The Ferrari Owners’ Club
of Great Britain

GRAND PRIX: Spain: Hamilton Pips Vettel In Spanish Thriller

16-05-2017

By Jack Target

The glorious sunshine shone down on Barcelona and its circuit as Lewis Hamilton picked up his second win of the season in a gripping contest in Spain.

It was the race we have been waiting for as the top two challengers for the title battled throughout, both overtaking each other, finishing with Lewis closing the gap at the top of the championship to six points.

Ferrari had a mixed weekend and will feel that a few small moments could have changed the result for them. But this will be the tale of the season as fine margins could determine where the championship goes when the checkered flag flies in Abu Dhabi. 

There were some tense moments between Sebastian Vettel and Hamilton right from Saturday in qualifying. Lewis took pole by just 500th’s of a second as Sebby revisited his familiar problems of the last chicane around this circuit. 

Starting from second was not enough to keep Vettel away though as he made a good start to head his rival and sprint of to a two and a half second lead. The pair would next tangle about halfway through the race as Vettel came out of the pits with both going into the first corner neck and neck. The German won that scuffle but would later be undone by a Virtual Safety Car. Hamilton changed to the soft tyre with 30 laps remaining and ten laps later was able to ease past Vettel, who was on the medium compound, to reclaim the lead and eventually victory. 

Unlike most races this season, the build up was a fairly quiet one. There was a small change to the cars liveries as numbers and abbreviated driver names made a needed return to the side of the cars, if only on the shark fin at the back. From a Ferrari point of view this finished off the car nicely at the back but the white box on the nose that houses the number is now rather garish. For you football fans out there think of West Ham United’s kit when their sponsor XL holidays went bust.

Previously the chatter has been surrounding Fernando Alonso and his upcoming Indy 500 race. This would be the last race, in his home country, before he heads to America and he was back in the headlines for his efforts on the track this weekend. Somehow the Spaniard managed to get his McLaren in to Q3 and haul the struggling car up to 7th. The start was always going to be tough with some of the middle pack having faster cars than his as he slid down the grid early on but a 12th place finish, his first of the season, will hopefully be enough for him to work on and keep him motivated when he comes back to F1 in June.

Alonso wasn’t the only one to have struggled in the first lap as a messy start led to a few issues early on. There were a couple of big retirements after the first corner as Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen collided and damaged each other’s suspension. From replays it looked like Bottas in the Mercedes had nudged his fellow countrymen Kimi, who then went in the Max’s Red Bull as the three cars tried to squeeze through the exit of turn one. Red Bull’s problems continue as another race went by without either driver finishing the race, and Ferrari were left without one of their drivers as they fight for the constructors title. 

That same corner caused problems for Felipe Massa too. On the first lap he caught a puncture from a small bump, which dropped him way back from his qualifying position of 8th. Then later he went to overtake Stoffel Vandoorne in the McLaren who somehow didn’t see the Brazlian and drove into his side. Luckily for Massa he was able to continue but Vandoorne’s race was over. Williams again had a troubling weekend as Massa struggled from the earlier puncture and only just finished above his teammate Lance Stroll, as the pair ended up having to battle with Alonso at the finish. With no offense to McLaren, Williams will be very disappointed that this is how they ended the race whilst some of their competitors picked up valuable points thanks to the retirement of two of the big team’s cars. 

The first corner was a main feature of talking points as a further two dramatic moments occurred involving Vettel. Sebastian pulled an excellent double dummy when behind Bottas to just about overtake the Finn before his battle with Lewis when exiting the pits. As the top two battled it out for the top step on the podium, the engine on Bottas car blew up ending his race. 

Six laps later Hamilton had regained the lead on the main straight and went on to victory. 

Some other highlights came from the Sauber as Pascal Wehrlein continued his fine return to the track after missing the first couple of races. Even a five second grid penalty wasn’t enough to take him out of the points as he crossed the line in 7th position, officially finishing in 8th. There was also a first podium of the season for Daniel Ricciardo who once again had quite a lonely race in the Red Bull. 

However when Vettel and Hamilton weren’t dueling for the race win, attention was on a young boy in the crowd dressed head to toe in Ferrari red. Most Ferrari fans would have been unhappy to see Kimi crash out so early but they were not as devastated as the lad who was caught on camera sobbing his heart out. The camera was on him again when Vettel took the lead as he jumped up and down with joy but his day wouldn’t end there. Later on we were shown the same young boy meeting Kimi Raikkonen and receive the Finn’s cap. What a great moment for that lad and for Formula 1. It was a clear sign that this is a different sport to the one Bernie Eccelstone had removed from him. One that will be more thoughtful of the fans. One for the future. 

So now we sit at the quarter mark of the 2017 season. We were hoping for something a bit different and we have certainly got that. Lewis now has the same race victories as Sebby with Mercedes new driver Bottas grabbing the other race win. The title race really could be this close throughout the season and you do sense there could be a couple of shocks along the road too. Just like 2017, the first quarter of the F1 season is over. Now we head to Monaco for some sun, glamour and tight racing on the streets of Monte Carlo.