Lewis Hamilton pulled off a brilliant fightback victory against Max Verstappen in the Spanish Grand Prix to extend his Formula 1 world title lead. 

It was a race defined by a strategic gamble and attacking masterclass from Mercedes and Hamilton, who hunted down and passed Verstappen in the closing stages to claim his fifth successive win in Barcelona

While Hamilton scored his third win from the opening four races, there were contrasting fortunes for the rest of the field…

Winners:

Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes 

Another exemplary drive from Hamilton as he converted his 100th F1 pole position into a 98th career victory, though he had to work hard for it.  

Hamilton initially lost the lead to Verstappen at Turn 1 but he kept within touching distance with the Red Bull driver throughout the first half of the race to remain in striking distance. 

Mercedes opted to put Hamilton on a two-stop strategy and that bold, quick-thinking approach ultimately outfoxed and outmanoeuvred Red Bull. 

Hamilton’s relentless race pace on fresher rubber saw him close a 23-second deficit in just 18 laps to pass Verstappen with six laps remaining. 

With 94 points to his name from the opening four rounds, Hamilton has now made his best-ever start to an F1 season. 

Charles Leclerc 

Leclerc continued his impressive form at the start of the 2021 F1 season at Barcelona as he drove a strong race to fourth. 

The Monegasque caught Valtteri Bottas napping at the start and pulled off a fantastic, around-the-outside pass at Turn 3 to move into third on the first lap. 

Despite race pace being Ferrari’s achilles’ heel so far this season, Leclerc was able to keep Bottas behind him for the entire first stint until he lost out in the opening round of pit stops. 

Having fallen to fourth, Leclerc still had enough pace in hand to keep Sergio Perez’s behind him and equal his best result of 2021 to help Ferrari close in on McLaren for third place in the constructors’ championship. 

Daniel Ricciardo 

A much improved display from Daniel Ricciardo as he capped off arguably his strongest weekend performance yet since making the move to McLaren.

Ricciardo inflicted a qualifying defeat on teammate Lando Norris with a great lap in Q3 that earned him P7 on the grid. 

A superb start saw Ricciardo move into fifth on the opening lap before he engaged in a lengthy battle with Perez and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz

In the end, Perez had too much pace as he got past with 20 laps to go to snatch P5, but Ricciardo held on for an excellent sixth - a result that should give him a welcome confidence boost heading to Monaco. 

Esteban Ocon 

Esteban Ocon’s hard work to secure a sensational fifth place on the grid was undone at the start as he lost ground early on, but the Alpine driver recovered well with a really solid drive.

The Frenchman was the only driver in the field to make a one-stop strategy work after starting on Softs and completed a 42-lap stint on Mediums. 

Naturally, Ocon’s pace dropped off in the closing stages on ageing rubber but he was still able to fend off the late-charging AlphaTauri of Pierre Gasly to take a ninth place finish that sees him sit inside the top in the championship. 

Kimi Raikkonen 

12th place might not seem like a lot to shout about, but Kimi Raikkonen recovered strongly from his worst qualifying in Spain since 2003 in the race. 

A determined and gritty drive from the 2007 world champion saw him finish just outside of the points as he outperformed Alfa Romeo’s main midfield rivals, including both Williams and Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin. 

Having extracted the maximum from his car on a one-stop strategy, Raikkonen was left rueing that only one rival car ran into trouble. 

Losers: 

Red Bull and Sergio Perez 

While Red Bull insisted there was little it could have done to prevent Hamilton from winning - conceding the reigning world champion was simply too fast - the team will be left kicking itself for letting this opportunity to win go begging. 

Red Bull reacted too slowly to Mercedes’ strategy gamble and that only further played into Hamilton’s hands. It highlighted that Mercedes looks operationally sharper at the start of the season, having pulled off a similar masterstroke roll of the dice in Bahrain

It also demonstrated how Red Bull desperately needs Perez to join the fight at the front to make it a fair 2v2 battle. 

Valtteri Bottas 

Unfortunately, Valtteri Bottas is doing little to not feature as a regular fixture on our ‘losers’ section, with another fairly lacklustre display in Barcelona. 

By his own admission, Bottas was mugged by Leclerc at the start and being stuck behind the Ferrari driver for the entirety of the opening stint cost him dearly. 

The Finn ultimately lacks the ‘killer instinct’ that both Hamilton and Verstappen possess and that often hurts his progression in wheel-to-wheel situations. 

Bottas did have moments of promise with some strong pace but it is simply not consistent enough to see him join the Hamilton-Verstappen fight.

Bottas’ reluctance to let Hamilton through quickly in the closing stages could have resulted in a major flashpoint at Mercedes had his teammate not gone on to win. A potential sign that not all is rosy behind the scenes at Mercedes?

Aston Martin 

Aston Martin endured yet another disappointing and point-less race as neither Lance Stroll or Sebastian Vettel were able to find a route into the top-10. 

Both drivers suffered in traffic after making early second stops and that strategy ultimately ended up hampering their respective races as they lost significant time that was unrecoverable. 

Aston Martin’s Barcelona performance also confirmed that its recent upgrade - which both drivers ran in the Spanish Grand Prix - is not good enough, further adding to the current gloom felt at the Silverstone-based outfit. 


Fernando Alonso 

Home hero Fernando Alonso certainly put on an action-packed display for his fans in Barcelona, dicing twice with Stroll and fighting hard in his bid to claim points. 

But the two-time world champion’'s efforts were fruitless in the end as he ended up dramatically plummeting down the order to 17th at the flag, having been passed by several drivers and making a late second stop in the closing stages. 

Alonso blamed Alpine’s “very optimistic” strategy of attempting to carry out a one-stopper, which it eventually abandoned. 

AlphaTauri 

AlphaTauri would have been hoping for much more than a solitary point to take back home with it from Barcelona. 

Although Pierre Gasly was able to recover to P10 after a five-second penalty that put him as low as 19th at one stage in the Spanish GP, the Frenchman was left massively frustrated as AlphaTauri once again squandered the chance for a much better result. 

For Yuki Tsunoda, things were even worse. His angry outburst following a surprise Q1 exit did not put himself in a good light, before his race ended after just six laps with a suspected engine problem.

 

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