Max Verstappen looked as if he was going to claim his second win of the year at the Spanish Grand Prix. However, a tactical masterclass from Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team and Lewis Hamilton denied that feat.
Verstappen got the jump on pole sitter Hamilton on the first corner to claim the lead. Hamilton kept coming but even after the first pit-stop, couldn’t overtake Verstappen.
The race was predicted to be one-stop but Hamilton took the risky decision to pit for fresh tyres on Lap 42. Verstappen stayed out and that ultimately became the wrong decision when Hamilton reclaimed the win on Lap 60 with an easy DRS overtake. Verstappen then came in to the pits for a set of new soft tyres to claim the fastest lap.
Verstappen said “I tried everything I could today and took the lead at Turn 1 but from there we were just lacking a bit of pace to Mercedes. Of course we wanted to win but I cannot feel too disappointed as I did everything I could out there and maximized the opportunities. Even if we had looked at another strategy and done a two stop and pitted before them, we wouldn’t have made the time up as they were just faster than us.
“I know how fast I can go and where the limit of the car is and when they can do a free stop behind it is easy for them to do a different strategy. I pretty much knew that when he pitted for the second time that he would come back at me on the new tyres a bit like Hungary 2019 and although I did everything I could I was a bit of a sitting duck.
“The pace difference on the tyres made it an easy pass for Lewis and then I was able to at least keep second place and take Fastest Lap. It was just a day where we lacked a bit of pace and second was the best result possible so now we need to look at why they seem to have jumped ahead a bit in terms of race pace.”
Pérez – “I knew what I had to do”
Sergio Pérez recorded his second fifth-place finish of the season. Pérez knew he’d have a lot of work ahead of him to get on the podium, especially with a starting position of eighth.
The biggest obstacle he had all race was the McLaren F1 Team driver Daniel Ricciardo, who spent a lot of the early stages in fifth. He eventually cleared him on Lap 46 but was too far away from Charles Leclerc in fourth at that point to climb any higher.
“This isn’t an easy track to overtake on which made for a tough race. We had a good first lap and made up some positions but it took me quite a long time to get past Daniel. The McLaren was extremely fast on the straights so it was really hard to try a move but we made it work around the outside of Turn 1.
“I knew what I had to do, I pushed on and managed to make it work but we didn’t have much tyre life left afterwards so it was tough. I’m getting more confident with the car now and every time I get to the end of a weekend, I think, ‘I wish the weekend was just starting now.’
“Also every circuit is different so what I learn here will be different to what I need in Monaco but the main thing is that I am still adapting and hopefully soon we can be 100%. I am excited for Monaco, especially with this car as historically it’s been competitive and I think we have a chance of winning.”