How Mercedes put Red Bull in checkmate for Lewis Hamilton’s Spanish GP win – fr

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How Mercedes put Red Bull in checkmate for Lewis Hamilton’s Spanish GP win – fr




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FREE TO SEE: Watch the best moments of the Spanish GP in Barcelona as Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen once again clashed for the win.

FREE TO SEE: Watch the best moments of the Spanish GP in Barcelona as Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen once again clashed for the win.

While F1 races can take place in Barcelona, ​​the 2021 version was reasonably full of action and intrigue. For the fourth race in a row this season, Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen were competing for the same piece of tarmac in full fight mode.

Once again Max’s elbows were sharper in the first braking zone away from the start, but Lewis’s experience and maturity allowed him to open the wheel and make enough room for the young Dutch contender. to his throne, and think about the rest of the 66 laps. He didn’t need to have a crash with Max to prove anything.

If Max and Red Bull were playing “King” in this chess game, then Mercedes and Lewis had two important pieces to their own, having already moved their rival to “check” even before the start of the race.

Sergio Perez, in the other Red Bull, had a miserable eighth-place qualification after an awkward spin and a second behind his teammate, and so up front there were again two Mercs against a Red Bull.

Additionally, each grid top 10 driver carries six sets of tires on race day, some new and some used during practice and qualifying. All ten had a new set of hard compound tires available which were deemed too slow, and all had a new set of medium tires available, which were fishing for longer runs.

Only Mercedes had another set of used medium compound tires in their allocation and these would be deployed for the “Checkmate” movement later in the race.

Max got the slightly better start on the unfavorable right side of the grid, which is off the race line but had a lot of rubber from several supporting race starts. Hamilton stayed left until the first corner, the view in his mirrors wouldn’t have allowed him to be 100% sure he could safely cut Verstappen’s front, but he was hoping to help his teammate anyway. Valtteri. Bottas behind him in front of the determined Red Bull driver.

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Max Verstappen is the first race leader of the Spanish Grand Prix after impressively passing Lewis Hamilton at the first corner.

Max Verstappen is the first race leader of the Spanish Grand Prix after impressively passing Lewis Hamilton at the first corner.

It didn’t work and Max literally took the lead, critically delaying Hamilton as described above, which in turn prevented Bottas who then duly lost to a daring move outside of turn three. by the always impressive Charles Leclerc for Ferrari.

Red Bull were pulling their tires better than Mercedes and Max led Lewis by 1.5 seconds at the end of the first lap. But the Mercedes could keep its tires in better condition for longer.

The pace up front was strong as they pulled away from Leclerc who held Bottas, and it quickly became a two-horse race until Yuki Tsunoda’s AlphaTauri lost its engine at Turn 10, forcing a safety car and closing the peloton. Verstappen’s tires had been used aggressively to some extent to no avail.

All the talk before the race was about a one-stop-shop strategy that seemed odd on a track full of fast corners and usually required at least two stops, but the peloton worked well collectively and no one wanted to fall back into traffic after a stop. at the stand.

The safety car that brought all the cars together once again made this worse. The only driver who performed remote work that day was Esteban Ocon in a distant ninth for Alpine.

Hamilton says he learned a lot about Red Bull and how Max drives it by following him pretty closely for so long, and indeed, as I pointed out in a comment, you could see Lewis taking tighter lines at times. and different behind him.

Mercedes pitted Bottas on lap 23 to get through and pass Leclerc, and Verstappen made a late appeal on lap 24 with his left rear wheel not quite ready and so it took double the normal time in four seconds. Hamilton stayed out on lap 28 and so the top three were now all on their shiny new medium tires with Max having a track position ahead.

Lewis was catching up easily in this phase and while he looked ready to challenge for the lead Mercedes made what they called a ‘bold move’ and pitted him on lap 42, with just 14 laps under his tires, for this other set of mediums.

It was a checkmate because it was too late for Red Bull to react, and as Max’s engineer described it on the radio “a Budapest 2019” where Hamilton came back to Verstappen with much better tires. to achieve victory, as he would again. for his fifth consecutive victory here.

Red Bull could have seen that coming and pitted Max against first by ambitiously risking his new soft tire to last and hoping he could grab onto the front one way or another, like Hamilton l did with troubled tires in Bahrain.

With Perez out of the photo somewhat behind, it gave Mercedes a chance to roll the dice and assume Lewis would close the now 23-second gap with Verstappen and not be too upset when he had to overtake his own teammate Bottas in course. Bottas wasn’t that helpful, but Hamilton’s pace was such that it was a comfortable win over Verstappen at the end.

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Red Bull’s Christian Horner and Mercedes’ Toto Wolff discussed how the Spanish GP result unfolded.

Red Bull’s Christian Horner and Mercedes’ Toto Wolff discussed how the Spanish GP result unfolded.

Red Bull just thought they couldn’t risk giving up the track position ahead, and Mercedes was second and third anyway so had nothing to lose. Verstappen finally took those soft tires on lap 60 to grab the championship’s fastest point in consolation.

With 94 points and three wins so far in 2021, it’s Hamilton’s best start to a championship season, which is worrying for his rivals. He’s in scintillating form and Red Bull urgently needs more power and grip for Max, and for Perez to join the battle. Right now, it looks like Bottas is more likely to take points from Verstappen on some occasions than Perez at Hamilton, and that could be critical.

It looks like the Red Bull is a perfect fit for Verstappen’s preferences, driving style and formidable control of the car, as Pierre Gasly, Alex Albon and now Perez have all been relatively failing. Sergio’s head may be wiser and more experienced, but he’ll have to lean on every piece of that now to play his vital role and not crumble.

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Beyond Leclerc’s fine fourth place, Daniel Ricciardo had his best day so far for McLaren in sixth, and despite overtaking his starting position and a five-second penalty, Gasly again led well for AlphaTauri. with a championship point in 10th.

Barcelona’s known amount has shown us that the front runners, and generally much of the grid, are tight which bodes well for the remainder of the season. Now let’s move on to Monaco which, of course, is a totally different challenge.

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