2016 Spanish Grand Prix Race Review

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On Saturday, we saw Lewis Hamilton taking Pole Position for the Spanish Grand Prix ahead of Nico Rosberg and Daniel Ricciardo.

The start of the Spanish GP. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

The start of the Spanish GP. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

The Spanish GP is underway! Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg both set a good starts off line. As we go into Turn 1, Rosberg passes Hamilton for position. But what Rosberg aggressively covered off what was an ambitious move by Hamilton, who had managed to get his front wing aligned with the German’s right-rear tyre. In order to avoid an collision with his team mate, Hamilton took to the grass, but immediately went into a slide and careered into Rosberg, sending both into the gravel at Turn 4.

The result of the incident between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

The result of the incident between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

Hamilton immediately covered his visor with both hands, and after a period of reflection sat in his car, later flung his steering wheel out in a fit of anger. The incident immediately brought out the safety car, with Daniel Ricciardo leading new team-mate Verstappen on Lap 4, followed by Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz Jr, who had started eighth, and the Ferraris of Vettel and Raikkonen.

Daniel Ricciardo leading the early stages of the Spanish GP. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Daniel Ricciardo leading the early stages of the Spanish GP. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

By Lap 8, Ricciardo leads his team mate by 1.3 seconds. Meanwhile into Turn 1, Vettel passes Sainz Jr into Turn 1 for third place; with Raikkonen closing in on Sainz Jr too. The next lap sees a battle for position between Palmer and Gutierrez  as Raikkonen attempts to pass Sainz Jr for fourth; with Raikkonen running wide. Lap 11 sees Massa trying to keep Hulkenberg behind him on the track.

Sebastian Vettel leading the Spanish GP on Lap 15. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Sebastian Vettel leading the Spanish GP on Lap 15. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

After the first round of pitstops, Vettel leads the Spanish GP ahead of Ricciardo by 2.293 seconds. On track, we see Ricciardo passing Grosjean for second place, Verstappen passing Grosjean and Alonso passing Haryanto for position. With places up and down the grid changing all the time; managing the tyres in the heat is going to be crucial in the next few laps.

Fernando Alonso running in 9th place. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Fernando Alonso running in 9th place. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

By Lap 17, Ricciardo leads the race ahead of Verstappen by 1.9 seconds as Massa is catching Alonso for the final point of this race and this allows Grosjean to also join the fight for ninth place. There is also a battle for second between Verstappen and Vettel; with Vettel quicker than him at the moment.

Nico Hulkenberg retiring from the race on Lap 23. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Nico Hulkenberg retiring from the race on Lap 23. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Lap 21 sees Nico Hulkenberg officially retires from the race with engine problems with his Force India and is told by his engineer on his radio to stop near a fire marshal. The battle for the lead builds up between Ricciardo, Verstappen and Vettel; with just over 2 seconds separating the three drivers.

Max Verstappen leads the Spanish GP on Lap 29. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Max Verstappen leads the Spanish GP on Lap 29. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

On Lap 29, Verstappen leads the Spanish GP ahead of Vettel after Ricciardo pits for new tyres. Three laps later sees Verstappen building a lead of up to 18.7 seconds as Raikkonen tries to make up every second he can before Verstappen pits for new tyres. Further down the grid, Gutierrez passes Nasr for position.

Kimi Raikkonen leads the race. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Kimi Raikkonen leads the race on Lap 35. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

As Verstappen pits for new tyres, Raikkonen now leads the Spanish GP on Lap 35 ahead of Ricciardo. Ricciardo regains the lead of the race the next lap and he is now ahead of Vettel who is catching the Australian driver rather quickly. Ten laps later, Verstappen is holding off Raikkonen behind him as Ricciardo makes his final pit stop and hands the lead of the race over to his team mate.

Max Verstappen leading Kimi Raikkonen in the final third of the Spanish GP. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Max Verstappen leading Kimi Raikkonen in the final third of the Spanish GP. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Lap 47 sees Fernando Alonso officially retiring from the race with engine problems and stops at the start of Turn 3 as Raikkonen puts more pressure on Verstappen for the lead of the race.

Daniel Ricciardo in the closing stages of the Spanish GP. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Daniel Ricciardo in the closing stages of the Spanish GP. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

In the closing stages of the race, Ricciardo still looked like a candidate to win with fresher medium tyres and he made an opportunistic lunge on Vettel at Turn 1 with seven laps remaining. Initially it looked like the move would stick as Ricciardo moved alongside the Ferrari driver but he was forced across the kerbs and had to yield the place.

Vettel was less than impressed with Ricciardo’s driving, angrily questioning over radio whether it was “racing or ping pong”. The move cost both men time and made it more likely Verstappen or Raikkonen (just five seconds up the road) would win the race.

Never one to give up, Ricciardo did have several more looks at passing Vettel at Turn 1 but never again got close enough to pass, with a puncture on the penultimate lap costing him any chance of another attempt at taking the final step on the podium. The gap between fourth and fifth was so big that Ricciardo was able to pit for fresh rubber without losing a position.

