Yesterday’s Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya was a closely fought battle between Lewis Hamilton, who scored his 100th pole position, and Max Verstappen which lasted the entire race, and saw Hamilton prevail to take his 98th Grand Prix and fifth consecutive Spanish Grand Prix win. Ayrton Senna being the only other driver to record five consecutive victories at a Grand Prix and that was at Monaco.
It was Hamilton’s brilliantly executed two-stop strategy that helped him take his third win in just four races this season, with Verstappen finishing second, ahead of the second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas who had a compromised race after being boxed in at the start, finding himself stuck behind Charles Leclerc. An impressive recovery drive by the Finn, meant that he was able to get on the podium and move up to third in the Drivers’ Championship.
The Spanish Grand Prix also marks the 100th win from pole for the Mercedes F1 Team, becoming only the second team in the history of the sport to do so.
Having taken the lead from Hamilton right at the start of the race into Turn 1, Verstappen led for most of the race, with Red Bull opting for a one-stop strategy whereas Hamilton and Mercedes went for two stops giving the Brit better performance in the closing stages of the race and with just six laps to go, Hamilton made his pass on the Dutchman into Turn 1, a lead he kept to the chequered flag, making it his fifth straight win at the circuit.
Once passed, Verstappen decided to pit for softs and have a go for a consolation fastest lap, which he duly managed to achieve.
Bottas crossed the finish line a distant third following his own race-long battle with Charles Leclerc, who took an excellent fourth place, with the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez putting in a solid recovery from P8 to take fifth.
Daniel Ricciardo drove his best race of the year so far to take sixth in his McLaren, ahead of the second Ferrari of Carlos Sainz. Meanwhile the best Lando Norris could manage at this year’s Spanish Grand Prix was eighth, after a disappointing race for the Brit. Esteban Ocon and Piere Gasly took the last two set of points to round off the top ten.
Hamilton commented after the race:
“What a day! It was a remarkable job by the whole team again this weekend and it’s so good to see fans back here. I even saw a few British flags in the crowd, and I’ve really missed that! I feel great, like I could do that all over again, all the training is clearly paying off!
“It was really close off the start, there was a lot of rubber down on the righthand side of the grid and Max got a really good start. I then went hunting and was so close to Max for so long during the opening stages of the race, and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to make the tyres last in the dirty air. It looked like a long way back after the second stop – it was something like 20 seconds off Max – but it was a really bold call by the team. I was really conflicted, it felt like I might have the shot to make the move before Max stopped, but we just have that trust between us in the team and it was a great call.”
Ferrari are without doubt having a better season with Charles Leclerc just missing a podium position finishing fourth, with teammate Carlos Sainz finishing seventh in the second Ferrari. Charles Leclerc summed up his race by saying:
“It was a very good race. I had a good start, then went for the outside in turn 3, which worked out for us. From then on, we had a very competitive race. Our pace was strong, both on the soft and medium tyres. Still, P4 was the best we could achieve. I am really happy though, because from the cockpit you can feel when you do a good job and that was the case today.
“As a team, we did a really good job, everything went perfectly. We see that we have made a lot of progress compared to last year, and this is credit to everyone working so hard back at our factory in Maranello.
“We were quite strong in the third sector, which is very technical. Hopefully, that’s a positive sign for Monaco. Since the beginning of the season, we seem to be strong in the slow corners, so I am crossing my fingers that it will stay that way. I am really looking forward to my home race. Seeing fans there in the grandstands will be amazing and I hope to be just as competitive there.”
Hamilton now leads the Drivers’ Championship by 14 points on 94 points ahead of second place Max Verstappen on 80 points and Valtteri Bottas third on 47 points. Meanwhile Mercedes extend their lead in the Constructors’ Championship with 141 points from Red Bull who have 112 points.
The teams head to Monte Carlo for the next round of the 2021 Championship and the glamorous Monaco Grand Prix on 23rd May.
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 and McLaren