F1 – Spanish GP – Race
Hola, MiniFans! The Spanish Grand Prix is back in full swing, with fans filling every seat available and ready to cheer for their home heroes. Unluckily for them, Alonso is set to start from the last place on the grid, but Sainz will start from third, giving them hope at the victory remaining at home.
The start was clean, but only the first couple of corners. After losing a couple of positions due to his very slow start, Sainz had dropped to fifth. Hamilton, in mediums and struggling to keep up with the cars fitted with softs, collided with Magnussen. The Brit had to pit after a puncture and the Danish driver had to use the exterior of the track, and the incident was noted, but no investigation was deemed necessary. Meanwhile, Alonso had gotten up to 14th and started a battle with Vettel, reminiscent of better days for the both of them.
In his usual fashion, once he left the pitlane in 19th, he asked over radio to save the engine, but was told points were in the horizon. Leclerc and Verstappen were pulling away, aided by Sainz’s spin and preceded by the circuit’s standing ovation when Alonso passed Vettel.
Mistakes started to be more prominent, the most important of them made by Verstappen, who lost the car in the exact same fashion as Sainz, but at a slower speed. Wind was partly to blame for both of them, as it was quite strong in turn 4.
The first stop in the top dogs came courtesy of Sainz, knowing he needed to spice up his strategy to try and recover more positions. Russell and Verstappen soon followed, in a mistake made by the energy drinks team, as this meant they had copied Mercedes’ strategy. Red Bull was also having more problems, as the Dutch driver’s DRS couldn’t stay open at times, making it difficult for him to try and overtake Russell, aided by the Brit’s iron defence.
Not even halfway through the race, the biggest shock happened. Leclerc’s Ferrari gave up on him, leaving him with just enough power to nurse his car back to boxes and leaving Russell in the lead, now fighting to keep Pérez behind after Red Bull pitted Verstappen and left the Mexican driver out. His DRS did work, so it was very easy work to make his way past the Mercedes.
Verstappen had just one goal in the race: Getting past Russell, whom he was hunting down with his soft tyres. Mercedes helped him out by calling their driver to pits, as did Red Bull, calling Pérez in as well, getting Verstappen in the lead.
The race was mostly settled, and Verstappen was also called for fresh tyres. Team orders surfaced in the energy drinks structure, and while Pérez was reluctant, he obeyed and exchanged his position with his teammate’s.
In another show of how heart breaking home races can be, Alonso suffered a slow stop due to problems with his front right tyre, as Sainz settled behind the Mercedes cars after his initial mistake. The second best Ferrari powered car was right behind him, as Bottas, on very old tyres, had refused to stop due to the great distance that separated him from Ocon.
The last handful of laps were very quiet, as Pérez used his free pit stop to get himself a set of soft tyres to score the fastest lap of the race, while only people at the back were trying to overtake. In the last two, however, Hamilton was told to lift at the end of the straights and Sainz went past him easily, getting him into fourth place but still far away from Verstappen, Pérez and Russell.
Nothing is ever what it seems and things change in the blink of an eye. That’s the best takeaway from today’s race. From the first to the last, surprises were shared by everyone and no one was safe. What looked like a Ferrari owned weekend turned into Red Bull’s dominance, while Hamilton went from wanting to retire the car after a first lap contact to fourth, Leclerc’s car showed the first reliability issues from a Ferrari engine in the season, Verstappen went from being drowned in problems with his DRS to winning, Alonso slotted himself into the points having started last and Norris was the best McLaren by far, even being weak and sick. Who said the Spanish GP was boring?