Daniel Ricciardo says Red Bull’s still nowhere near it.
Daniel Ricciardo says Red Bull’s still nowhere near it.

‘Bogus’ blunder in Mercedes win

LEWIS Hamilton has performed the most dominant drive of 2018 as Mercedes cruised to a one-two finish in the Spanish Grand Prix.

Hamilton has extended his championship lead to 17 points as he strolled to victory by more than 20 seconds - the biggest winning gap this season - ahead of teammate Valtteri Bottas.

Red Bull star Max Verstappen held off Sebastian Vettel to take the third spot on the podium.

Daniel Ricciardo finished fifth after driving a lonely race nowhere near the pointy end of the grid.

Defending four-time world champion Hamilton dominated from start to finish, save for a spell during the mid-race pit-stops, and clocked a series of record laps as he registered his second successive win.

It was the 64th victory of his career - only Michael Schumacher on 91 has more - and came from his 74th pole.

He joined seven-time champion Schumacher and two-time champion Finn Mika Hakkinen as a three-time winner in Spain.

Finn Valtteri Bottas came home second in the second Mercedes ahead of Dutchman Max Verstappen of Red Bull who resisted late pressure from four-time champion Sebastian Vettel, who led Hamilton by 17 points after the opening three races this year.

The German, who made a good start, was second until he took an ill-judged second pit-stop, under Virtual Safety Car conditions, midway through the race, dropping two places.

Only 14 of the 20 starters completed the race after a major high-speed crash on the opening lap, triggered by a spin from Frenchman Romain Grosjean's Haas car, and a sequence of retirements.

- with AFP




'Bogus' Ferrari blunder in Mercedes win


Lewis Hamilton basically led from start to finish.
Lewis Hamilton basically led from start to finish.

Mercedes have completed their first one-two lockout of qualifying and race day of 2018 as Lewis Hamilton made it two wins in two Grands Prix.

The reigning champion extended his championship lead over Sebastian Vettel as Vatteri Bottas took advantage of a Ferrari pit-strop strategy blunder to finish second.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen raced the final 20 laps with a damaged front wing, but managed to hold off Vettel to take the third spot on the podium.

Aussie Daniel Ricciardo ran a lonely race and finished fifth, more than 20 seconds behind Vettel.

Sebastian Vettel was running in second before his team made the mistake of pitting him for a second time mid-way through the race to try and take advantage of a virtual safety car. The decision cost him a spot on the podium.

"They obviously made a mistake with their strategy," Hamilton said of Ferrari after the race.










Vettel said after the race his team had to stop when they did because their tyres weredegrading much quicker than previous.

"It was not an option to stay out because we were going through the tyres quicker today," Vettel told Sky Sports.

The poor tyres saw Hamilton's championship lead extend to 17 points. It would have only been 11 points if Vettel had have been able to maintain his spot in second behind Hamilton before he pitted on the VSC and suffered a slow pit stop.

Hamilton was thrilled. His win by more than 20 seconds ahead of his teammate was the biggest win of the 2018 season so far.

"Fantastic effort all weekend, guys," Hamilton told his team over the radio.

"This is more like it. Lets keep this up."










Mercedes one-two with five laps left

Lewis Hamilton was 17 seconds clear of teammate Valtteri Bottas with 10 laps remaining.

The two Mercedes led ahead of Max Verstappen, who was trying to fight off Sebastian Vettel in the battle for third spot.

Daniel Ricciardo was more than 17 seconds behind Vettel on lap 56 of 66.

He went on to set the quickest lap of the day on lap 57, but was almost 50 seconds behind Hamilton.

With five laps remaining the two Mercedes were well clear of the field with Max Verstappen lookingextremely unlikely of hunting down Bottas' gap of more than eight seconds with his ageing tyres.




Verstappen collides with Stroll

Max Verstappen suffered front wing damage when he ran into the back of back marker Lance Stroll on lap 43.

Verstappen collided with the Williams driver, but was able to continue to drive

"That's horrible - the stewards won't like it either," Sky Sports commentator Martin Brundle said of some debris loosely attached to the Red Bull car.

Verstappen held his position in third-place ahead of Sebastian Vettel, but behind the two Mercedes drivers on lap 45.

Daniel Ricciardo was fifth.

"Shocker from Verstappen. He drove into the back of him under the virtual safety car,"former F1 driver Jolyon Palmer told BBC Sport.

"He had got himself into a great position but his front wing is hanging off.









Esteban Ocon DNF, triggers virtual safety car

Esteban Ocon was out of the race on lap 41 when he appeared to suffer engine failure.

He limped to the side of the track, triggering a virtual safety car.

The VSC resulted in Sebastian Vettel pitting, while race leader Lewis Hamilton stayed out.

Vettel re-joined the race after his second pit stop behind Max Verstappen, but ahead of Daniel Ricciardo.





Ricciardo pits, Hamilton and Verstappen fight for race lead

Lewis Hamilton pitted and then caught up to leader Max Verstappen (who is yet to pit) on lap 32. Behind them Daniel Ricciardo was more than seven seconds behind with Sebastian Vettel fourth - another four seconds behind the Australian.

