Lewis Hamilton wins Spanish Grand Prix thriller

With Formula 1 returning for the Spanish Grand Prix, Chris Soulsby looks at the thrilling battle that unfolded in Barcelona, which saw Lewis Hamilton secure the 55th race win of his F1 career.

Following Valtteri Bottas‘ maiden win last time out at the Russian Grand Prix, Formula 1 returned to the Circuit de Catalunya for the Spanish Grand Prix – the fifth race of the 2017 Season. In first and second practice, Mercedes were looking strong, topping both sessions with a 1-2. However, in practice three and in qualifying, the gap was much narrower, with Lewis Hamilton only claiming pole position by a mere 0.051 seconds from Sebastian Vettel. With not even a tenth of a second separating the two championship rivals, the Spanish Grand Prix was set to be a close affair.

Lewis Hamilton wins Spanish Grand Prix thriller

When the lights went out for the Spanish Grand Prix, it was Sebatsian Vettel who had the better start of the two drivers starting on the front row of the grid, getting a good enough launch to put himself up into the lead and Hamilton down to second place. Going into the first corner, a flurry of carbon fiber covered the track, when Kimi Raikkonen collided with Max Verstappen after being tagged by Bottas on the right rear, forcing both the Ferrari and the Red Bull driver out of the race.

After the cars were collected and the debris cleared up, the race resumed once again, and Vettel extended his lead from Hamilton. It was not until Vettel pitted onto a new set of soft compound tyres that we saw a lead change, with Hamilton moving into first place as Vettel pitted. Hamilton remained in the lead until lap 22 when he exchanged his heavily worn soft tyres for a pair of more durable mediums, handing the lead to Bottas.

Vettel then overtook Bottas in spectacular fashion on the main straight by using DRS to launch a double dummy attack on the Finn, putting himself into the clear air that he needed to pull away from Hamilton.

Going into the final round of pit stops, Ferrari still needed to use the slower medium compound tyre on Vettel while Hamilton and Mercedes had used the medium in their second stint, allowing them to use the faster softs to hunt Vettel down for the lead in the closing stages of the race.

This was ultimately something that Mercedes did do, with Hamilton attempting to pass Vettel on track for position countless times into the first corner by using DRS, with one such attempt ending in the two drivers bumping and banging wheels side by side into turn two.

Following the retirement of Valtteri Bottas on lap 40 through an engine failure, Hamilton went on to pass Vettel on lap 44, leading the rest of the 66 lap race to cross the line to secure his 55th victory in Formula 1. Vettel went on to cross the the line in second place, marking his 25th podium finish for Ferrari while Daniel Ricciardo took the final step of the podium, securing Red Bull Racing‘s first podium of 2017.

Further down the field it was a good day at Force India, with Sergio Perez finishing in fourth place and Esteban Ocon finishing in fifth. This marks Force India’s fifth consecutive double points finish of 2017, which leaves them in fourth place in the Constructors Standings, within touching distance of Red Bull Racing who lie in third.

Nico Hulkenberg secured another points finish for Renault, coming home in sixth place after starting the race down in 13th, marking another successful weekend for the German driver at his new team.

Home favorite Carlos Sainz Jr was next up, finishing his home race in seventh place for Toro Rosso. Sainz drove a very aggressive race in Spain, challenging drivers such as Kevin Magnussen and Pascal Wehrlein for position throughout, and even attempting to pass Magnussen on the pit exit by dipping his tyres into the grass.

Pascal Wehrlein finished in eighth place for Sauber. Despite crossing the line in seventh place through in a very well executed strategy by the team, Wehrlein was slapped with a five second time penalty for failing to keep to the right hand side of a bollard on the entry to the pit lane, thus pushing him down to eighth place. Nevertheless, the result was much needed for Sauber, marking their first points finish of 2017.

Daniil Kvyat finished the race in ninth place after qualifying in 20th and starting in 19th, marking a double points finish for Toro Rosso.

Romain Grosjean rounded out the top ten for Haas F1, securing his second points finish of 2017.

Marcus Ericsson narrowly missed out on his first points finish of 2017 for Sauber, finishing 11th place. Although the results say otherwise, Ericsson had a successful weekend in Spain, being constantly faster than his team mate in practice and only being knocked out of qualifying by 0.005 seconds from Wehrlein. For this reason, his performance this weekend for Sauber is worth mentioning.

Fernando Alonso followed Ericsson across the line in 12th place for McLaren, marking his first race finish of 2017 after four consecutive reliability issues in previous races. For his home race, Alonso impressively put his unreliable and under powered McLaren into seventh place in qualifying, but fell though the field following contact with Felipe Massa on the first lap of the race, being forced off the track on the entry to turn three.

