.

Win

Win

For Rosberg, he needed a recovery drive to open his account on the 2015 world championship. Spain was a terrific win for Nico as he didn’t put a foot wrong the entire weekend. The question could be, will Spain represent a turning point for Rosberg and can he take that momentum to fuel a rejuvenated Nico and fight for the title?

Lewis deserves a win for the recovery drive to second place. If he was a bit “off” this weekend, his ability to make an on-the-fly race strategy B work for second place was a testament that he was waking up and realizing that he needed to push hard. The problems Lewis was having this weekend may have prevented a win but it was his sheer desire and ability that made a 2nd-place possible.

Sebastian Vettel said he felt traffic may have an issue but the team simply wasn’t able to cover Lewis’s plan B which was a three-stopper. Regardless, Seb managed to keep the Ferrari in the hunt for a well-deserved podium finish.

Valtteri Bottas held off his fellow Fin to claim 4th place in Spain. While rumors have Bottas signed at Ferrari as a replacement for Kimi Raikkonen, the Finnish driver denied the rumors and made it clear that even if they were true, it wouldn’t be a bad decision on anyone’s part given his ability to hold off Raikkonen.

It was a big win for Toro Rosso driver Carlos Sainz Jr. who claimed 9th after a good battle for position with his much-vaunted teammate, Max Verstappen. A home grand prix for Sainz, he took the motivation and converted it to on-track performance.

Give the trouble that both Red Bull and Lotus had, finishing in the top 10 was a slight victory in an otherwise difficult race in what is a challenging season for both teams.

Fail

Fail

McLaren came to the Spanish Grand Prix with hopes of a points finish but with a DNF for Fernando Alonso and no points for Jenson Button, the weekend was a damp squib for sure. Not even “predatory grey colorization” could overcome their “desperately black lack of performance”.

A fail for the Lotus drivers for clashing which resulted in a broken rear wing which ultimately ended Pastor Maldonado’s race early. The same Alan Permane-fueled frustration could be heard on the radio calls to Romain Grsojean about his driving style that was hurting the engine too. The drivers would do well to refrain from getting Permane on the radio, as the whole world feels scolded when that guy talks.

Ferrari had, like all the teams, brought a raft of upgrades and the hope was to close the gap to Mercedes. By the end of the race, Sebastian Vettel was 45 seconds adrift of Nico Rosberg and while traffic played a role in the gap, it suggests that Ferrari didn’t achieve what they may have hoped for—at least not at this type of circuit anyway. Perhaps Monaco will be another story?

Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen looked poised for a possible podium but the team and driver managed to leak the potential through strategy, traffic and degrading tires. Kimi suffered, much like Lewis, all weekend long and this causes concerns that the new upgrades may have moved away from Kimi’s liking—a bad thing if there ever was one. This isn’t like shooting wamp rats in your T-16 back home, kid.

WTH

Things change from track to track but it is odd that Nico Rosberg had his car sorted all weekend and while experiencing the same wind gusts and track temperatures, he seemed to get on top of the car balance. The same can’t be said of Lewis Hamilton and it seems a bit odd that the team couldn’t find the balance with Lewis all weekend. One presumes they will have a long look at that chassis to determine why they could never find harmony all weekend long—maybe they’ll find that big hat he wore at Mayweather fight was stuck under the brake pedal or his acting script from the Zoolander movie was wedged under the throttle. Wonder fi this contract issue is in play here?

McLaren’s troubles were evident during Fernando Alonso’s pit stop having nearly wiped out his entire crew while sliding through the pit box. On the other side of the garage, Jenson Button said he had understeer until he gave it the wellie and then he would lose the rear end. That’s a serious problem by anyone’s measure. How do you solve understeer everywhere and oversteer every time to touch the throttle?

Renault may have been simply focused on reliability this weekend and they did manage to get four Renault-powered cars to the finish but the lack of pace is punishing. The engine maker needs to take a serious look at spending some of those tokens they’ve been hoarding and make the needed changes.

