To most, the race that took place this afternoon in sunny Barcelona was a brilliant one, with new Red Bull driver Max Verstappen coming home with a victory, a first for the team since Sebastian Vettel left. Verstappen also set more records with his win, being the youngest driver to win a race at the age of eighteen, and the first Dutch driver to win a race, with Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and teammate Sebastian Vettel completing the podium.
“It feels amazing. I cannot believe it,” Verstappen spoke. “It was a great race. I have to say thanks to the team for making such a great car. To win straight away in the first race is an amazing feeling.”
“An unbelievable achievement,” team principal Christian Horner reported after the race had finished. “We’re in shock from our side.We know this year that our races have been reasonably competitive, and the updates we brought have done their job… but to see this kind of result is a dream come true, a dream debut.
“We took the opportunity with Mercedes not being there, but we had to cover Ferrari today – they probably had the faster car in clean air. So for Max to soak up all that pressure… he didn’t make a single mistake, not just today but all weekend. And at only 18? Unbelievable.”
Verstappen managed to hold off pressure from Raikkonen, whilst behind them, much the same thing took place, with Vettel holding off Verstappen’s new teammate Daniel Ricciardo fought for the final place on the podium. The pressure, however, was soon relieved from Vettel as Ricciardo suffered from a puncture with a lap to go.
However, Ricciardo managed to still grab fourth, whilst Williams’ Valterri Bottas came in fifth. Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz came sixth at his home Grand Prix, followed by Force India’s Sergio Perez. Behind them were Williams’ Felipe Massa, McLaren’s Jenson Button and Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat to complete the top ten.
After a poor start, Raikkonen got a boost after the two Mercedes’ were quickly put out of action following their collision. After this, Raikkonen ended up in fifth, after Ricciardo took first place from the Mercedes’, quickly followed by teammate Verstappen, with Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz battling Vettel for fourth. By lap eight, Vettel had managed to get rid of Sainz, with Raikkonen following suit a lap after, as Sainz pitted.
“I had a poor start, with massive wheel spin when I released the clutch.” Raikkonen spoke.
“I managed to recover some places in the first few corners and then I caught up with Max pretty easily. The car was ok and the speed was good, but once you are following another car for many laps this doesn’t help the tires and I was missing a bit of grip and downforce.
“It was a struggle to follow him close, I never really had a good run on him out of the last corner because he was really fast there. It’s a bit disappointing when you get that close and you don’t win, but after a difficult weekend we have to be somehow happy for this result.”
The mistakes began for Ferrari, and Red Bull, as they tried a three-stop strategy with Ricciardo and Vettel, who were formally battling for first place, and were expected to be the ones battling for first for the remainder of the race. However, this seemingly clever move from the teams went wrong for Ferrari, with Vettel thinking that the Ferrari’s were quicker than the Red Bulls, despite getting caught under the wrong strategy. They also suffered from greater tyre degradation than the Red Bull’s did.
“Today there was a big chance to win the race, so definitely I was attacking to win, that was what I was hoping for.” Vettel reported.
“But that lasted up to the point where I came out after the last stop and I realized the advantage I had, with a set of tires that were a couple of laps fresher, over the guys ahead was practically not there. We struggled on the Medium tires, where Red Bull was strong, and this is the reason why Kimi and I couldn’t attack, but we were very strong on the Soft tires.
“We decided to split the strategies between the two cars: I went for the three stop strategy, then I tried to attack the leader and I succeeded, but in the end both Daniel and myself came out behind the two stoppers. So all in all we were lacking pace, which is something we need to understand. There is nothing wrong with our car, it’s good, it works well, and the stuff we brought here seems to work.”
Ricciardo also went for the same strategy as Vettel, which again did not work, and caused him to go from first place to fourth as the race progressed, causing him to believe that they just ‘threw away the win’, and gave Verstappen the best strategy.
“We were leading, it was there for us,” Ricciardo reported on the matter. “Mercedes had their mistakes on Lap 1 and the race was in our hands. And [then] we went to three-stop strategy, and did it too late as well – Seb [had] already jumped us. So then not only I was required to pass Seb, I had to pass three cars when we know we are down on speed and it is a hard track to pass.
“I thought at the time we were doing it because everyone else was – it didn’t make sense, I thought that at the time. It’s frustrating – normally the guy in the lead gets the better strategy.I think we just threw the win away today.”
“I guess the frustrating thing is I don’t think we had to be in the situation to have to do that – we should have been in the lead. Apparently he [Vettel] said I was a bit aggressive on the radio – typical…”
Behind Ricciardo, Williams’ Valterri Bottas came in at fifth, with teammate Felipe Massa in eighth place, both earning points. After qualifying at eighteenth place on the grid, Massa made some solid overtakes and a bold early pit stop in order to end up in the points, whilst Bottas rose from seventh on the grid up to fifth; it was a mostly quiet race for him, as he stayed well away from the Red Bull- Ferrari drama.
“I think we got the maximum today and I’m pleased to get decent points” Bottas said.
“We know our car wasn’t quick enough this weekend, but we had a good result, so that’s positive. Of course we would like to battle for the podiums and wins, but it wasn’t possible this weekend.”
