Sunday 18 March 2018 / 04:21 PM


The fifth round of the Formula 1 season saw the start of the European leg, with the physically demanding Catalunya track in Barcelona the host. The Spanish Grand Prix is a race where pit strategy and aerodynamics are vitally important, which was proven yet again yesterday.

Free Practice 1 got off to a horror start for Fernando Alonso’s McLaren, breaking down on the outlap with engine failure and failing to return for the rest of the session.

Talk leading up to this race suggested that Red Bull were a full second faster after some upgrades. After FP1, Max Verstappen was 1.1 seconds off the pace, with Daniel Ricciardo almost half a second slower again.

Practice 2 was largely uneventful with all drivers getting in plenty of laps. Ferrari and Red Bull both closed the gap on Mercedes even further, suggesting that it could well be a six-car race.

Day 2 started with Free Practice 3 and just 10 minutes into the session, Valtteri Bottas’ Mercedes encountered a water leak which resulted in his power unit needing to be changed, restricting him to just seven laps as his team worked feverishly to have his car ready for qualifying.

Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari then uncovered a gremlin just as he was about to exit the pit lane. Vettel was forced to get a new engine fitted before qualifying.

Qualifying saw Kvyat’s woeful two days continue as he ran dead last. Just over half a second separated Lewis Hamilton, who claimed pole, and the fifth-placed Red Bull of Max Verstappen. The big story from qualifying was Fernando Alonso, who got his McLaren into Q3 and seventh spot on the grid.

The race began with great drama. At the very first corner, Bottas, Kimi Raikkonen and Verstappen were three wide, with Verstappen on the outside and Bottas on the inside. Bottas bumped into the rear tyre of Raikkonen, who bumped into Verstappen, with both the Red Bull and Ferrari breaking their front suspension and ending their races.

In the following corner, Massa bumped into Alonso, pushing the McLaren off the track, but Bottas picked up a puncture from the incident, forcing him to pit and moving to the back of the field.

Vettel took the early lead out of the first corner with Hamilton right behind him. Bottas was further back in third with Ricciardo behind him. Bottas’ car succumbed to an engine failure at the halfway point of the race which moved Ricciardo into third place

Meanwhile, back in the field, Stoffel VanDoorne broke his front suspension when he turned into Massa. Hamilton eventually passed Vettel but could not skip away despite being on the faster tyre which produced a great race to the line, with Hamilton holding on to win.

Vettel finishing just a few second behind. Ricciardo finished third, three quarters of a lap behind them and well clear of the fourth-placed Sergio Perez. Daniil Kvyat turned around his fortunes, moving from 20th on the grid into a ninth-place finish.

Final Standings (Top 10)
1 – Hamilton (Mercedes)
2 – Vettel (Ferrari)
3 – Ricciardo (Red Bull)
4 – Perez (Force India)
5 – Ocon (Force India)
6 – Hulkenberg (Renault)
7 – Sainz (Toro Rosso)
8 – Wehrlein (Sauber)
9 – Kvyat (Toro Rosso)
10 – Grosjean (Haas)

Drivers Championship (Top 10)
1 – Vettel – 104
2 – Hamilton – 98
3 – Bottas – 63
4 – Raikkonen – 49
5 – Ricciardo – 37
6 – Verstappen – 35
7 – Perez – 34
8 – Ocon – 19
9 – Massa – 18
10 – Sainz – 17

Constructors Championship
1 – Mercedes – 161
2 – Ferrari – 153
3 – Red Bull – 72
4 – Force India – 53
5 – Toro Rosso – 21
6 – Williams – 18
7 – Renault – 14
8 – Haas – 9
9 – Sauber – 4
10 – McLaren – 0

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About the author

Andrew Ferguson

A rugby league historian and stats buff – most notably as the brains behind the phenomenal Rugby League Project resource – Melbourne-based Andrew has written extensively for Rugby League Review and the Men of League magazine, and is a valued addition to CBS’s rugby league stable.

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