- Hamilton lost about two kilos during the race, a sacrifice borne out of the demands of the 2017 F1 vehicles which have drivers facing greater G-forces while racing than previous models.
- It’s a loss which he no doubt feels was overcompensated by winning, now that he is just six points behind Vettel in the race for the title after five races.
Last Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix in Catalunya was everything Formula One fans had hoped for in the quest for highly competitive racing between different teams.
The fact that Mercedes and Ferrari were separated by less than four seconds after 66 laps, while deploying different race strategies, points to how narrow the gap is in the performance of the cars.
Third place went to Red Bull, though with more than a minute separating second-placed Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo, there is a sense that Mercedes and Ferrari are in a league of their own and the championship race is between the two.
It was a disappointing Sunday for Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen who went out seconds into the race in the first corner when Raikkonen sought to hug the inside lane as though the Mercedes of Valterri Bottas was non-existent, taking out Verstappen in the process.
The race blew wide open when Vettel overtook the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton right at the start.
There were nervous faces at the Mercedes paddock but it was game on when it became obvious that Hamilton would not let Vettel disappear down the road. With a comfortable lead and knowing that Mercedes would fret if Vettel pitted seeking to extend his lead by using an undercut, Ferrari called Vettel in on the 15th lap.
True to their plan, Vettel was out again and began to close the gap to Hamilton.
But Mercedes’ engineers had other ideas. They kept out both Hamilton and Bottas, with permutations before them indicating that Hamilton had a good chance of winning the race despite Vettel’s early pit stop.
Hamilton dived into the pit-stop on the 22nd lap, in part to limit the damage of the precious seconds that Vettel was adding between the Ferrari and the Merc. One of the highlights of the race was Vettel’s overtaking manoeuvre on Bottas.
The Finn did Hamilton a huge favour by holding back the German for a while as Hamilton closed the gap on the Ferrari.
Vettel had to make one more pit-stop to put on mediums while Hamilton would have the softs for the last stint, a reversal of fortunes for the Italian team towards the end of race.
Hamilton came in under the virtual safety car on lap 37 and had the huge task ahead of nursing his softs for the next 29 laps.