[F1 2018 NEWS FEATURE] SPANISH GRAND PRIX: RACE REVIEW

Formula 1 news story about [F1 2018 NEWS FEATURE] SPANISH GRAND PRIX: RACE REVIEW

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton has begun his European season with a racing masterclass, dominantly winning the Spanish Grand Prix for a third time on a day when main rival Ferrari faltered. The four-time F1 World Champion leading home teammate Valtteri Bottas for the squad’s first one-two result in 2018, despite a huge multiple-car crash at Turn 3 on Lap 1 that brought out the safety car.

Hamilton showed Mercedes has put its front tyre struggles behind it, with the Brit in control throughout; his back-to-back victories in Spain the first in Barcelona since Michael Schumacher in 2003 and 2004.

Hamilton also rewrote the history books with his 41st win from pole position, eclipsing Schumacher - and racked up his 30th straight points finish. He also extends his lead over Vettel in the standings to 17 points, an incredible 34-point overhaul after being 17 points behind after Bahrain.

Hamilton was naturally jubilant, having put the four tough flyaway races behind him.

“Today, the car and myself, I felt that synergy, which I hadn’t been feeling for the whole year. So it’s a good feeling,” he said. “This is when we’re going to try to start to continue to apply pressure.”

Bottas finished second, 20-seconds behind his world champion teammate. The Finn ahead of third-placed Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen. The Dutchman kept Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel behind him - despite a damaged front wing that he sustained with a crash into Williams’ Lance Stroll during the Virtual Safety Car (VSC).

Vettel pitted under the VSC, but the Scuderia’s gamble didn’t pay off after the German was held up in the pit lane from passing cars, the slow tour through the pits stopping him from jumping Verstappen.

The grid now stays in Barcelona for the first of 2018's in-season tests, which is followed by a 2-week break, before F1 heads to the greatest event of all in Monaco, which should again bring the drivers to the fore with the track rewarding commitment.

Pos No Driver Car Laps Time/Retired Pts
1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 66 1:35:29.972 25
2 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 66 +20.593s 18
3 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 66 +26.873s 15
4 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 66 +27.584s 12
5 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 66 +50.058s 10
6 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 65 +1 lap 8

Here’s how the FORMULA 1 2018 SPANISH GRAND PRIX played-out lap-by-lap:

Build Up:
It’s the start of the European season, and there’s plenty at stake with the race likely to be a real marker for the winner in his campaign. Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton wants to consolidate on his lead in the standings, after taking a lucky first victory for the year at the previous race in Azerbaijan. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel wants to re-stamp his authority on the title race, while both Red Bull Racing drivers need a win to keep the dream alive and bring itself back into the fight after the pair crashed into each other in Baku.

It’s something of a Noah’s Ark grid with Mercedes locking out the front row for the first time in 2018. Behind the Silver Arrows are the two Ferraris, with Vettel ahead of teammate Kimi Raikkonen. Then it’s the two Red Bulls, with Verstappen outqualifying Ricciardo. Behind them is Haas’ Kevin Magnussen, followed by two Spaniards competing on home soil in Barcelona with McLaren’s Fernando Alonso starting from P8 and Renault’s Carlos Sainz in P9. Haas’ Romain Grosjean closes out the top-10.

Starting from P14 is Sauber’s Charles Leclerc, the Monegasque outqualifying his teammate Marcus Ericsson for the third-straight Grand Prix. An impressive performance from the highly rated rookie. Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley starts from the back in P20, after the New Zealander had a huge crash in final practice on Saturday - destroying his car. He’s behind Williams’ Sergey Sirotkin, who takes a three-place grid penalty for his part in the Azerbaijan Lap 1 crash.

We’re expecting a thrilling getaway, with the distance from the start line down to the Apex of Turn 1 726.279 metres - the longest of the entire season. So there will plenty of slipstreaming as the drivers jockey into the first corner. And anything can happen, as we saw last year with carnage and Verstappen out - as well as 2016, when the two Silver Arrows crashed into each other at Turn 4, which the Dutchman capitalised on with his maiden race win.

