Hamilton leads a Mercedes 1-2 in Spain

An easy Sunday afternoon drive for the defending champion. Lewis Hamilton made it back-to-back Formula 1 victories as he headed home a dominant Mercedes one-two in the Spanish Grand Prix.

Hamilton defeated team-mate Valtteri Bottas by more than 20 seconds after a surprise second stop under a virtual safety car for Sebastian Vettel dropped Ferrari off the podium.

In his place came Max Verstappen, who fended off Vettel despite a damaged front wing to score his first podium of the year.

Vettel jumped Bottas into Turn 1 to slot into second before the race was immediately neutralised under a safety car for a multi-car crash at Turn 3.

Romain Grosjean had just got ahead of Carlos Sainz and Fernando Alonso after those ran deep into Turn 2, but then overreacted to a wobble from Haas team-mate Kevin Magnussen ahead of him and ran wide on the entry to Turn 3.

Grosjean lost the rear but seemed to keep the throttle planted, which lit up the rear tyres, spun him back across the track and meant he was collected by Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault and Pierre Gasly’s Toro Rosso.

All three retired on the spot and a lengthy clean-up operation began, before racing resumed on lap 7.

Hamilton bolted clear at the restart, comfortably stretching his advantage to more than seven seconds over the next ten laps, until Vettel stopped.

A slow out-lap as Vettel struggled to get an immediate hit on its fresh medium tyres, combined with Bottas pumping in outright best sector times, looked to have handed second position to Mercedes.

But Bottas suffered a slow pitstop, losing 1.4 seconds to Vettel, and emerged just behind.

The procession was interrupted on lap 25 by the first of two incidents involving Ferrari.

First, Kimi Raikkonen slowed from fourth position and coaxed his car back into the pits to retire – The Iceman had taken a new engine after Friday practice.

The second came 15 laps later, when Esteban Ocon’s smoking, parked Force India sparked a virtual safety car and Ferrari reacted by pitting Vettel and putting him on a two-stop strategy as the other frontrunners stuck to a one-stop.

That gave track position to Bottas and Verstappen, but kept Vettel ahead of Daniel Ricciardo.

Vettel, with fresh medium tyres, started to catch Verstappen as the Red Bull driver battled with a front wing missing the left endplate, which he broke clipping a Williams at the VSC restart.

However, Verstappen just kept clear of Vettel to score his first podium of the season behind the Mercedes one-two.

Ricciardo slipped back to a lonely fifth after a curious second half of the race.

Having run within ten seconds of Verstappen at the VSC, he dropped big chunks of time at certain points and ended up 21 seconds behind his team-mate despite responding with the fastest lap near the end.

Kevin Magnussen produced a faultless drive to claim sixth and best-of-the-rest honours for Haas, while Sainz survived a fuel problem in the closing stages to finish seventh.

Alonso was eighth for McLaren ahead of Sergio Perez’s Force India, while Sauber rookie Charles Leclerc earned his second points finish in a row with tenth.

So not the most exciting Spanish Grand Prix as aerodynamics and circuit layout makes overtaking difficult. The most dramatic moment was at the opening lap in which three cars got wiped out.

Congratulations to Mercedes in scoring a perfect 1-2 result at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. This was Lewis Hamilton’s 64th victory in Formula 1 and extends his championship lead to Sebastian Vettel by 17 points.

Spanish Grand Prix, race results:

1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 66 1h35m29.972s
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 66 20.593s
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Renault 66 26.873s
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 66 27.584s
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 66 50.058s
6 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 65 1 Lap
7 Carlos Sainz Renault 65 1 Lap
8 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Renault 65 1 Lap
9 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 64 2 Laps
10 Charles Leclerc Sauber-Ferrari 64 2 Laps
11 Lance Stroll Williams-Mercedes 64 2 Laps
12 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso-Honda 64 2 Laps
13 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 64 2 Laps
14 Sergey Sirotkin Williams-Mercedes 63 3 Laps
– Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Renault 45 Retirement
– Esteban Ocon Force India-Mercedes 38 Retirement
– Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 25 Retirement
– Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 0 Collision
– Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 0 Collision
– Nico Hulkenberg Renault 0 Collision

Drivers’ standings:

1 Lewis Hamilton 95
2 Sebastian Vettel 78
3 Valtteri Bottas 58
4 Kimi Raikkonen 48
5 Daniel Ricciardo 47
6 Max Verstappen 33
7 Fernando Alonso 32
8 Nico Hulkenberg 22
9 Kevin Magnussen 19
10 Carlos Sainz 19
11 Sergio Perez 17
12 Pierre Gasly 12
13 Charles Leclerc 9
14 Stoffel Vandoorne 8
15 Lance Stroll 4
16 Marcus Ericsson 2
17 Esteban Ocon 1
18 Brendon Hartley 1
19 Romain Grosjean 0
20 Sergey Sirotkin 0

