Formula 1

Formula 1: Verstappen dominates in Spanish Grand Prix

@F1 Twitter

Max Verstappen was able to cruise his way to a grand slam victory in the Spanish Grand Prix, finishing 25 seconds ahead of second placed Hamilton.

Verstappen was able to get a good start and covered off Sainz into turn one quickly flying off into the distance. Norris lost 3rd to Hamilton off the start, and then made contact with Hamilton’s rear, breaking off part of his front wing and forcing him to pit.

The incident had meant Hamilton had lost some time, and fell behind Lance Stroll. The other Mercedes of George Russell was able to make up 5 places on the opening lap. Both Mercedes entered an early fight with either Aston Martin, with Russell overtaking Alonso on lap 7, whilst Hamilton overtook Stroll just a lap later for the podium positions.

Hamilton then set his sights on Sainz in second, with the Mercedes driver quickly gaining on the Ferrari, clearly demonstrating that they had the second best car in the race.

Sainz pit on lap 15, right as Hamilton had caught to the back of the Ferrari. The high tyre degradation meant that drivers were all doing two stop strategies, but how these were implemented changed from team to team. For example, Mercedes opted to significantly overcut Sainz by 10 laps, giving them a significant tyre advantage for the rest of the race.

Red Bull had decided that the long first stint was suitable as well, with Verstappen stopping on lap 27, and Perez on lap 28.

There was a 40 percent chance that rain would fall during the race, and George Russell had thought it had started on lap 28  when he reported that he had felt some at turn 5. This was not the case at all, and ended up just being sweat from his helmet.

Despite having come out of the pits over 3 seconds behind Sainz, it only took Hamilton 4 laps to pass by virtue of his better tyres. The poor race pace of the Ferrari meant that the Spaniard was quickly in the clutches of the other Mercedes, with Russell taking the final podium spot on lap 35.

Sergio Perez had also been making a charge through the field, and was finding good pace in the early stages of his second stint. He overtook local hero Alonso on lap 31, followed by overtakes on Tsunoda and Ocon on laps 33 and 34 respectively to bring himself up to 6th.

This set up the Mexican driver to chase down Sainz, as a potential Perez podium looked somewhat possible. He was 11 seconds behind 4th, but had time on his side, and a significantly better car.

Though the idea of a one stop was pondered by some pit walls, most began to come in for their second stop from lap 38 onwards. The Ferraris pit on lap 42, with Sainz coming out on hards, with the gap to Perez having all but evaporated by the time he’d came in.

Russell came in on lap 46 for a set of soft tyres, as would his teammate and the Red Bulls in the coming laps.

After his second stop Perez did come back out behind Sainz, though it would only take two laps for the Red Bull to pass by and take 4th.

Yuki Tsunoda picked up a 5 second penalty for having forced Zhou Guanyu off the track whilst overtaking him. Though he’d crossed the line in 9th, Tsunoda fell out of the points with the penalty, promoting Zhou into 9th and Gasly into 10th.

There was a little jeopardy late on for Max Verstappen as he ended up getting a third track limits warning, meaning if he was to get one more violation, he’d receive a 5 second penalty. Though he had a very significant gap over 2nd at this point, a penalty would be a significant issue in the event of a late safety car. Despite this Verstappen pushed on for the fastest lap of the race for the grand slam victory, and avoided a penalty in the process.

The result means Verstappen is now 56 points ahead of his teammate Sergio Perez in 2nd place.

F1 returns after a one week break for the Canadian grand prix on the 16th-18th June.

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