Winners and Spinners - Spanish Grand Prix
That wasn't the snoozefest I think we were expecting, but who did well, and who didn't in Catalunya?
That wasn't as dull as I'd anticipated it being! A hunter and the hunted style finale from Lewis and Max with a brilliant fight for P10! But the question as ever is, who came out on top.
Flying on his soft run at the end.
Verstappen - A great start, he has Hamilton on the brakes going into T1 and gaps him massively in the opening laps, showing Lewis a clean set of heels. The safety car blew it for Max, if he'd had a clean run through the early part of the race, chances are we'd've seen a different outcome. Equally, we must give him a nod for his excellent tyre control and management. He'd already put some potent laps in on that set of mediums, so they weren't as fresh as they needed to have been to keep Hamilton at bay. His strategy seemed to be against him today, especially when he pitted a lap early, before his tyres were ready in the garage, hence the kerfuffle and delay getting turned around. A repeat of Hungary 2019, is Red Bull doomed to never learn from their mistakes? We'll wait and see.
I do wonder what that champag... sorry, sparkling wine tastes like.
Hamilton - Another master class drive from Lewis? I'm going to say no. He was able to capitalise brilliantly on a strong strategy though, which is why he is the champion he is. Metering out his tyres for those extra few laps after Max pitted, keeping just enough of a gap to him so he wouldn't have his work cut out post pit stop. Despite being unable to pass Max by lap 41, a dive into the pits for a set of scrubbed mediums saw him return to the track to battle past Bottas, and then hunt down Max, who by this point was millimetres off running on the canvas of his Pirellis. While his pass on Bottas could have been easier given it was supposedly a team orders pass, he had no problems hunting down the Dutchman and blowing through to the line. The only thing that could have changed the race results at that point would have been a 2020 British GP style puncture; seeing a "super-Max" charge to the line on his fresher tyres (pitted for to gain the fastest lap). Now that would have really made it something to behold.
A cracker of a drive. More, please and thank you.
Ricciardo - A much better weekend for the Honeybadger, making up one place over his qualifying to come home 6th, which sounds terrible but once you negate the two Mercs and Max, that's a decent running. Out qualifying his teammate and keeping that momentum going into the race. Strong racing with a sniff of a podium at one point, although again the chaos of people plotting out differing two-stop strategies up and down the grid eventually saw the order reshuffle. With this continued confidence in his car it'll be no time at all until we see him on the podium, I'm sure.
Ocon just doing very jolly well indeed.
Ocon - Esteban did a better job of keeping the pace in his Alpine, he didn't play a bold game in the opening sector, which could have earned him a tidy bit of track position. Regardless, he was still motoring on nicely and while he couldn't defend from the competitive McLaren of Norris behind he just about had enough in the tank to keep fellow Frenchman, Gasly behind him to the line. Especially impressive when you remember he only pulled a one stopper!
Making up for lost time, five seconds of lost time to be precise.
Gasly - Despite collecting a five-second penalty for being out of position at the start, Pierre fought a good race in the midfield, while never breaking up to the front of it, trapped in a series of DRS trains, he kept moving and mounted some impressive looking attacks on far more experienced drivers. This bold yet measured approach saw him snatch that final points position from Lance Stroll, and he still had the pace in the final few laps to catch Esteban Ocon and be fighting him for another point right up to the finish line. I'd say his final position doesn't accurately reflect his drive this afternoon.
Not a car that likes running in a pack, a bit like its bigger sibling the W12.
Russell - Sitting in the points for a bit, needed to pass Alonso but too soon ended up in a pack battling for that pass, lost out due to his aero restrictions. A promising drive from the young Brit, revelling in a two-stop strategy that looked to be the better set up than the single stopper. A decent double stop from the Williams pit crew, although not perfect in execution and timing, right at the end of the safety car, saw both drivers stay competitive during the race, and hang on to the coattails of the bigger teams. All in, a good drive but let down again by his machinery, there's a limit as to what you can expect him to drive around.
"Siri, show me a photo of blue flags." "Did you mean Nikita Mazepin?"
Mazepin - Nearly 40 seconds off the pace of his teammate, yet again the source of a blue flag call, this time from Toto to the FIA, and he's not a man you want to annoy.
Not a sight that Lewis wanted to spend as long as he did looking at.
Bottas - Oh dear, a decent start, but then blown past by Charles and it never really improved from there for Valtteri. Team orders in round four of the championships? This isn't looking to be Bottas' season, not by a long shot. Monaco isn't a favourite track of his, his best finish being 3rd, losing out to Lewis and Vettel who managed to pass him there in 2019, although on track he finished fourth with Verstappen ahead of him too.
Checo and Danny Ric going for it.
