Spanish GP Report - Mercedes strategy sinks Red Bull
Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton celebrates after crossing the finish line during the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix race at the Circuit de Catalunya on May 9, 2021 in Montmelo on the outskirts of Barcelona. (Photo by Emilio Morenatti / POOL / AFP) (Photo by EMILIO MORENATTI/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Lewis Hamilton claimed his 98th Formula One victory on a weekend in which he also claimed his 100th pole position. Max Verstappen took second place, whilst Valterri Bottas secured the final podium position in Barcelona

  • Opening Stages

The race was finely poised after another tight qualifying session on Saturday. Lewis Hamilton secured his 100th pole, whilst Max Verstappen once again put up a strong fight to fill in at P2 for the race.

However, it was the Red Bull driver who benefitted from the inside line at the start of the race, as he was able to utilize some slipstream from the Mercedes to firmly place his car ahead of the reigning champion on the first corner. 

Behind them, Valterri Bottas lost out to the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc who did a superb job of holding up the Finn, all the way until the first pit stop, where Bottas managed to undercut Leclerc.

Elsewhere, Daniel Ricciardo had an excellent start, firing his way up to the fifth place, and Esteban Ocon managed to maintain his position in the top ten.

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Pierre Gasly was handed a five-second stop-and-go penalty after the Frenchman had placed his car in front of his designated box at the start of the race.

George Russell lost out to Mick Schumacher at the start but eventually managed to overtake the Haas, before pushing on for the rest of the race. 

An early safety car emerged as Yuki Tsunoda lost power to his car, and his Alpha Tauri was stranded on turn 10.

  • After the restart

The resumption of the race had us on the edge of our seats.

The ongoing battle between Verstappen and Hamilton was once again nail-biting. Mercedes opted for a different strategy to Red Bull as they pulled the pin on a two-stop strategy for Lewis Hamilton, replacing his worn soft tires with two sets of mediums. 

Verstappen responded the first time around, but Red Bull principal Christian Horner decided to take the chance and leave the Mercedes to play catch up, as we proceeded towards the end of the race.

Elsewhere in the race, Lando Norris and his McLaren were plodding along quietly, having been shown a black and white flag for track limits. Carlos Sainz of Ferrari was slowly making his way towards the front end of the grid, pulling off some excellent overtakes down the main straight. 

The former F2 champion George Russell was on a mission once again to secure his first points for Williams, as he tussled with Fernando Alonso of Alpine.

The Aston Martin's of Lance Stroll and Sebastian Vettel was struggling to make an impression during the race, with both drivers sitting outside of the top 10.

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  • Closing stages

The drama ensued as we approached the final ten laps of the race. George Russell somehow lost out to a stampede of cars, with Alonso at the helm in 10th, down to Russell in 15th, all battled for the final championship point.

Gasly would eventually go on to claim the final point of the day, a good recovery considering his early penalty.

At the front of the pack, Lewis was able to charge down the Red Bull and overtake with relative ease, securing victory number 98, with six laps to spare.

As a result, Max Verstappen boxed for some softs tires, in an attempt to secure the fastest lap of the race, which he comfortably achieved. 

Ricciardo had his best afternoon of the season as he brought his McLaren home in 6th, ahead of his teammate in 8th.

Charles Leclerc had a stellar race, and deservedly finished 4th, ahead of Sergio Perez, who recovered well from 8th.

Formula One returns in a few weeks in Monaco, where we can hope to see more amazing strategies, and exceptional racing, in what is turning out to be a brilliant season of racing.

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