As Liverpool and Manchester City thrillingly battled for the English Premier League title (at time of writing, Manchester City looked likely to defend their crown), the less-than-thrilling Spanish Grand Prix was taking place in Barcelona. Here’s how things played out.
Mercedes (Lewis Hamilton first, Valterri Bottas second)
Lewis Hamilton got the better start from his teammate, Valtteri Bottas, and was able to build a two-second lead by the end of the first lap as Bottas was compromised on the outside of turn one while fighting with Vettel.
From there on in, Hamilton extended his lead over Bottas, setting fastest lap after fastest lap. When Hamilton made his first pitstop, he comfortably held onto his lead by ten seconds or so.
The safety car did not trouble either of the Mercedes with Hamilton continuing to set fastest laps.
This is now the team’s fifth consecutive 1-2 finish – it is going to take some feat from Ferrari to overhaul the Silver Arrows now. Hamilton acknowledged this with David Coulthard, remarking, “This is history in the making.”
Valterri Bottas explained to Coulthard that he had a poor start once again. “There is still some strange behaviour with the clutch,” he said. This is what cost him the race victory in China as he got wheelspin off the start and Hamilton was able to get past on the inside into turn 1.
Hamilton now has a seven-point lead in the championship over his teammate and Mercedes have a whopping 96-point lead over Ferrari in the constructors’ championship.
Ferrari (Sebastian Vettel fourth, Charles Leclerc fifth)
Vettel did get a good slipstream from Bottas in front of him and pulled to the outside before locking up into turn 1 and losing all the momentum he had gained.
Remember China when the Ferraris weren’t able to catch up to Max Verstappen? Well, it happened again this afternoon with Vettel falling back from Verstappen and Leclerc wanting to get past.
Eventually, Leclerc was allowed past Vettel but was more than four seconds behind Verstappen. Leclerc could not close the gap with Verstappen holding onto a four to five second lead over the Monegasque driver.
Vettel was complaining about his soft tyres, requesting a pit stop for about ten laps. He pitted onto the mediums on lap 20 but it wasn’t the quickest pit stop as the mechanics had some trouble getting the rear-left tyre on.
Leclerc pitted onto the hard compound tyre on lap 26 and also had a problem with getting the rear-left tyre on. He just got out of the pits ahead of his teammate and, like his teammate, a long way behind Verstappen.
After the pit stops, it all started again. This time, it was Vettel on the faster medium tyres wanting to get past Leclerc but try as he might, he couldn’t get past. No team orders in operation here! Vettel eventually got past Leclerc but fell behind once he had made his second pitstop.
Vettel finished fourth and Leclerc finished fifth today – not performances you would expect from Ferrari based on their pace over the past few years.
Red Bull (Max Verstappen third, Pierre Gasly sixth)
Christian Horner said on the grid that he believed that the Red Bulls could fight the Ferraris today and Verstappen did just that on lap one. The Dutchman took advantage of Vettel’s lock up, overtaking the German for third place magnificently around the outside of turn 3.
Verstappen was able to take advantage of the poor race that Vettel was having, coming out ten seconds ahead of the Ferrari after Verstappen had made his pitstop. Verstappen was then able to extend his advantage over the struggling German.
After spending a lovely time in third position, Verstappen made his second pitstop and set about catching Leclerc on the slower hard tyres. Just as he was getting into the swing of things, the safety car came out.
Verstappen, who finished third, told David Coulthard, “It was a hectic first corner so I just backed out of it and it gave me a good position.”
Pierre Gasly had an interesting restart, getting a slipstream from Leclerc coming out of the final corner and trying to overtake the Ferrari on the outside of turn one. Then, Gasly went wide through turn three, allowing Kevin Magnussen to try and overtake him on the inside into turn four but the Frenchman held onto the position as he had the inside line going into the left hander at turn five.
Haas (Kevin Magnussen seventh, Romain Grosjean tenth)
There was nearly some carnage between Grosjean and Magnussen as they went wheel-to-wheel into turn 1 after the safety car restart with Grosjean taking evasive action to avoid contact with his teammate.