Felipe Massa was next up in 13th place for Williams after starting in eighth, with a first lap accident resulting in the Brazilian driver picking up a puncture, ruining his race. Soon being one lap down from the pack, Massa drove a good recovery race, managing to finish ahead of his team mate despite having a damaged car.

Kevin Magnussen finished in 14th place in the second Haas car. For much of the race, Magnussen was running inside the top ten and therefore inside the points. It was not until the final laps however, that Magnussen’s race fell apart, with a collision with Daniil Kvyat resulting in the Danish driver picking up a puncture and being forced to pit for fresh rubber, dropping out of the top ten.

Jolyon Palmer crossed the line in 15th place in the second Renault after starting in 17th. Palmer had a very quiet race in Spain and when his team mate finished up in sixth in the same car, it brings about questions of what Palmer was doing in the race and if he is truly good enough to race in Formula 1. So far in 2017, Palmer has been out qualified and beaten by Hulkenberg in every race. When F1 comes to Monaco later this month, it is vital that Palmer secures a good result against his team mate, otherwise, it is hard to imagine that he will be retained in 2018.

Lance Stroll was the final classified finisher in the second Williams down in 16th place. Stroll qualified in 18th place and, like Palmer, is being compared to his team mate’s performances. Although Stroll is a rookie in Formula 1 and is team mates to one of the most experienced F1 drivers of all time, a lack of pace is still visible from the youngster, and after five races under his belt at the pinnacle of Motorsport, he will have to start delivering soon for Williams.

There were four retirements from the Spanish Grand Prix, with a number of high profile drivers failing to finish the race, with Max Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen being eliminated in the first corner of the first lap in an accident and Valtteri Bottas retiring from the race following an engine failure.

Stoffel Vandoorne also retired from the race for McLaren following contact with Massa. In this accident, Vandoorne made a rookie error, turning into Massa while the Brazilian was clearly alongside him, breaking his front right suspension as a result.

With regard to driver of the day there are a number of candidates such as Lewis Hamilton for perfecting his drive to pass Vettel when it really mattered, Vettel for putting in a solid performance for Ferrari and pulling off a spectacular overtake on Bottas, or even Ocon, for securing his highest F1 finish to date. Driver of the day in my eyes however is Pascal Wehrlein, who not only secured Sauber’s first points finish of 2017, but also secured his highest race finish in F1 to date.

Formula 1 will return for the sixth round of the 2017 Season at the Monaco Grand Prix on May 28th where we will see if Lewis Hamilton will be able to make it two wins in a row or if another driver can claim the top spot in the crown jewel event of the Motorsport calendar. F1 fans also get to look forward to the return of Jenson Button to the F1 grid, with the 2009 Champion standing in for Alonos at McLaren who is set to compete in the Indy 500.

Results from the Spanish Grand Prix:

  1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 25 points
  2. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 18 points
  3. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing, 15 points
  4. Sergio Perez, Force India, 12 points
  5. Esteban Ocon, Force India, 10 points
  6. Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, 8 points
  7. Carlos Sainz Jr, Toro Rosso, 6 points
  8. Pascal Wehrlein, Sauber, 4 points
  9. Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso, 2 points
  10. Romain Grosjean, Haas F1, 1 point
  11. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, 0 points
  12. Fernando Alonso, McLaren, 0 points
  13. Felipe Massa, Williams, 0 points
  14. Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1, 0 points
  15. Jolyon Palmer, Renault, 0 points
  16. Lance Stroll, Williams, 0 points
  17. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Ret
  18. Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren, Ret
  19. Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, Ret
  20. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, Ret

Drivers Standings after the Spanish Grand Prix

  1. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 104 points
  2. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 98 points
  3. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, 63 points
  4. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 49 points
  5. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing, 37 points
  6. Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 35 points
  7. Sergio Perez, Force India, 34 points
  8. Esteban Ocon, Force India, 19 points
  9. Felipe Massa, Williams, 18 points
  10. Carlos Sainz Jr, Toro Rosso, 17 points
  11. Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, 14 points
  12. Romain Grosjean, Haas F1, 5 points
  13. Pascal Wehrlein, Sauber, 4 points
  14. Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1, 4 points
  15. Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso, 4 points
  16. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, 0 points
  17. Lance Stroll, Williams, 0 points
  18. Fernando Alonso, McLaren, 0 points
  19. Antontio Giovinazzi, Sauber, 0 points
  20. Jolyon Palmer, Renault, 0 points
  21. Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren, 0 points

Constructors Standings after Spanish Grand Prix:

  1. Mercedes, 161 points
  2. Ferrari, 153 points
  3. Red Bull Racing, 72 points
  4. Force India, 53 points
  5. Toro Rosso, 21 points
  6. Williams, 18 points
  7. Renault, 14 points
  8. Haas F1, 9 points
  9. Sauber, 4 points
  10. McLaren, 0 points

 

 
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