“It was definitely a very good race for us with some good points, finishing eighth positon from starting 18th.” Massa reported.“It was a difficult race, and not on our best track to finish in the points, so I’m happy.
“Looking forward to Monaco, I hope we can show that we have a better car for that type of track, as we have struggled there over the last two years. Monaco is Monaco though and anything can happen.”
A solid race for Williams, with both drivers within the points.
It was an overall good weekend for Toro Rosso, who were pleased for ex-driver Verstappen, whom they had worked with for a long time. They also overtook Haas in the Constructer’s Championship, which also boosted morale. It was a good race for homeboy Carlos Sainz, who drove well to come home in sixth place, after having a great start.
“What a fantastic race!” A thrilled Sainz spoke.
“P6 is an amazing result for me and the team, and to achieve this at my home race makes it even better. The start to the race was great, I think I did one of the best race starts of my life to be honest, running in a podium position and battling with Ferrari… Those first laps were really nice!
“I felt comfortable during the rest of the race, the team did a very good job with the pit-stops and I had a big smile on my face when I crossed the line in sixth position.”
It was a solid race for returnee driver Daniil Kvyat, however he had to give back two places to Force India’s Nico Hulkenburg and Renault’s Kevin Magnussen, after overtaking behind the safety car, however he did manage to end up within the points, in tenth place.
“It was a good race for us today” Kvyat said.
“We had to give two positions back at the restart of the race, so we lost a bit of time there. But a part from that, the pace was strong and we were competitive. It’s positive to be back and to finish in the points straight away.
“The car felt good and it didn’t take me a lot of time to get used to it. The second half of the race was fun, following the leaders without interrupting their fight, and I was able to overtake Gutierrez and get back into the points.”
It was also a good race for team Sauber, with drivers Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr sticking to their respective tyre strategies.
“I am happy with my race today.” Ericsson spoke.
“We went for a good strategy from my point of view. I am also satisfied with my driving, as I did not make mistakes and had a good pace at the same time. I would say it was one of my best races in Formula One so far.
“We all know that we are still struggling with our car to keep up with other teams, but today I was able to beat one of our main competitors.”
However, it was a slightly more challenging weekend for Nasr, who finished in fourteenth place.
“It was a difficult weekend.” He reported.
“I had a good start to the race, and I was able to gain some positions on the first lap. I was surprised we did not change from our initial plan – a two stop strategy – to a three stop strategy. I do not think the two stop strategy was the right choice, as I could not keep up the pace.
“The stint was too long on the medium tyes, and I lost all the track positions I gained at the beginning of the race.”
Renault, however, made the rather strange decision to change onto the hard compound tyre for the final stint of the race, making both drivers Jolyon Palmer and Kevin Magnussen work hard to compete. Despite this, Palmer was glad with his outcome.
“I think that was probably the best race I’ve done in terms of pace and performance.” He said on the matter.
“The car was feeling okay, we were battling tyre degradation a bit but it was managable. It’s a bit disappointing not to finish in the points but for myself, I’m happy.”
For Magnussen, it was a race to forget. In a 66-lap race, Magnussen came in for a very late pit-stop on lap 57 to change his tyres. After colliding with teammate Palmer in a final-lap collision, he was demoted from fourteenth place, where he finished, to fifteenth.
“We had decent pace on the soft tyre but on the hard and the medium – especially the medium – we were weak” reported Magnussen.
“It wasn’t a good day for me and I’ll be working closely with the team to understand why we weren’t able to deliver. I’m definitely looking forward to the test and getting some new bits on the car as today certainly wasn’t representative of what we’re capable of achieving.”
Today in the race, Manor chose to go for a split strategy for their two drivers Pascal Wehrlein and Rio Haryanto, with Wehrlein starting on the soft compound tyre, and Haryanto on the medium, which saw him up at tenth place at one point. However, they were overall disappointed that they didn’t finish further up the field- ahead of Sauber, their main rivals.
“We got both cars to the finish, which was good, but otherwise there isn’t much more to say today; our race was pretty much as we expected.” Wehrlein spoke.
“The upgrades are positive but they didn’t influence the overall result at this track with the way the race panned out. We also suffered from quite high tyre degradation again, so there is still some way to go to keep improving the car.”
“After the disappointment of Russia, it was good to see the chequered flag today” said Haryanto.
“We decided to go long on the Medium for the first stint but there was too much traffic at that stage of the race so our strategy didn’t work out so well for us. For my third stint I was quite quick on the Soft tyres, so we need to understand why the Mediums worked less well for us.”
For Haas however, the race result was mixed. It was Esteban Gutierrez’s reported best race of the season, after a short battle, overtaking teammate Romain Grosjean and fighting to earn a place in the points. However, as the race came to an end, he began to lose ground as his tyres began to degrade, missing his opportunity to grab his first point of the season by eight seconds, and ended up in eleventh.
“I was doing my best from the beginning to the end.” Gutierrez spoke.
“I think we could have done a bit better with the tyres – maybe taken a bit of a longer stint with the softs as toward the end of the race I just ran out of tyres.
