Spanish Grand Prix: Rosberg romps to sizzling Spanish victory

Nico Rosberg took a vital first victory of 2015 at the Spanish Grand Prix. The German romped home after a dominant display which saw him lead from start to finish without any real pressure from Hamilton, who had a race full of mixed fortunes. It was the first time that Hamilton had been beaten on race day all season.

Rosberg got away well at the start but, team-mate Hamilton wasn’t so lucky and was fortunate not to go into the first corner in fourth place. Sebastian Vettel managed to pass the Mercedes of Hamilton on the run to the first corner. Hamilton briefly lost out to the Williams of Valtteri Bottas, but managed to regain the place almost straight away with a brave move around the outside.

Rosberg had the best possible start and set the pace in the early stages crucially getting out of the DRS danger. Whilst Hamilton was complaining over the radio by telling his team it was “impossible” to catch Vettel in the turbulent air behind the Ferrari, Rosberg set another fastest lap and built his gap to 4.7 seconds to 2nd placed man Vettel.

With Hamilton struggling to get by Vettel Mercedes opted to switch Hamilton from a two stop strategy to a three stop in an attempt to pass the Ferrari.

Lap 13 and the team called for “hammertime”. Hamilton upped his pace as the team looked to find a gap to slot Hamilton into. Hamilton stopped on lap 13, a sticky left rear held him in his box and he then lost out to sixth placed Pastor Maldonado. Thankfully for Hamilton’s race he managed to pass the Lotus in just five corners, crucially for Vettel his stop was three seconds faster and managed to extend his lead over Hamilton by an extra couple of seconds to hold his position.

After qualifying in P12 yesterday, Maldonado was forced to pit due to damage to his rear wind end plate. The Venezuelan had shown strong pace and worked his way up to P7  and saw all his early hard work undone. Maldonado continued with just one rear wing end plate for the rest of the race, a stark contrast at a race that Maldonado won in 2012.

Kimi Raikkonen again, much like Bahrain opted to do something different. Raikkonen in his second stint decided to go longer than the drivers in front and went onto the more durable compound. 

Despite labeling the challenge of passing Vettel on track “impossible” Hamilton put Vettel under immense pressure; he came extremely close on lap 21, but thought better of it and it seemed only a matter of time before the Brit found his way passed the four time champion. On a track where overtaking opportunities are limited Vettel seemed to have Hamilton covered. 

Whilst the battle for second was heating up, Grosjean was in trouble not just with his car, but also with his team. In what resembled a headmaster losing his temper with a naughty school boy Alan Permane got his message through to his driver loud and clear. “Lift when you use the bad gear. If you don’t, you will blow the engine.” Grosjean was having problems with fourth gear.

Fernando Alonso’s race went from bad to worse. On lap 27 the Spaniard went too deep into Turn 1; he boxed at the end of the lap and suffered a rear brake failure when entering his pit box, but failed to stop. Thankfully Alonso only hit the front jack and avoided hitting any of the mechanics. His disappointing and pointless first season back at McLaren Honda continues.

Rosberg continued to stretch his advantage in the second stint by around three seconds. Hamilton was the first of the leaders to make his second stop at the halfway mark and fitted the prime tyres leaving their options open. Hamilton seemed to spring into life after his second stop and rejoined the action behind Raikkonen in fifth place. With Mercedes trying to undercut Vettel, it was crucial for Hamilton to pass Vettel’s team-mate as soon as he could. With fresher tyres Hamilton passed the Finn with relative ease who put up little fight. 

