It was a race of nerves, strategy and champions. Once again Lewis Hamilton won in the direct confrontation on the track with Max Verstappen. The Englishman collects his third victory in four races and extends his advantage in the drivers’ standings to 14 points over the Dutchman who took home the second place and the fastest lap (1’18 “149) which is worth a length.
In the Spanish GP Mercedes beats Red Bull, probably giving a turning point to the championship, because Max Verstappen did not make any mistakes in a perfect race: Max surprised Hamilton at the start with a better shot and, like in Imola, he tore the head of the race with a hard, firm, but clean entrance.
It seemed that Verstappen could start a winning ride, but he did not deal with a superlative Lewis Hamilton: the Briton entered the pits for the second stop on lap 42, when he was at the end of the RB16B but could not pass it on the long straight.
Mounted on fresh medium tires, the epta champion started a prodigious comeback that led him to overtake on the outside of turn 1 on lap 59. Lewis was a perfect hunter, indeed a sniper who followed his prey more and more from close aware that the Red Bull driver could not replicate. And so it was. It was a surrender of the team, more than the driver.
It wasn’t Verstappen who lost, as much as Red Bull. Milton Keynes’s team did not react to Mercedes’ perfect strategy and paid a heavy toll as the W12 regained its technical leadership in the fourth race in 2021, proving on the track to be a couple of tenths faster than the RB16B. Max on the podium seemed resigned to a fate that does not depend on him.
In addition to the resounding success of Hamilton (the sixth in Spain and the fifth in a row as only Senna had managed), Mercedes collects important points for the Constructors with Valtteri Bottas third again. The Finn saw a spectacular Charles Leclerc slipping outside of turn 3, able to take Ferrari to the momentary third place: Valtteri remained closed behind Hamilton who was slow after being pulled by Verstappen and from that moment on lost. Only the Mercedes wall brought him back to the podium, but it is clear that he put himself at Lewis’ service and will not be a contender for the victories, but a valid follower.
Charles Leclerc made the Cavallino fans jump in their seats with a sensational start that took him to third place: the Monegasque had a perfect race and without flaws in strategy, but Ferrari still does not have enough to challenge a Mercedes, although the SF21 proved to have made an important qualitative leap in tire management, after what had been seen in Portugal.
Leclerc conquered a fourth place deserving the position, without strokes of luck, a sign that Ferrari can aspire to the role of third force having put behind the fearsome McLaren, less brilliant than at Portimao: now the Scuderia is only 5 points behind. Woking team and the game is on.
Charles allowed himself the luxury of being in front of a Red Bull, as Sergio Perez stopped in fifth after a disappointing qualifying in eighth place. Daniel Ricciardo saved the McLaren honor with a sixth place ahead of the comeback Carlos Sainz who was returning to the office after a bad start.
Lando Norris, eighth, with the other McLaren was the first of the lapped ahead of Esteban Ocon ninth with the Alpine and Pierre Gasly tenth with the AlphaTauri. The Frenchman took a 5-second penalty in the pit for not positioning himself in the right way on the grid. And so he lost a position even before leaving ….
Aston Martin out of the points with Lance Stroll 11th and Sebastian Vettel 13th. Kimi Raikkonen slipped between the two with Alfa Romeo. By the way: there is something wrong with the Hinwil team because Antonio Giovinazzi’s race was again ruined by a crazy pit stop. A flat tire was extracted from an electric blanket! Incredible: things happen to Alfa Romeo that do not happen in the training series teams. A big fool ….
Everything else is a side dish, including Fernando Alonso despite the misfire problem …