This year’s Spanish Grand Prix was like so many we have seen at Barcelona before. A mad dash into turn 1 followed by 66 laps of tyre preservation and limited overtaking opportunities.
There are still plenty of talking points though.
First of which is a lesson to you all. Never believe the hype-generators.
If you already knew this then well done but, if you didn’t and fell into the trap of thinking that
Mercedes weren’t going to win this grand prix, then you need to take a really good hard look at yourself.
Even the most casual armchair viewer in the world could tell you that Mercedes are in the box seat. Just because the track temperature was close to 50C, it didn’t mean that we were going to see a repeat of the tyre problems that Mercedes had in the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix.
Different track, different characteristics, different strategy.
Lewis Hamilton won the Spanish Grand Prix by a country mile. There was no stopping him.
Max Verstappen was Hamilton’s nearest rival, but the Dutchman was unable to keep tabs with the championship leader once his tyres had nothing more left to give. Meantime, Hamilton was setting fastest lap after fastest lap, looking very comfortable on his set of soft tyres.
The only Mercedes Verstappen could battle with was the one driven by Valtteri Bottas.
Bottas hadn’t had a great start, getting swamped by Verstappen on his outside and Lance Stroll on his inside going into turn 1. Bottas got past Stroll for third position on lap 5.
Verstappen and Bottas only switched positions when pitting, with their battle for second place being decided after Bottas’ second pit stop. The Finn switched onto the soft tyres and couldn’t get near Verstappen during that stint.
On the penultimate lap, Bottas gave up and dived for the pits to put on a set of mediums to pursue the fastest lap of the race on.
Perhaps Bottas’ struggles on the soft compound after his second pit stop explain why Hamilton was not keen to take on a set of softs when he pitted, instead opting for another set of mediums.
Red Bull will be more than happy with second considering they were probably aiming for third with a Mercedes 1-2 predicted going into the race.
Yet again though, Verstappen has been able to pick up the pieces of errors at Mercedes, whether that be a strategic error or driver error, as it was in this case with Bottas’ poor start.
Mercedes are right to be fearful if Verstappen has a good day, but this is by no means grounds for a legitimate title challenge by the Dutchman.
While one can have a sliver of hope in Verstappen’s title chances, the same cannot be said for Ferrari, who have had another disappointing race.
Charles Leclerc retired with an electrical issue while the team communicated poorly with Sebastian Vettel over team radio, with the cracks in their relationship continuing to show.
Yes, Vettel’s departure from Ferrari is not on the most amicable terms, but the team should still treat him with some respect.
Vettel did finish in seventh and was running as high as fifth at one point but lost positions after
it was decided that Vettel would go to the end of the race, having only made one stop on lap 30.
The consolation prize for Sebastian is that he won the Driver of the Day vote.
Racing Point picked up a good handful of points with Lance Stroll finishing fourth and Sergio Perez finishing fifth. Perez would have finished ahead of his teammate had he not been given a five second time penalty for ignoring blue flags.
Either way, Racing Point will be pleased with this result. They would have been aiming to finish behind the Mercedes and Verstappen so that is mission accomplished.
In the driver’s championship, Lewis Hamilton has extended his lead to 37 points over Max Verstappen while, in the constructor’s championship, Mercedes continue to run away with it with their lead over Red Bull now up to 86 points.
Formula One takes a well-deserved week off before the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa in a fortnight’s time.