Mercedes team dominates Spanish GP
Ferrari had an advantage the first few races, but then Aldo Costa made improvements to the Mercedes and in the Spanish GP Sunday the Mercedes duo buried the Ferraris.
Lewis Hamilton led all the way from pole (except for pitstops) to win for the 2nd race in a row and extend his point lead to 17 over Sebastian Vettel.
Valtteri Bottas brought the 2nd Mercedes home 2nd 20-seconds in arrears and Max Verstappen was third ahead of Vettel after Ferrari blew another strategic pitstop call.
Ferrari's gamble to put Vettel on fresh rubber a 2nd time and lose track position under a virtual safety car did not pay off and cost his third position
When the green flag dropped a four car accident caused by Haas driver Romain Grosjean brought out the safety car, but when the green flew again Hamilton pulled away from Vettel by 1-second a lap, every lap, and it's clear that whatever improvements Aldo Costa made to the Mercedes they worked and the Mercedes could win the rest of the races this year, that's how superior the Mercedes now is.
With Hamilton's 64th win Mercedes have also retaken the lead in the Constructors' Championship after Ferrari blew the Vettel pitstop and Kimi Raikkonen retired with a mechanical issue.
The home faithful at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya had little to cheer, having seen the Spanish pair of Carlos Sainz, who sealed seventh with Renault, and eighth-placed Fernando Alonso in the McLaren secure vital points for their respective teams but with zero chance to win a race. It was also another memorable points finish for Sauber’s Charles Leclerc, who came up tenth behind Force India’s Sergio Perez.
Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport
Lewis Hamilton (1st): "I'm really, really happy. I had no idea how the race was going to play out. We got the qualifying right yesterday, but the temperatures were going up and down today, clouds were coming over and we didn't know if it was going to rain or not. But I got a good start and after that the others didn't have the pace to keep up with me. 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 tires and how the car works, so I think it all came together this weekend. We definitely go to Monaco on a high note, but we know that we still have a lot of work to do. It's really important that we all continue to push and work as hard as we have done during this first part of the season."
Valtteri Bottas (2nd): "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. Before the race we thought a one-stop would be nearly impossible, but when we saw the tires were holding up better than expected we changed our strategy. 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 today. The next race in Monaco could be difficult for us; I think Red Bull will be really strong and Ferrari was on pole last year. So we need to keep working hard and believe in our ability to improve things."
James Allison, Technical Director: "We're absolutely delighted with the way the weekend has gone here in Barcelona. Both Valtteri and Lewis have been on top form and the car has been reliable and very fast. We've not had an easy start to this season but everyone has stayed focused and worked incredibly hard to take the fight to Ferrari and Red Bull. Today was a great reward for everyone's effort. The day didn't quite go according to our plan, Valtteri lost a place to Vettel off the line and whilst he had good pace, it's very difficult to overtake here and on tires of the same age we couldn't get close to a passing position. We were expecting a two stop race today and when Vettel stopped on lap 17 we hoped to be able to overcut taking advantage of poor warm-up on the medium. We lost a bit of time at the stop and that was enough to put us back out behind Vettel and also Magnussen. We were assessing our options against Vettel once we saw that we didn't have the pace to pass but when he stopped on the VSC, the best strategy was to run the to end and Valtteri did an amazing job of managing the tires over 47 laps, the longest stint anyone made during the race. Lewis was able to control the race and whilst we could have gone longer on that first stint, the front tire was quite worn and we decided to stop as a precaution as there was no real threat from behind. This put Lewis behind Verstappen but we knew he had to stop so there was no urgency to pass. As with Valtteri, a one stop became the best strategy to defend the lead from there and managing the tires and the pace was the goal from there to the finish. This was a track that suited us very well in the winter tests and it may be that today we were flattered by the circuit and the conditions. However, the continued efforts of everyone in Brackley and Brixworth have played no small part in today's success. The next races are very different tracks, Monaco in particular, and to win there is difficult even when you have a great car. However, we are really enjoying being part of this championship, it is driving everyone to deliver their very best and we go to the next races planning to do just that."
