Lewis Hamilton won the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday after holding off the challenge from Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who finished in second.
Despite coming to blows with Vettel earlier in the race, Hamilton, in the number 44 car, took the lead on lap 44 of 66, stretching the gap to ? by the end of the race.
Interviewed by F1 legend Pedro De La Rosa on the podium, Hamilton was overjoyed with his win, saying: “The team did an amazing job today.
“That’s how racing should be, that’s as close as it could be, Sebastian was incredibly close, incredibly fast.”
Vettel was disappointed not to win the race, but was still pleased to finish on the podium, saying: “It was a nice race, and obviously a great crowd, so it would’ve been great to win.”
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo finished third, but his teammate and last year’s Spanish GP winner, Max Verstappen, retired on the first lap after a turn 1 clash with Räikkönen.
From tears to smiles
One of the happier stories of the day, however, was how a young fan of Kimi Räikkönen for to meet his hero trackside as the race continued.
Seen crying as his favourite driver was knocked out of the race as he collided with Verstappen on the opening lap, the young boy later got the chance to meet his hero behind the scenes, even posing for a photograph with the Finn.
Top ten roundup
Despite being the first of the runners up to finish a lap down on the three leaders, Force India had a massive points haul as both of their drivers finished in the points, with Sergio Perez in fourth ahead of his teammate Esteban Ocon in fifth.
Renault’s Nico Hülkenberg finished a strong sixth ahead of Sauber’s Pascal Wehrlein, but a five second time penalty awarded to Wehrlein on lap 47 cost him points as he was dripped to eight behind the Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz.
Race Control awarded Pascal Wehrlein the penalty for failing to “stay to the right of the pit entry bollard,” meaning he dropped to 8th, splitting the two Toro Rosso drivers as Daniil Kyvat finished 9th.
Haas’ Romain Grosjean finished in 10th, but McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, who qualified in a strong 7th place, finished 12th after a disappointing start.
Sainz finished in the points despite almost coming to blows with Magnussen earlier in the race as they exited the pit lane.
An incident that was noted and investigated by the FIA, and which some may see as an unsafe release of Magnussen by the Haas team, Sainz tried to overtake on the pit exit straight, but had to back off as he was pushed onto the grass as Magnussen closed the gap.
The Grand Prix, at the Circuit de Catalunya just outside Barcelona, had an exciting start with cars going everywhere through the first two corners.
Mercedes’ Valteri Bottas, who started third, kept the inside line but had to back off to avoid crashing into Vettel into turn one.
As Bottas backed off, he was subsequently overtaken by Räikkönen on the outside – his left front tyre tapped Räikkönen’s right rear tyre, and the resulting collision between Räikkönen and Verstappen ultimately ended the race for both the young Dutchman and the Finn.
A scrappy start at the front had a knock-on effect down the grid: as Felipe Massa tried to avoid Räikkönen’s damaged Ferrari as he and Verstappen rejoined the track following their clash, Alonso tried to overtake Massa but was forced off the track and into the gravel on the outside of turn 2, rejoining the track in turn 3 in a lower position.
An amateur defensive mistake from Stoffel Vandoorne cost him a race finish as the young McLaren hopeful was overtaken by a more experienced Felipe Massa into turn 1.
Vandoorne misjudged the gap between his car and Massa’s Williams, and damaged his suspension and right front tyre in an incident very similar to Verstappen and Räikkönen’s turn 1 clash.
As Vandoorne retired, his car perilously parked on the gravel trap at the end of the start-finish straight, the Virtual Safety Car was deployed, meaning the drivers all had to back off and stick to a pre-assigned delta time while the Belgian’s McLaren was recovered.
Hamilton pitted at the end of the Virtual Safety Car period for fresh Soft tyres, to which Ferrari responded by pitting Vettel on lap 37 for fresh Medium tyres.
Pitting for the Medium tyre compound cost Vettel the race win as Hamilton was quicker on the softer compound, in what can be seen as another unfortunate strategic call by the Ferrari garage.
As Vettel rejoined the track on lap 38: Hamilton sped alongside and the two drivers bumped their rear wheels in turn 1, Hamilton backing off as he regained his posture.
Shortly afterwards, his Mercedes teammate Valteri Bottas retired on Lap 39 with a suspected Turbo failure as the car whirred in the replays.
It was on lap 44 that Hamilton finally made his move on Vettel, swooping around the outside on the run down to turn one as Vettel defended the inside line.
It was an overall strategic victory for Mercedes, as earlier in the race, Bottas had held up Vettel as much as possible to let Hamilton catch up to the two leaders.
The Haas of Kevin Magnussen and the Toro Rosso of Daniil Kyvat later rubbed shoulders into turn 4, which caused a puncture for Magnussen and damage for Kyvat as his front right endplate touched Magnussen’s left rear tyre.
Up to the Stewards Office
The race wasn’t over for Force India, however, as they were called to the Stewards office post-race.
It is understood that the stewards were not happy with the visibility of the driver numbers on the sidepods of the two pink BLT Water sponsored cars.
This follows a ruling that was implemented to make it easier for the stewards, spectators and race commentators to identify different drivers as they speed past.
Article 9.2 of the technical regulations states that the driver number “must be clearly visible from the front of the car and on the driver’s crash helmet.”
Meanwhile, Article 9.3 states that the “name or emblem of the make of the car must appear on the front of the nose of the car and in either case be at least 25mm in its largest dimension. The name of the driver must appear on the external bodywork and be clearly legible.”
According to Motorsport.com, F1 race director Charlie Whiting is understood to have sent out a letter to the teams, further explaining that driver numbers “should be at least 230mm high, and that the names should be 150mm, and on the external bodywork.”