The dust is settled on the Spanish Grand Prix and for the first time this season, Nico Rosberg has been victorious!
Ultimately his victory was sealed at the very start of the race, when he got away well, whilst Lewis Hamilton span his wheels too hard and fell behind Sebastian Vettel, proceeding to be stuck behind the Ferrari for a big chunk of the race (not helped by a botched pit stop when he first boxed either).
With the Ferrari pacing the Mercedes quite nicely, Hamilton was unable to get close enough to take advantage of DRS, the only chance Hamilton initially had to get by Vettel was to try and undercut him at the pit stops, but a problem with the rear-left tyre at the first stops meant Hamilton actually ended up even further behind Vettel, and had to play catchup all over again.
Rosberg meanwhile, was largely un-threatened up front, stretching out a decent enough gap to avoid any pit stop strategy work from Ferrari.
The Toro Rossos, which had qualified 5th and 6th (a mighty effort), fell back during the early stages of the race, hampered by a setup that favoured strong cornering but left them sitting ducks on the straights, thus seeing to it that Kimi Raikkonen and the two Lotuses got by them fairly quickly.
Fernando Alonso nearly – nearly – ran over the jack man when he pitted, the result of a brake problem that would force him to retire, whilst Maldonado’s Lotus firstly suffered a damaged rear wing, then he too was forced to retire through no fault of his own.
Ultimately only Carlos Sainz would bring his Toro Rosso home in the points, though as I type he’s under investigation for a last-lap collision with Red Bull’s Kvyat, that saw him run wide through the first couple of corners.
Williams saw both cars in the points, with Valtteri Bottas holding off Kimi Raikkonen over the final few laps, once again showing great composure to right off the faster car. Ricciardo recovered from bad qualifying to finish 7th, with all the Red Bull-owned cars finishing the race (a minor miracle!)
Grosjean accidentally hit one of his pit crew when he failed to stop in time during one of his stops.
It would be fair to say the race was not especially exciting, but it was an important moment in the season – Rosberg controlled the race, for once looking every bit as confident as Hamilton has looked so far. He remains 20 points behind Hamilton after five races, but he’s shown he can still fight back, and he will be very keen to carry this form through to Monaco.
For his part, Hamilton managed to put in some sensational lap times on the harder tyre, managing to undercut Vettel in the end (Ferrari mysteriously didn’t try to cover Hamilton off). His speed once free of the Ferrari was impressive, and at one stage it seemed he might try to catch Rosberg in the final laps, but he was too far back to have a realistic chance. In the end, his chances of victory were thwarted at the very start, thanks to his poor start. He’ll be hungry to regain the upper hand in Monaco!
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