Constructors’ standings:

1 Mercedes 153
2 Ferrari 126
3 Red Bull-Renault 80
4 Renault 41
5 McLaren-Renault 40
6 Haas-Ferrari 19
7 Force India-Mercedes 18
8 Toro Rosso-Honda 13
9 Sauber-Ferrari 11
10 Williams-Mercedes 4

7 thoughts to “Hamilton leads a Mercedes 1-2 in Spain”

  1. Spanish Grand Prix race review as reported by Formula1.com.

    Lewis Hamilton needed no luck at the Spanish Grand Prix to secure his second triumph in a row, the Briton cruising to victory with Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas second and Max Verstappen bringing his damaged Red Bull home for P3. It was a straightforward afternoon for the world championship leader, but the race got off to a crazy start…

    Pole-sitter Hamilton controlled proceedings from the start, which saw three drivers wiped out of the race at Turn 3 when the Haas of Romain Grosjean spun – causing a huge fog of smoke – before collecting Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg and Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly along the way.

    Hamilton kept out of trouble, though, ultimately finishing an impressive 20s ahead of Bottas to lead the first Mercedes one-two of the season, as Verstappen held his nerve to keep Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel at bay. The other Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo endured a lonely finale, coming home in fifth, while Haas secured a brilliant P6 with Kevin Magnussen.

    The Spanish faithful at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya will go home happy too, with local heroes Carlos Sainz, who sealed seventh with Renault, and eighth-placed Fernando Alonso in the McLaren securing vital points for their respective teams. And it was another memorable points finish for Sauber’s Charles Leclerc, who came tenth behind Force India’s Sergio Perez.

    The frenetic start saw Hamilton lead away from pole, with Vettel taking advantage of the slipstream to move on the outside of Bottas into Turn 1 to take second. The Red Bull pair of Verstappen and Ricciardo also kept their noses clean, but carnage occurred behind them.

    As the car of team mate Magnussen struggled for grip immediately ahead of him, an unsettled Grosjean lost control of his Haas around Turn 3, spinning out of control before taking out the unfortunate pair of Hulkenberg and Gasly, ending all their races on lap 1.

    Amid the chaos – which led to an immediate Safety Car period – Lance Stroll managed to climb from 18th to 12th on the opening lap for Williams and Leclerc also took advantage of his rivals’ misfortune by moving up to ninth.

    When normal conditions resumed, Alonso, who had lost a few places at the start, gave his home fans something to cheer about by driving spectacularly around the outside of Esteban Ocon, muscling past the Frenchman to move back into the top ten.

    While there was plenty of action going on behind him, Hamilton was quietly going about his business – extending his lead over Vettel to 6.5s after lap 15. His team mate Bottas was doing his best to try and reclaim his P2, but couldn’t get within DRS range of the Ferrari.

    And then Ferrari rolled the dice on lap 18, pitting Vettel first for medium tyres and he rejoined in seventh. So would Mercedes react with Bottas? Indeed, a lap later they followed suit, but a slightly slow pit stop proved costly and the Finn agonisingly came out behind the German.

    At this stage, Red Bull’s pair were not only keeping out of trouble, they were hot on the heels of second-placed Raikkonen in the Ferrari. The Finn was struggling with a power issue and Verstappen moved ahead with ease, before Ricciardo replicated the move – and Ferrari were forced to end Raikkonen’s day early.

    Mercedes called Hamilton in on lap 25, again switching the soft tyre compound for the mediums and the reigning world champion rejoined in P2 between the two Red Bulls – both of whom at this stage were yet to pit.

    A change of strategy perhaps for Red Bull then? They kept them out for a while on the softs before eventually pitting both in quick succession – with Verstappen coming out ahead of Ricciardo – allowing Hamilton to regain his lead on lap 35, and the Briton now led Vettel by 10s with team mate Bottas back in P3.

    Behind the leaders, there were plenty of squabbles. Leclerc, running in P8, was proving to be a stubborn opponent for Alonso.

    And then the Grand Prix took another twist when Ocon’s Force India came to a halt at Turn 4, ending his race and bringing the Virtual Safety Car out. All the top three teams were seemingly heading towards a one-stop strategy, but this threw a spanner in the works.

    Vettel’s rubber was 22 laps old at this point, and Ferrari didn’t want to take the risk – but they were unlucky with the timing of this stop. Force India also brought Perez in, and the Prancing Horse were forced to hold the German in his bay whole the Mexican went past, with their man eventually rejoining the track behind Bottas and Verstappen.

