It’s true what they say, it only takes two cars to make a race, and what a race it was in Spain. In this game for two players Lewis Hamilton prevailed over Sebastian Vettel, and the fight between the pair goes on…
F1 conformed indeed to many fundamentals in this one. Hard pushing by two world-class drivers, two fine on-track overtakes to claim the lead as well as an exciting, topsy-turvy strategy battle. And after the minor detour in Russia the sport returned to its fundamental for this season too – that things boil down to Vettel vs. Hamilton. And Ferrari vs. Mercedes. It all combined to give us another thriller; the latest in this F1 season’s charmed existence. And this at a Barcelona track usually associated with soporific races.
Lewis And Merc Turn The Tables
As noted it was Lewis and Merc that prevailed. Prevailed even though Seb vaulted them to lead at turn one, then scampered off to the tune of two seconds plus by the end of the first lap in that familiar way from his Red Bull pomp. Prevailed on strategy, not Merc’s strong suit recently. But this time the silver team got unorthodox and – aided by a little circumstance (a Virtual Safety Car period, though for reasons that I won’t detain us with the team did its best it seemed not to take advantage of it) – it worked.
It all got Lewis a run on Seb on softer quicker tyres in the final stint, and after a few laps of trying he swept around the outside of the Ferrari to lead. The only matter then was whether Lewis’s rubber could last this extended stretch to the end (framed as it was by the timing of the Virtual Safety Car mentioned), yet it did. Indeed Lewis set the fastest lap with two to go, so to confirm that he had matters under control.
But the strategy worked too as Lewis was magnificent, driving at the maximum throughout and indeed sounding breathless on his team radio. Sochi indeed was an aberration for him. His deficit in the title table to Seb is now just six.
Seb also did everything he could – but he was yin to Lewis’s yang. Losing out to strategy and a little circumstance. Nevertheless he rued one got away.
The Continuing Fight
If today’s race was a game for two players, so it appears is the championship increasingly. No scores for Valtteri Bottas, Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen (the latter two lasted a lap after Valtteri nudged Kimi into Max; the former stopped with an engine failure) have given Seb and Lewis clear blue water.
And that’s likely to be the way of it. The other thing the Barcelona track is synonymous with are big technical upgrades that have a large impact on the major part of the season. As well as with being a bellwether – in other words cars that go well here should go well nearly everywhere. With these barely a sheet of paper could be got between Merc and Ferrari, or Lewis and Seb, this time. Luckily, we’re in for the long haul on this one.