Mercedes F1 team principal: 'We're back in business' after Spanish GP win

14 May, 2018, 04:56 | Author: Anita Tucker
  • Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain center poses with his team after winning the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at the Barcelona Catalunya racetrack in Montmelo Spain Sunday

"The Red Bulls are really fast in the final sector and it's going to be really hard to beat them".

The world champion has looked off-colour in the past three races, and his win in Baku owed a substantial amount to luck - on form, without the chaotic final laps following the crash between the Red Bulls and subsequent safety auto, he would have been third there behind team-mate Valtteri Bottas and Vettel, and the Finn would have been leading the championship.

Mercedes has struggled compared to Ferrari at times this season, with Sebastian Vettel winning the opening two races and taking three consecutive pole positions as the Scuderia had a more consistent vehicle.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain left celebrates with fans after winning the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at the Barcelona Catalunya racetrack in Montmelo Spain Sunday

The Frenchman then collected the Renault of Nico Hulkenberg and Pierre Gasly's Toro Rosso in a major smash, fortunately without injury, that brought out the safety vehicle for the first six laps. All three drivers were out of contention nearly immediately sustaining heavy damages, and warranted the need of a safety auto on the track at the start of Lap 2.

Ferrari pitted Vettel early from second, forcing Mercedes to react with Bottas a couple of laps later.

Vettel defended the decision to pit for a second time behind a virtual safety vehicle, insisting staying out "was not an option".

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Hamilton, who also holds the record of 74 pole positions, had started from the top slot for only the second time this year. Meanwhile, Bottas on the softs was showing incredible pace compared to the Ferrari.

Sebastian Vettel's strategy of making a second pit stop under a Virtual Safety Car period failed to come to fruition, as he dropped from second to fourth.

Raikkonen reported some vehicle problems on Lap 25 and found himself limping back to the pits to retire from the race on Lap 27. The Finn driver had a new engine after Friday practice and complained of losing power. The incident promoted to Verstappen to fourth and eventually third after the second Ferrari went into the pits. "We let him down in Melbourne and that stays in your mind and now he has put these things behind him and had a very good weekend". Following a safety vehicle appearance, Hamilton got the whole shot on the restart and rabbited away.

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Verstappen and team-mate Daniel Ricciardo were promoted to first and third respectively, with Red Bull opting to run their drivers on a longer opening stint. Renault's Carlos Sainz finished seventh ahead of former two-time World Champion Fernando Alonso who managed to finish in the eighth position. This, in stark contrast to the tumultuous events at Azerbaijan, where he came together with teammate Ricciardo on Lap 40, leading both drivers to retire from the race. He may have been overtaken by Alonso and Sergio Perez late on, but a second top-10 in five races is a serious boost for a team lacking in ambition. Interestingly though, Brendon Hartley of Torro Rosso fended competition quite in the battle of 12th, behind Lance Stroll of Williams. Sixth was Haas driver Kevin Magnussen, who helped convert the team's strong pace into a healthy haul of points.

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