Ricciardo then came into the pits on lap 34 - clearly aiming for a one-stop strategy.

He re-joined the race in fifth position more than 35-seconds behind Hamilton - who took back the race lead when Verstappen made his pit stop on lap 35.

When the dust settled from the pit stops Hamilton had a ten second lead ahead of Sebastian Vettel. Valtteri Bottas was third ahead of the two Red Bulls.








Raikkonen suffers technical failure

Kimi Raikkonen's race ended on lap 25 when he suffered a technical drama.

He was running in P2 before he attempted to come into the pits in a last-minute decision only to be told the team wasn't ready for him.

As he drove down pit straight it became obvious he had a major malfunction as both Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo raced past him.

Verstappen then led the race after previous leader Lewis Hamilton pitted on lap 26. Hamilton returned to the track behind Verstappen, but ahead of Ricciardo - splitting the Red Bulls.








Vettel blinks first and pits for medium tyres

Trailing race leader Lewis Hamilton by seven seconds, Sebastian Vettel pitted for a new set of medium compound tyres on lap 18.

He rejoined the race in P7 on the grid, more than 30 seconds behind Hamilton.

Vettel also undercut Valtteri Bottas when the Mercedes driver also re-joined the race after pitting on lap 19.

At the same time, Max Verstappen built a three-second gap ahead of Daniel Ricciardo in the battle for P3, behind Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton.

Ricciardo was more than 21 seconds behind Hamilton on lap 23.










Hamilton leads after safety car

Lewis Hamilton stretched out to a two second lead as the smoke cleared from the first incident of the race.

Just a couple laps after the safety car turned in, Hamilton extended his lead to a significant gap on lap 10.

Hamilton led to Sebastian Vettel, Valtteri Bottas, Kimi Raikkonen, Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo.

Hamilton's lead over Vettel was more than seven seconds after 17 laps.









'Pure carnage' in wild F1 start

Three drivers were taken out of the race early on the first lap when Romain Grosjean slid across the track and took out Nico Hulkenberg and Pierre Gasly. Kiwi Brendon Hartley then crashed into Grosjean as he was trying to run through the smoke caused by the collision, but was able to make it back to the pits and return to the track.

Grosjean appeared to spin after Fernando Alonso made a slow exit from a turn and forced Grosjean to try to move to avoid him.

Grosjean appeared to lose it all on his own, ran wide and then span back onto the track at Turn Three.

It sparked a safety car to control the race for the first six laps as staff attempted to clear the debris.















Ricciardo 'disheartened, hurt' in Red Bull nightmare


Daniel Ricciardo is hoping his Red Bull has better race pace.
Daniel Ricciardo is hoping his Red Bull has better race pace.

Daniel Ricciardo has admitted he was disheartened and "hurt" after Red Bull's upgraded RB14 were still nowhere near Ferrari and Mercedes in qualifying for the Spainish Grand Prix.

Ricciardo and Max Verstappen qualified on the third row of the grid - more than 0.6 seconds behind pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton.

It came after Red Bull unveiled their latest upgrade which they had hoped would cut Ferrari's and Mercedes' outright advantage.

Qualifying suggests they are still a long way off.

It comes with Ricciardo still yet to re-sign with Red Bull following reported interest from Ferrari and Mercedes to leave his long-term team in 2019.

Ricciardo said he will stay with Red Bull if they can prove to him they will be able to compete for a championship in 2019. The disappointment in qualifying will not have helped their case.

"I chipped away at my lap time by a few hundredths but it wasn't enough," Ricciardo said. "Then they put in some belters at the end. It is a little bit disheartening as I don't really know what I could have done more."

"The gap - with the laps we put in I thought we would have been a couple tenths from pole not, what was it? Six, seven or eight or something? That gap is not nice."

He said it "hurt" to see Mercedes still so far ahead despite a clean qualifying lap in Q3.

"I thought it was alright," Ricciardo told reporters.

"I didn't think the car felt too bad. We did about three 16.8s with different tyres and settings, but that kind of seemed like the limit of the car.

"But I didn't think it felt like that. So, to see (Hamilton's) 16.1, that hurt a bit.

"It'd be different if the car was a handful or not going too well, but it didn't feel too bad, so we obviously just don't have the quali pace at the moment."




Drivers put pressure on F1 bosses

Drivers are getting tired of having no voice in Formula One.

F1's top drivers are calling for those in charge of the series to start paying attention to what they have to say when it comes to improving the sport.

A few days after defending champion Lewis Hamilton complained that nobody asked for their advice while putting together a track layout for the proposed race in Miami next year, four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel expressed his frustration about the lack of involvement of the drivers in the decision-making process for upcoming aerodynamic changes aimed to improve overtaking.

"I think you should ask us what we need to overtake," Vettel said after Saturday's qualifying session for the Spanish Grand Prix.

"I mean, we are drivers. Not to say that we know everything, we don't anything about engineering the car, but we know how the cars feel, how to drive the cars. And their limitations to overtake. But we're not really asked."

F1 recently announced changes to the wings and brake ducts to make it easier for cars to follow each other, which theoretically should improve racing.

