Of the quartet of bets, half came off, yielding a modest overall profit. As an aside, if I’d whittled them down to two it’s likely I would’ve abandoned the more profitable one and kept the less profitable one, so the overall result wouldn’t’ve been hugely different.
Off the line, Bottas started poorly, Hamilton and Vettel very well. Hamilton went right, Vettel left. But the German locked a brake and slipped back, behind both Mercedes and the opportunistic Verstappen. Hamilton did not make a mistake and claimed a lead he would never relinquish.
Further down the order, Raikkonen relived his rallying days with a gravelly excursion and Norris forgot that corners entail turning the steering wheel, though he was able to return to the track some way down the order. Otherwise it was broadly formation flying.
The gaps started to stretch between the top four, with Vettel unhappy with his flat spotted tyres and unhappy with Leclerc being so close. After much prevarication, the Ferrari pit wall ordered him to let Leclerc through. Shortly thereafter, after much nagging, Vettel was pitted for medium tyres (like almost everyone else, he had started on the softs). Verstappen also pitted, but for the soft tyre, guaranteeing the necessity of a second stop.
The Mercedes were brought in for medium tyres, and Leclerc was the odd one out, staying out a bit longer and switching onto the hard compound. Might he go for a single stop whilst those around him had to stop twice?
Vettel, unsurprisingly, cruised up behind his team mate. Cue yet more Ferrari indecision, although less than last time. Eventually they took the obvious step (given the contra-strategies) and had Leclerc let him through. Vettel, and his car, seemed altogether happier on the medium tyres, which made the Leclerc/hard decision somewhat perplexing.
Gasly was in a lonely No Man’s Land, unable to challenge the Ferraris and under no pressure from the Haas cars, which (perhaps because the hardest compounds had been brought to Spain) weren’t chewing up their tyres for once. Both they and the Toro Rossos were having a lovely day.
Further back, the McLarens, Alfo Romeos, and Renaults weren’t far off but also weren’t making a huge amount of progress, with Sainz keeping Ricciardo behind him for most of the afternoon, losing the position, then regaining it near the end.
Meanwhile, Hamilton’s rear right tyre was crumbling like a shield made of cheese. Vettel and Verstappen had second stops, and Mercedes brought in Bottas. They were preparing to bring in Hamilton when Norris made an uncharacteristic error and collided with Stroll, taking out the pair of them, flinging gravel across the track, and bringing out the safety car.
Hamilton pitted, retaining the lead. Others pitted too, including Leclerc (for medium tyres) and the Toro Rossos, who ended up slipping down the order.
Upon the restart, it was very close. Gasly had a good crack at Leclerc but was unable to make it stick and himself came under pressure from the Haas (of Grosjean, I believe). However, the Frenchman then began a series of unfortunate events which entailed taking an escape road at least thrice, losing places to his team mate, then Sainz, then Kvyat, and finally, just about managing to hold off Albon.
At the sharp end, nothing changed. The top 6 retained the order of Hamilton, Bottas, and Verstappen for the podium, with Vettel, Leclerc, and Gasly following.
Albon ultimately failed to score a point, which is a shame, but he has had a good start to the year. Both Renaults were pointless, as were both Alfa Romeos, and the Williams. Perez also failed to trouble the scorers.
Hamilto also snagged the fastest lap point. It’s the first race this year that saw no points for Raikkonen. Every podium to date has been led by the Mercedes chaps.
From a betting perspective, the first lap decided most of them. Hamilton leapt to the lead and Verstappen passed Vettel, both of which were helpful. Norris and Raikkonen both cocking up was not, and nor was Norris later staging a dramatic re-enactment of Pastor Maldonado’s works. Overall, I finished modestly ahead, which is nice.
It’s a two horse race, and neither of them are prancing. Verstappen’s driving very well indeed, and given Red Bull’s generally strong development cycle I think he has a decent shot at finishing third overall. The major question is whether Bottas can maintain his impressive start to the season, or if he’ll wither away.
Red Bull 87
Racing Point 17
Alfa Romeo 13
Toro Rosso 6
Very tight in the midfield. Renault’s got two great drivers and a lot of resources, but you wouldn’t guess that from their standing. McLaren’s above them, which isn’t a great look. The reliability in Barcelona was fine, but the Renault car itself was simply not fast enough. Whether Haas have mended their rubber-chewing tendency of whether they were helped out by the harder compounds in Spain remains to be seen. Norris did cock up at the race today, but generally McLaren seem better set up than in previous seasons. The midfield order will continue to be shuffled as circuits vary and cars develop, but I expect it to remain tight all season.
Heard some bad news, though I’m not sure how accurate it is. Suggestion is that this year’s Brazilian Grand Prix will be the last to be held at the fantastic Interlagos circuit, with the race from 2020 onwards moving to Rio de Janeiro. Something to keep an eye on.
There’s also a suggestion we’ll lose Spain/Germany and go to the Netherlands/Vietnam next year.
The next race is processional congestion in Monaco, in a fortnight.