Nico Rosberg dominated round five of the 2015 Formula 1 season at the Circuit de Catalunya as his Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS team-mate Lewis Hamilton’s race was compromised early by the Scuderia Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel.
Rosberg became the ninth different winner in nine years at the Spanish circuit, and finally got the better of his team-mate in 2015 after a confident but somewhat lonely race up front.
Starting from pole position, Rosberg got the better start, while Vettel got ahead of Hamilton on the run down to the first corner, with the Briton also forced to hold off the challenge of Valtteri Bottas’ Williams Martini Racing machine.
Despite having a noticeable speed advantage, Hamilton could not find a way to get close enough to the Ferrari driver in second, and was forced to switch to a three-stop strategy to leapfrog the German, who stuck to a two-stop strategy.
After getting through into second after the pit stop cycle, Hamilton showed his true pace and managed to beat Vettel by half a minute, with the Briton also threatening to close the gap to Rosberg up front before settling for the runners-up spot.
Bottas held off the challenge of Kimi Raikkonen in the closing stages despite the second Ferrari driver having the benefit of DRS, which at times made overtaking relatively straightforward down the front straight. Raikkonen’s opening lap enabled him to jump ahead of both Scuderia Toro Rosso’s, thus enabling him to attack Bottas.
Felipe Massa had a lonely race to sixth in the second Williams, and was the last of the un-lapped runners, with seventh placed Daniel Ricciardo ending up seventh in his Infiniti Red Bull Racing machine, a lap down on the race winner.
Romain Grosjean was eighth for the Lotus F1 Team, securing his third consecutive points finish, and survived an early trip across the turn one run-off and a tap with team-mate Pastor Maldonado, a problem in his final pit stop and problems with his gearbox to take four points. Maldonado had a strong early phase of the race and was running inside the top seven, but a broken rear wing end plate compromised his race and ultimately the Venezuelan retired for a fourth time in five races in 2015.
Carlos Sainz Jr took ninth for Toro Rosso, but the qualifying pace for him and team-mate Max Verstappen was not translated into good race pace, and the two drivers fell down the order, especially when under attack from drivers using DRS down the front straight. Sainz is also under investigation for appearing to leave the track and gain an advantage on the final lap to pass the second Red Bull of Daniil Kvyat, who ended up tenth.
Verstappen ended up just outside the points in eleventh, ahead of the Sauber F1 Team car of Felipe Nasr and the Sahara Force India of Sergio Perez, while their respective team-mates Marcus Ericsson and Nico Hulkenberg were fourteenth and fifteenth.
Jenson Button was sixteenth, but was troubled by grip and traction issues throughout the race in his McLaren-Honda, with the promise shown by both drivers in qualifying not carried over into the race. Team-mate Fernando Alonso was running inside the points early in the race, but was forced to retire with brake issues, almost running over his front jack man as he came into the pits.
Both Manor F1 Team drivers saw the chequered flag, with Will Stevens again dominating the inter-team battle against Roberto Merhi, the Briton beating the Spaniard by almost forty seconds.
But Rosberg took his first win of 2015, and more importantly showed up his team-mate on track. It is just the result he needed to prove not only to the fans but to himself that he can be a genuine championship contender again in 2015.
Spanish Grand Prix Race Result
|7||3||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||Red Bull-Renault||+1 Lap|
|8||8||Romain Grosjean||FRA||Lotus-Renault||+1 Lap|
|9||55||Carlos Sainz Jr||ESP||Toro Rosso-Renault||+1 Lap|
|10||26||Daniil Kvyat||RUS||Red Bull-Renault||+1 Lap|
|11||33||Max Verstappen||NED||Toro Rosso-Renault||+1 Lap|
|12||12||Felipe Nasr||BRZ||Sauber-Ferrari||+1 Lap|
|13||11||Sergio Perez||MEX||Force India-Mercedes||+1 Lap|
|14||9||Marcus Ericsson||SWE||Sauber-Ferrari||+1 Lap|
|15||27||Nico Hulkenberg||GER||Force India-Mercedes||+1 Lap|
|16||22||Jenson Button||GBR||McLaren-Honda||+1 Lap|
|17||28||Will Stevens||GBR||Manor-Ferrari||+3 Laps|
|18||98||Roberto Merhi||ESP||Manor-Ferrari||+4 Laps|
|RET||13||Pastor Maldonado||VEN||Lotus-Renault||47 Laps|
|RET||14||Fernando Alonso||ESP||McLaren-Honda||27 Laps|