Strategically, two stops is quicker, but only by 2-3 seconds. Track position, though, will be king in Spain - making a one-stop highly attractive, starting on the softs and changing around Lap 25 to the mediums. But rain overnight may have made the track more abrasive, which will take the strategy back towards a two-stop. So the engineers and strategists will have their work cut out for them, having to watch degradation, and the weather with the prospect of rain at 80 per cent, and play the pit stops on the fly. Plenty of intrigue, as always.

Formation Lap:
Everyone is starting on the softs, the top-11 on used sets - except for McLaren’s Fernando Alonso on used supersofts, while Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg (who had a fuel pressure issue in qualifying) and Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson are on new mediums. So a long first stint for those two, looking to move up as those ahead pit. The Silver Arrows are starting to back up the pack from the back straight.

Lap 1:
Hamilton gets a great start, with Bottas unable to get second - Vettel going into P2. Huge crash, with Haas’ Romain Grosjean and Nico Hulkenberg out with huge damage. Grosjean loses it into Turn 2, in trying to avoid his teammate, spinning back onto the track and hitting the German. Gasly is also out with damage. Safety car deployed on Lap 1.

Lap 2:
So order is HAM, VET, BOT, RAI, VER, RIC, MAG, SAI, LEC, OCO, ALO, STR, PER, VAN, ERI. HAR and SIR in pit. Vettel taking the start he needed to keep himself in this race, Bottas unable to respond against the slipstreaming Ferrari. Grosjean has apologised to the team for losing the car, the Frenchman keeping the throttle planted as he spun.

Lap 3:
We’re still under the safety car. Replays showing Gasly got caught up in the Grosjean/Hulkenberg crash, in trying to avoid the melee. The damaged cars are still being recovered.

Lap 4:
We’re under the safety car. Sainz on team radio tells the safety car to speed up, with tyre temps falling and low grip on the new track surface. Gasly’s stricken Toro Rosso is being craned off the track.

Lap 5:
Safety car conditions prevail. Grosjean is walking back into the paddock, his helmet still on - indicating he doesn’t want to talk.

Lap 6:
Safety car still out, with stewards declaring the Turn 3 incident involving Grosjean will be investigated after the race. Safety car coming in at the end of this lap. Can Hamilton retain his lead into Turn 1? Will there be more carnage? He gets on the gas at Turn 13.

Lap 7:
Hamilton leads, then Vettel, with Bottas on his tail. Alonso passes Ocon around the outside at Turn 3 for P10. Ricciardo goes wide at Turn 9, he was well off the track then.

Lap 8:
Hamilton sets the fastest lap, a 1:22.990. He leads Vettel by 1.6 seconds, Bottas is 1.1 seconds behind the German in P3. Magnussen in P7 leads a train of cars behind him with Sainz, Leclerc, Alonso, Stroll, Perez and Vandoorne. DRS enabled now.

Lap 9:
Hamilton sets another fastest lap, a 1:21.631 (lap record). He’s now 2.2 seconds up on Vettel. And the German is 2-seconds ahead of Bottas. Vandoorne is being investigated by the stewards for going wide at Turn 1, having gone the wrong side of the bollard.

Lap 10:
Hamilton is absolutely flying, another fastest lap, a 1:21.386 - he’s now 3.1 seconds up on Vettel, and 1.1 seconds faster on that last lap. Vandoorne has a 5-second time penalty for going wide at Turn 1. Alonso in P10 is less than a second behind Leclerc. Sainz told they’re thinking about Plan B, which could be a two-stop.

Lap 11:
Hamilton leads Vettel by 4-seconds, Bottas is 1.4 seconds adrift in P3. Perez in P13 is 0.6 sec behind Stroll, and looking to close the Canadian down. Hamilton is the only one in the 1:21s.

Lap 12:
Hamilton leads Vettel by 4.9 seconds. Ocon in P11 is all over the back of Alonso, 0.7 seconds the gap. Leclerc in P9 has pulled away from Alonso, 1.8 seconds the difference, but the Spaniard’s supersofts would be suffering.

Lap 13:
Hamilton is in P1, 5.8 seconds up on Vettel. Verstappen in P5 is 11-secs behind the leader, Ricciardo one second behind his teammate but on strong pace - the Australian four tenths faster than the Dutchman.