A few laps later, Grosjean tried to overtake his teammate again around the outside of turn 1 and, like before, took evasive action by going on the run-off area at turn two.
Grosjean began to make a habit of taking the run-off area at turn two as, while defending against Sainz around the outside of turn 1, took evasive action. However, Grosjean went around the bollard and took the correct procedure so wasn’t penalised.
Grosjean then started to go backwards a little bit as he was under pressure from the Toro Rossos near the end of the race, falling to tenth position after his excellent qualifying yesterday.
Toro Rosso (Daniil Kvyat ninth, Alexander Albon 11th)
Both Daniil Kvyat and Alexander Albon were running in the points in the early stages of the race and continued to drive well. The team had to go on Twitter to tell us how good they were doing as the F1 World Feed wasn’t showing the overtakes the two had been making.
You might not have seen it on your screens….
— Toro Rosso (@ToroRosso) May 12, 2019
This excellent work was rather undone by a disastrous pitstop as the team were not ready when Daniil Kvyat came into pit with Alexander Albon not far behind. Kvyat fell behind the Haas of Magnussen who he’d overtaken earlier on in the race.
Kvyat did make up some ground in the latter stages of the race, overtaking Grosjean with ease and some DRS for ninth position.
McLaren (Carlos Sainz 8th, Lando Norris DNF)
Carlos Sainz was in battle with Daniel Ricciardo for the majority of the race while his teammate Lando Norris was languishing at the back of the field after losing six positions off the start.
Norris’ race didn’t get better as he tried to overtake Lance Stroll on the outside of turn one but caught the rear left tyre of Stroll, sending the Canadian spinning and causing both to retire from the race.
Carlos Sainz was in the points-paying positions after the safety car, taking advantage of the mistake made by Toro Rosso under the safety car. Sainz battled with Grosjean for eighth place, breezing past the Frenchman in the Haas with DRS assistance down the main straight.
Renault (Daniel Ricciardo 12th, Nico Hulkenberg 13th)
Nico Hulkenberg’s woeful weekend continued as he was forced to start from the pit lane after his replacement front wing was not of the same spec as the one he used in qualifying.
Hulkenberg starts from the pit lane after Renault failed to tell the stewards that the people wing they fitted after his crash in qualifying was a different (old) spec from the (new) one he had been using pic.twitter.com/Idu17PFuRD
— Andrew Benson (@andrewbensonf1) May 12, 2019
Renault take a strategic engine penalty with Hulkenberg as well now. It doesn’t cost them as they’re already at the back with the wing penalty and now they have another engine in the usable pool pic.twitter.com/Gd6ggW73sO
— Andrew Benson (@andrewbensonf1) May 12, 2019
Daniel Ricciardo was stuck behind the McLaren of Carlos Sainz for the first twenty-five laps or so, eventually getting past the Spaniard on the main straight. The Australian made this overtake at just the right time as both Sainz and himself pitted on the next lap.
However, because Ricciardo went onto the hard compound of tyre whereas Sainz went onto the medium tyres, which are quicker, the Spaniard was able to get back in front.
Alfa Romeo (Kimi Raikkonen 14th, Antonio Giovinazzi 16th)
Kimi Raikkonen had a shocking start, going wide at turn four and going into the gravel trap. To make matters worse, he then got stuck behind the two Williams. His race was compromised from there on in. This is the first time this season that he has not scored points.
His teammate, Antonio Giovinazzi, made an early pitstop on lap 7, going onto the hard compound of tyres. The undercut didn’t work and Giovinazzi was left trundling around at the back of the pack.
Racing Point (Sergio Perez 15th, Lance Stroll DNF)
Racing Point had a relatively uneventful race until Lance Stroll came together with Lando Norris, spinning into turn two and going out of the race.
Williams (George Russell 17th, Robert Kubica 18th)
Lap 19. That was when Robert Kubica was lapped by Lewis Hamilton. There continues to be a severe lack of pace from the Williams with Antonio Giovinazzi, their closest rival, finishing a whole lap ahead of George Russell.