    Red Bull’s Dutch star was then involved in a bizarre incident as the VSC restart approached, damaging his front wing after lightly hitting the rear of Stroll’s Williams – but with him running in P3 and the damage not proving critical, he opted to stay out on track.

    As McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne became the sixth casualty to retire, Hamilton’s lead over his Mercedes team mate Bottas was 17s. He won’t get many easier afternoons in Barcelona, that’s for sure.

    So with the Briton seemingly coasting to back-to-back victories – and a third win at this track – it was all about the action behind him, and whether Vettel could take advantage of Verstappen’s hurt Red Bull.

    He couldn’t. The Dutchman kept his cool for a first podium finish of the season – a much-needed result following an incident-packed start to the 2018 campaign, which included his clash with Ricciardo last time out in Baku.

    Hamilton’s victory means he now leads Vettel by 17 points in the drivers’ standings, having leapfrogged his rival after Azerbaijan, with Bottas 20 behind the Ferrari man in third.

    A one-two was the perfect result for Mercedes, who dominated every session here in Barcelona – and they are now ahead of Ferrari in the constructors’ championship.

    Red Bull will certainly be chuffed too, securing their third Spanish GP podium in a row, but Ferrari have plenty to think about after Raikkonen’s DNF and a potential second-placed finish for Vettel slipping away.

  2. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel admitted he had no option but to stop twice during the Spanish Grand Prix. Motorsport.com has the details.

    Sebastian Vettel says the Ferrari Formula 1 team had no option but to make the pitstop that cost him a Spanish Grand Prix podium.

    Having jumped Valtteri Bottas at the start and then maintained second when the Mercedes had a slow pitstop, Vettel looked set to finish runner-up to F1 world championship rival Lewis Hamilton at Barcelona.

    But Ferrari brought him in for a second pitstop when the virtual safety car appeared just past half-distance, dropping Vettel from second to fourth.

    Asked by Sky Sports F1 if he felt that was the right tactic, Vettel replied: “Yeah, because the advice was it was not an option to stay out.

    “We were going through the tyres quicker than the others, though obviously it looks different and looks wrong.”

    He then spent the rest of the race trailing Max Verstappen, despite the Red Bull having front wing damage and Vettel being on new medium tyres.

    “Overall we were a little quicker, our tyres were fresher as well, but as the laps went on we didn’t have enough pace,” Vettel admitted.

    “We were just not quick enough. Even at the end I was not in healthy shape with the tyres despite the fact mine were the newest.

    “It’s been a decent weekend, we just need to understand what to do with the tyres. We need to have a look.”

    Mercedes motorsport chief Toto Wolff agreed that Ferrari had been in worse shape for tyre wear, and said it had been a concern for his team too.

    Vettel made his first pitstop to change from softs to mediums after just 17 of the 66 laps, with Hamilton coming in eight laps later.

    “Sebastian’s front left was really bad, they needed to pit, and we were a little bit worried that structurally we could have a failure, so that’s why we decided to pit Lewis as well,” said Wolff.

    “In hindsight, we’d rather stay out, but with a [risk of] structural failure obviously during the whole race.”

  3. Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen was able to record a podium finish despite a surprised wing damage didn’t cost him more. Motorsport.com has the news story.

    Max Verstappen was surprised how little the front wing damage from his clash with Lance Stroll hampered his Red Bull Formula 1 car in the Spanish Grand Prix.

    Verstappen clipped Stroll’s lapped Williams as they prepared for the restart from a virtual safety car period in the final part of the Barcelona F1 race.

    That left Verstappen missing a section of his car’s front wing for the remainder of the race, but he was able to stay ahead of Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari and secure his first podium of the 2018 season in third.

    “I was trying to be as close as I could to be just on the positive side [of the VSC delta] and I was quite close behind Stroll,” Verstappen explained.

    “I felt that he braked a bit and I was really close, so I just clipped him.

    “Luckily it was only the outside bit of the wing so I could continue, I just had a bit more understeer in the high-speed corners. I managed to solve that with some tools and it was OK.”

    Asked by Motorsport.com if he had expected the damage to cause him more problems, Verstappen replied: “Initially I thought so. I kept going and felt a bit more understeer in Turns 3 and 9 and was maybe braking a bit deeper into hairpins but it was not too bad to be honest.

    “I opened some tools and it was all good. It was of course a little bit slower, but I don’t think it affected me too much.”

    Verstappen’s teammate Daniel Ricciardo finished fifth, having lost ground when he spun at the VSC restart.

