Mercedes strike a decisive blow | Spanish Grand Prix debrief

11-05-2021 18:17

Lewis Hamilton secured his third win of the season to extend his advantage of Max Verstappen, as he claimed victory at the Spanish Grand Prix. Hamilton came from behind to secure an incredible win but one which will certainly knock some of the stuffing out of Red Bull. In this week's debrief I am going to cover why this was such an important win for Hamilton and in particular Mercedes and why this will be such a blow for Red Bull. 

The race

Let's quickly recap the weekend. The big three shared free practice glory between them but Mercedes always looked to have a strong grip on the weekend. And Hamilton made it count when it mattered, he qualified on pole ahead of his Red Bull rival Verstappen with Valtteri Bottas back in third. But it was Red Bull’s race to lose almost immediately when Max Verstappen took the lead of the race at the first turn in an electric start, it looked as if it would be a formality from then on in, Verstappen would see out the race comfortably with Hamilton struggling to make an impact during the first stint on soft tyres.

That's when Mercedes took a gamble, an extremely Mercedes style gamble that normally goes very right. When Verstappen pitted, Hamilton stayed out for around another four laps hoping his tires would be fresher at the end. However, Hamilton caught everyone off guard including Red Bull and pitted for a second time and set off in pursuit of the Dutchman, 20 seconds quickly became 15, 15 quickly became 10, 10 to five after a little scuffle with Bottas and in the closing stages, Hamilton was in front. It was Hungary 2019 all over again, Mercedes got it absolutely spot on. Hamilton won the race and Verstappen was very gracious in defeat, accepting that Mercedes just got it right! A fastest lap bonus point was just a mere consolation for Verstappen as Hamilton extended his lead at the top of the standings, 

Mercedes back to their best?

Over the years Mercedes have had this aura of invincibility, dominant from day one they never relinquish their grip on the title. However, this year there has been a bit of reason to worry for them in terms of going unrivalled. In pre-season testing they were well off the pace, in the season opener they were second best despite the win and Max Verstappen has looked really fast all season, hence why there is so much anticipation about a real title battle. Now I don't want to rain on that parade because it still seems to be very tight, but the nature of the Silver Arrows 'win in Spain suggests to me that the tide may be turning in Mercedes' direction. In Spain they were at their best, Hamilton was brilliant and the team got the strategy perfect, it was the Mercedes we are all used to. There's been a few kinks here and there this season, but they appear to have resolved any technical issues and some, they have gone from being off the pace of Red Bull to now faster, and they look back to their reliable best in every other department. That part of Mercedes is what has got them over the line time and time again. 

A concern for Red Bull?

That's a worry for Red Bull, Sergio Perez was quite a way off it again so it is clear Max is getting everything out of that Red Bull that is almost possible which raises the question I raised previously, how much more have they got to give? As I predicted Mercedes are growing and growing and growing and I question whether Red Bull have got another trick up their sleeve to reel them back in? 

The season is still set to be very competitive, however, my overwhelming feeling from Barcelona is that this was a decisive blow for Mercedes and they could well use this to kick on and take a stranglehold as they have done so often before!

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