Well despite what you saw, Mercedes didn’t win the Spanish Grand Prix. Ferrari lost it – through poor strategy again. As an aside, we also saw that the new Pirelli tyres last a lot longer than was expected.
Despite being on pole, Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) lost the lead to a fast starting Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) as the field poured into turn 1. We also lost Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) and Max Verstappen (Red Bull) who cannoned into each other after a nudge by Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes).
That left Vettel in front of Hamilton and Bottas, and a long way back the other Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo in 4th. No wheel to wheel dicing, but the middle of the pack were keeping close company.
Stoffel Vandoorne (McLaren Honda) was next to change the order of the race after crashing into Felipe Massa. This brought out the “virtual” safety car with Mercedes diving into the pits for Hamilton to take on a new set of tyres. “Perhaps we better do the same,” must have been the collective thought in the Ferrari pit, but by the time they had agreement from someone up top (His Holiness perhaps?) and brought Vettel in, the safety car period was over and Vettel lost all his advantage and ended up just in front of Hamilton who was on the quicker rubber as opposed to Vettel on the hards. It was only a matter of time and Hamilton was through. Ferrari should shoot their strategist. The days of tossing coins in the air are over. Strategists shouldn’t be tossers.
And so the race continued. Mercedes came down to one car when Bottas blew his engine, but it was an old one, we were informed. Note to self – do not buy a secondhand Mercedes race engine.
Hamilton leading Vettel, and in a high speed train. They were not banging wheels. It was not exciting.
The only other car on the same lap as the leaders was Ricciardo who finished 75 seconds adrift. The telecast did show him twice I believe but I must have had my eyes closed for the second one. No excitement there.
The middle of the pack had Force India, Toro Rosso, Renault, Haas and Sauber mixing it up, but they were lapped by Hamilton and Vettel, followed by Alonso in the other woefully slow McLaren Honda. Continuing to “race” with these cars is not a good advert for neither McLaren nor Honda. It is an embarrassment. Buy a secondhand Renault and use the Honda engines as boat anchors or oyster farms.
Monaco next and historically this will be another crashfest and follow the leader, but I continue to hope.
Mention must be made of a wonderfully human gesture by the Ferrari team. Caught on TV was a small boy, dressed in Ferrari gear crying his eyes out as Kimi Raikkonen was forced out of the race at the first corner. Someone in Ferrari saw this and managed to bring the lad to the pits and into the garage to meet his hero Kimi. The tears became smiles. Molto bene, Ferrari!
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:35.56.497
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 3.4
3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 75.8
4 Sergio Perez Force India 1 lap
5 Esteban Ocon Force India 1 lap
6 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1 lap
7 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1 lap
8 Pascal Wehrlein Sauber 1 lap
9 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1 lap
10 Romain Grosjean Haas 1 lap
11 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 2 laps
12 Felipe Massa Williams 2 laps
13 Kevin Magnussen Haas 2 lap
14 Lance Stroll Williams 2 laps
15 Fernando Alonso McLaren 2 laps
16 Jolyon Palmer Renault 2 laps
Did not finish
Valtteri Bottas Mercedes engine
Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren crash
Max Verstappen Red Bull suspension
Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari broken steering