“However, it was really enjoyable out there and I had some great battles throughout. Today wasn’t straightforward for us to finish in the points, but we’re finding more consistency in the car, which will give us more opportunity to go forward.”
For Grosjean, it was worse. After running wide and ending up on the gravel after braking issues all afternoon, he eventually retired with brake issues.
“I had a very good start, a very good first lap.” Grosjean reported.
“I managed to get into the top-10 and was fighting there. Then my front wing decided to go, for some reason. We came back to the pits, fitted a new nose, got some tyres, but then the brakes went.
“The car wasn’t having a good day. We really need to find out what’s going on because we reverted back on most of the setup, and we’re still very much struggling with the balance.”
However, for Mercedes fans, it was not such a good race.
Both Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton made their dramatic retirement on the first lap after they collided whilst fighting for the lead. Rosberg managed to get ahead of Hamilton, who started in pole position, into Turn 1, Hamilton did better going into Turn 3 of the track, however Rosberg later managed to get ahead.
It was later discovered that Rosberg had set his car into the wrong power setting, meaning that he was 180bhp down. Coming out of Turn 3, Rosberg attempted to correct this issue, drifting over to the right side of the track. At this point, Hamilton attempted to overtake Rosberg on the right side, and was squeezed over onto the grass by Rosberg, who had not noticed Hamilton’s car. This caused Hamilton to loose control of the car, spinning across the track, and taking Rosberg out in the process as they both spun out onto the gravel. It was later concluded that it was a ‘racing incident’ by the stewards, and that neither driver would be penalised.
The stewards’ report:
‘The incident concerned started when Car 6 dropped into an incorrect power mode, as set by the driver prior to the start. This created a significant power differential between Car 6 and Car 44 at the exit of Turn 3 coming onto the straight, resulting in as much as a 17kph speed difference between the two cars on the straight. Car 6 moved to the right to defend his position, as is his right under Art 27.7 of the Sporting regulations. Simultaneously Car 44 as the significantly faster car with, at that time, apparent space on the inside, moved to make the pass. Art 27.7 requires the leading driver to leave room, if there is a “significant portion” of the car attempting to pass alongside. Car 44 had a portion of his front wing inside Car 6 small fractions of a second prior to Car 44 having to leave the right side of the track to avoid an initial collision, which may have led him to believe he had the right to space on the right. Once on the grass on the side of the track Car 44 was no longer in control of the situation.
Having heard extensively from both drivers and from the team, the Stewards determined that Car 6 had the right to make the maneuver that he did and that Car 44’s attempt to overtake was reasonable, and that the convergence of events led neither driver to be wholly or predominantly at fault, and therefore take no further action.‘
Despite this, neither driver refused to accept the blame for the crash.
“I was aware of the situation, I saw Lewis coming closer,” Rosberg said, “so I went for the usual racing driver action of closing the door as early as I could.
“I was making it clear I wasn’t leaving any space, so I was very surprised that he went for the gap anyway.The stewards decided it was a race incident, so we will accept that – we will leave it at that.
“It was my race and our [Mercedes’] race to win – I was here to win, that’s what I was looking forward to and what I was really excited about at Turn 1 after getting past Lewis.”
“First of all, a huge apology to all of our team – when I stopped my heart just sank. To not deliver for them, it’s honestly… indescribable how gutted I was.
Whereas Hamilton reported,“I got a good start but he [Rosberg] slipstreamed me into Turn 1. Then through Turn 3 he had a de-rate – basically he made a mistake and started in the wrong engine setting. We only have one setting for maximum power and he wasn’t in it, which meant he was like 180bhp down.
“I’m not getting into blame, just a huge apology to the team. I’ll do everything I can to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Don’t have a good feeling this second, but we will recover.”
PHOTOIt was also a bad race for McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, who was hoping to do well at his home Grand Prix. He had a poor start, meaning that he was stuck behind his teammate Jenson Button, and found himself amongst dirty air from Button’s car. He was then told to stay behind Button by the team, however by lap 45, he reported “no power” and had to retire.
“My car felt okay this afternoon, but I didn’t manage to make a good start and lost everything – so my race was effectively over by the first corner” a disappointed Alonso spoke.
“After that, I followed Jenson for 50 laps and had traffic all race long, so I wasn’t able to do too many laps in free air or show my true pace. At the end, I lost power somehow – we don’t know the exact cause.”
It was also another DNF for Force India’s Nico Hulkenburg, who had to retire after an oil leak sent his car into flames. The team suspected that it was perhaps the same problem that teammate Sergio Perez suffered from in practice.
“It’s frustrating not to finish another race.” Hulkenburg explained.
“I saw some smoke coming from the back of my car and then it developed into a fire so I had to park quickly at the side of the track. It’s a shame because I missed the chance to fight for points and we also missed out on learning more about the car in race conditions.
“Sometimes in racing you have periods when things don’t go your way, but you have to keep the faith and believe that sooner or later your luck will change.”
Overall, it was a thrilling race from start to finish, with the Red Bull-Ferrari fight leaving spectators on the edge of their seats, with the rarity of a non-Mercedes podium making an appearance.