It was another Hamilton, Verstappen, Bottas finish at the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix. A disappointing end for Red Bull fans after a fantastic start from Verstappen who just couldn’t keep the Mercedes of Hamilton at bay by the end of the race.
The team at Mercedes really showed us why they are the dominant team this year. They are not resting on their laurels. Whilst many were expecting this year to be the year that Red Bull will finally be able to take the top spot, it looks like they are still going to have to work for it. It is simply admirable, though frustrating, how good the team at Mercedes really are. There are still plenty of races for Red Bull to close the gap but a disappointing performance from driver Sergio Perez has been leaving Verstappen to fend off the Mercedes’ himself.
Perez’s poor positioning absolutely got the better of the Red Bull team as Mercedes performed a brilliant strategy involving a surprise two-stops in the pit that likely might not have worked if Perez was in the position he should have been in rather than P5. Verstappen stated after the race that he felt like a “sitting duck” out there. Red Bull might have amazing pace, but Mercedes seems to have even more as Verstappen stated after the race that his performance was “Too slow – that’s how you sum it up. There’s not much else to really discuss.”
Valtteri Bottas has been asserting himself as a driver this year and it was no more apparent than when he refused to let Hamilton past him in a timely fashion, costing the champ 0.4s in the race to catch Verstappen. Bottas said that while he could have let Hamilton past earlier, he was “not here to let people by, I’m here to race.” I can hardly blame the Finn given that he had Charles Leclerc right behind him in the Ferrari.
Charles Leclerc drove brilliantly in Spain and right from the start overtook Bottas in Turn 3. Leclerc stalled the Mercedes for a while as Bottas just couldn’t get past him on a track notorious for a lack of overtaking opportunities. Bottas finally got ahead once Leclerc finally had to pit. Leclerc took P4 and that seems to be the best Ferrari can do at this point in this season. It’s great news for the team at Ferrari as P4 and P7 for Carlos Sainz, means that the gap between McLaren for the P3 in the constructors has shrunk. McLaren are who Ferrari are really racing this year so this is a great result for Ferrari, but their lack of pace means that they are not able to compete with the Red Bull’s and Mercedes’.
Speaking of McLaren, Daniel Ricciardo looks like he’s finally coming to grips with the car and generated his best performance with the team over the weekend. Ricciardo finished at P6 and for the first time was ahead of his teammate Lando Norris in P8. It’s great to see Ricciardo performing well once again after an underwhelming start to the season with McLaren.
The Alpine’s underperformed in pace when compared to their qualifying times. It was a disappointing race for the team with Esteban Ocon finishing in P9 and Fernando Alonso finishing right down the back in P17.
Speaking of right down the back, Mick Schumacher really showed us his potential this week in the Haas after holding off George Russell in the Williams during the early parts of the race. It just goes to show that the rookie is talented, and I’d love to see what he can do when he isn’t in a Haas.
The team at Haas are definitely writing this year off as with new regulations coming next year and money being scarce, they aren’t going to worry about improving the car this year and are likely banking on next year’s new car to improve their performance. Schumacher finished P18 ahead of his teammate, Nikita Mazepin, in P19.
Nikita Mazepin has been no stranger to controversy, and now he seems to be getting on the nerves of the other teams. Mercedes team principal, Toto Wolff, was heard on the radio complaining about Mazepin. The rookie does not seem to get out of the way fast enough for anybody and has been accused of holding up the leaders and ruining their times. Hey at least this time he didn’t spin out. But this isn’t the first time he has caused problems for the leading teams as in Portugal he seriously hurt Perez’s lap after blocking his overtake.
An interesting moment from the weekend involved Yuki Tsunoda complaining about his car not working properly. He since apologised to his team but on race day, his car just turned off and stopped working. Interesting, maybe his complaints were valid, and the team were unaware of the problems with the car? Who can know for sure?
Antonio Giovinazzi had an unfortunate puncture in Lap 8 that left him in last place. The Alfa Romeo driver managed to get P15, but it was too little too late for the team with both drivers falling out of the points as Kimi Raikkonen finished in P12.
The Spanish Grand Prix certainly made for a more exciting race than Portugal but finished with a predictable result that will certainly disappoint many F1 fans. Hopefully at the next race in Monaco will see Red Bull able to close the gap with Mercedes with Perez pulling out a better result.