Lewis Hamilton put on another fine driving display at the Circuit de Catalunya on Sunday. The seven time world champion combined excellent strategy with expert driving in order to come away with the victory. The other to podium spots were occupied by Max Verstappen in second, and Valtteri Bottas in third.
Hamilton does it again!
The Mercedes driver started the race on pole position. However, this changed going into the very first corner. Max Verstappen, who had started in second place, passed Lewis with a daring dive up the inside going into turn one. The move from Verstappen can be described as reckless and pundits commended Lewis for avoiding a collision. Hamilton took evasive action, conceding the place but ensuring both drivers could remain on the track. Hamilton would then spend the majority of the race in second place, but viewers never felt like the Mercedes driver was out of the race.
Red Bull would pull the trigger first in the first round of pit stops. Verstappen came in which took both Mercedes and his own team by surprise. Most thought that Mercedes would respond by pitting Lewis immediately on the next lap. However, Mercedes decided to stretch out Lewis’ stint on the soft compound tyre. Lewis then pitted once he had gained an almost 10 lap tyre advantage over his opponent. This was already seen to give Mercedes a huge advantage towards the end of the race. Lewis ate up the time between him and Verstappen but then shocked everyone again when he pitted for a second time on lap 42. Hamilton put on a fresh set of the medium compound tyres. He came out with a 22 second gap to Verstappen. Lewis himself had his reservations about this strategy saying:
“I know from experience here that, a one stop is very very hard to pull off. And as soon as we had the pace that we had I knew that as soon as I could get past him, if I could, and I was about to […] have a shot at getting past him before I pitted right at the end, and I was really conflicted. Like ‘do I come in or do I ignore the call and stay out?’ Obviously I did what the team asked and that’s just because there’s a great trust between us.”Lewis Hamilton in a post-race interview with Jenson Button
Obviously the strategy paid off in the end. Hamilton passed race leader, Verstappen, with six laps of the race remaining. Lewis went on to win the race by 15 seconds over title contender Verstappen. With this win Lewis has also built up a 14 point lead in the Drivers Championship.
The team in red looked very impressive at the weekend. Charles Leclerc displayed impressive pace at the start of the race, passing Valtteri Bottas at turn 3 on the first lap. Leclerc managed to keep Bottas behind him for a good portion of the first stint of the race. Eventually the Ferrari had to succumb to the superior pace of the Mercedes. Leclerc finished the race in fourth place behind Hamilton, Verstappen, and Bottas. It was clear that the Ferrari was the quickest out of the midfield teams and the team had an impressive weekend. Carlos Sainz was disappointed with his performance given the pace of the car. The Spanish Ferrari driver finished in 7th place. Regardless of this, Ferrari picked up the most points out of the midfield points and put on an impressive display. They can be very happy with their weekend as a whole.
Their rivals Mclaren will be having a look a what went wrong for them this weekend. As well as, trying to find out how they can make their car faster. Especially after Lando Norris had very strong performances in the opening rounds only to come home 8th in Spain. Alpine will also look to improve on their strong showing. Their race pace was not as impressive as the pace they had shown in qualifying. Esteban Ocon finished in 9th after starting the race in 5th place. There will be a lot of competition in the midfield this season as the teams seem to be a lot closer in performance than first anticipated.