Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Hamilton Wins Fourth Consecutive Spanish Grand Prix in Masterful Fashion


Photo Credit: LAT Images/Mercedes AMG

The sixth race for the 2020 Formula 1 season, the 4.655-kilometer Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya plays host to a special summer edition of the Spanish Grand Prix. Taking place in the middle of August rather than its typical early May, this season’s edition of the event presented a little extra heat than drivers and teams would be accustomed to on the track.  

A 66-lap race, the 2020 Spanish Grand Prix was another example of the prime form of Lewis Hamilton and the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 team. From pole position, the British driver shot out to an early lead and would go unchallenged over the race’s 66-lap distance. Hamilton would take the chequered flag 24.177 seconds ahead of the runner-up. “This feels absolutely incredible. I was just in a daze out there, I didn’t even know it was the last lap in the end, that’s how in the zone I was.” Lewis Hamilton commented in a post-race release on his team’s website. Sunday’s triumph for Hamilton was the fourth year in a row that he won the Spanish Grand Prix.

Photo Credit: Pirelli & C. S.p.A

From the standing start of the Spanish Grand Prix as Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes launched near-flawlessly, his teammate had a less-than impressive start. Claiming second in qualifying on Saturday, Valtteri Bottas is beaten into the first corner by the Honda-powered Red Bull race car of Max Verstappen and later the Racing Point piloted by Lance Stroll. Rising from fifth to third in the first lap, the Canadian driver would fend off the Mercedes AMG team car for several laps but Bottas was able to overtake the Mercedes-Benz propelled Racing Point RP20 shortly after DRS would be enabled. Earlier this season in the grand prix of Hungary, Valtteri Bottas had a poor launch that dropped him to sixth place by the first lap. While Bottas humbly admitted the Hungarian Grand Prix miscue was a result of reacting to the wrong light, the reason for the difficult start in Spain was not immediately identified. 

As the 66-lap Spanish Grand Prix progressed beyond one-third distance, teams began making pit stops with Max Verstappen pitting on lap 21 while Hamilton and Bottas came to the attention of their crew on lap 23. Lance Stroll pushed his vehicle deeper into the event waiting until lap 27 to come to pit road for new tires. The top-10 starters at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya started the event on the soft compound option Pirelli tire. Starting outside of the top-10, Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel would run the opening laps on medium tires allowing his car to run until lap 29 before coming to pit for its only pit stop. Several teams attempted a single-stop strategy with drivers as Sergio Perez, Kevin Magnussen and the two Renault factory racers of Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon joining Vettel. Through tire management, Sebastian Vettel would ultimately score a seventh place finish. 

While Max Verstappen’s tire selection mirrored Lewis Hamilton, Red Bull Racing experimented with belting hard compound Pirelli tires to the car of Alexander Albon. The harder tire was seen as a less viable choice during the Spanish Grand Prix weekend with Red Bull Racing becoming the only team to try it on Sunday. Running 22 laps on the hard compound Pirelli tires, Albon’s fastest time was more than 2.2 seconds slower than his teammate’s best time running on medium compound rubber.

Photo Credit: Pirelli & C. S.p.A

The only race retirement over the course of the Spanish Grand Prix was the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc. Operating on a one-stop plan that Ferrari believes could have placed Leclerc in fourth place at the end of the event, an electrical fault with the control unit on the race car derailed their fight on lap 38. 

As Lewis Hamilton stormed to victory for the 88th time in his Formula 1 career, Max Verstappen took a solid second place collecting his fifth consecutive podium finish. The Dutch driver took the chequered flag by a comfortable margin just shy of 20.6 seconds over the Mercedes-AMG race car of Valtteri Bottas. The second Red Bull Racing driver Alexander Albon came across the start/finish line in eighth place.

Despite generating more headlines during the Silverstone races based on Lance Stroll’s practice pace ahead of the British Grand Prix, the substitution of Sergio Perez with Nico Hulkenberg and penalties related to the RP20's rear brake ducts, it’s rational to suggest Racing Point enjoyed a more successful race effort taking part in a slightly more quiet outing in Spain. Taking fourth and fifth place, the Racing Point team drivers would be classified in reversed positions. Aided by a single-stop tire strategy, Sergio Perez crossed the finish line fourth but was given a 5-second penalty for failing to acknowledge blue flags as Lewis Hamilton was passing his Racing Point. Lance Stroll assumed Perez’s spot in the race results being 2.2 seconds behind his teammate on track at the end of 66 laps. The points scored by both Racing Point drivers elevated the team to a narrow third place in the constructors’ championship as of after the Spanish Grand Prix. Appeals related to the August 7th ruling have been made by Racing Point as well as other competing teams that resulted in a loss of 15 constructor points.

Carlos Sainz Jr. led the McLaren squad across the line at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in sixth place becoming the Spaniard’s best result in his native grand prix. Lando Norris finished in 10th place just behind Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri.

The next location for the 2020 Formula 1 series is the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps for the Belgian Grand Prix with the main event scheduled on August 30th. 

2020 Formula 1 Season
Spanish Grand Prix
Race Results

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