This month, the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya played host to what was the most action packed and intense race of the Formula 1 season so far.
Britain’s Lewis Hamilton emerged victorious but only after a tussle with rival Sebastian Vettel which saw the two go toe to toe out of the pits. The gap between the two has been reduced to just six points in Vettel’s favour but it was the German who got the leap on pole-sitter Hamilton from the off.
A first corner collision between Hamilton’s team mate Valtteri Bottas, Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen left the Ferrari and Red Bull drivers to lick their wounds at the Barcelona-Catalunya as suspension damage left them needing to retire from the race. Bottas could continue and played his part for his team mate after holding up a pitted Vettel on fresh tyres. Vettel lost four seconds behind the Fin allowing Hamilton to get close to start his challenge for the lead.
The gauntlet has been laid down by Hamilton after making up for his disappearing act in Russia as he bids for back to back wins. Despite still standing at 2nd in the leaderboard, British driver Hamilton can now be backed outright at 4/6 in the Drivers Championship. At such short odds though, it might be worth hunting down the latest 2017 betting offers for UK users to either get the bet for free or earn a bonus figure on an initial deposit. Vettel is unlikely to let Hamilton have it all his own way though as he could be heading for an epic year of F1 action.
McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne duly went and collided with the Williams of Felipe Massa causing a virtual safety and Mercedes pounced on the opportunity pitting Hamilton immediately. Ferrari pitted a lap later and as Hamilton came speeding out of the pits, the pair were locked side by side. Vettel managed to squeeze past and defend stoutly from Hamilton but, on lap 44, Hamilton’s softer tyres and DRS allowed him to drift by for the lead which he then never looked like losing.
Home favourite Fernando Alonso gave the Spanish fans something to cheer on Saturday after somehow qualifying his underpowered McLaren 7th on the grid. Unfortunately for the Spaniard, that was as good as it got after clashing with Felipe Massa (him again) at the second corner of the opening lap as the Brazilian was forced wide to avoid the Verstappen, Raikkonen, Bottas incident. The pair were both able to continue with Massa ending his eventful race in 13th with Alonso just one place ahead in 12th.
There was a strong performance by the pink Force India duo of Sergio Perez and Sebastian Ocon as they scored the team’s best performance of the season with a 4th and 5th finish respectively. The pair were able to capitalise on a whole host of retirements and collect an impressive 22 points for the team which sees them just 19 points behind Red Bull in the Constructors standings.
With Bottas, Raikkonen and Verstappen all out of the race, it was left to Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo to claim the final podium place to leave the Australian with a big grin on his face. From now, and in just under two weeks’ time, the Formula 1 circus heads to its most iconic circuit in the Principality of Monte-Carlo minus Fernando Alonso who has opted to race in the Indy 500.
Roll on Monaco.