Toto Wolff: "That was a great result but there was no point this afternoon where it felt as comfortable as it might have looked from outside. Lewis did a fantastic job this afternoon: a great start, impressive pace in the opening stint and perfect management of the medium tire. For Valtteri, we tried to overcut in the first stint and just missed out on passing Vettel. Then when Sebastian took the chance to pit again under the VSC, we decided to do the opposite and take the medium tire to the finish. That involved running the tire a long way, a little bit into the unknown with over 45 laps to do on it, and we had our hearts in our mouths in the final laps as there were some vibrations on the front axle as well. Valtteri did the perfect job to manage the load on the left front and the falling tire temperatures on old tires, and sealed a really special one-two finish. It feels like a long time since we had a 1-2 finish, so there's definitely a measure of relief in how we asserted ourselves today. But we know as well that this was a good circuit for us and the temperatures fell in our favor as well. So we need to stay calm and humble, because it can be a different ball game again next time round. We will savor the result this evening - but our thoughts are already turning to Monaco, to the struggles we had there last year and to how we can make sure not to suffer a repeat."
Sebastian Vettel (4th): "Our tires didn't last as long as for the others, so we couldn't follow the same strategy. We had to stop again and we obviously lost two positions, and also a bit of time during the pit-stop itself. But staying out was not an option today. 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."
Kimi Raikkonen (DNF, Power Unit): "My race was going pretty ok today, I was in a decent position and the speed was good. I was running smoothly and saving the tires. Everything could have been alright, but unfortunately it did not happen. At one point I started losing power; I managed to drive around but obviously not at full speed anymore, so I drove back to the garage. We don't know more than that about the issue we had, we need to take the car back to the factory and check what happened. Looking at the Championship, this result is far from ideal, and I'm pretty disappointed. There is nothing we could have done differently today, but we need to try and keep pushing."
Maurizio Arrivabene, Team Principal: "In many ways, this is a weekend in which nothing went right. Now, calmly and with accuracy, we need to analyze the reasons, and they are various, which prevented us from exploiting the potential we demonstrated in the previous races. Then we will prepare for the upcoming Monaco Grand Prix, in a professional, determined and confident manner."
Aston Martin Red Bull Racing
Max Verstappen (3rd): "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. To come back and get on the podium is really nice. The car behaved really well all race on both soft and medium tires. 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 tires 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. We were quick here in the last sector which is all low speed corners so looking ahead to Monaco we can hope for a good result. We will concentrate on the set-up, get a good balance and hopefully put ourselves in with a real chance."
Daniel Ricciardo (5th): "It was certainly a strange race. At the beginning we had good pace and it seemed like Kimi was a bit slower than Max and myself. I thought I was faster than them but then once they picked up the pace I wasn't really able to go with them. When we pitted for the medium tire we came out in traffic and lost some rhythm. I also had a spin on the VSC re-start, struggling to keep heat in the tires, which really put me out of the race. Fortunately there were no walls but it put me in no-man's land. There were moments where the car was really fast but it was just too difficult to get it every lap. I would set the fastest lap and then the next lap I would nearly spin. There is potential but it's just hard to extract consistently at the moment, so we have some more to learn with this new package. In the end, it was a pretty boring race but I'm going to take some positives from the potential we have. Monaco should be our strongest circuit to date on raw pace so I'm looking forward to getting there in a few weeks."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "A solid performance today, picking up a podium, and our 150th podium which is notable and deserved achievement for the team. It is also Max's first podium of the season which will be a good confidence boost for him after enduring a tricky first four races. We had strong pace in the race today and managed to make the soft tire go pretty much to half distance. The pit stops got us onto the medium tire which was always going to put us in better shape for the last 25 per cent of the race. Unfortunately Max sustained some damage in contact with the Williams of Lance Stroll under the Virtual Safety Car but even with that damage he had enough pace in hand to maintain track position ahead of Sebastian and make the podium. Daniel had some consolation in his race with the fastest lap proving the strength of the upgrades brought to Spain this weekend. Unfortunately he lost a bit of ground with a spin during the VSC period but once again we've seen that we have a competitive race car."
