Red Bull Dominates Barcelona

Red Bull Dominates Barcelona Featured

It was a Red Bull Day in Barcelona Spain on Sunday. As Red Bull finished one and two, Max Verstappen continues his remarkable streak of winning every race he finishes this season. However, as the race unfolded in the early stages, Verstappen’s streak was in serious jeopardy due to mechanical issues, the wind and a strong Ferrari. Charles Leclerc set a blistering pole time of 1:18.750 on Saturday. During the race he maintained a healthy lead on the opposition until lap 28. Leclerc’s Ferrari lost power and he did not finish the race despite being 11 seconds ahead of Verstappen.

Coming into the race Verstappen’s Red Bull lacked a functioning DRS. In fact, he was unable to use DRS during qualification, and it was spotty throughout Sunday’s race. George Russell was able to successfully fend Verstappen off multiple times throughout the early portions of the race, in part because the Red Bull team was struggling to figure out how to get DRS to work for Verstappen. By the time Leclerc retired, Red Bull had figured the issue out, however it became a moot point.

Sunday’s race started off with some fireworks. It was the fourth time this year that Leclerc and Verstappen were in the front row. Carlos Sainz was directly behind his teammate, Leclerc. Lewis Hamilton started in sixth position behind Sergio Perez. At the start, Checo made a brilliant and aggressive move to cut to the right, taking advantage of Sainz’s slow start. As they made it down the long stretch to turn 1, Leclerc and Verstappen were clearly ahead of the field, followed by George Russell’s Mercedes who had jumped in front of Sainz. As they sped down into turn one, Perez had the inside line, but Russell kept his outside line and his courage, despite Perez clipping Russell’s right rear tire. Russell corrected and maintained third position going into turn 2. Going into turn three Sainz managed to regain his fourth position ahead of Hamilton. As the field made into turn four, Kevin Magnusson drove his Haas right alongside of Hamilton. As he attempted to pass Hamilton, he clipped him, sending his Haas into the gravel and Hamilton to the Pit Lane to change a punctured left front tire. Hamilton fell from sixth to nineteenth after four turns into the first lap. As he came out of Pit Lane, Hamilton remarked that it might be better to retire his car and save the engine. Mercedes told him to stay out and that he could still finish eighth. Lewis Hamilton finished in fifth place. He fought through adversity and defied his and his team’s expectations.

For me the drivers of the day were Max Verstappen, Carlos Sainz and Lewis Hamilton. All three drivers had difficult days. During lap seven, Carlos Sainz spun off the track into the gravel in turn four. In addition to a malfunctioning DRS, Verstappen also spun out at turn four in lap nine. Both teams determined that the drivers had not accounted for the strong tailwind that was rushing thru turn four. Despite their troubles, all three drivers finished in the top five.

Mercedes is making strides during the season. They are pushing Ferrari and Red Bull. Sunday’s result is George Russell’s second podium finish this year. Still, Mercedes suffered mechanical issues. Both cars suffered a water leak in their cooling system. It is a testament to Russell and Hamilton that they were able to get their cars around the track and finish in the top five.

Max Verstappen and Red Bull are finally back on top. The season is long. Leclerc’s Ferrari had the speed but lacked the stamina. Leclerc returns home to Monaco next week. Will he win his home race? Ferrari certainly hopes so.

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