Lap 14:
Hamilton leads Vettel by 6.4 seconds. Ricciardo tells engineer that he’s on the pace, suggesting he wants to get past.

Lap 15:
Verstappen responds with a personal best lap to put paid to Ricciardo’s request to get past. Hamilton leads Vettel by 6.6 seconds. Perez in P13 is still 0.8 seconds behind Stroll, with Vandoorne the same space behind and chasing.

Lap 16:
Hamilton leads Vettel by 6.9 seconds. The Brit still the only one in the 1:21s, with Vettel, Bottas, Raikkonen, Verstappen and Raikkonen all in the low 1:22s.

Lap 17:
Hamilton is really dominating, with a 7.3 second lead over Vettel. His last lap, a 1:21.562 - half a second faster than the German. Perez in P13 has fallen away from Stroll, has he made a mistake? Vandoorne is right on his tail now. Ferrari goes into the pit lane.

Lap 18:
Vettel pits from P2, he goes onto the mediums (which can go for 50 laps) - 2.5 second stop. He comes out behind Magnussen in P7. Bottas will be on the attack now to cover off the undercut, he’s told to push now. Vettel in traffic, so not looking like a strong move.

Lap 19:
Hamilton sets the fastest lap, a 1:21.328. He leads Bottas by 9.5 seconds, the Finn looking quick with the fastest final two sectors but not responding to the undercut just yet.

Lap 20:
Bottas pits from P2, has he locked up somewhere on the lap? He’s onto the mediums. 3.9 second stop, so more than a second slower than Vettel. But he can’t speed up to stay ahead of Vettel. The pit stop time cost the Finn the place, Vettel pipping him down to Turn 1, emerging from behind Magnussen to cover off the Finn. Hamilton leads Raikkonen by 14-seconds.

Lap 21:
Hamilton leads Raikkonen by 15-seconds. The Brit told to sit tight for the moment, no issues. Bottas passes Magnussen into Turn 1 for P6. Hamilton asks about the weather, told no change yet. No cars are within 1-second of each other.

Lap 22:
Hamilton sets another fastest lap, a 1:21.157 - eight tenths up on Raikkonen in P2’s last lap. Bottas responds with the fastest lap, a 1:20.402 - the first one into the 1:20s. Alonso stops, changes onto the mediums.

Lap 23:
Hamilton leads Raikkonen by 17-seconds, Verstappen 1-second behind and Ricciardo is 3.6 seconds adrift of his teammate in P4. The big race is for P5, with Bottas chasing down Vettel. Verstappen says he’s struggling with the rear tyres.

Lap 24:
Hamilton leads Raikkonen by 17.5 seconds. Leclerc in P15 is chasing down Hartley 1.1 seconds the gap there. Both Red Bulls in P3/P4 doing similar lap times, 1:21.9s.

Lap 25:
Verstappen passes Raikkonen for P2, who was going into the pit but stayed out - he’s on the radio saying his has an issue. Ricciardo is also past for P3, but both Red Bulls are yet to stop. Raikkonen told to stop the car, but he’s still going.

Lap 26:
Hamilton pits from the lead. He’s onto the mediums, 2.5 second stop. He’s emerged between the two Red Bulls, Verstappen taking the lead but yet to stop. Replays show Hartley and Leclerc almost banging wheels on the main straight, the Monegasque getting past for P13. Raikkonen is retiring, he’s being pushed back into the garage.

Lap 27:
Verstappen leads Hamilton by 3.1 seconds. Alonso gets past Hartley for P13 down the main straight. Bottas in P5 is 1.1 seconds behind Vettel, and he’s approaching DRS range.

Lap 28:
Verstappen leads, but Hamilton in P2 sets the fastest lap, a 1:20.131 - he’s now 2.3 seconds behind the leader who is yet to stop. We can see rain on the radar, but will it hit the circuit? Sainz has attempted a pass on Ericsson into Turn 1, but the Swede stays in front - closing the door. Impressive move.

Lap 29:
Verstappen leads Hamilton by 2-seconds. Ricciardo in P3 is 5.4 seconds adrift of Hamilton. Sainz and Ericsson are continuing their battle, the Spaniard biding his time.