Sahara Force India F1 Team
Sergio Perez (9th): "It was a tough afternoon but to score two points in these conditions is not a bad result and a decent reward after a difficult race. I made a good start but I had to go wide to avoid the accident with Grosjean and I lost a lot of positions. It really complicated everything for me because it put me behind a lot of other cars. After that we made the right strategy calls, especially pitting under VSC, but then I hit debris from Verstappen's car and I picked up some damage. I was struggling with a lot of vibrations and I was lucky to make it to the end. It's good to come home with some points after starting so far back, but it's a shame about Esteban's retirement because we could have scored points with both cars today. We have a lot to improve, but I hope we can be much more competitive in Monaco."
Esteban Ocon (DNF, Oil Pressure): "A disappointing day on my side of the garage. We were racing well and looking good for some points. Then things went wrong at my pit stop when there was a problem changing the right rear wheel. We lost about twenty seconds and it put us to the back of the pack. A few laps later I lost power and had to park the car. It looks like an oil pressure problem, but we need to wait until the car is back to know exactly what happened."
Otmar Szafnauer, Chief Operating Officer: "To come away with two points from such a challenging weekend is a pretty good outcome all things considered. Esteban's issues today certainly robbed him of the chance to score points, but Sergio drove a strong race making the most of an excellent two-stop strategy. The wheel issue during Esteban's stop needs to be fully investigated, but we believe some debris from his brake duct caused the problem. The subsequent oil leak ended his race, but we are hoping that there is no damage to the engine."
Williams Martini Racing
Lance Stroll (11th): "We scored no points but it was a good race. I made a good start again with a lot of positions. Then it was just steady running and I did everything I could, but just missed out on points. After the safety car period it was tricky, as tire warm up was hard and I suffered a little bit there, but all in all it was okay. The medium tires were pretty easy to manage and I am really happy with the race we had. Eleventh is pretty much everything we could hope for today."
Sergey Sirotkin (14th): "It's been a very tough day. I had a good start and I was right in the mix before I almost got caught by a couple of spins ahead of me. I needed to slow down to avoid them but once I was through, I was last. I managed to fight a bit with Toro Rosso and get ahead for a couple of laps. Today, it was the worst I have experienced throughout the whole race. I struggled a lot with my seating comfort which we are looking into."
Paddy Lowe, Chief Technical Officer: "It's been a very difficult weekend performance-wise but certainly to get two cars home is a credit to the team. For the guys in the garage, it's the same amount of work despite our pace, so I'm pleased for them that we got both cars to the finish ahead of the test this week. With Lance, we narrowly missed the points after a fantastic first lap got him up to 12th, a position he consolidated to finish 11th with really good, consistent pace and tire management. Sergey had a more difficult afternoon suffering with the balance of the car. It got more difficult as he had a lot of lapped cars to manage, which lost him tire temperatures as a consequence. As a team we haven't done a good enough job with the development of this FW41 and we will keep working hard back at base and at the test this week to come back in a stronger position."
Renault Sport Formula One Team
Carlos Sainz (7th): "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. It feels great to get another good result at home and I hope the fans have enjoyed the race. Many thanks to all for their support! It's good progress for the midfield fight and important points for the team. We have areas to work on, but we are making good progress. Let's keep pushing."
Nico Hulkenberg (DNF, Accident): "It was messy into turns one and two but in turn three it got a lot messier. I saw a car spin in front of me and a lot of smoke. It happened very quickly so I couldn't avoid Grosjean spinning backwards into my car. It's a pity as we were competitive, we have good pace so it's frustrating not to have shown that yesterday and today. It's difficult to swallow, especially when it's not your fault. We'll have to try again in two weeks."
