Formula One had parity to start the 2018 season. Or so we thought. Through the first four races of the year, we saw three different winners from three different teams. But, as we leave Sunday’s Emirates Spanish Grand Prix, the amount of winning and amount of teams remain the same. The only different is we’re one race further into the season.
Plus, at this point, it appears that Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes are finally starting to hit their stride. Hamilton, went six races between wins, when he finally took the checkered flag first in the last race in Azerbaijan. He didn’t necessarily like that win though, saying that he fluked into it when several contenders, most notably his teammate Valtteri Bottas encountered troubles.
But, this weekend in Spain, he decided to leave no doubt. This championship is his to lose again. The defending world champion was second quickest in the opening practice on Friday but moved one spot up the rest of the way. He qualified on the pole in Spain for the fifth straight year and earned his third Spanish Grand Prix victory as a result.
Hamilton, led all but 10 laps on Sunday en route to his 64th career F1 win after earning his 74th career pole on Saturday. The win was his second of the season, both consecutively, as he now leads Sebastian Vettel by 17 points heading to Monaco in two weeks.
That’s amazing considering how this season started for the Silver Arrows. Hamilton, finished second, third and fourth respectively through the first three races and was staring down a race on the streets of Baku where he struggled in the past. Instead, he lucked into a win there and now showed his might in his No. 44 Mercedes this weekend.
What more can Vettel and the Ferrari’s do now?
They had to go with an extra stop on Sunday and saw their best finisher be Vettel in fourth. It was his third fourth place finish in the last six years but first time not on the podium in Spain since 2014. It was also his second straight race on the season that he didn’t nab a podium effort in his No. 5 Ferrari, allowing Hamilton not only to be able to catch Vettel for the points lead, but overtake him too.
Vettel, started out the year with two straight victories. He and Kimi Raikkonen locked out the front row in qualifying for three of the first four races. But, Mercedes went 1-2 in qualifying this weekend and also 1-2 in the race as well.
Bottas, brought his No. 77 Mercedes home runner-up for his 25th career F1 podium. He was a wide 20 seconds behind Hamilton at the finish. He also trails his teammate by 37 points heading to Monaco as well. But, this was his 19th straight race where the Fin scored points, the sixth longest streak in F1 history.
Hamilton also made history in earning his 41st career victory from the pole. That beats a tie that he had with Michael Schumacher for the most ever.
Max Verstappen finished third in his No. 33 Red Bull for his 12th podium of his career and second in the last three years in Barcelona. His teammate Daniel Ricciardo rounded out the top five in his No. 3 Red Bull.
Kimi Raikkonen had a DNF again, his second of the year when he suffered a mechanical failure in his No. 7 Ferrari. Speaking of DNF’s we saw a big crash in Turn 2 on the start when Romain Grosjean spun while trying to avoid his teammate and was hit by Nico Hulkenberg. The impact was so strong, the debris scattered everyone and flattened Pierre Gasly’s left front tire and suspension as a result.
As Monaco looms next, it appears that the smaller teams aren’t going to contend for wins as much as we thought they may. Vettel will surely come out of this slump at some time and Hamilton may not slide back to what he started the year off the rest of the year. Bottas, is due for a win and should grab at least a couple before the years up too. If you factor in the Red Bulls too, you can see where the parity may not be long lived. This should be a shootout between Hamilton, Bottas and Vettel the rest of the way.
Spanish Grand Prix Results
- 44 Hamilton
- 77 Bottas
- 33 Verstappen
- 5 Vettel
- 3 Ricciardo
- 20 Magnussen -1
- 55 Sainz -1
- 14 Alonso -1
- 11 Perez -2
- 16 Leclerc R -2
- 18 Stroll -2
- 28 Hartley R -2
- 9 Ericsson -2
- 35 Sirotkin R -3
- 2 Vandroone OUT
- 31 Ocon OUT
- 7 Raikkonen OUT
- 8 Grosjean OUT
- 10 Gasly R OUT
- 27 Hulkenberg OUT