Lewis Hamilton beat team-mate Nico Rosberg to victory in the Spanish Grand Prix in another Mercedes 1-2 whitewash, the fourth in a row and one that sets serious alarm bells ringing among their rivals. Daniel Ricciardo was 3rd for Red Bull, over 50 seconds behind the unstoppable Mercedes pair.
Hamilton was praised by 1992 World Champion Nigel Mansell earlier in the week for his performances in 2014, and there was certainly a touch of the Mansells about the Mercedes man during the race as he ranted on the radio to the pitwall; despite being in a commanding position throughout Hamilton was constantly complaining of grip deficiencies, aerodynamic inbalance and asking what the gap to Rosberg was. Rosberg came within 0.6 by the finish line, but couldn’t reverse the bizarre pit turnarounds that had seen him lose around four seconds to Hamilton despite the Englishman experiencing two duff pitstops himself. The dominance of the Mercedes car has led many to criticise the 2014 formula, with some predicting the World Championship battle is already over. Barcelona is well known as the last-chance saloon for lagging teams to reverse their fortunes, but with Mercedes coming away from the race with a crushing 2 second-a-lap advantage, many teams are turning their attention already toward 2015.
Behind them the racing didn’t set the world alight, though there was a starring performance from reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel who executed a perfect 3-stop strategy to climb from 15th on the grid to 4th, with brave overtakes on Kimi Raikkonen and Vatteri Bottas proving key in his rise through the order. 5th was a boost for Bottas and Williams, while Fernando Alonso beat Raikkonen to 6th despite being oddly heavy-handed with his Ferrari and botching two overtakes in earlier parts of the race – oddly out of character for the normally exacting Spaniard.
Romain Grosjean scored Lotus’ first points of the season in 8th, with Force India finishing 9th and 10th courtesy of Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg. McLaren’s drought of form continued, as Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen dragged their dire MP4/29’s to 11th and 12th. With no points since Malaysia, this is McLaren’s longest spell without scoring since 2009.
Pastor Maldonado earned himself another wrap across the knuckles from the stewards – in the form of a 5 second stop/go penalty – when he clouted the Caterham of Marcus Ericsson early on and sent both cars briefly airborne before continuing. The Venezuelan ended up 15th, behind Felipe Massa in 13th and Daniil Kvyat in 14th.
Jean Eric Vergne and Kamui Kobayashi were the race’s only retirements, both with mechanical faults that proved impossible to solve.
Hamilton now leads the World Championship with 100 points, overtaking team-mate Rosberg who moves down to 2nd.
CLASSIFICATION – Race – Spanish Grand Prix – 11th May 2014