Cyril Abiteboul, Managing Director: "We're leaving Barcelona in positive spirits. Our target is to be in the points at every race and we achieved that with Carlos through another strong performance from him. He also qualified in the top ten, reinforcing the pace of the Renault R.S.18. We're happy that this result takes us one point ahead of McLaren in the Constructors' Championship, meaning for the first time we're in fourth. The battle is very tight so we need to keep developing and performing at our best. We need to eradicate the gremlins, such as those which affected Nico's qualifying. Nico was blameless in an unexpected accident on the first lap, but starting in a lower grid position makes you vulnerable to these sorts of incidents. Overall it has been a weekend with many positives which we will build on as we head to Monaco."
Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda
Brendon Hartley (12th): "I had a clean start and made up a few positions on the first lap. The mechanics did an amazing job to get the car ready for today - it was actually finished last night - we just had to do the car setup this morning. We decided to pit under the first safety car and go straight on to the medium to effectively do a one-stop. It worked, but it meant we lost a lot a couple of positions in the beginning. It was difficult to overtake today, I think some of the cars around us had a bit more top speed which made life difficult. I had a good overtake on Marcus at the end to get 12th and if I had made the overtake a little bit earlier there would have been the chance for 11th as well, because the pace was definitely there at the end of the race."
Pierre Gasly (DNF, Accident): "Starting from P12, we were two positions away from P10 so points were clearly the target. Unfortunately, we couldn't achieve any, which is a shame. It's only the fifth race of the season but it's a missed opportunity. The crash with Romain at the start was a big mess, I saw some space on the inside with Nico and I tried to cut the corner as much as possible, but suddenly he came back completely towards us. It took both Nico and myself out. It seems like every weekend I have a peak of adrenaline with different incidents! Clearly it's a big shame not to be able to fight with the others and get a good result. The impact was big but I am fine, I'm just disappointed to be out on lap 1, because you work all weekend for the race and the chance to fight for points, but the excitement ended pretty quickly. Now we just need to focus on the test next week."
Franz Tost, Team Principal: "Unfortunately, this was not our weekend. Yesterday we faced a heavy crash with Brendon in qualifying. In the race today, it was difficult to make up places because, as we know, in Barcelona it's not easy to overtake. Pierre was unlucky at the start of the race, he couldn't do anything to avoid the crash with Grosjean. It was unfortunate for him and the team because I think he could have scored some points today. The fact is that we were off the pace here, and now we need to concentrate on Monaco, targeting to get back into the points."
Toyoharu Tanabe, Honda F1 Technical Director: "Before the race, we had hoped for a points finish with Pierre starting from twelfth on the grid. Unfortunately, through no fault of his own, he was caught up in Grosjean's accident and had to retire on the opening lap. The whole team did a good job last night to fix Brendon's car after his crash, allowing him to finish the race. After the checkered flag, Brendon pulled over immediately as we spotted an anomaly on the telemetry, but it's nothing serious. Now we have a busy week ahead, with two days of testing here in Barcelona, while also preparing for the next race in Monaco."
Haas F1 Team
Kevin Magnussen (6th): "I had a really good start. I was alongside the Red Bulls, but I didn't really want to fight them as I knew they were much faster. My job was to stay in seventh and settle down from there. I was able to defend well, keep out of trouble on the first lap, so I was happy. It's been a strong performance and I think we deserved to get the kind of points we've scored in Bahrain and here. We should be able to score points at every race, and we have had the car to do that, we've just had some mistakes and mishaps that meant we didn't score points regularly. It's good to get some good points on the board. I'm happy we're back more in our deserved position in the constructors' championship, as well. We just need to keep this level up and continue to score regularly."
