Yet another show of strength from Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport, which took its fifth consecutive one- two finish of the season today. The winner of the FORMULA 1 EMIRATES GRAN PREMIO DE ESPAÑA 2019 was Lewis Hamilton, for whom this was win number four at the Barcelona-Catalunya circuit, his third in a row. The reigning world champion also took the extra point for setting the fastest race lap and with 26 points, he is back in the lead of the championship, seven points ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas (112 to 105.)
Scoring his second third place finish of the year was Max Verstappen, who finished ahead of fourth placed Sebastian Vettel with Charles Leclerc fifth. It’s the second time this season that Ferrari failed to get a car into the top three, after the opening round in Melbourne. Ensuring the top three teams were the dominant force, Pierre Gasly was sixth in the second Aston Martin Red Bull Racing.
As was the case at the previous race in Baku a fortnight ago, once again the key moment was the start. Hamilton got away from second spot on the grid better than Bottas from pole, got alongside the Finn and then overtook him going into the first corner. At the same time, Vettel tried to go round the outside, but he locked up the front right wheel and went slightly wide off track. The German then moved across in front of his team-mate Leclerc, pushing towards the inside at the exit of the following turn, but left room on the outside of Turn 3, where there is usually more grip, which allowed Verstappen to snatch third place.
From then on, the top three places hardly changed, apart from during the usual run of pit stops. However, behind this trio the picture was less clear as to which Ferrari had the upper hand. During the first stint, it seemed clear that Leclerc was slightly quicker than his team-mate, who was hampered by a flat-spotted tyre as a result of his duel with Bottas. Vettel let his team-mate by and then pitted earlier than planned on lap 19, to fit the Medium tyre, while Leclerc went for a longer stint to lap 25, before fitting Hards.
In the meantime, Verstappen came in on lap 20 to fit another set of Softs, with the two Mercedes drivers, having easily pulled out a good lead on the field were able to stop at the right moment, by which time Hamilton had carved out a bit of a gap to Bottas, on lap 26 for the Finn and the following lap for the Englishman, both fitting Mediums.
Once the situation had settled down, only something unexpected could shuffle the pack and it came on lap 45, after Lando Norris (McLaren F1 Racing) and Lance Stroll (SportPesa Racing Point F1 team) collided between Turns 1 and 2 leaving both cars beached off the track which required the appearance of the Safety Car. That closed up the field, but at the restart, the Mercedes duo still had the upper hand and easily pulled away, with Hamilton and Bottas enjoying themselves, trading times in a duel for setting the fastest lap.
Therefore for the second time this season, the Silver Arrows came away with the maximum possible number of points (44) creating a real void between themselves and their closest pursuers in the Constructors’ Championship, having a 96 point lead over Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow. In the Drivers’ table, third placed Max Verstappen trails the leader by 46 points. If the first race on European soil this year was meant to produce a clear picture of the current pecking order, it is now clear that Mercedes, showing an impressive dominance especially on the technical front, has already placed a marker on both titles.
Behind the top three teams, there was yet another entertaining battle with some spectacular action, like the duel between the Rich Energy Haas F1 Team drivers, with Kevin Magnussen eventually getting the better of Romain Grosjean for seventh place. The French Haas driver also tussled at length with local hero Carlos Sainz who took eighth place, much to the delight of the 87,511 spectators who turned up today. Over the whole weekend the crowd figure was 160,428, while Paddock Club ticket sales were up 8% on last year. Grosjean did finish in the points, fending off Alexander Albon, to score for the first time this year, which is not an accurate reflection of the team’s potential. In ninth place was the Thai driver’s Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda team-mate, the Russian Daniil Kvyat.
FROM THE DRIVERS
It's been an incredible day for the team. We've brought an upgrade here and everyone worked so hard to make that possible. I'm very proud of everyone back at the factory and thankful for all their hard work. The guys here at the track are all performing at an extremely high level as well, thank you all. When the lights went out, my initial getaway was quite good and we were very close all the way down into Turn 1. I think the Ferrari was alongside us at one point too, so it was a great battle and also a decisive moment in the race. After that I just had to keep my head down and focus on trying to deliver each lap. I want to dedicate this win to Harry, a young kid who sent me a message today. He was my inspiration out there. He could've chosen any other driver, so for him in the most difficult of days to send a message like that is really humbling and much appreciated. I'm sending you love, Harry.
I had an issue with my clutch at the start, it was vibrating and it seemed like it was biting and releasing at a very quick frequency, so my initial getaway was really poor. Unfortunately that meant that all the hard work of the weekend was lost at the start, but that's the way it goes sometimes. We're a strong team and will investigate the cause of the issue to make sure it doesn't happen again in the future. For me personally, it wasn't the best of days, but from a team's perspective it was a really good weekend. Congratulations to Lewis for the win, he had a strong race pace today. The team is performing at an incredible level at the moment; hats off to every single member of the team, both at Brackley and Brixworth but also here at the race track. I'm looking forward to the race in Monaco; it's such a unique track and a completely different challenge, so it's difficult to say who will be the strongest team around there.
Started P13, finished P12: “It was a frustrating race from my side this afternoon. In the first part, we had the pace on Sainz and at the end of that first stint I was able to take him. We then pitted and put the Hard tyres on and he got me back quite quickly. It was difficult to close the gap back, we had good pace in the final sector but couldn’t get the run on him out of the final corner. We were certainly quicker than twelfth today and, in the end, it wasn’t a perfect Sunday. The midfield is so close and everything has to be executed to the maximum for a strong result. We’ll regroup and look forward to the next one.”
Started from Pit Lane, finished P13: “It was always going to be tricky today starting from the Pit Lane. It wasn’t a great race as we didn’t score any points, but it was nice to have a normal race and grow the confidence back up. Especially after a tough weekend, that’s a positive. I couldn’t quite fight for points in the end, we had 10-lap old Softs running against others who had pitted for fresh tyres after the Safety Car. I felt good and comfortable out there, which is promising heading into Monaco. I’m back in the R.S.19 on Tuesday, so we’ll be aiming for a productive day’s running.”