Hamilton leads one-two at F1 Spanish GP

  Five races into the season and Mercedes-AMG F1 Team are back in the title hunt, thanks to Lewis Hamilton’s dominant win at the newly-resurfaced Circuit de Catalunya. Team mate Valtteri Bottas did good with a second place to ensure a Mercedes 1-2; the first for the season. Third place went to Max Verstappen, who scored his first podium of the year. Rivals Ferraris were not so well-strung in this race, with Sebastien Vettel finishing fourth and Kimi Raikkonen retiring from the race due to an engine failure.

The race start saw the Mercedes and Ferrari cars sprint to the first turn. Bottas got ahead of his team mate with Vettel neck-to-neck with Hamilton, and Raikkonen fourth. A restart followed at start of lap 7 and pit stop strategies would come into play. As the Mercedes got ahead they basically sealed it with their one-stopper. Ferraris had to stop twice as Raikkonen retired on lap 40 with a mechanical trouble.

The top five runners finished a lap up on everybody else, which exhibited the sheer dominance of factory squads, even a financially sound Red Bull squad. The top ten roster was completed by Daniel Ricciardo, the Haas’ of Kevin Magnussen, Carlos Sainz, Fernando Alonso, Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc for Sauber F1.

Selected drivers quotes

Hamilton: “I was pulling away almost a second a lap and I was thinking “Yes, let’s keep this up!” – and it stayed that way for the rest of the race. To get our first 1-2 of the season here is a really great result for the team. Everyone’s worked so hard, we had a great pit stop and great strategy. I said that I wanted to come win the way that I won and when I was coming across the line I was just happy that I did as I planned to. The team have been working very hard to understand the tyres and how the car works, so I think it all came together this weekend.”

Bottas: “This is a perfect result for us as a team. I was in a difficult situation after the first stint because I was stuck behind Sebastian. We knew that we had a strong car with a lot of pace and I think that we were quicker, but it is so hard to overtake here at this track. But we made the right choice when Sebastian pitted under the VSC and decided to stay out. Of course I would have rather won the race, but the team did a really good job today and their decision secured this 1-2 for us. It’s great to get a lot of points for the team.”

Verstappen: “I always feel quite good on this track and today has been a nice turning point after the first few races where it hasn’t gone to plan. The car behaved really well all race on both soft and medium tyres. It felt balanced and had good pace so I was confident I could push on and achieve a good result. We lost a bit too much time at the beginning behind Kimi and it would have been hard to overtake him. We got a bit lucky with him having the problem and therefore allowing us to get an extra place and increase our speed. After that I could settle down and concentrate on my own race. I saw Sebastian approaching but I knew I had relatively fresh tyres so it would be hard for him to overtake, this allowed me to manage the situation quite well. I had some damage to the front wing which luckily didn’t affect the performance too much. The piece fell off and it only meant a small amount of oversteer so I was able to keep a solid pace and bring it home in third place.”

Vettel: “We had problems finding the right balance of the car and we were struggling with the front tires. Maybe the changes for this weekend had a bad impact on us, worse than the one the others had. So, I am happy to go back to ‘normal’ tires in Monaco as we seemed to struggle a little bit more than the others. Today we just didn’t have the right pace, Mercedes was faster than us and we hadn’t many chances. We tried our best, but something was missing and we need to improve on this. During the whole weekend it has been tough to find the right balance on these new tires. But I see no reason for not being optimistic for the next race.”

Sainz: “I think it’s a very positive result for me and the team. We can be very proud of what we’ve achieved this weekend as this track was not ideal for us. We turned things around well since Friday, did a very good start and managed to finish seventh which I think was the best we could hope for.”

Alonso:  “We started on the Supersoft tyres today because of yesterday’s qualifying, so the plan was to gain some positions in the first couple of laps and then stop very early to change tyres. Instead, we found ourselves losing several positions in the first lap because of the incident at Turn Two, so at that point I thought it was impossible to get any points today. But, luckily, we had a good race, we had a good strategy with a good call for only one stop on the Medium tyres, and we took those four points.”

Leclerc: “It is a great feeling to finish in the points again. It was quite an interesting race, with tricky weather conditions making it challenging to drive, especially in terms of tyre management. We have made considerable progress since the beginning of the season, and the whole team is eager to continue working hard in this direction.”

2018 Formula 1 Spanish GP results

1 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES  1:35:29.972
2 Valtteri Bottas MERCEDES  +20.593s
3  Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING  +26.873s
4  Sebastian Vettel FERRARI  +27.584s
5  Daniel Ricciardo RED BULL RACING  +50.058s
6  Kevin Magnussen HAAS FERRARI  +1 lap
7  Carlos Sainz RENAULT  +1 lap
8  Fernando Alonso MCLAREN  +1 lap
9  Sergio Perez FORCE INDIA  +2 laps
10  Charles Leclerc SAUBER +2 laps

Drivers standings
1 Lewis Hamilton GBR MERCEDES 95
2 Sebastian Vettel GER FERRARI 78
3 Valtteri Bottas FIN MERCEDES 58
4 Kimi Räikkönen FIN FERRARI 48
5 Daniel Ricciardo AUS RED BULL RACING 47
6 Max Verstappen NED RED BULL RACING  33
7 Fernando Alonso ESP MCLAREN RENAULT 32
8 Nico Hulkenberg GER RENAULT 22
9 Kevin Magnussen DEN HAAS  19
10 Carlos Sainz ESP RENAULT 19
11 Sergio Perez MEX FORCE INDIA  17
12 Pierre Gasly FRA TORO ROSSO  12
13 Charles Leclerc MON SAUBER  9
14 Stoffel Vandoorne BEL MCLAREN  8
15 Lance Stroll CAN WILLIAMS 4
16 Marcus Ericsson SWE SAUBER  2
17 Esteban Ocon FRA FORCE INDIA  1
18 Brendon Hartley NZL TORO ROSSO 1

Constructors rankings
6 HAAS  19
9 SAUBER  11