Lewis Hamilton extended his lead in the driver’s championship at the Spanish Grand Prix yesterday at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, with a copybook race, leading the race from pole to chequered flag for his fifth Spanish Grand Prix win in his career and fourth of the 2020 season.
Max Verstappen prevented the race from being a Mercedes one-two, by bringing his Red Bull home in second just ahead of third placed Valtteri Bottas who got a poor start, dropping to fourth, while Verstappen jumped to second but unable to catch Hamilton, who finished the race 24 seconds clear of the Red Bull.
Although Sergio Perez crossed the line fourth, he received a five-second penalty for ignoring blue flags during the race, allowing his teammate Lance Stroll to finish ahead of him, but giving Racing Point some solid points. McLaren’s Carlos Sainz had yet another good race, finishing sixth, and in so doing, maintaining his 100 percent record of finishing in the points at his home race. Sebastian Vettel fared better than of late, finishing in the points in seventh, thanks to a late one-stop strategy, which put him ahead of Alex Albon in the second Red Bull. Vettel was up to fifth by Lap 52, having not made his second pit stop. “What do you think about going to the end?” was the message from his engineer, receiving an angry response from Vettel who replied, “I asked you about this before!” he yelled, before accepting, “We’ve got nothing to lose,” he said, calling Ferrari out on a strategy call for the second time in seven days.
After the race Vettel said: “Today we tried something different and it paid off. I was struggling in the first stint, even on medium tyres, while in the second one I felt a lot better, despite having the soft tyre for many laps.
“There was some rain forecast at some stage, so we extended our stint on softs. In the end we were in a position in which we had nothing to lose, so we took the risk and decided to try and make it to the end. Luckily it worked and this result reflects the maximum we could do today with the car.
“There is still lots of work to do, but at the moment this is our true pace, that’s why sometimes we have to take some risks in order to have more or different options to finish ahead of our competitors.”
Pierre Gasly and Lando Norris took the last points, rounding off the top ten. Renault’s initial strong pace was short lived with Daniel Ricciardo finishing just outside the points in 11th. But it was a disappointing race for the second Ferrari of Charles Leclerc, who was the only driver to retire, suffering an electrical issue halfway through the race which put him into a spin at Turn 15.
Haas’ Kevin Magnussen got a fantastic start from 16th on the grid, passing the Alfa Romeo of Raikkonen and the Renault of Esteban Ocon, finishing the race 15th, while teammate Romain Grosjean finished in a disappointing 19th. Magnussen said afterwards: “I think we did everything we could today. On our side, I think we just missed some pace, which is of course a very crucial thing. In terms of driving the race, and strategy, everything we thought we needed to do before the race – we did. We made a one-stop work, got a good start, I overtook when I needed to, got the balance right in the car, and all the communication from the team to me went well. It felt like a good race, it’s just that the result isn’t so good. It’s just down to pace, I guess. Other than that, we did the best that we could.”
So the top ten finishers at this year’s Spanish Grand Prix are Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen, Valtteri Bottas, Lance Stroll just off the podium in his Racing Point, teammate Sergio Perez fifth, Carlos Sainz, Sabastian Vettel seventh, Alexander Albon eighth, Pierre Gasly ninth and Lando Norris claiming the last point for McLaren.
Hamilton now leads the Drivers’ Championship with 132 points ahead of Verstappen on 95 points and Bottas just behind on 89 points. Mercedes have extended their lead in the Constuctors’ Championship with 221 points, with second place Red Bull on 135 points.
Following his win at the Spanish Grand Prix, Hamilton said: “This feels absolutely incredible. I was just in a daze out there, I didn’t even know it was the last lap in the end, that’s how in the zone I was. I can’t remember the last time I felt like that. It was really special and a real surprise after our recent tyre problems. We brought all of our learnings from the previous weekend into this one and that enabled us to do well today. A fantastic effort from everyone in the team, I’m so grateful for all their hard work and for continuing to push, so a huge thank you to everyone at the factories. I got the perfect start and then it was all about tyre management. It was so hot out there and very demanding, but I was just focused on protecting the tyres and bringing the car home. What an incredible result.”
Round 7 of the 2020 FIA Formula One World Championship takes place at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps with the Belgium Grand Prix in two weeks’ time, on Sunday 30th August.
Simon Burrell is Editor of Our Man Behind The Wheel, a member of The Guild of Motoring Writers, professional photographer and former saloon car racing driver.
Photographs courtesy of Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team, Scuderia Ferrari Press Office, McLaren and Haas F1 Team