May 23, 2018

F1 2018 Spanish Grand Prix: Could 2nd or 3rd have won?

14 May 2018, 04:56 | Donald Newman

Updated mirrors for Vettel’s Ferrari SF71H at Spanish GP

Updated mirrors for Vettel’s Ferrari SF71H at Spanish GP

He took pole position in qualifying in a Mercedes lockout of the front row, and was never seriously challenged from the moment the race began.

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 vehicle, he would have been third there behind team-mate Valtteri Bottas and Vettel, and the Finn would have been leading the championship.

However, as a guest of F1 at this year's race, he will once again have been left downhearted after the 2007 world champion was forced out with an engine issue after 25 laps.

Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen took third and fourth positions for the start of the race, but the kicker was Ferrari's decision to not run the fastest tyre available for both drivers' final run.

Hamilton says he felt in sync with his auto on Sunday as he won by over 20 seconds, and highlights Mercedes' understanding of the way the vehicle behaves as key to his confidence.

Hamilton crossed the line 21 seconds clear of Bottas, with Vettel 0.7 sec behind Verstappen.

Ferrari's loss was Verstappen's gain, as he claimed his first trip to the podium in what has been a messy and controversial season so far.

"I remember like it was yesterday sitting at home playing this computer game as Michael", Hamilton said.

Vettel was triumphant at the Monaco Grand Prix past year and will be desperate to prevail again as he looks to close the gap to Hamilton in the championship standings. "I don't think it affected me too much", Verstappen said.

Hamilton got half the job done by securing pole on Saturday and, while there was plenty of action behind him at the start on Sunday, the Englishman had no problem holding onto first place. "This is what racing drivers need, results, podiums and wins, and hopefully it is the beginning of a good phase". 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.

"Overall we were a little quicker, our tyres were fresher as well, but as the laps went on we didn't have enough pace", Vettel admitted.

A chaotic race start saw three drivers taken out in the first lap when Haas' Romain Grosjean took himself, Toro Rosso's Pierre Gasly and Renault's Nico Hulkenberg out of the race before it even started.

Australian Daniel Ricciardo was fifth within the second Crimson Bull forward of Dane Kevin Magnussen of Haas.

Vettel won in Australia and Bahrain, while Ricciardo was first in China.

Grosjean, who struggled throughout the weekend, couldn't stop his auto from spinning across the track on Turn 3 and Hulkenberg and Gasly could not avoid colliding with him.

Verstappen was running fourth when he clipped his front wing on a Williams under the virtual safety vehicle, but the damage was not significant and he didn't have to make an extra stop. "We expected Mercedes to be strong".

"I kept going. It was not bad".

Vettel will be desperate to get back to winning ways after finishes of 8th, 4th, and 4th in his last three races have seen him drop to 17 points behind Lewis Hamilton in the leaderboard.

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