In front of a 91,896 capacity crowd at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Lewis Hamilton secured a comfortable win at the FORMULA 1 GRAN PREMIO DE ESPAÑA EMIRATES 2018, the Spanish Grand Prix, with a snug 20.593 second lead over team mate Valtteri Bottas. The first Mercedes 1-2 of the season is Hamilton’s second win in a row on this track. The 64th victory in his career grants him a healthy lead in the Drivers’ Championship, as he now amasses 95 points, and pulls away from Sebastian Vettel (78 points), who finished fourth for Ferrari today. Max Verstappen (Aston Martin Red Bull) completed the podium. In their home turf, local drivers Carlos Sainz (Renault) and Fernando Alonso (McLaren) wound up 7th and 8th.
Tradition has it that polesitters stand the best chance to win the Barcelona race, and Hamilton became the 21st driver (out of 28 Grand Prix run in the Catalan venue) to confirm it. The four-time World Champion run a flawless race and set a blistering pace from the start. He managed a perfect one-stop strategy, switching from softs to mediums in lap 26.
A messy race start caused a Safety Car intervention after Romain Grosjean (Haas) lost it at Turn 3 and slewed across the track, involving Nico Hulkenberg (Renault) and Pierre Gasly (Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda) in a massive accident. Earlier on, Vettel had already cleared Bottas for P2.
At the restart, Vettel tried to follow Hamilton’s trail, but the German soon realized he had to resign himself to sit back and watch the Championship leader post one record lap after another. So far, Vettel owned second place… but Ferrari miscalculated its bets: the team brought him in early (lap 17) to cover for Bottas hypothetical second stop, but that never came. To make things worse, Vettel pitted again in lap 41 (a troubled stop, two seconds longer than usual) and he definitely dropped off the podium, as all other frontrunners one-stopped.
Bottas dived into his single pit stop two laps later, and drove to a second place finish. To cap it all, engine troubles forced Kimi Räikkönen abandon in lap 25 -his second retirement, after Bahrain. Altogether, a lousy day for the Maranello team.
Max Verstappen fished in troubled waters and clinched his first podium this year, a timely result after an agitated early season marked by a string of track incidents. The Red Bull driver almost ruined his race as he clipped a lapped Williams at the VSC restart. The Dutchman battled with a front wing missing the left endplate, but managed to bring the car home without too much trouble for a third place finish.
His team mate Daniel Ricciardi had a “boring race”, as he said, and finished 5th overall. The Australian established a new race lap record on a 1m18.441s, smashing Räikkönen’s 2008 best (1m21.670s).
Kevin Magnussen earned 6th place for Haas, and Carlos Sainz finished a strong 7th for Renault. Sainz, satisfied with the car improvements and performance, swept past Alonso at the start but was then unable to keep up Hass pace. He almost brushed Marcus Ericsson (Alfa Romeo Sauber) at the end of the home straight, and had yet a later scare with a fuel drop out in the final stages.
Alonso crossed the finish line 8th, trailing Sainz, and finished in the points for fifth time running. In the first troubled lap, he went on the outside in Turn 3 to escape Grosjean’s accident and, as the safety car drove in, he made it past Esteban Ocon (Sahara Force India) and survived on supersoft tyres all the way to lap 21, when he pitted to switch to mediums. Alonso was the only one among the top 15 to sit in the starting grids shod with that compound. Towards the dying moments and after a virtual safety car, he brushed past Charles Leclerc (Alfa Romeo Sauber), who also finished in the points for the second time in a row.
Aitken, unrivalled in FIA Formula 2
Jack Aitken claimed his maiden FIA Formula 2 victory today at the Circuit. The ART Grand Prix Briton drove in style over a tricky tarmac. Moisture and low temperatures contributed to a number of accidents and up to 4 Safety Car events. Thailand’s Alexander Albon, for DAMS, and UK Lando Norris, who maintains his overall lead for Carlin, flanked the Renault Formula 1 junior on the podium. Local driver Roberto Merhi (MP Motorsport) retired with mechanical problems while he was 15th overall, only 4 laps before the end.
Alesi takes the GP3 Series Sprint Race home
The GP3 series raised the curtain today with a Sprint race run in the wet. Giuliano Alesi had the best hand at capitalizing the tricky conditions, and drove to victory under the ecstatic gaze of his father and former F1 driver Jean Alesi. The podium was completed by two ART Grand Prix drivers: Anthoine Hubert, second, and Jake Hughes, third.
Ammermüeller continues on a lucky streak at the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup
Michael Ammermüeller (BWT Lechner Racing) kept cultivating his romance with the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya and collected a win for the second year in a row. The reigning world champion made a superb start from pole and impeccably led to the finish line, ahead of Van Lagen (Fach Auto Tech) and Pereira (Momo Megatron Lechner Racing).
Final two F1 test days
The FORMULA 1 GRAN PREMIO DE ESPAÑA EMIRATES 2018, Spanish Grand Prix, is now history. However, F1 single-seaters will jump back on the track next Tuesday and Wednesday, for the final Formula 1 test days of the season. All fans holding a 2018 Grand Prix ticket, as well as all Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya members and subscribers and Hospitality pass holders will be welcome to enjoy this couple of training days for free. Access to the circuit through Door 1, as of 8.30 am. Grandstands G and B, as well as Parking A2 will be open to visitors. Track activities will develop between 9-1pm and 2-6pm.