Lap 30:
Verstappen just 1-second ahead of Hamilton, and yet to stop. Both of the Saubers are holding their heads up, with Ericsson staying ahead of Sainz for P8 and Leclerc ahead of Alonso for P10. Ocon pits but right rear tyre won’t go on, delaying him and sending him back to last place in P16.

Lap 31:
Hamilton in P2 is within DRS zone of leader Verstappen, 0.6 sec the gap. Ericsson is staying ahead of Sainz, impressive work. Just 16 runners in this race.

Lap 32:
Verstappen leads Hamilton by 0.6 seconds, Ricciardo 7.3 seconds behind in P3.

Lap 33:
Bottas told to keep his head down, with Vettel potentially pushed to a two-stop with tyre wear, and Red Bull ahead likely one-stopping. Magnussen pits from P6.

Lap 34:
Ricciardo pits from P3, he goes onto the mediums - he exits in P5 into clean air, behind Bottas. Verstappen has built a lead on Hamilton, 1.4 seconds the gap now.

Lap 35:
Verstappen pits from the lead. He goes onto the mediums, and comes out in P4 ahead of Ricciardo. Ocon and Sirotkin racing hard for P15. So after the first stops, it’s Hamilton who leads Vettel by 10.1 seconds. Bottas is back in P3, 1.7 seconds behind the Ferrari.

Lap 36:
Hamilton’s got a comfortable lead. Vettel 1.8 seconds up on Bottas in P3. Verstappen in P4 is 8.9 seconds adrift of the Finn. Sainz in P8 is still chasing Ericsson, but the Swede pits releasing the Spaniard.

Lap 37:
Bottas feels consistent tyres at the moment, with potential to go to the end of the race. Hamilton leads Vettel by 10.8 seconds. Bottas is in P3, 2.2 seconds behind. The leaders have lapped up to P7.

Lap 38:
Alonso in P9 is half a second behind Leclerc. Hamilton leads Vettel by 11.4 seconds.

Lap 39:
Hamilton leads Vettel by 11.5 seconds. Will we see the Ferrari have to stop again? Bottas and Verstappen behind were 2-tenths faster on that last lap.

Lap 40:
Hamilton building his lead, 12.2 seconds up on Vettel. Bottas is gaining on the Ferrari, just 1.9 seconds the gap. Alonso is still chasing Leclerc, with the rookie Monegasque looking calm under fire. The field has been lapped up to P6, Magnussen. Ocon retires, stops on the side of the track. Virtual Safety Car deployed.

Lap 41:
We’re under the Virtual Safety Car, so all the drivers must drive to a delta time. Increasing lap time by 40 per cent. Ferrari pit crew in the pit lane.

Lap 42:
Vettel pits under the Virtual Safety Car. He takes another set of the mediums, very slow 5.6 second stop. He comes out behind Verstappen in P4, putting the squad on the back foot.

Lap 43:
Virtual Safety Car ends. Green flag. Alonso passes Leclerc with an aggressive move into turn 1. Verstappen goes into the back of the Stroll at the end of the last lap under VSC, damages front wing. He’ll have to put. We also see Sirotkin spinning wildly at Turn 9, he pits as well.

Lap 44:
Hamilton leads Bottas by 14.4 seconds. Verstappen is 10.7 seconds adrift, but front wing damage has fallen off so may not have to pit. Vettel is in P4 2.4 seconds the gap.

Lap 45:
Replays show Verstappen’s damage front wing had pieces falling off, and they shattered at final corner - falling back onto the racing line, which Perez then ran over. Hamilton leads Bottas by 14.9 seconds.

Lap 46:
Bottas sets the fastest lap, a 1:19.944 - half a second faster than his teammate ahead in the lead. Vettel in P4 is just 1.2 seconds behind Verstappen, who has a damaged front wing. He’s getting within DRS range.

Lap 47:
Hamilton leads Bottas by 14.3 seconds. Then it’s VER, VET, RIC, MAG, SAI, ALO, LEC, PER, STR, ERI, VAN, HAR, SIR. Vandoorne is slowing, he’s lost drive and retires at pit exit.

