12 May 2019

Six hours after the race...

Formula 1 went to Catalonia expecting Ferrari to be strong on the circuit where the team had dominated pre-season testing a couple of months ago...

But as the weekend unfurled, it was clear that Mercedes had taken a big step forward and Ferrari was struggling to keep up. Worse than that, Red Bull was also in the mix with the Italian team. Lewis Hamilton made the best start, as Valtteri Bottas struggled with a stuttering clutch and then had to avoid being sandwiched between Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, who tried a little too hard to get ahead at the first corner and went very wide. In the kerfuffle that followed Vettel lost momentum, Bottas had a wobble, Charles Leclerc had to lift off to avoid his team-mate and Max Verstappen emerged from the melee in third place, ahead of both Ferraris. After that it was a question of everyone avoiding mistakes and trying to work out strategies to get ahead. But the reality is that there were not many choices. Early on it was clear that Leclerc was faster than Vettel and so Sebastian moved over and let Charles into fourth place. Later, with different tyre combinations, the reverse happened and Ferrari switched the drivers again. It made no difference. Hamilton, Bottas and Verstappen ran home 1-2-3, with a little excitement added when Lando Norris collided with Lance Stroll and caused a Safety Car with 20 laps to go. With the field pushed together again the final laps were exciting as the two Haas drivers battled over seventh, with the end result being a collision that probably cost the team three points as Magnussen held on to seventh but Grosjean sank to 10th. The big loser in the Safety Car interlude was Toro Rosso, which seemed to be headed for points with both cars but botched a stacked stop and slowed down both cars. Danny Kvyat managed to get ninth but Alex Albon narrowly missed out. The various incidents helped Carlos Sainz take four points in front of his home crowd, which numbered 160,000 over the course of the weekend. Once again the circuit meant that overtaking was difficult. Thus Mercedes heads to Monaco with the prospect of scoring what could be a record sixth consecutive 1-2 finish, something that has never been achieved in the history of the sport. But in F1 one can never take anything for granted... Ferrari will return home from Barcelona with a problem: what can the team do to keep up with the mighty Mercs? And can they hold off the Red Bull challenge?

- We look at the latest developments with the F1 calendar

- We remember Ayrton Senna

- We look back at the man who gave away his one chance to win a Grand Prix

- We remember Tommy Sopwith

- DT muses on the W Series

- JS wonders if PR is causing more harm than good for F1

- The Hack ruminates in different ways

- Peter Nygaard and his team bring you fabulous images of Barcelona

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