Perez - Better, a much-improved race from Checo, but he still just doesn't seem to be able to make the same opening gambits that Max does. There's still more to come from Checo which is what Red Bull need if they are to keep their championship fight with Mercedes alive. A double podium wouldn't go amiss at all.
That hand painted/comic sans number is growing on me week by week. Sue me.
Leclerc - A driver who could have been in contention for a podium finish at one point, Charles was looking on fine form, scything past Bottas into turn three on lap one, making the most of his soft tyres while running plan B for Ferrari, a different plan to his teammate's C, Charles capitalised on what soft running he had, before pitting for twice again in the race. No gain in places from the start, but crucially, no losses either. A tidy points haul, he is only a sole point off of claiming fourth in the championships from Lando Norris.
The fade to black, less so.
Sainz - A good drive from Sainz, revelling in the support from the diminutive crowd at his home race. He and Danny Ric effectively swapped places from lights out to the chequered flag. Again we saw him struggling with the Ferrari's pace towards the end of the race, something that will likely be resolved in time. Next weekend might be a tricky one for the boys in red with the tight demanding turns of Monaco potentially not being a friend to the flowing nature of the Ferrari. Time will tell.
Lando leading a train. This was rather a theme of the race, are you stuck in the train or leading it? Pit into one, or pit out of one?
Norris - After a blinder of a season-opening for the young Brit, is it tailing off for him now? Or has the rest of the grid caught up with him? Or a bit of both? A decent performance on the track, but we've seen more. I sense a Monaco surprise from Lando.
Not great, not terrible. About the best you can do given the circumstances.
Alonso - Dropping seven places from his grid place by the chequered flag, the Alpine just didn't have the legs it needed to hold its strong grid position. Maybe they have a similar issue that Haas had last season where heat would build up in the suspension, mucking with the set up as the temperature changed. Equally the single stop strategy didn't pay off for Fernando this afternoon, his tyres tailing off too early, leaving him susceptible to the group building behind him. But pitting at that point would have also cost him a chance at the points. An unfortunate damned if you do, damned if you don't sorta thing. Something that plagued quite a few other teams.
Mysteriously not a lot of images of Yuki on track from the race. Hmmmm.
Tsunoda - Can you really comment on his race? I think trying to pass any judgement on Tsunoda would be unfair as he barely turned six laps of the track.
What's "zoom" in Italian?
Giovinazzi - Antonio suffered from a poor pit stop early on for tyres, looking to get off of the softs and look to make a long run after the safety car on the mediums; he was fitted with a punctured set of tyres, which were quickly spotted and sorted under the safety car. It could have been worse, thankfully the safety car allowing him to catch up some of the ways to the pack, but not completely, as the delta times hampered his recovery progress. Once the race restarted he made good progress back through the grid. However, he seems to have slaughtered his mediums in that time and had to pit once more. Again hampering his chances of a strong finish, the 'two stopper' didn't play into his hands as strongly as it did for other drivers and teams. A race of "what could have been" for the Italian.
Räikkönen - Räikkönen was the only starter on mediums, with the rest of the grid on softs. A bit of a non-race for Kimi. He seemed to just be ambling about just outside the points waiting to pit stop, and still, he made up five places. Is the strategy in the team playing towards Antonio more these days? I can't tell. Kimi pulled off a one-stopper in the race, and it kept him competitive, possibly courtesy of his experience, using the DRS train following Alonso to make up places in sectors where his C41 was more competent than the other runners.
Perhaps it's my colourblindness, but in some shots, that Aston just looks grey.
Stroll - A mixed race, there were some rough moments for Lance, losing out to Gasly in the last few tours of the track, but equally making some bold passes in sector one when he and a clump of drivers came upon a slowing Alonso. Bouncing off track, he didn't let his overtake on the Spaniard stick, but he failed to come back on the correct side of the bollards at the entry to turn 3. No word from race control as to if he receives a penalty for this.
Try again next time Seb.
Vettel - He wrapped up this weekend's race mimicking his season last year, battling George Russell in a Williams. Not what Seb wanted when he moved away from Ferrari, least of all to see the seat next to Charles come home in the points, unlapped. The gap between him and Lance is closing up, but they haven't made up a huge amount of ground against the rest of the grid.
A much better drive from the Canadian this week. Possibly helped by more favourable conditions for the FW43B.
Latifi - Echoing a bit of George's report for Nicholas. A weak point early on saw him stumble, and a qualifying position that should have seen him ahead of the Haas. Not to worry though as his long pace earned him back the spot he'd missed on Saturday.
Does his front left look like it's off the ground?
Schumacher - He had his battles with the Williams this week, but didn't have a position on them by the chequered flag. Not the same sparkling drive we saw from him in Portugal, but given the drop in pace we saw from his teammate, it seems like the Haas wasn't at home in Spain.