Hamilton explains his cautious start in Spain, as Horner says his driver’s move was ‘full Max Verstappen’

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Formula 1 RSS UK 10 May, 2021 - 07:25am 15 views

Who is winning the Spanish Grand Prix?

Hello and welcome to this live blog for the Spanish Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton took his 100th pole in Saturday's qualifying, finishing ahead of familiar foe Max Verstappen and teammate Valtteri Bottas. MARCA.comLewis Hamilton wins Formula 1's Spanish Grand Prix | Championship standings

Analysis Grand Prix of Verstappen: set of less mediums cost Max the lead

GPblog 10 May, 2021 - 12:46pm

So why didn't Verstappen just go straight in? The reason is that Verstappen had a set less of mediums than the men from Mercedes. Verstappen could only go to the red tyre and with so many miles still to go, the 23-year-old driver could never have made it to the finish with the softs.

Moreover, there was another danger on the track by the name of Valtteri Bottas. The Finnish driver would have gone for a one-stop anyway at the moment that Verstappen would have come up behind Hamilton in the pit lane. The eleven-time Grand Prix winner would then have had to overtake Bottas on the track and according to Red Bull's calculations, that would have been very difficult, as the mediums were expected to hold up pretty well until the end. The opposite proved to be the case, however, as the mediums experienced a major decline in the last ten laps.

The Barcelona circuit is a difficult track to overtake on, so track position is very important. If Verstappen had gone in a lap later than Hamilton and had ended up in front of him, Mercedes could have let Bottas reduce his speed to catch Max. Hamilton would then be able to close in and overtake Verstappen.

And that's why it's such a shame that Sergio Perez had to come from eighth and could never get involved in the fight upfront. Had the Mexican driver been right behind Bottas, he could have done an undercut on the Mercedes for a podium finish. Bottas would have gone for new tyres anyway and that could also have influenced Verstappen's strategy positively.

And why didn't Verstappen come in for fresh rubber when he felt twenty laps before the end that it wasn't going to be him this way?"We had one set of new soft tyres left. We thought about risking it. But we would have fallen behind Bottas at that point too. And overtaking Bottas again would have cost us a lot of time. Then there would have been Hamilton to overtake as well," Helmut Marko commented to Sky's German branch.

The conclusion is that the race pace of Mercedes was so much higher that they had tactically much more possibilities. That Perez could not assist his teammate in the fight for victory does not help.

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We couldn't react, insists Horner

pitpass.com 10 May, 2021 - 12:46pm

Having pitted the Briton on lap 28 for new mediums - four laps after Max Verstappen had also stopped for a fresh set of the yellow-banded rubber - just 14 laps later, while running second to the Dutchman, Mercedes pitted the world champion once again, for another set of (used) mediums.

Recognising the move, Christian Horner declared "it's Hungary all over again", the Red Bull boss referring to the strategy change at the Hungaroring in 2019 when the German team made a similarly late call to Hamilton while he was running second to Verstappen, thereby turning the race on its head.

"In fairness, hats off to Mercedes and Lewis," Horner told Sky Sports at race end, "they were just quicker than we were today, the fact they could follow so close through the first two stints of the race.

"We were surprised they didn't go for the undercut earlier and pull the trigger," he admitted, "so we'd managed to keep track position.

"But the problem is that when the field opens up to the degree that it did behind, Lewis has then just got a 'free' stop.

"So they banked that, then you've given up track position, so you're in that horrible situation as the leader of either trying to brave it out to the end because at that point you've conceded the track position.

"So we knew he was probably going to catch us."

"It's so difficult I guess at the front for Red Bull to take the right decisions," said Toto Wolff, "because you give up position you could have lost the race. Second is just easier when you have the gap to make that call.

"We had a quick car," added the Austrian, "but obviously when you lose the position on the first lap you are on the back foot."

Check out our Sunday gallery from Barcelona, here.

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1. Posted by imejl99, 9 hours ago

"Gamble, but on lap 50-51 pit Max put him on soft, 13-16 laps to catch Valtteri AND Lewis. Hard, but maybe there was a chance... 2nd or 3rd anyway, 3 points risk and more entertaining..."

2. Posted by Lapps, 11 hours ago

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Hamilton ‘learned more about Verstappen than any other race’

Motorsport Week 09 May, 2021 - 06:34pm

Race winner Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 in parc ferme with second placed Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing. Spanish Grand Prix, Sunday 9th May 2021. Barcelona, Spain. FIA Pool Image for Editorial Use Only

Lewis Hamilton says his pursuit of Max Verstappen in Spain meant he learned more about his title rival than “perhaps more than all the other races put together.”

Verstappen overhauled Hamilton into Turn 1 on the opening lap but the pair remained closely-matched through the first stint of the race.

Hamilton diverged strategically from Verstappen by making a second stop and ultimately reeled in and passed the Red Bull driver.

“I’m continuing to love this battle we’re having,” he said.

“It was actually a really good day, I learned a lot about Max today, perhaps more than all the other races probably put together, so this has been a good one in that sense.

“When you’re with people on track you get to see different things and watch closely, and obviously I was following relatively closely.

“I learned a lot about his car and learned a lot about how he uses it, so it was a good race in that respect.”

Hamilton was passed by Verstappen on the opening lap but explained that he did not feel the need to put up too strong a defence early on.

“I know Valtteri [Bottas] was starting third and the goal was to work as a team, so I stayed to the left,” he said.

“I think in hindsight there could have been a moment looking back that when Max moved in behind me for a second I could have pulled across and sealed the job there but I didn’t.

As we went into Turn 1 I made sure I gave as much space as I could to Max. In my mind it’s always a marathon not a sprint so I’m thinking of the long game.

“Sure, you could be a little more aggressive, [but] do I need to? I’m in the position I’m in because I don’t get too aggressive when I don’t need to be.”

Hamilton’s victory, his third of the season, moved him 14 points clear of Verstappen in the standings.

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