Spanish GP 2019
MAY 12, 2019
Race Analysis - ONE, TWO, FIVE
By Dan Knutson in Barcelona
Lewis Hamilton led all 66 laps to win the Spanish Grand Prix for the third consecutive time. With his teammate Valtteri Bottas finishing second, Mercedes has now finished one and two in each of the five races so far this season. Here’s how Hamilton’s win unfolded.
Bottas won the pole by a whopping sixth tenths over Hamilton, and eight-tenths over the closest Ferrari.
The Silver Arrows Mercedes cars filled the front row of the grid, with Bottas on pole and Hamilton second.
Row 2 of the grid consisted of Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari and Max Verstappen’s Red Bull
Next up in the lineup were Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) and Pierre Gasly (Red Bull).
The Ferraris are struggling for mechanical grip, and therefore they lost time to the Mercedes in the corners of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
Bottas made a slow start which allowed Hamilton and Vettel to pull alongside him going down the long straight.
"On the first lap I felt a vibration in the clutch and that's why the initial getaway was really poor," said Bottas. "It was kind of biting and releasing, really quick frequency. It's really annoying. A lot of hard work this weekend went down with that.”
Hamilton on the inside, Bottas in the middle, and Vettel on the outside, were three-wide going into the first turn.
Bottas found himself squeezed on both sides as the other two pincered in.
When they had sorted themselves out, Hamilton was in the lead he’d hold for all 66 laps. Bottas rescued second place while Vettel dropped to fourth behind Verstappen.
“I wanted to brake latest, which I think I did,” said Vettel who would eventually finish fourth. “But Valtteri was also quite late so I couldn’t really get in, and I couldn’t see him; I just saw that he was also braking quite late. If I just turned in, which I think I could have managed, then he has nowhere to go and I will go the other way. So it didn’t work. In the end I did Lewis a favor because I distracted Valtteri. It was clear that I could not win the race in the first corner but I saw that there was something to try. I tried and it didn’t work, but I was hoping that I could mix things up a little bit for my sake and your (those watching) sake.”
“At the start it was quite hectic with three cars going into one corner,” Verstappen said, “so I decided to back out of it, but actually in the end I had a good line out of Turn 2 into Turn 3. To take P3 in that corner was very crucial as from there on I could do my own pace and strategy, which worked out well.”
Vettel flat spotted a tire while braking. It would eventually force him to have an early pit stop.
Hamilton had a healthy lead over Bottas when Lando Norris and Lance Stroll collided in Turn 2 on lap 45. That brought out the safety car which closed up the field and potentially gave Bottas a second chance at taking the lead.
“I tried to get close to Lewis at the restart,” Bottas said. “I think I was maybe a bit less than 50 meters by Turn 1 behind him, so no possibly to overtake him. Then Turns 1, 2, 3, they’re extremely quick corners, it’s impossible to follow that close, so you create a gap. Then I went into charging mode with the engine. I tried to charge my battery and I tried the quickest lap a couple of laps later. I maybe should have tried it one lap earlier. I think Lewis got it. But anyways, that was it.”
Hamilton made a clean getaway on the restart at the end of lap 52.
“You just stay cool and focus on the restart,” he said. “It’s pretty straightforward here, generally, the restart, so that wasn’t an issue. I think after one or two laps I was already up at five seconds, and then I backed off to cool the tires down a little bit, then to give myself an opportunity to fight for the fastest lap.”
“We’re P3 again which is pretty representative of our pace at the moment,” Verstappen said, “and it’s great to score more good points. I knew we had a good chance in the race to fight with Ferrari and that’s what we did.”
“The season is still long and we will never give up,” Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto said after his team’s defeat. “It is up to us to assess and to improve in the future. It can only make us stronger in the future – that is the final story of this weekend.”
Not only did Hamilton get seven additional points for finishing first with Bottas second, he also got the point for the fastest race lap. So Hamilton went from being a point behind his teammate to leading the championship by seven points.