Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton (left) and George Russell will be on the podium for the first time in Barcelona
Siu Wu / EPA
Yikes, Mercedes is back: Lewis Hamilton was beaming, something that hasn't happened too often this Formula 1 season: "What a result for our team. We didn't expect that," said the seven-time world champion on Sky after the Spanish Grand Prix, where Mercedes celebrated its first double podium of the year. And the eternally self-critical team boss Toto Wolff could also be seen smiling on the phone and waving his hair in a relaxed manner. Max Verstappen in the Red Bull was not approachable in Barcelona either, but the Silver Arrows seem to have made a move forward with new parts. "They're still in front, but we're chasing them," Hamilton added, referring to world championship leader Red Bull.
The result: Hamilton and George Russell sorted themselves in second and third place behind winner Verstappen. A Spanish party, which the audience had wished for, was cancelled. Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz, who started the race from the front row of the grid, was only fifth, while Red Bull pursuer Fernando Alonso achieved his worst result of the season in seventh. Read the race report here.
The start: Went to Verstappen, albeit narrowly. Sainz tried to push himself past on the outside, but failed. Behind them, Lando Norris and Hamilton touched, damaging the front wing of Norris' McLaren. The subsequent stop flushed the surprise third-place finisher from qualifying to the back of the field. Shortly afterwards, Lance Stroll moved up to third place in the Aston Martin. Actually, his teammate Alonso would have been expected there, but the third in the world championship had damaged the underbody of his car in qualifying and only started the race in eighth place.
Leclerc is unlucky: Things were even worse for Charles Leclerc on Saturday. Due to a mechanical defect, Ferrari had to replace the rear of the Monegasque's car. The 25-year-old started the race from the pit lane and struggled in vain for points.
Pérez under pressure: Things haven't been going well for Verstappen's teammate Pérez since Monaco either. After two victories this season, the Mexican already thought he was in the title fight with Verstappen, which Helmut Marko had commented smugly on Sky after qualifying. "This is now the second race weekend that is not running. He was psychologically on a world championship dream trip and that's a relatively tough wake-up now," Red Bull's motorsport advisor said after Pérez's weak performance on Saturday. In the race, Pérez moved up from eleventh place to fourth. But the stage belonged to Mercedes anyway. There, however, Russell first provided slapstick.
Sweat and rain: On lap 25, Hamilton opened the pit stop of the top four of Red Bull and Mercedes, while Russell reported the first raindrops. For quite a few fans, this remark should have raised hopes for a little excitement for the rest of the race. The weather in Barcelona was unstable over the weekend, and grey clouds hung over the track at times on Sunday. However, no other driver reported wet from above. A few laps later, Russell reflected on his radio message and realized that it was apparently just dripping for him – in the form of sweat in his helmet.
"You're getting faster and faster": Hamilton had easily passed Sainz after his stop on lap 28 and should be able to save his position as the first Verstappen pursuer to the finish. Russell was also able to keep up with a similar pace. After snatching Sainz on lap 35, both Mercedes were on course for the podium for the first time, Russell had started the race from twelfth place and, according to his own statement, was surprised by his final position. "It feels better. You compare it with the other cars around it and you notice you're getting faster and faster," he said of his W14 race car, which had already been retrofitted with numerous updates, such as modified sidepods, since Monaco.
Like fallen fruit: Nico Hülkenberg, on the other hand, had hoped for more. The German had started the race from seventh place, but in the end he clearly missed out on the points in 15th place. "For the first five laps, I was like fallen fruit. I just got eaten up," said the Haas driver afterwards on Sky: "We're competitive on one lap, but not on 66. We have to try to turn it around somehow."
Ayrton Gnabry? Serge Gnabry should also have been pleased with the race result. The FC Bayern professional had said before the start on Sky that he was a Hamilton fan. In addition, the spectators learned that Gnabry's father had been a big supporter of racing legend Ayrton Senna and wanted to name his son Ayrton first. However, when asked if he wanted to be called Ayrton Gnabry, he said: "Absolutely not" (here you can see the scene in the video).
More victories than years of life: And Verstappen? Undeterred, he continues to race towards defending his title. "It was a pure pleasure" to drive the Red Bull, said the 25-year-old, who is only one success behind Senna after his 40th Grand Prix victory. With his success in Spain, he also joins a rather illustrious circle: only five drivers have experienced more than 40 victories in the premier class of motorsport. Hamilton ranks at the top of this list with 103 triumphs, while Verstappen extended his lead over teammate Pérez to 53 points in the world championship standings.