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Formula One

What We Learned from Spanish Grand Prix 2017

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The Big Picture: The Spanish Grand Prix is one of the world’s oldest auto races, and Sunday’s contest was the first of the European events this year. It’s therefore quite easy to forget that the Catalunya circuit has only been in use since 1991. Not as vintage as it may appear.

The Event:  Barcelona is glorious in the springtime, so  high attendance  this year is no surprise. That and having two Spaniards, Fernando Alonzo, and Carlos Sainz entered in 2017, that is.

In Our Last Episode: Valterri Bottas demonstrated his talents at the Russian Grand Prix, taking his first series win.

Qualifying: At the front, it was another Sebastian Vettel versus Lewis Hamilton fest with the Briton edging out the German for the pole. After those two, it was remarkable to see Alonzo qualify seventh before his home crowd.

Start: Hamilton had a bad start, and a first lap collision took out Ferrari’s popular Kimi Raikkonen and fan favorite Max Verstappen. Other than these two matters, the start was fine.

Race:  Vettel led for much of the race, but there was an epic battle with Lewis Hamilton throughout the day. And for this occasion, Hamilton had something for him all day, including a pass using the DRS late in the game which ultimately gave him the win. Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo got his first podium of the year and the Force India twins Sergio Perez and Esteban took third and fourth. Sauber’s Pascal Wehrlein earned his team’s first points of the season with his eighth, leaving Honda McLaren as the only pointless team in Formula One.

Best Team: Mercedes was the best due to Hamilton’s victory, even though there is disappointment that Bottas’ engine blew up.

What We Will Remember: This race continues to be unpredictable as it has been in previous years. We saw a comeback to the Winner’s Circle for Hamilton, and neither Constructor’s Championship contenders managed to finish both cars. This may tip more points towards the second-tier teams, Red Bull, and Force India.

Quote of the Weekend: “It’s been a really good weekend and a great way to bounce back from Russia. It was the rawest fight that I can remember having in a long-time. I loved it, this is why I race. This is what made me get into racing in the first place. This is what the sport needs to be like every single weekend. To have a close battle like that with a four-time champion is awesome. I lost out on the start and had to watch Sebastian fly by. He was so fast out in front and it was such a push to keep in touch with him and not let him pull away. I was able to manage my tyres in the first stint and keep relatively close, then it was tricky to keep up on the Medium tyre and then after the second stop. We came out so close together which was super tight into Turn 1. He didn’t give me much space, it was close! I thought Seb would get me at the end of the final stint but I was able to do it. I have to congratulate my team today, with the strategy and the pit stops, as well as everyone back at the factory that has worked so hard to deliver these upgrades, enabling us to be so close in this fight with Ferrari.” Mercedes driver and race winner Lewis Hamilton

Runner-up Quote of the Weekend “It has been an incredible day for us and I’m very proud of our team and the job we have done all weekend. Everything worked out for us and we have come away with some big points. We made the most of the opportunities that came up and we were there when it mattered to pick up the points. I didn’t make the best start, but I stayed out of trouble and made it safely around the first lap. Then I kept my head down, managed my speed and controlled the race to bring the car home. The only small issue was a slow pit stop, but I had enough time to the car behind and it didn’t make a difference. So big congratulations to the whole team because it hasn’t been an easy weekend in terms of finding a car set-up. To be leaving here with a fourth place feels amazing and gives us big confidence for the rest of the season.” Force India driver Sergio Perez

Schedule: In two weeks, Formula One will stage its most iconic race of the year, the Monaco Grand Prix, on May 28th!

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of, its owners, management, or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Lisa Davidson

Lisa Davidson is a graduate of the University of Arizona and spent her corporate career as a Controller. She is a lifelong writer who has been covering open wheel racing since 2000 and is the author of historical articles and co-author of one book She and her husband, photographer Jeff Davidson, have two daughters and make their home in Murrieta, CA.