There were some particularly standout drives at last week’s Spanish Grand Prix which saw Lewis Hamilton break his Barcelona win duck and take the lead of the championship. Nico Rosberg put on a decent fight in the end to finish within a second of Lewis Hamilton while Daniel Ricciardo officially took his first F1 podium finish. Behind the trio came the Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel who kept his miseries of Friday and Saturday behind to finish in a superb fourth place, having started from 15th place on the grid.
Lewis Hamilton made a good start and maintained the lead at the first corner, which more crucially, put him on the ‘optimum strategy’ of medium/medium/hard. The fact that his teammate and fellow front-row starter Nico Rosberg had a relatively slow getaway meant that he was out of the DRS by the end of first lap. After the first round of pitstops, Hamilton built a 4.5 second gap over the German, which was somewhat less than his team had asked to. Nevertheless, the 29 year old managed to keep Rosberg at bay in the final stint, despite the latter being on the faster option tyre to take the lead of the drivers championship for the first time since 2012.
Nico Rosberg had another relatively slower start in Spain and was second on road by the first corner, which meant that he was going to be put on a different strategy to that of Lewis Hamilton, as was the case in Bahrain. He was fitted with the harder prime tyre for the second stint, so he could launch an attack with the faster options during the last part of the race. The strategy gave fans some intense moments in the final few laps but despite Rosberg’s best efforts, he lost out to Hamilton by just 0.6 seconds. After the race, Rosberg admitted that something needs to be done about his poor starts and that he could have overtaken Hamilton, had the race been one lap longer.
Daniel Ricciardo put on another impressive show in qualifying to line up just behind the Mercedes pair of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. In the race, however, he made a poor start and lost out to fast starting Williams of Valtteri Bottas. While the initial getaway was good, wheelspin during the second stage cost him the third place.
After being unable to overtake the Mercedes powered Williams FW36(due to its high top speed), Ricciardo successfully undercut Bottas and was over 30 seconds ahead of him by the time the chequered flag was waved on lap 66.
Vettel ran a ‘new’ chassis in Spain, hoping to put his disappointing start to the 2014 season behind. But the opening two days of Spanish GP weekend suggested otherwise, with the German limited to just four laps of running on Friday and a gearbox problem to deal with on Saturday.
After starting down in 15th place as a result of his five place grid penalty, Vettel beautifully executed his three-stop strategy and charged through the field on fresher tyres to finish in fourth place. It was a drive more than capable of shutting his critics.
While Lotus have made some significant improvements since their miserable outing in pre-season testing, it’s 2014 challener, the E22, may still come to a halt due to mechanical issues, as was the case at last month’s Chinese Grand Prix where Romain Grosjean looked set to finish in points, only to retire from the race because of a gearbox problem. On top of that, it’s still a hard car to drive. But Romain Grosjean, driving the same car, showed his mettle by qualifying in fifth place for the Spanish Grand Prix, ahead of the two Ferraris. In the race, a sensor on Frenchman’s car failed, with the result that power delivery from his Renault V6 turbo engine was inconsistent. Nevertheless, he held on to eighth place with an impressive drive, opening his and his team's point account in the process.