    “[I was] struggling to keep these tyres warm,” Ricciardo told Sky Sports F1. “Fortunately there were no walls like [Romain] Grosjean found in Baku, but it put me in no man’s land.”

    Ricciardo felt his car had been difficult throughout the race.

    “It was just a bit tricky to drive,” he said. “It was fast when you were able to put it all together but it was easy to make mistakes. We’d describe it as on a knife edge.

    “If you got lucky you could put in a blistering lap, but probably one out of five laps you could make it happen and the other four I was sliding and struggling to stay on.”

  4. Spanish Grand Prix winner Lewis Hamilton admitted that track temperature played a big role in Barcelona win. Motorsport.com has the details.

    Lewis Hamilton says his dominant victory in the Spanish Grand Prix owed much to higher track temperatures at Barcelona, and that it will also play a key role next time out in Monaco.

    Following his 20s victory over Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, Hamilton said he “felt that synergy today which I hadn’t been feeling for the whole year” – and believed this was more to do with the higher temperatures and understanding of his car than being track specific.

    “I don’t think it’s solely the track, I think obviously testing was quite good here, everyone had a reading of what the track was like,” said Hamilton.

    “I think the fact that the sun was out mostly this weekend, and the track temperature, if [that] is 25 and above, it’s definitely a little bit better than it has been in the previous circuits that we’ve been to.

    “But I would say a small percentage was down to this track and the way it is, and obviously the following tracks will really kind of give us a much better understanding of if it is just the circuit – but I think it’s really our understanding and our improvements that we’re making to the car.”

    When asked if the result made him more confident for Monaco, he replied: “No, not really.

    “Monaco is a tough track, just hope the weather’s good there. If the weather’s good, then neither of us will probably struggle with the tyres. If it’s cold, like it has been in the coolest of days here, [it] could be difficult.

    “But we definitely go there on a high note and we definitely don’t take for granted the fact that we still have a long mountain to climb, we still have a lot of work to do.

    “I think you can only really take it one race at a time. Definitely this weekend we got ourselves onto the right path and I think the team just did an exceptional job, managing all aspects and improving in all areas.

    “I said that I wanted to kind of win in the way that I won, and I guess when I was coming across the line I was just happy that I did it as I planned.”

  5. Haas Formula 1 driver Romain Grosjean will take a three-place grid penalty in Monaco as a punishment for triggering the Spanish Grand Prix first-lap crash.

    Grosjean lost control at the long Turn 3 right-hander on the opening lap at Barcelona and spun into the path of following cars.

    He was collected heavily by Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault and Pierre Gasly’s Toro Rosso, putting all three out and causing a long safety car period.

    The stewards’ panel, which included ex-F1 racer Derek Warwick, gave Grosjean a three-place grid demotion and awarded two penalty points – taking his running total to five – as they felt he made the wrong decision when trying to recover from the spin.

    “The driver explained to the stewards that he felt that his momentum was going to carry him to the center of the track, and therefore made the decision to apply power in an attempt to cross to the right side of the track and get out of the way of the cars behind,” said the stewards’ statement.

    “However, while crossing he moved into the line of cars #27 and #10.

    “The driver stated to the stewards that he made the decision to cross the track, trying to avoid the other cars and that he felt this was his best option.

    “The stewards found that while it is speculation as to where the driver’s car would have ended up had he chosen other alternatives, it is certain that while crossing the track in front of the following pack of cars, which he chose to do, that a collision occurred.

    “Further, in reviewing the video, the stewards found that the car was following the line on the left side of the track and was almost fully off the track, when he made the decision to cross it.”

    Grosjean had earlier insisted there was nothing more he could have done to avoid causing the collision once he had begun to spin.

    “I don’t think there is much to do,” he told Sky Sports F1. “If I’d braked the car would have slid the same way.

    “I tried to stay on the throttle to spin it and not face everyone. It’s quite a normal human reflex. Once the car started going forwards it was very difficult.”

    But Hulkenberg was unimpressed with Grosjean.

    “He doesn’t look great in that particular scenario,” Hulkenberg told BBC Radio 5 Live.

    “He likes spinning a lot during the weekend but lap one is not a good time with all the cars around. He has to look at it and do some homework.”

    Gasly agreed that maybe Grosjean “could have braked and it could have ended up differently”, and said it had been a frightening incident.

    “It was completely sideways and with the smoke I could not see much,” he said. “Just before the impact I saw he was completely stopped and than I had nowhere to go.

    “I tried to release the steering, but the impact was pretty big.”

    Source: Motorsport.com

  6. Toto Wolff “fully understands” Sebastian Vettel pitstop decision in the Spanish Grand Prix. Motorsport.com has the news story.