Romain Grosjean (DNF, Accident): "There's not much to say. I lost the rear end in turn three and I just spun. If you look at the footage, I had wanted to avoid contact with my teammate. Kevin had a bit of a wobble, I lifted off the throttle, and then the car just went. I'm sorry for the others that were involved – there wasn't much I could do once the car went. Kevin had a good race, which is good for the team. I had wanted a steady race, but that wasn't today."
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal: "A good day, but it could've been better. Romain made up positions at the start, but the car spun around and his race ended early. Kevin did a solid job. There was never a threat for his position. All in all, a good day, and again we showed that we're in the top of the midfield at the moment. We're really looking forward to going to Monte Carlo to get some more points."
McLaren F1 Team
Fernando Alonso (8th): "We started on the Supersoft tires 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 tires. 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 tires, and we took those four points. During the race, I was concentrating more on the sky than the cheering grandstands, as in some corners there were very dark clouds. I thought maybe some rain could have helped us, but unfortunately it didn't come in the end. It was difficult to overtake today – I was behind Leclerc for a long time – as we are still lacking some straight-line speed to be able to pass. This is something we're working on; we know where our car's weaknesses lie and hopefully we'll find a solution quite soon. We made a good step forward here, but we know it's going to be a tough battle until the end of the season. It's important to score points every race and we have done so far for five consecutive races. I'm happy right now."
Stoffel Vandoorne (DNF, Gearbox): "It was an unfortunate end to the race. I felt that the race was going to come towards us at the end, we had a one-stop strategy and extended the first stint to go very long on the Soft tires. We had managed the tires well and we wanted to create a big tire delta to the others. It's always hard to predict exactly where we would've ended up, but I feel at the end we could've had some more chances to overtake. We had a good launch for the first time this season! The first corner was all about avoiding cars in slippery conditions with a lot of cars spinning off. It was difficult to keep the car on the track, especially at the beginning. We don't know yet exactly what the problem was that ended our race early, but it looks like the gearbox as I lost drive completely. It's a shame because we had reasonable pace. The upgrades we brought here are definitely a first step forward. We've been able to make progress especially for qualifying, but there's still a long way to go and we need to keep improving, and keep bringing some new parts to every race."
Eric Boullier, Racing Director: "Today's race wasn't quite the result we'd hoped for, but, given how the race unfolded at the start, and on a track where passing opportunities are notoriously limited, we should be satisfied with the outcome. Both drivers did extremely well to negotiate their cars through the melee on the first lap, but were unfortunate to lose three places each. Although he put in a committed drive, our 100 per cent reliability streak took a dent with Stoffel's retirement, the cause of which we are continuing to investigate. Fernando drove a strong race in front of his home fans, and fought hard to make up the three places he lost at the start to bring the car home inside the top 10 once again. The competition was tough out there today, but even after a challenging race where luck didn't swing our way, we still managed to come home with four valuable points. We start afresh in Monaco, encouraged by the performance gains we've made this weekend, and our aim is to keep building on this as the season progresses."
Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team
Charles Leclerc (10th): "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 tire 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. It will be important to stay focused – the next Grand Prix will be my home race in Monaco, and I am very excited to drive my first Formula 1 race there."
Marcus Ericsson (13th): "I was strong in the first half of the race with the medium tires, then we were a bit unlucky with the virtual safety car coming right after our pit stop and that was really frustrating. In the second stint, I struggled more on the soft tire. The result was a bit disappointing because we were in the fight and not too far off scoring points. Overall it was a good race, I had very good fights and defended well. The fact that Charles scored points is very positive for the team and from my side I need to bounce back in Monaco."
Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal: "We leave Barcelona feeling positive. We had a very strong rhythm at a certain stage of the race and scored one point, which we did not anticipate before arriving here as it is quite a demanding track. Both drivers put in a good performance, and we scored points for the third time this season. The team is motivated to keep pushing and we have to stay focused now to make the next step."
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