Max Verstappen wins the Spanish GP ahead of Kimi Raikkonen in second place and Sebastian Vettel in third place. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Max Verstappen wins the Spanish GP ahead of Kimi Raikkonen in second place and Sebastian Vettel in third place. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

But Verstappen leads Raikkonen on the final lap of the race by 0.6 seconds and wins the Spanish Grand Prix which is his first win in Formula One and the first for a Dutch driver in the sport too. Verstappen on his debut with Red Bull winning the Spanish GP after recently swapping seats with Daniil Kvyat to become the youngest driver to win a race at the age of 18 years and 227 days, beating Sebastian Vettel’s record by more than two years which is just a fantastic achievement.

Raikkonen is a credible second 0.6 seconds behind Verstappen, Vettel finished in third place 5.5 seconds behind Verstappen, Ricciardo was a credible fourth 43.9 seconds behind Verstappen and Bottas finished fifth 45.2 seconds behind Verstappen.

Sainz Jr was sixth 1.01.3 seconds behind Verstappen, Perez was seventh 1.19.5 seconds behind Verstappen, Massa was eighth 1.20.7 seconds behind Verstappen, Button was ninth  1 lap behind Verstappen and Kvyat was tenth 1 lap behind Verstappen.

Nico Rosberg still leads the Driver’s Championship with 100 points, Kimi Raikkonen is in second place with 61 points, Lewis Hamilton is in third place with 57 points, Sebastian Vettel is in fourth place with 48 points, Daniel Ricciardo is in fifth place with 48 points, Max Verstappen is in sixth place with 38 points, Felipe Massa is in seventh place with 36 points, Valtteri Bottas is in eighth place with 29 points, Daniil Kvyat is in ninth place with 22 points and Romain Grosjean is in tenth place with 22 points.

Mercedes still lead the Constructors Championship with 157 points, Ferrari is in second place with 109 points, Red Bull is in third place with 94 points, Williams is in fourth place with 65 points, Toro Rosso is in fifth place with 26 points, Haas is in sixth place with 22 points, Force India is in seventh place with 14 points, McLaren is in eighth place with 12 points, Renault is in ninth place with 6 points and Sauber is in tenth with 0 points.

Conclusion

I feel that McLaren have had an reasonable weekend and have shown that they can still race near the front when they have the opportunity to do so. Button getting ninth place has been the biggest surprise of the race. Jenson drove a superb race to gain ninth on Sunday despite a defensive race and it is very well deserved. And for him to secure this result shows that he did a brilliant job and has shown that despite not having the outright pace to challenge their rivals; he drove a great race to claim this result today and showed why he was signed by the team.

With Alonso sadly retiring from the race due to engine problems, this just shows despite this that even though it is still clear that the McLaren team have a lot of work to do in order to try and extract performance from their car, they are making small gains that have paid off yesterday.

Kvyat did an okay job to get tenth place and had a great battle to get there after battling with Button for most of the race. This point for himself and Toro Rosso are vital and only shows just how much promise he has as a driver if he has the car underneath him to do so and that he is a talented and promising racing driver.

Massa battled his way through to get eighth place on Sunday.  He battled his way through the field and created some great overtaking moves to get there. Massa may not have had the weekend that he wanted with Williams this weekend but he did the best that he could do and picked up some more points for the team and also started his season well.

Perez had a bit of an action packed yet defensive race to finish seventh, scoring more points for the Force India team who seem to have having some problems extracting pace and performance out of their package. But there is still a lot of work to be done but the fact that P[erez managed to score some much needed points for himself and his team will help him prepare for the rest of the 2016 season.

Bottas did a great job to get fifth place on Sunday despite a lonely race for the Finnish driver. But in a race where many expected him to finish and to maintain the momentum he has so far, he has managed to gain some points for the team and put himself in good stead for the rest of the 2016 season.

Ricciardo did a great job to get fourth place on Sunday and deserves a mention. He drove a solid race  despite not winning the battle with Sebastian and he did a great job to secure some much needed points for his team after a good performance this weekend and it is clear that the car was working well for them as a result. This will only help him prepare for the rest of the 2016 season.

Vettel deserves a mention. He drove a solid race to third place and battled his way through to get these points which just solidify Ferrari’s status in the Constructors Championship. But he needs to keep the momentum going and see if he can get back to the front in Monaco in two weeks time.

Raikkonen drove a solid race to finish second today. He may not have had the race he wanted; and didn’t have a chance to try and get past but he did a great job to secure a podium today. What a fantastic job from him and this will only give him a slight satisfaction heading into the next race in Monaco.

All that is left to say about this race is that Verstappen deserved to win at Barcelona and he needed to in order to show that he cannot be discounted as a driver.  His driving was brilliant and controlled throughout the race. Red Bull has built on the results that they have gained so far since pre-season testing and have shown that they are one of the most improved on the grid at the moment. All credit to Max for doing a superb job this weekend and winning his first race of his F1 career.

With Monaco not far away, many will wondering if this season will be Rosberg’s at last or can Hamilton or Vettel challenge him for wins along the way. But what is for certain is that Formula One is building up rather nicely and we also have the in-season test as well which I will be covering every day.

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