Formula 1

Mercedes get it right as Hamilton wins again

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Lewis Hamilton made it four straight wins at the Circuit de Catalunya on Sunday but the best part is he was made to work for it.

That’s perhaps the biggest analytical point from a Spanish Grand Prix that was able to produce much more action on the track than it usually does.

After the Chinese Grand Prix the businessman Toto Wolff suggested team orders could be implemented if he felt the competition behind was too close while the racer Niki Lauda believed Hamilton and Nico Rosberg should continue to be allowed to race.

In Spain it was the racer who again got his wish as Mercedes allowed it’s two drivers the chance to go hammer and tongs at each other.

The race was almost a carbon copy of Bahrain as Rosberg used alternative tyre strategy to try to overhaul his team-mate but as he just began to smell the sweat on Hamilton’s brow the chequered flag came out.

The result is far from a surprise hence my lack of analysis on that, the Mercedes if anything seem to have slightly extended the gap to the rest, and perhaps more worryingly, did on a track where the balance between power and handling is much more even than in recent races.

What was the most interesting thought I had about the whole Mercedes battle is the number of frantic radio messages Hamilton seemed to be making compared to Rosberg.

Of course we don’t hear all the radio traffic between driver and pit wall but there is a sense Hamilton is not totally comfortable having his team-mate right on his tail.

That doesn’t take away from the fact, however, that the Brit produced an excellent drive to do just enough to hold on and take an unprecedented fourth consecutive win and his first in Spain.

Behind the new fan favourite Daniel Ricciardo must have wondered where all the cars had gone as the lone Red Bull at the front in a car that has easily pulled away from Ferrari in terms of performance.

The Australian was left largely by himself as he strolled to his first official podium in F1 and once again produced a smile bright enough to lighten up what was an overcast day in Montmelo.

Drive of the day belonged to his team-mate Sebastian Vettel who produced a quite remarkable performance to finish fourth having started 15th.

What the German has to do to prove he is as good a wheel-to-wheel racer as anyone on the grid I don’t know, because, on a circuit known as one of the harder to pass on, he used good strategy and some demon overtakes at turn 10 to have a happy end to a dismal weekend.

Valtteri Bottas also deserves huge credit for his fifth place finish, the Finn comfortably had the legs on team-mate Felipe Massa and his start to get up to third was testament to how far Williams have come.

Though his much more powerful Mercedes power unit meant Red Bull had to take Ricciardo off perhaps his optimum strategy and prevent seeing a true picture as to the gap between the champions and the Mercedes works team, the fact Bottas was able to take a car quite a bit slower overall than the RB10 and stay ahead during the first stint was a huge credit to him.

Certainly for Bottas to beat both Ferrari’s will be very pleasing to those back in Grove, but at the Scuderia the first signs of tension between Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso are showing.

The Finn was said to be furious during an elongated post-race debrief as the usually cool Finn demanded answers as to why Alonso was given first choice on strategy.

At most teams it is the lead car who is given first call on when to pit but instead it was the Spaniard who pitted before Raikkonen in a moment some suggest show Alonso is still the clear ‘number one’ in the team.

Alonso would of course pass Raikkonen late in the race to be the lead Prancing Horse, but in a weekend Kimi finally showed his true form, to now have a growing feeling of uncertainty as to where he stands in the team may start to fuel questions about his future with the team.

That is even before the disappointing final result that saw the two Ferrari’s one and a half minutes behind the winning Mercedes. Don’t be surprised to see President Luca di Montezemolo wielding his axe elsewhere in the team very soon.

Lotus can head back to Enstone feeling much happier about life as Romain Grosjean produced an excellent drive to claim eighth and four championship points.

The Frenchman was another star of the weekend as he finally proved that, once the team can overcome it’s power unit issues, the E22 can be a regular top six contender.

The same cannot be said for team-mate Pastor Maldonado who’s recent wild form continued in Barcelona. Team owner Gerard Lopez has since said a talk will be had with the Venezuelan as he crashed in qualifying and received another five second penalty in the race for a collision on the opening lap.

Positions 8-12 highlight have their own interesting story, the two Force India’s of Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg managed to move ahead of the disappointing McLaren of Jenson Button to claim some points at one of their weakest tracks on the calendar.

Within the team it was good to see Perez beat Hulkenberg again in a straight fight producing a bold move at turn one to finish ninth ahead of his often far superior team-mate.

Meanwhile at McLaren the post-mortem will make for more difficult realisations, after showing some hope over Friday and Saturday, the MP4-29 remains the slowest Mercedes-powered car.

The result even caused a rare controversial comment from Button who claimed that perhaps rookie team-mate Kevin Magnussen was holding back development of the 2014 car.

Towards the back there is also a feeling Marussia could catch Sauber in the coming races, the team made huge progress in Barcelona easily outpacing rivals Caterham and with a lack of development by the Swiss team the gap between the two teams is shrinking.

While for Caterham it was a disappointing weekend which saw a technical committee created as Technical Director Mark Smith left with immediate effect. Marcus Ericsson was a bright spot in their weekend, however, as the Swede finally seemed in a position to battle with team-mate Kamui Kobayashi.

In spite of all that the weekend really was all about Mercedes who seem keen to back up some claims they could complete a clean sweep of all 19 races in 2014.

Lewis Hamilton too is looking very strong as he took the lead of the championship heading to the site of one of his great F1 wins, Monaco. Rosberg can be far from ruled out, however as he won on the streets of the Principality last year and is seemingly getting in the head of Hamilton. We could be up for another classic in Monte Carlo.

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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