Race Watch 13
Spanish Grand Prix
As has been the norm over the past few years, the Spanish Grand Prix did not produce an instant classic of a race. A lights-to-flag victory was somewhat made interesting by a few midfield scraps, however, on the whole wheel-to-wheel combat was sparce. But what exactly happened? Let’s run through the highlights.
Lewis Hamilton is arguably the greatest driver of all time, and this weekend he took just one more step toward showing that in the record books. His victory this weekend gave the Briton his 156th trip to the podium, surpassing the seven-time World Champion Michael Schumacher’s 155, and I personally feel that the sheer domination he showed in the race was a pretty fitting reflection of how he’s gone about his Formula 1 career, particularly since his move to Mercedes. After all, in today’s race, his teammate – in an identical car and having started on pole – was unable to match Verstappen’s pace early on, and failed to close him down toward the end despite booting on new softs. In complete contrast, Hamilton was able to control his pace at the front initially before cantering away from the lead Red Bull, ensuring a comfortable victory by a considerable margin.
Max Verstappen, the determined Dutchman in said leading Red Bull, has been demonstrating plenty of qualities often found in World Champion drivers, most notably when it comes to his radio communications. After having enough mental capacity to remind his race engineer to rehydrate and sanitise during last week’s 70th Anniversary GP, the 22-year old’s conversations this week were a little more heated, culminating in a rant more akin to what we have seen from Sebastian Vettel this term. In fairness to the driver, I would say the outburst was due, as Verstappen made a reasonable point in that he wasn’t as quick as Hamilton, and therefore the strategy shouldn’t revolve around the lead Merc, but you can understand the team wanting to cover Bottas, their closest threat.
It could be said that, instead of reminding Max how far away Hamilton was, the Red Bull strategists would have made better use of their time by devising a strategy that didn’t drop Alex Albon into traffic after his first stop. This effectively ruined the Thai driver’s race, as he couldn’t attack the Racing Point cars, but instead had to duel with Carlos Sainz throughout the race and finished behind Vettel’s one-stopping Ferrari also. Speaking of duelling, pretty much all of the entertainment to be had from this Spanish Grand Prix came from the ferocity of a few of the defensive moves. Charles Leclerc’s pre-retirement skirmish with Lando Norris comes to mind, as the Monegasque racer was met by robust defence from the Papaya McLaren ahead of him.
It says a lot about a race when the highlights were a few almost-overtakes, so maybe it’s a blessing that this weekend brings with it a break from the on-track action. On track action for Formula One, at least, as the motorsport season is now very much in full flow. Over the next weekend we have BTCC at Oulton Park, DTM at the Lausitzring and the World Rallycross Championship kicks off at Holjes in Sweden, just to name a few. Therefore, there’s no reason for me to skip a week of #RaceWatch anymore. I’ll see you next week.
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