Lap 48:
Hamilton sets the fastest lap, a 1:19.766. Just 14 runners in this race now. Top-six covered by 72 seconds, top-three covered by 26 seconds. It’s a drawn out field now, but Vettel is keeping pressure on Verstappen for a chance at the final podium place.

Lap 49:
Hamilton leads Bottas by 16.1 seconds. Verstappen in P3 is 10.7 seconds behind the second Silver Arrow. Vettel is 1.7 seconds adrift of Verstappen, though the Dutchman is keeping consistent pace.

Lap 50:
Vettel in P4 has dropped away from Verstappen, now 2.7 seconds the gap.

Lap 51:
Hamilton now 17.1 seconds up on Bottas. Ricciardo sets the fastest lap of the race, a 1:19.147. He’s 16.5 seconds behind Vettel in P5.

Lap 52:
No drivers within one second of another. But Vettel is now on the attack on Verstappen.

Lap 53:
Vettel in P4 is 2.1 seconds behind Verstappen. Hamilton leads Bottas by 17.6 secs.

Lap 54:
Hamilton leads Bottas by 17.3 seconds. He’s coasting out front.

Lap 55:
Alonso asks about the forecast with clouds looking dark. Hamilton leads Bottas by 17.6 seconds. Verstappen in P3, 10.3 seconds adrift. Vettel is now 2-seconds behind the Dutchman.

Lap 56:
The leaders have now lapped everyone up to P5, Ricciardo - the Australian again setting the fastest lap, a 1:19.093. He’s 47 seconds off the lead, and 17-seconds behind Vettel.

Lap 57:
Perez in P10 is 1-second behind Leclerc, and fighting for two points. Hamilton is 17.2 seconds ahead of Bottas.

Lap 58:
Hamilton is cruising out front, 17.7 seconds up on Bottas. Perez continues to hunt down Leclerc. but can’t get close enough into Turn 1.

Lap 59:
Hamilton leads Bottas by 18.4 seconds. Order is HAM, BOT, VER, VET, RIC, MAG, SAI, ALO, LEC, PER, STR, ERI, HAR and SIR.

Lap 60:
Perez gets past Leclerc and is up into P9 with a move at the end of the main straight.

Lap 61:
Ferrari looks like its decision to pit under the VSC hasn’t paid off, but Vettel was held in the pit box by Perez - who was passing. Bottas has pulled back the gap to Hamilton, now just 16.6 seconds the gap.

Lap 62:
Sainz complains about a fuel drop out.

Lap 63:
Sainz complaining he’s losing tyre temp as he fuel saves.

Lap 64:
Hamilton leads Bottas by 18-seconds.

Lap 65:
Hamilton sets a personal best lap, as does Alonso in P8 and Hartley in P12. The Brit is 19.2 seconds ahead of Bottas in P2.

Lap 66 – FINAL LAP:
Hamilton wins the Spanish Grand Prix for the second-straight time, the first time a driver has taken consecutive wins at the Barcelona circuit since Michael Schumacher in 2003 and 2004. It’s his 41st win from pole, breaking Schumi’s record. It’s also his 30th consecutive points finish, another record.

Pos No Driver Car Laps Time/Retired Pts
1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 66 1:35:29.972 25
2 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 66 +20.593s 18
3 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 66 +26.873s 15
4 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 66 +27.584s 12
5 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 66 +50.058s 10
6 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 65 +1 lap 8
7 55 Carlos Sainz Renault 65 +1 lap 6
8 14 Fernando Alonso McLaren Renault 65 +1 lap 4
9 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 64 +2 laps 2
10 16 Charles Leclerc Sauber Ferrari 64 +2 laps 1
11 18 Lance Stroll Williams Mercedes 64 +2 laps 0
12 28 Brendon Hartley Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 64 +2 laps 0
13 9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 64 +2 laps 0
14 35 Sergey Sirotkin Williams Mercedes 63 +3 laps 0
NC 2 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren Renault 45 DNF 0
NC 31 Esteban Ocon Force India Mercedes 38 DNF 0
NC 7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 25 DNF 0
NC 8 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari 0 DNF 0
NC 10 Pierre Gasly Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 0 DNF 0
NC 27 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 0 DNF 0