After passing Raikkonen, Hamilton lit up the timing screens and smashed the fastest lap of the race. Despite Ferrari seeing the blistering laps that Hamilton was putting in, much to the surprise of everyone the team failed to pit Vettel which played into the hands of Hamilton and gifted the championship leader a way back into the race. Ferrari stuck to their two stop strategy knowing that Hamilton was on a three stop and left themselves vulnerable to a Hamilton onslaught

After Vettel made his second stop of the race it was up to Hamilton to try and close the gap to Rosberg. With his electric pace early on in the second stint the pace slowly began to drop as he made his way through the lapped traffic and managed to get within a pit stop of Rosberg. With Rosberg sticking to a two stop strategy the race for second place was all about how far Hamilton and Vettel could go into their second stints. Rosberg made his second and final stop of the race. This handed the race lead to Hamilton but with the Brit still having one stop to go. 

On lap 47, Maldonado’s eventful race came to an end when he was forced to retire.

It was not a matter of time before Rosberg overtook Hamilton, but when. Hamilton continued to pull away from Vettel to secure 2nd place, although Hamilton was on much older rubber than Rosberg, the German not closing in on his team-mate as quickly as some would have thought with the gap from Hamilton to Rosberg 2.7 seconds.

Hamilton made his final stop with fifteen laps to go just as Rosberg began to get on his tail. He rejoined the track comfortably ahead of his main threat for the afternoon Vettel. After falling as low as fourth place at the start, Hamilton should be pleased with the way in which he fought back. Not happy with settling for 2nd place, Hamilton was 20 seconds behind the leader Rosberg, though Hamilton set the fastest lap of the race and took one second out of Rosberg. 

With nine laps to go, Hamilton was told to settle for second position. The team opted to save the engine and take the eighteen points. With the podium settled, all eyes were on the fighting Finns battling it out for 4th place. The nature of the circuit played into the hands of Valtteri Bottas who managed to hold off the Ferrari of Raikkonen for fourth place. 

2015 Spanish Grand Prix Result 

1Nico RosbergMercedes1:41:12.555s25
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes+ 17.551s18
3Sebastian VettelFerrari+ 45.342s15
4Valtteri BottasWilliams Mercedes+ 59.217s12
5Kimi RaikkonenFerrari+ 60.002s10
6Felipe MassaWilliams Mercedes+ 81.314s8
7Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Renault+ 1 Lap6
8Romain GrosjeanLotus Mercedes+ 1 Lap4
9Carlos SainzSTR Renault+ 1 Lap2
10Daniil KvyatRed Bull Renault+ 1 Lap1
11Max VerstappenSTR Renault+ 1 Lap 
12Felipe NasrSauber Ferrari+ 1 Lap 
13Sergio PerezForce India Mercedes+ 1 Lap 
14Marcus EricssonSauber Ferrari+ 1 Lap 
15Nico HulkenbergForce India Mercedes+ 1 Lap 
16Jenson ButtonMcLaren Honda+ 1 Lap 
17Will StevensMarussia Ferrari+ 3 Laps 
18Roberto MerhiMarussia Ferrari+ 4 Laps 
19Pastor MaldonadoLotus Mercedes DNF 
20Fernando AlonsoMcLaren Honda DNF 

 Driver’s Championship

1Lewis HamiltonMercedes111
2Nico RosbergMercedes91
3Sebastian VettelFerrari80
4Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari52
5Valtteri BottasWilliams Mercedes42
6Felipe MassaWilliams Mercedes39
7Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Renault25
8Romain GrosjeanLotus Mercedes16
9Felipe NasrSauber Ferrari14
10Carlos SainzSTR Renault8
11Max VerstappenSTR Renault6
12Nico HulkenbergForce India Mercedes6
13Sergio PerezForce India Mercedes5
14Marcus EricssonSauber Ferrari5
15Daniil KvyatRed Bull Renault5
16Fernando AlonsoMcLaren Honda0
17Jenson ButtonMcLaren Honda0
18Roberto MerhiMarussia Ferrari0
19Will StevensMarussia Ferrari0
20Pastor MaldonadoLotus Mercedes0

Constructor’s Championship

3Williams Mercedes81
4Red Bull Renault30
5Sauber Ferrari19
6Lotus Mercedes16
7STR Renault14
8Force India Mercedes11
9McLaren Honda0
10Marussia Ferrari0