David Croft said it best as Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas cruised to the top podium positions at the Catalunya track last night, and I’m paraphrasing here - “they must feel like at a rock concert sound test; Mercedes 1-2, 1-2, 1-2, 1-2… 1-2.” He’s referring to the clean sweep of top two positions in the first five races this year so far. Impressive. My cynical self also thinks that it’ll be more impressive if Ferrari can avoid tripping over their strategy. Seriously.
There was good reason to expect a strong fight to Mercedes since Ferrari publicised fast-tracking an engine upgrade meant for Canada and bringing it straight to Barcelona. Plus some aero upgrades. But days later so Toto and gang brought major upgrades to the track too. Ferrari seemed limp from FP1 straight away, never showing true pace to challenge the Silver Arrows all the way to FP3. On the contrary, Ferrari-powered Haas did surprisingly well at this stage (and they didn’t even get those new engines).
Who else wished that Bottas had won on Sunday, instead? Well, I did. Darn clutch issue gave the race to Lewis ‘look-what-i-did-to-my-hair-this-time’ Hamilton almost immediately after the lights went off. Sebastien overcooked turn 1, Max stole third and the third corner, and the two Ferraris decided to race against each other instead. That was pretty much the Barcelona race.
Mercedes… but enough about them.
Both Red Bulls looked threatening, and while Verstappen obviously took third place, almost-rookie Pierre Gasly showed maturity to finish behind Charles Leclerc in sixth. Speaking of which, other young drivers displayed far better performance than rookies from past years. Alexander Albon may have finished outside the points at 11th place but that’s better than the Renault duo… which is another story altogether. George Russel does not fit into this ‘Good’ list, which is also another story…
Props to Haas, and Romain Grosjean continues to show consistency despite falling rapidly down the order late in the race and grabbing the last points finish at 10th place. Kevin Magnussen finished seventh, and his ruthless driving manner (which is not always pretty to look at) did the job. McLaren’s Sainz somehow crept to eighth, which perhaps surprised himself.
Easy – Williams and Racing Point.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, and Williams need to try every possible solution to get back their groove. My take? Try to change to a better livery; the current one is so bad I’m not at all bothered to Google and find out what ‘Rokit’ is.
Perez seemingly didn’t bother to turn up and Lance Stroll is no Ocon. There, I said it.
Despite the disappointing final result, Vettel did post some storming times especially after the change to Medium tyres. He’d probably have got past Verstappen if given another dozen or so laps. But ifs don’t win races. And clearly the upgrades are not good enough – the average speeds of Vettel and Leclerc of 209.947kph and 209.469kph respectively is far lower than Hamilton and Bottas’ 213.499kph and 212.835.
No one, really. And Renault only made it out because Ricciardo somehow ended at seventh place. They were no where during practise. Despite the large budget and strong driver pairing, they’ve made a race car that Carlos Ghosn couldn’t even use to outrun the law.