Drafting the Circuits
Formula 1 Report
Spanish Grand Prix
By Steve Aibel
After a three-week break, Formula 1 returned for round 5 of the 2015 championship in Barcelona, Spain. Nico Rosberg took a critical victory and may have changed the trajectory of the Drivers Championship. Lewis Hamilton still maintains a steady lead, but Rosberg reestablished himself as Hamilton’s closest rival and stalled the momentum of the Hamilton juggernaut…for now!
Rosberg returned to Barcelona fresh and had the necessary speed to compete with Hamilton. He took pole position and led throughout the race to a relatively easy win. Sebastian Vettel started strong and with Hamilton struggling at the lights, commanded second place for the majority of the race. A slow pit stop relegated Hamilton to chasing Vettel until his third pit stop when he forged ahead taking over second place and the middle step on the podium.
The pace of the Ferrari was not enough to hold back the Mercedes and a determined Hamilton. In what he deemed “damage limitation”, the 2-time champion experienced set up issues, a balky pit stop, and a poor start. Still, he drove a wise and strong race to salvage a minimal loss of points to teammate Rosberg. This is another critical component to putting together a championship season; managing the points when you are not the victor.
Valtteri Bottas continues to ride a wave as he surged past teammate Felipe Massa to take over 5th place in the Driver’s Championship. Bottas who finished with 4th position in Barcelona, seems to be driving as if he is auditioning for a contract next year, which incidentally he is. The question is, will it be with Ferrari or will he continue on with Williams.
Bottas was asked this directly during the race weekend and stated that he did not have anything signed as a contract or pre contract. Bottas’ contract status may depend on how Kimi Raikkonen does during the remainder of the year. Raikkonen is racing well and being a team player in the newly forged Ferrari team.
Raikkonen raced to 5th position spending the end of the race tailing Bottas. He was not ever close enough to make a pass. The superior straight-line speed of the Williams kept the Ferrari at bay even with DRS on the front straightway in Spain. Williams seems to have made good use of their upgrade package to close the gap to Ferrari.
McLaren gave hope where there was none but in the end it was another weekend of empty promises. With a new, much better looking livery, Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button both made it into Q2 for the first time this season grabbing positions 13th and 14th respectively on the grid. In a day where points were certainly a distinct possibility, McLaren wound up with another forgettable day.
Alonso stalked points until brake issues led to his retirement and a near accident with the front jack man in his pit. Boiled brake fluid in his McLaren Mp4-30 from a helmet visor tear off clogged the rear brake duct leading to his retirement.
Button described his day as simply “scary”. He said the first thirty laps were the scariest of his life with no rear end grip on the car. Overall, it was another blank weekend for McLaren and Honda although one might suggest that the engine gremlins took the week off.
The overall feel for this weekend’s race was that Mercedes, again, confirmed what we all knew. The championship rolls through Brackley and Lewis Hamilton is currently leading the march. Nico’s win, however, was absolutely critical in stalling the pulse of a Hamilton runaway.
Ferrari must be leaving Spain with mixed emotions. They did not truly close the gap to Mercedes and instead found themselves closer to the Williams bunch. Valtteri Bottas, after missing the opening Grand Prix in Australia, is back to his fine form and was certainly a match for the non-upgraded Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen. Raikonnen ran the older specification and Vettel the upgraded parts the team brought to Spain. Raikkonen admitted that this might have compromised his pace in both qualifying and race.
With Monaco next on the schedule, Rosberg is certainly back in the game. A win at Monaco would do wonders for him and as we all know, the best car does not always secure victory in the principality. Rosberg has won in Monaco the last two years and this is his home race. There is a strong possibility of him taking victory in Monaco again.
The greatest day of racing will soon be before us. Monaco is usually an interesting race as the tight track often scrambles the running order. Lotus and McLaren, who have been non-factors this year, could play a role in the Monaco race weekend.
Hamilton will be gunning for Rosberg to gather back the momentum and square the deal from last year where Rosberg ran down the access road at Mirabeau drawing a yellow flag and ruining Hamilton’s qualifying lap. Guaranteed, Lewis remembers this and will be entering the next round ready to rumble.
Sabers are drawn and the race in on. Bring on Monaco!
- Lewis Hamilton 111
- Nico Rosberg 91
- Sebastian Vettel 80
- Kimi Raikkonen 52
- Valtteri Bottas 42
- Felipe Massa 39
- Daniel Ricciardo 25
- Romain Grosjean 16
- Felipe Nasr 14
- Carlos Sainz Jr. 8
- Nico Hulkenberg 6
- Max Verstappen 6
- Sergio Perez 5
- Marcus Ericsson 5
- Daniil Kvyat 5
- Mercedes 202
- Ferrari 132
- Williams 81
- Red Bull 30
- Sauber 19
- Lotus 16
- Toro Rosso 14
- Force India 11
- McLaren 0
- Manor/Marussia 0