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Spanish GP: Dominant Mercedes Untouchable in Barcelona


Spanish GP: Dominant Mercedes Untouchable in Barcelona

Spanish Grand Prix

After Mercedes struggled at the start of the Formula One season, everything finally clicked for them in the Spanish Grand Prix.

British F1 superstar Lewis Hamilton staged a masterful performance to extend his lead at the top of the driver standings while his teammate Valtteri Bottas finished second to give the Silver Arrows the first one-two finish of the season.

Meanwhile, Hamilton’s main rival and Ferrari ace Sebastian Vettel failed to get a podium finish despite betting sites giving him the best odds to compete with the Brit for the Spain title in Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

While the race was pretty straightforward, it wasn’t without drama too as it featured a crash and a number of spins and collisions.

Highlights of the game

Hamilton took his first pole position since the opening race of the season and used it well to his advantage to cruise to an easy victory in Spain.

The Spanish Grand Prix was off to an eventful start after Romain Grosjean’s car spun and caused a huge fog of smoke, taking out the Haas driver along with Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg and Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly.

Hamilton managed to stay out of trouble; and although he wasn’t able to pull away after the crash prompted an early safety car, he immediately turned his gears at the restart and built a 1.4-second lead by the end of the first racing lap.

The Brit was in full control after that and never looked back as he dominated and finished well ahead of the chasers.

“It felt really good today. I don’t know how it looked but it felt special. Really strong. Once I got going after a good start no one had the pace to keep up with me. I was pulling away more than a second a lap. There are still areas that weren’t quite perfect but this is the closest it has been to some of the performances last year,” Hamilton said after the win.

Ferrari, on the other hand, never really threatened, no thanks to their questionable strategy calls that cost Vettel a podium finish.

Vettel was on course to finish second after a strong start that saw him overtake Bottas from third place. However, on Lap 41 and under a virtual safety car, Ferrari gambled to pit him for the second time due to tyre problems.

The move proved decisive as Vettel’s stop was slow, allowing Bottas and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen to claim second and third, respectively. The German driver ended up fourth.

Meanwhile, Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen also had a bad day after an engine problem on Lap 25 forced him to retire from the race.

Key statistics

Five seconds was the difference for Vettel from fourth and a podium finish.

The German driver already had a lucky break when he went unpunished for pitting on Lap 17—thanks to Bottas’ rear wheel problem that delayed the Finn on the pits—but his second stop that saw the Ferrari team inactive for more than five seconds doomed his chances of limiting the damage caused by Hamilton.

On the other hand, Hamilton was dominant throughout the race, and his numbers showed it. When Vettel was trailing him on Lap 15, the Brit star had already created a 6.5-second lead off his rival.

The 33-year-old made his first and only stop on Lap 25, but it didn’t affect his lead at all as he finished 21 seconds ahead of his teammate Bottas. He now joins the likes of Mika Hakkinen and Michael Schumacher as the only drivers to win three Grand Prix at the venue.

Verstappen, meanwhile, did a good job fending off Vettel despite a damaged front wing, finishing 0.7 seconds ahead of the four-time World Champion.

On the other hand, five drivers—Hulkenberg, Gasly, Grosjean, Raikkonen and Esteban Ocon—didn’t finish the race.

Hamilton is now 17 points ahead of Vettel in the drivers’ championship, while Mercedes retook the lead in the Constructor Standings

What’s next?

Following their abysmal performance here in Spain, Ferrari now head to Monte Carlo for the Monaco Grand Prix in what online bookmakers expect as a crucial moment in the 2018 race.

Ferrari secured a one-two finish on the Circuit de Monaco in 2017, with Vettel finishing first followed by Raikkonen.

Meanwhile, Mercedes will look to avenge their embarrassing finish in the event last year when both Hamilton and Bottas failed to make it to the podium to the shock of top betting sites.

Bottas ended up fourth despite starting third from the grid, while Hamilton did his best but made it only up to seventh after starting from 14th.

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Angelo Guinhawa
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