Vettel defends Ferrari's Spanish strategy

Ruben Hill
May 16, 2018

Valtteri Bottas secured a one-two for Mercedes at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, while Max Verstappen completed the podium despite finishing the race with a broken front wing on his Red Bull.

Ricciardo was fifth while Hamilton won.

The defending, four-time World champion dominated from start to finish, save for a spell during the mid-race pit-stops, and clocked a series of record laps as he registered his second successive win. "We have the Mercedes board here with us, who have been supporting us from day one, so it's great to have them all here and see that true force within the team - strength in depth".

"This is more like it", said a jubilant Hamilton as he crossed the line.

When racing resumed Vettel was first of the leading group to pit but the Mercedes pair stayed out on what turned out to be a one-stop strategy, with Hamilton immediately smashing the lap record. "Coming across the line, I'm happy I did it in the way I planned to". "People probably think it was an easy race and I was cruising but I wasn't cruising".

As you were: Mercedes took its first pole position since the season-opener in Melbourne. Bottas had done enough on track to move back ahead of the Ferrari only for a sticky rear tyre to contribute to a slow stop and leave Vettel running ahead.

Verstappen and team-mate Daniel Ricciardo were promoted to first and third respectively, with Red Bull opting to run their drivers on a longer opening stint.

Drivers championship (top five): 1.

"We couldn't make the tyres last so for us it was clear we come in again", Vettel clarified. "Even in the end, with the fresher set I wasn't able to attack until the end", he added.

Even if one were to assume that two-stopping was Ferrari's strategy for Vettel's race, it wouldn't be too hard to think that they were more foolhardy than fearless. On the soft tyres, Vettel could manage 4 laps fewer (20 in total) than Alonso who managed 24 laps on his super soft. It looks different and it looks wrong, but from the inside I think it was the right thing to do.

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen retired near the halfway-point because of an apparent mechanical problem. This was the second time in the last five races that only one Ferrari vehicle reached the finish line.

"It felt good. It was the closest I've been to feeling it is all going right, but there are still things that are not quite ideal".

Verstappen went from zero to hero, taking his first podium of the season after a frustrating weekend in Baku, while a spin under the virtual safety vehicle meant Daniel Ricciardo couldn't take advantage of Vettel's second stop.

Later in the race Verstappen was running fourth when he clipped his front wing on a Williams under the virtual safety vehicle, but the damage was not significant and he didn't have to make an extra stop.

Sainz's points lifted Renault ahead of McLaren and into fourth place by a single point. Sergio Perez (Force India), 10.

The safety car's appearance was brought about by a huge crash that saw Nico Hulkenberg and Pierre Gasly wiped out by a spinning Romain Grosjean on the opening lap.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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