Lewis Hamilton managed a clean getaway at the start and played it to his advantage to earn the win at the Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday (Aug. 16).
For Hamilton, the victory is his fourth of the season and the 88th of his career.
Max Verstappen followed Hamilton’s slipstream at the start to slot into the second spot and held on to the position for his fifth podium finish in the last five races. Valtteri Bottas did his best to atone for a slow start and took third after falling to fifth early in the race.
Lance Stroll finished where he started, taking fourth and looking stellar in a measured drive. Sergio Perez followed his teammate to fifth, paralleling his finish-where-you-started effort, while Carlos Sainz earned the sixth spot through a quiet, sneaky drive.
Hamilton’s win earned him his 156th podium of his career, setting a new F1 record.
After qualifying, Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff stated that Verstappen was the driver to beat and that Red Bull had been able to manage its tires in the heat better. Wolff asserted this comment after his drivers locked out the front row and were clear of Verstappen by 0.7 seconds.
His words made for good press, but Hamilton’s getaway at the start and his total domination of the Spanish GP make them look foolish in hindsight. Had the temperatures been a skosh hotter and the tires been the Pirellis from the 70th Anniversary GP, then perhaps Verstappen may have had a chance.
Instead, once Hamilton got away, he cruised. By lap 20, he had built a margin of 20 seconds and was nearly clear of being able to make a pit stop and still come out in front of second-place Verstappen.
Verstappen and Red Bull could find no moves to counter Hamilton’s ownership of the race and settled into ensuring that they could finish second step on the podium.
If Mercedes faced any disappointment, it was that Bottas made a slow start and could recover to only third.
Meanwhile, behind the top three, spots fourth through 12th were in continual upheaval. With teams electing for differing tire strategies, drivers rose and fell throughout. For instance, Daniel Ricciardo made his way to fourth but wound up 11th at the end.
Albon seemed to be destined to finish outside the points and bring further scrutiny as to whether he deserves the Red Bull seat but made good with eighth. That finish works as evidence to keep him in place rather than to swapped again with Gasly, who came in one place behind.
As the race progressed, Racing Point positioned itself as the best of the midfield and regained the form that is expected of it. As its car is in many ways a 2019 Mercedes, results outside the top six seem shocking.
Just after the halfway point of the GP, Kimi Raikkonen set the record for most miles driven for an F1 driver. Bottas earned the 50th podium of his career. Vettel joined the exclusive 3,000-point club with his seventh-place finish today, making him the second member alongside Hamilton.
Of all the accolades, Vettel’s Driver of the Day award might be the most inspiring. That he drove from the 11th spot to finish seventh is lovely, but that he did it while chastising the Ferrari engineers along the way makes it even more fascinating.
Nearing the final third of the race, Vettel chimed in on his radio and asked what the strategy was regarding his tires and whether he would be pitting again. The engineer seemed to have fallen asleep and reacted like a student who had not done his homework.
After discovering that Ferrari would be keeping him on the one-stop strategy, he admonished them for not telling him sooner as he would have started preserving the tires earlier.
It’s clear that the Vettel-Ferrari divorce is an ugly one, and there will be issues that follow. But Vettel’s performance today showed a driver who is very much still in control of his talents and knows his racecraft – the kind of thing for which his next employer will be looking.
Ferrari continued its endeavor of being the most confusing team in the paddock. On lap 38, Charles Leclerc lost control of his car while in pursuit of Norris. His spin seemed to be caused by his engine shutting off and the rear axle locking down.
He sat just off the racing line and finally restarted his car and looked as though he might continue. Instead, he lacked pace, pulled on to pit lane, and the team retired his car.
The team announced that the car had an electrical issue, which seems to be another failure in what has been a season of disappointment for the Maranello team. For its robust budget, the organization just can’t seem to get things right.
What started as a fantastic weekend turned into a mess for Romain Grosjean the longer things went. After two excellent practices, Grosjean had his power unit replaced for the third and then qualified in a disappointing 13th.
His teammate finished where he started in 15th, but Grosjean drove a sloppy race and wound up in the penultimate position. In the latter third of the race, he nearly torpedoed Raikkonen in a dangerous move. He followed that by bouncing off the curbs and out of the track limits, then spraying bits of carbon from his Haas onto the track. Hamilton ran over a large piece of the debris but was fortunate not to incur any damage.
For Grosjean, it seemed that the longer he drove, the more frustrated that he got. That may be a common occurrence for any driver not in contention, but he appeared lost and wild.
“And a real shock for us. We were not expecting tire performance to be as it was today. As I begun to understand that I could make the tires last longer than we planned, I was even looking in my mind, potentially, going for a one-stop, but the strategy we had was just right.” – Lewis Hamilton on his tire strategy
“Then as soon as Lewis started to push a bit more, I couldn’t follow the same pace, and he just drove off. From then onward, I just tried to do my own pace and do the fastest strategy that we could do, and stay ahead of Valtteri and that worked out quite well today so I’m happy about that. We split the two Mercedes cars again so I don’t think there is much more I can do at the moment.” – Max Verstappen recapping his race
“I was asked if I could make it to the end then I said, ‘You could’ve asked that three laps before!’ because I asked, ‘What’s the target? How long do we want to go?’ so that I can look after my tires. I said we’ll try to make it….” – Sebastian Vettel on the Ferrari strategy
Results – Spanish Grand Prix (Aug. 15)
|2||33||Max Verstappen||RED BULL RACING HONDA||66||+24.177s||18|
|4||18||Lance Stroll||RACING POINT BWT MERCEDES||65||+1 lap||12|
|5||11||Sergio Perez||RACING POINT BWT MERCEDES||65||+1 lap||10|
|6||55||Carlos Sainz||MCLAREN RENAULT||65||+1 lap||8|
|7||5||Sebastian Vettel||FERRARI||65||+1 lap||6|
|8||23||Alexander Albon||RED BULL RACING HONDA||65||+1 lap||4|
|9||10||Pierre Gasly||ALPHATAURI HONDA||65||+1 lap||2|
|10||4||Lando Norris||MCLAREN RENAULT||65||+1 lap||1|
|11||3||Daniel Ricciardo||RENAULT||65||+1 lap||0|
|12||26||Daniil Kvyat||ALPHATAURI HONDA||65||+1 lap||0|
|13||31||Esteban Ocon||RENAULT||65||+1 lap||0|
|14||7||Kimi Räikkönen||ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI||65||+1 lap||0|
|15||20||Kevin Magnussen||HAAS FERRARI||65||+1 lap||0|
|16||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI||65||+1 lap||0|
|17||63||George Russell||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||65||+1 lap||0|
|18||6||Nicholas Latifi||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||64||+2 laps||0|
|19||8||Romain Grosjean||HAAS FERRARI||64||+2 laps||0|