Race Results:

PosDriverCarGap
1Nico RosbergMercedes1h41m12.555s
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes17.551s
3Sebastian VettelFerrari45.342s
4Valtteri BottasWilliams/Mercedes59.217s
5Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1m00.002s
6Felipe MassaWilliams/Mercedes1m21.314s
7Daniel RicciardoRed Bull/Renault1 Lap
8Romain GrosjeanLotus/Mercedes1 Lap
9Carlos SainzToro Rosso/Renault1 Lap
10Daniil KvyatRed Bull/Renault1 Lap
11Max VerstappenToro Rosso/Renault1 Lap
12Felipe NasrSauber/Ferrari1 Lap
13Sergio PerezForce India/Mercedes1 Lap
14Marcus EricssonSauber/Ferrari1 Lap
15Nico HulkenbergForce India/Mercedes1 Lap
16Jenson ButtonMcLaren/Honda1 Lap
17Will StevensMarussia/Ferrari3 Laps
18Roberto MerhiMarussia/Ferrari4 Laps
Pastor MaldonadoLotus/MercedesRetirement
Fernando AlonsoMcLaren/HondaBrakes

DRIVERS’ STANDINGS:

PosDriverPoints
1Lewis Hamilton111
2Nico Rosberg91
3Sebastian Vettel80
4Kimi Raikkonen52
5Valtteri Bottas42
6Felipe Massa39
7Daniel Ricciardo25
8Romain Grosjean16
9Felipe Nasr14
10Carlos Sainz8
11Max Verstappen6
12Nico Hulkenberg6
13Sergio Perez5
14Marcus Ericsson5
15Daniil Kvyat5
16Fernando Alonso0
17Jenson Button0
18Roberto Merhi0
19Will Stevens0
20Pastor Maldonado0

CONSTRUCTORS’ STANDINGS:

PosConstructorPoints
1Mercedes202
2Ferrari132
3Williams/Mercedes81
4Red Bull/Renault30
5Sauber/Ferrari19
6Lotus/Mercedes16
7Toro Rosso/Renault14
8Force India/Mercedes11
9McLaren/Honda0
10Marussia/Ferrari0
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MIE

So, if you were to be a front jack man, would you apply to McLaren or Lotus?
I don’t know whether the McLaren mechanic’s reactions or the Lotus jack man’s determination to stand his ground deserve more praise.

runnah

I’d say the Lotus man deserves at least a few drinks on Romain’s tab.

adaptable1

Right in the Gro–jeans….opps, I meant Maldonados

jakobusvdl

You’d have to say the Lotus guy has bigger b*lls.
Well at least until the swelling goes down ;-)

Junipero Mariano

I was hoping Ferrari was going to bring more of a challenge this weekend, but it’s good to see Rosberg get a win in. Is this the start of getting into the title battle for him, or is it a case of Hamilton can’t win them all? I’d prefer the former.
I’ve read that Raikkonen didn’t like some of the upgrades this week, and reverted to a Bahrain setup for the race and that Ferrari has used this opportunity to compare the two. I wonder what this means for the team car development strategy and Kimi’s contract renewal.

DRS_Matt

20 bucks says rosberg gets drive of the race for doing the same drive lewis didnt get it for, for most of the last 10 races.

Negative Camber

Lewis has gotten many “drive of the race” awards for this kind of race. I will say that Nico needed this on many more levels than Lewis does at this point in the season. Lewis simply having an off weekend (still taking 2nd) is not a major issue but Nico getting a first win of the season and a pole position is a big deal to him contextually.

Shaolin

I am a Lewis fan, I think nico won the race. Lewis never got the car right where he wants it, and getting it right is a big factor in winning.
Nico had a perfect weekend and deserved the won. I am actually happy he did win, else this season was in danger of becoming a walkover. Now, it could get interesting again.

KMK90

My WTH/Donkey awards are going to the pit members. With Grosjean & McLaren (Alonso?) both hitting & nearly hitting, respectively, and all the non-clean pit stops it seems the crew members were not up to snuff today.

All in all after watching my first Spanish GP (I started watching F1 at the 2014 Canadian GP), I still enjoyed the race. They can’t be nail biters. I hope to see Roseberg with extra confidence going into Monaco.

runnah

Donkey has to go to Maldonado for hitting his teammate and ruining his own race in the process when he actually showed good pace.

adaptable1

Races that start at 5am Pacific are usually accompanied by naps… no safety cars, no drama…more naps. More action in the first laps of the Indy and Formula E races than in the entire Spanish F1 GP.

jakobusvdl

Has there been any suggestion that Hamiltons ‘off weekend’ is related to his three week celebrity globe trotting in the break?
If I were in Toto’s shoes I’d be having another fiddle with that unsigned contract ;-)