F1 – Spanish GP – Race
Hola, MiniFans! We’re back yet again, this time to celebrate the 30th Spanish GP celebrated in the Circuit of Barcelona-Catalunya. Tyres will likely be key in a race where Verstappen is yet again the anti-Mercedes hope and Racing Point have seemingly finally settled in their place right in between the Red Bulls, but have yet to prove that dominance over Ferrari and the rest of the midfield.
A terrible start by Bottas gave us the spark that we needed in order to be hopeful. Verstappen and Stroll overtook him easily and Bottas got stuck between both Racing Point cars in the action that stuck out the most in the first couple of laps. Stroll’s great control of the clutch gave him an advantage for a little while, but Bottas would soon regain third place. Hamilton’s fear of blistering and tyre failure after the last two races was crystal clear in the slow pace he set, conserving them but risking wild strategies by other drivers and teams due to it. That was at least until he picked up his pace and started setting fastest laps, something not too difficult for him to do even not giving his all, and leaving Verstappen stranded.
The used soft tyres weren’t falling apart, a frustrating aspect to those who, out of the top ten, had chosen to kick off with new mediums. The surprising exception to this was Verstappen, who made it known he was struggling and his team decided to try the hards, a tyre no one had liked and some had even equated to driving on ice during Friday’s practices, on his teammate to try and see whether the compound had improved and if they could risk a one stop strategy with their first driver. The Dutch driver kept complaining on radio until he was finally allowed to pit once he would not lose a position to Stroll. Mediums were mounted on most cars, the biggest exception being Sainz, who got another set of soft tyres to try and overtake Albon on track, as it looked like he would go for just one stop.
Almost halfway through the race, it was time for Stroll to make his first pit stop and sack his softs, all while Sainz managed to overtake Albon after some struggle. The last of the cars that started on softs soon followed suit, only leaving the Renaults without changing tyres, but it seemed as if they’d be shooting for a one-stop strategy due to having started with mediums. When it seemed that everything was mostly settled, rain was reported close to the circuit and was expected to hit the track during the last laps of the race. While everyone was still sceptical about the possible rain, Leclerc’s car seemingly stopped and hinted at a safety car, but the Monegasque driver was able to bring the car back to the boxes.
As the threat of rain dissipated, those on a two-stop strategy changed their tyres for the second time without any incident, the only close call being Sainz barely making it out in front of Albon and fighting tooth and nail for his place. Meanwhile, Vettel and Ferrari risked not doing any more stops while still using softs to try and make it to the end of the race and both Pérez and Kvyat landed themselves in an investigation for ignoring blue flags, each getting a five second penalty for their infringement of the rules. As the penalties were dished out, Vettel could be seen struggling, losing a place to Stroll and his gap to Sainz getting smaller in every lap that went by. A scolding over the radio from Raikkonen to Grosjean later, the cameras cut to the battle between a Spaniard and a German, which was over almost as soon as it started. One last quick stop for Bottas in order to defend his fastest lap, if necessary, gave us the last actions of the Grand Prix.
In the beginning, it almost seemed as if Versappen would be able to, yet again, contest the reign of Mercedes, but he could only beat one of them thanks to his brawn in the first corners. The looming threat of rain once again didn’t come true, leaving fans longing for it as they witnessed Vettel managing to defend from Albon with his almost forty-lap old soft tyres basically down to the canvas while his teammate had to retire due to mechanical problems. Racing Point finally finished in the place they should have been during the whole season, right behind the top dogs. Carlos Sainz gave his all in his home Grand Prix and fiercely fought for his sixth place, as Renault disappointed again and Albon showed that the Red Bull car is only driveable by his teammate. We now head to a weekend free of racing only to come back to a triple header of very well loved circuits, which will kick off with Spa.