    Mercedes Formula 1 boss Toto Wolff says he “fully understands” the contentious decision to switch Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel to a two-stop strategy in the Spanish Grand Prix.

    Vettel had managed to pass Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas for second at the start, and looked on course to be runner-up before making a second stop under virtual safety car conditions two-thirds into the race.

    With none of his rivals following suit, he emerged fourth – and was not able to get back ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen for the final podium spot.

    Wolff, whose cars made a single stop each and brought home a 1-2, said after the race that Vettel’s VSC stop did not come as a surprise.

    He reckoned Ferrari was trying to follow Red Bull’s example from the Chinese Grand Prix, and said his own team was considering the strategy – deciding against it in part due to Lewis Hamilton’s struggles to pass Verstappen earlier in the race.

    “It’s always a very difficult call to make,” he said. “We had it in the past, Shanghai was trading track position versus fresh tyres.

    “And we debated it today again, and based on the experience we made of struggling to overtake Max, for us it was clear that track position was more important.

    “Ferrari did the opposite – you saw that it worked out for [Daniel] Ricciardo and Verstappen in Shanghai, I think this is what they were thinking.

    “Always very difficult calls to make. I fully understand why they did it.”

    Speaking about the decision, Vettel said sticking to a one-stop like the Mercedes cars had was “not an option” for him.

    And Bottas, whose second-place finish required a 47-lap stint on the medium compound, admitted in the aftermath that he was not initially convinced a one-stop was doable.

    “We obviously haven’t thought it would be possible to do the race quickly with one stop,” he said. “But the conditions changed and the tyres were behaving better than expected today, so… then it was possible.

    “I’m happy that the team was so reactive and we could spot that. And that Ferrari didn’t. I think we had a good race, intelligent, today.”

    Mercedes had attempted to get Bottas ahead of Vettel with an overcut during the initial pitstops, but a below-average pitstop meant the Finn exited the pits just behind the German.

    Bottas, however, said he was convinced there would be other opportunities to reclaim second place.

    “It felt that I had a lot more pace all through the race,” he said. “As everyone knows, it’s extremely difficult to overtake here, and I could always put pressure on him when we needed, but you need such a big gap between the [two cars’] pace to get through.

    “We were kind of waiting for the next opportunity as we missed the first opportunity during the first pitstop.

    “I think with the strong car we had today there would’ve been opportunities later. I’m happy that we made better decisions as a team and could get ahead like that.”

  7. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel says Formula 1 drivers are exploiting virtual safety car “loophole” by pitting during the caution period. Motorsport.com has the story.

    Sebastian Vettel has criticised Formula 1’s virtual safety car system, claiming it is open to abuse from drivers.

    Vettel finished fourth in the Spanish Grand Prix, having lost two places to Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen’s Red Bull after making a pitstop under the VSC.

    Vettel admitted making a mistake in stopping his car in his pit on cold tyres that contributed to that loss of position, but he still criticised the VSC system because he feels it contains a weakness in the software that allows drivers to go faster than they should be able to.

    “It’s the same for everyone but the FIA is supplying us with a system that makes us follow a delta time, and everybody has to slow down by, I think, 40%, but I think everybody’s aware you can have a faster way to go under VSC than just follow the delta – by saving distance,” Vettel said.

    “So, I think we should have a system that hasn’t got this loophole, because it forces us to drive ridiculous lines around the track and everybody’s doing it so I don’t think it’s a secret.

    “Our sport should be in a better shape than supplying software that’s just poor and allows us to find some extra performance that way.”

    This is the second time Vettel has criticised the FIA’s safety car procedure, having described the timing of a real safety car period in April’s Chinese GP as “not right”.

    FIA race director Charlie Whiting said he wasn’t aware of any specific problem with the VSC system and disagreed it’s possible to manipulate the system by driving a certain way.

    “I don’t know what he’s talking about, honestly,” Whiting said. “The VSC has a map in the ECU which is 30% slower than a quick lap. Drivers have to follow that lap.

    “It’s measured every 50m of travel along the track. It measures where it is relevant to the reference lap and gives you a plus or minus.

    “Every 50m they are reminded if they are above or below.

    “They are allowed to go negative [quicker than the reference time] but as long as they are positive once in each marshalling sector and at the safety car 1 line [it’s OK].

    “Even if someone does go slow, as long as they get to zero by that point it doesn’t matter.

    “If it’s measured every 50m then any advantage you can get for taking a different line on the track is going to be absolutely minimal.

    “I can sort of see what he’s saying, but the racing line is the optimal one.”

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