By Thomas Dodd
- Lewis Hamilton claims second race win of 2017 after passing and holding off championship rival Sebastian Vettel at Spanish Grand Prix
- Pair have now distanced themselves from the rest at the top of the drivers standings and were in a class of their own in Barcelona on Sunday.
- Pascal Wehrlein’s seventh place finish for Sauber means are now the only constructor yet to score a point this season.
BARCELONA, SPAIN – After a flat race in Russia, Lewis Hamilton bounced back in style in Spain to take his 55th Grand Prix win and re-ignite the 2017 Formula 1 title fight. Here are five things we learned from the weekend.
What a difference a year makes
A mantra that so many could have used to describe their weekends in Barcelona. Lewis Hamilton erased memories of his first lap coming together with teammate Nico Rosberg last year while Sebastian Vettel – despite being a position to win at one stage – was competitive and racy, a world away from twelve months ago when he struggled to keep pace with Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen. The Finn, second in 2016, barely completed two corners on Sunday, snapping his suspension in a collision with Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen, whose heroics of a year ago were a distant memory as the 19-year-old also saw his charge ended at the first corner.
You can never count out Lewis
Not that anyone was writing about the decline of the three-time world champion of course, but a lifeless display in Russia followed by a dreadful start in Spain would have raised a lot of eyebrows among the Briton’s fans. He responded in a way only he knows how, though, setting a blistering pace in the middle part of the race before reeling in and charging around the outside of champion rival Vettel as the latter stages approached. From there on in he managed his tyres – which he’d had on for an ambitiously long time – to perfection and crossed the line to claim his second win of the season and close the gap to Vettel at the top to just six points. Game On.*
*If it was ever ‘off’, of course.
McLaren are officially the worst team on the grid
On paper, on track and now officially in the standings, too. Pascal Wehrlein‘s superb drive to seventh place in the standings mean the Woking outfit are now the only team on the grid not to score a world championship point in 2017. Home hero Fernando Alonso had given the team hope on Saturday with a stunning drive to seventh on the grid, but the Spaniard had no answer in the race and ended up 12th. Most worrying of all, with a Ferrari and Red Bull and a Mercedes all retiring, the door was very much open to take the minor placings in the lower half of the top 10 and a fifth successive failure to so leaves many questioning where the next point will actually come from. Wehrlein’s drive in just his third race back after a back injury was also well worthy of high praise.
We already know where the championship is going this year
Well, not exactly. But as in previous years we know it will almost certainly be one of two drivers. The only difference this year is that those two drivers race for different teams. Bottas’s win in Russia aside no one has been able to get near Hamilton or Vettel so far this season, and it looks like Formula 1 fans are set for one of the best championship scraps in several years as the men who have won six of the last seven crowns between them go head to head on a relatively level playing field for the first time. New rules seem to have done just enough to make the racing on track closer, do don’t expect the duel the pair had in Spain to be their last of the year.
Drivers don’t always want their engineers
The gap to car the car in front, the state of the tyres, the weather or when they are next expected into the pits. Drivers these days seem to want to know it all from their race engineers, but Sunday seemed a little bit different. Whether it was something in the paddock water or just a co-incidence but numerous drivers made a point of telling their personal pit wall guide that now was not a good time to get in touch. Hamilton, Vettel and Kevin Magnussen all rebuffed advice from the men in the pits, choosing to focus entirely on the task at at hand – driving. We’re sure there were no hard feelings afterwards, but in the heat of battle, some were clearly in no mood for a chit chat.
The Monaco Grand Prix takes place between 25, 27-28 May.
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