Another Formula 1 race, another dominating performance from Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes.
Here’s some of what you may have missed from round 6 of the championship from Barcelona:
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Hamilton Dialed in at Barcelona
The F1 Spanish Grand Prix was no problem for six-time series champion Lewis Hamilton on Sunday in Barcelona.
Hamilton led from start to finish and managed a clean two-stop pit strategy to an easy 24.1-second victory over Red Bull challenger Max Verstappen. Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas was third, 44.7 seconds back.
The win was the 88th of Hamilton’s F1 career, just three shy of the all-time record held by Michael Schumacher.
One record that did fall in Spain was Schumacher’s all-time record of most career podium finishes. Hamilton’s win on Sunday was his 156th podium to break a tie with Schumacher.
It’s worth noting that Hamilton reached 156 in 256 starts. Schumacher started 306 races in his F1 career.
The Racing Point haters were back out in force on Sunday in Barcelona after Lance Stoll and Sergio Perez finished 4-5 to lift the team to third place in the F1 Constructors’ Standings, one point ahead of McLaren and two points up on Ferrari.
Despite last week’s ruling and subsequent penalty levied on the Racing Point Formula 1 team, at least two teams say that the FIA didn’t go far enough.
Renault and Ferrari continue to be critical of the of the ruling, which handed Racing Point a one-time 15-point penalty (7.5 points per car) and a monetary fine of £200.000 per car (about $500,000 in total). The one-time penalty is key, as the ruling states that Racing Point is allowed to continue racing with what Renault and Ferrari believe are F1 cars that have already been deemed illegal by the FIA.
Rivals alleged in the original protests that brake ducts on this year’s Racing Point cars of Lance Stroll and Sergio Perez directly copy those of the 2019 Mercedes championship-winning F1 car. Racing Point officials say they got the idea for their brake ducts from photos, but that all the designing and fabricating were done in house.
In reality, the teams lodging the protest could protest other parts on the car as well. While the parts are legal, it is against F1’s Sporting Regulations to directly copy a rival’s car.
It was another race without a point for the American-based Haas F1 Team, as Kevin Magnussen finished 15th and Romain Grosjean 19th. Magnussen was a lap down, and Grosjean was two laps back of winner Hamilton.
For Grosjean, it marked the 16th consecutive race out of the top-10 and out of the points, dating back to a seventh-place finish at Hockenheim, Germany, last year.
“From lap one to the last lap, it wasn’t good,” Grosjean said. “The car was a handful. I just can’t understand what has happened since Friday. Our long runs, short runs, everything was fast and competitive on Friday—everything was under control. I can’t explain why it was so good then, and not the rest of the weekend. It was just not fun today. It was a tough day at the office.”
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was the only retirement in Barcelona. According to the team, electrical problems caused Leclerc to lose power and spin at turn 13 of lap 37. He managed to restart the car, but by then he had disconnected his seatbelts and had to pit to have them retightend.
Due to the length of the pit stop, the team called it a day and retired the No. 16.
“It’s a shame that we couldn’t finish the race today,” Leclerc said. “I think we had a good chance to finish around P6 or even higher. We were very competitive on the softs and were also quick on the mediums, which we couldn’t fully show because of traffic. The plan was for me to do a one-stop and it was going quite well.
“Unfortunately, we had an issue around midrace. Suddenly my screen and engine switched off and the rear wheels locked. We are not yet sure what happened and are investigating the cause. The car eventually started up again, but it was already too late to continue because I had undone my seat belts and had to return to the pits. Although this year is a little bit tougher than last, we are all motivated to bring home the best results possible for the team and we will keep working hard to achieve this.”
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who struggled with finishes of 10th and 12th that last two times out at Silverstone, rode a one-stop strategy to seventh at Barcelona.
“Today we tried something different and it paid off,” Vettel said. “I was struggling in the first stint, even on medium tires, while in the second one I felt a lot better, despite having the soft tire for many laps.
“There was some rain forecast at some stage so we extended our stint on softs. In the end we were in a position in which we had nothing to lose, so we took the risk and decided to try and make it to the end. Luckily it worked and this result reflects the maximum we could do today with the car.”
Formula 1 fans might be having a good time lately but the people involved in F1 have been working hard in the last six weeks. This week’s Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya was the sixth race of the season and sixth race in seven weekends, and while there has been staff rotation on some teams, the majority of people have been the same at all the races.
Two triple-headers with one weekend off between them is unprecedented in F1 history and we are about to go into a third tripleheader, starting August 30 in Belgium.
Officially, the Formula 1 website lists six more races this season. Expect as many as four more races to be announced as early as this week.