Lewis Hamilton won his 88th Grand Prix at the Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya after leading every lap. His victory leaves him just three shy of the great Michael Schumacher’s total of 91 race wins. He executed a near-perfect display to win from Max Verstappen in the Red Bull, who passed the other Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas to finish second. Bottas was left to finish in third, a long way back after pitting with only a few laps to go to try and go for the fastest lap and the extra point that comes with it, something he did manage to achieve.
I didn’t do a review for last weeks 70th Anniversary Grand Prix, for which I apologise, but I was hoping I would have an exciting race to review to make it up for it this week, but it wasn’t to be. The Spanish circuit rarely, if ever, produces good racing, with its’ layout and the fact that it is very difficult to overtake on, and this race was no exception. There were some battles up and down the track, but they settled rather quickly and it turned into something of a procession. Lewis Hamilton disappeared into the distance as he has done multiple times over the last few years, and as soon as lap 1 was done with it was becoming rather clear who would be the winner of the race.
It was a dominant display from Hamilton, who finished 24 seconds ahead of Max Verstappen who, after a good start, was unable to eat into Hamilton’s lead. He was heard multiple times on the radio telling his Red Bull team that the tyres were going and he was unable to match the pace of the Mercedes.
Sergio Perez was running in fourth for Racing Point on his come back after recovering from COVID-19 and thus missing two races, but was given a 5-second penalty for failing to acknowledge blue flags and finished fifth, behind teammate Lance Stroll who moved up to fourth following Perez’s penalty.
Carlos Sainz finished a fine sixth for McLaren, with Sebastian Vettel finishing in seventh in the Ferrari. Finishing in 8th, 9th and 10th were Alex Albon in the Red Bull, Pierre Gasly in the Alpha Tauri and Lando Norris in the other McLaren. A fine weekend for Sainz and Gasly, scoring some good points for their respective teams.
It was another disappointing weekend for Ferrari, with Sebastian Vettel exiting qualifying in the second session before Charles LeClerc became the only retirement of what was a pretty dull race. An electrical problem for the Ferrari saw it lock its rear axle and send LeClerc into a spin. He managed to get going again, only to come back into the pits a lap later to retire the SF1000 from the race.
Romain Grosjean again irritated another F1 driver, by moving over late to defend his position from Kimi Raikkonen in the Alfa Romeo, but there were no penalties and it passed over fairly quickly.
Sebastian Vettel found himself running in fifth in the Ferrari by lap 52, and Ferrari came onto the radio and asked Seb what he thought about running to the end of the race on his soft tyres. An angry Vettel replied “I asked you about this before!” Before adding “We’ve got nothing to lose”. Another race where Seb has called his team out on their strategy, and another race down for the fractured relationship between team and driver. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are harsh words between Ferrari and their former star man this evening.
Mercedes on another level again. Well, one was.
By the end of the race, the only people left untapped by the charging Lewis Hamilton were Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas. Everyone else had been lapped. That is incredible. It also shows the level of dominance Mercedes, and Hamilton in particular, have over the rest of the field. If you’re a Mercedes and a Hamilton fan, then you’re laughing and enjoying it, no doubt. But for other people who aren’t fans of the team and driver, like myself, it is rather boring. Especially seeing as it’s been happening now for over half a decade. For the people who say “But the 00s era Ferrari was dominant”, that is true, especially in Schumacher’s hands. But, Ferrari had other challengers. You would watch a race knowing that other teams could take the win, like McLaren, Renault or Williams. Even the podium had surprise results, with teams like BAR Honda, Jordan, Jaguar, Toyota and the works Honda team among others making appearances. Now though, it’s likely that the Mercedes drivers will take up two of the three positions, with the other likely to be filled by Red Bull, mainly Max Verstappen. For me, and lots of other F1 fans, 2022 and the rule changes can’t come soon enough.
It does go to show how good of a driver Hamilton is, I’m not disputing that. In the same car, Bottas can offer a challenge to him, but in races like today, just cannot get close. I’d love to see Bottas mount a genuine challenge to Lewis, but I just can’t see it happening. He is now third in the standings behind Verstappen and his season seems to be petering out before it really got going. I hope he can bring more of a challenge for the remainder of the season and into 2021, but we’ll see.
How are the standings looking?
Lewis Hamilton is leading the way with 132 points, with Max Verstappen his nearest challenger on 95. Bottas is in third with 89 and Charles LeClerc manages to hold his position in fourth with 45 points, despite his retirement today.
Mercedes lead the constructors championship, followed by Red Bull and Racing Point in an impressive third. Ferrari drop to an unimpressive fifth, while Williams remain the only team yet to score a point this season. I really hope that changes soon, but I don’t know when that will be.
Where are we heading next?
One of my favourite circuits! Spa Francorchamps in Belgium. An amazing track with beautiful surroundings, and a race that throws up surprises and excitement. The bad news is that it’s two weeks away! I was getting used to having bad to back races, but we head to Belgium for the Belgian Grand Prix from August 28th to August 30th. Hopefully, we can see more teams challenge and Red Bull can fight Mercedes harder. It’s quite a power dependant track though, so I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Mercedes walk off with another 1-2 finish.
Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoyed the race (even though there wasn’t much to enjoy in terms of action). As always, take care and stay safe!