The changes should make cars go a second and a half slower, however. Vettel said it was "a bit comical" how F1 was going back and forth with its changes to try to make the series more exciting.

- AP





Hamilton gets last-second ultrasound

Sky Sports commentator Ted Kravitz reports that Mercedes mechanics have been checking Lewis Hamilton's car's front wing with ultrasound to see if there may be a crack in the carbon fibre.

But Ted says it does not appear to be too big an issue with lights out just over an hour away.

"They put the jelly on the front wing and then put an ultrasound probe on it and it shows up on a monitor some peaks in the ultrasound reading which say if there's a crack in the carbon fibre.

"I don't know if somebody has stepped on it or a guest has knocked it, because it's most unusual to see this sort of non-destructive testing on a front wing.

"But the mechanic seems happy enough."

- Skysports.com





Rain warning updated

Temperatures as low as 13C are expected to make conditions extremely treacherous during the Spanish Grand Prix with teams uncertain about which tyres will best suit the Barcelona track.

There is an 80 per cent chance of showers falling during the race after 15mm of rain fell on the Circuit de Catalunya overnight.






Ferrari running 'illegal' car in Spain


The mirrors caused a lot of bother.
The mirrors caused a lot of bother.

Ferrari will have to remove their halo-mounted mirrors for the Monaco GP after the FIA ruled that the new design was illegal, Sky Sports has learnt.

The team introduced a much-changed SF71-H at this weekend's Spanish GP with the rear-view mirrors moved up onto the Halo - featuring aerodynamic winglets - in a change they believed fit in with the post-China regulations.

But, following protests from Ferrari's rivals, FIA race director Charlie Whiting and technical delegate Jo Bauer have been investigating the concept throughout the Barcelona weekend and have now banned the design.

Sky Sports understands that while the mirrors will be kept where they are for the remainder of the Spanish GP weekend due to the difficulty of reverting back, the Scuderia will be using their older-spec car - used at the season's first four races - from the next event in Monaco onwards.

"I don't think you'll see them at another race, that's my understanding," confirmed Red Bull boss Christian Horner to Sky F1.

The FIA confirmed that mirrors could be mounted from the Halo following the Chinese GP - but still had many guidelines and insisted that any design must fit with their technical regulations.

Ferrari's mirror move freed up space for improved air-flow to their sidepod while it is also believed to have had a positive aerodynamic impact on the car.

- Skysports.com






Hamilton qualifies fastest in Barcelona

Lewis Hamilton ended Sebastian Vettel's dominant run in Formula One qualifying by setting a track record and wining pole position for the Spanish Grand Prix on Saturday.

Hamilton had a lap of 1 minute, 16.173 seconds at the Circuit de Barcelona- Catalunya, only four hundredths of a second ahead of Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.

Vettel, who won three straight poles, will start third, followed by Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen.

Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo were fifth and sixth, respectively.

"I needed this pole. I've not had pole for a while," Hamilton said. "It was very close but I'm very happy. It's important for me to get back into a good position in qualifying, it's usually a strength of mine." It was a record-extending 74th pole for Hamilton, and the first since the season-opener in Australia.

"It took everything we've got to take pole," the defending F1 champion said. "Ferrari were sandbagging until this afternoon and Valtteri has been driving exceptionally well. It's fantastic for the team to get the front row. This is a good way to start the weekend." It was the first front-row lock up for Mercedes this season, and 51st all-time. "I got a decent lap," said Bottas, who was leading in Azerbaijan when a tire blew near the end of the race. "It's a shame it's only four hundredths but for us as a team, perfect result today." Vettel said he was "not entirely happy" but already expected Mercedes to be strong. He foresaw an "interesting race" on Sunday.

"It will be close," he said. "Anything can happen really, just like the last couple of races." A good starting position is crucial in Spain as there are not many overtaking opportunities. The winner has come from the front row in 24 of the 27 races in Barcelona.

Hamilton will be trying to win his second race in a row and add to his four- point lead over Vettel in the drivers' standings. Vettel won in Australia and Bahrain, while Ricciardo was first in China and Hamilton triumphed in Azerbaijan.

Mercedes was fastest in all three practices in Barcelona, with Hamilton and Bottas leading the timesheets.

Most teams brought significant updates to Spain, which marks the beginning of the European season in F1.

Ricciardo said he was frustrated with the gap to the front. He and Verstappen were six tenths off the pole time.

"I chipped away at my lap time by a few hundredths but it wasn't enough," Ricciardo said. "Then they put in some belters at the end. It is a little bit disheartening as I don't really know what I could have done more." Kevin Magnussen will start seventh with Haas. Teammate Romain Grosjean is 10th on the grid.

"It was a really good qualifying. P7 for us is really pole position," Magnussen said. "It's the best you can hope for if you're not in a Ferrari, Mercedes or Red Bull." Both Spanish drivers made it to the final qualifying session, with two-time champion Fernando Alonso eighth with McLaren and Carlos Sainz ninth with Renault.

"Everything we bring to the track is delivering the expectations and the lap times we were expecting from them," Alonso said. "So that's a positive thing." Raikkonen was on a new engine after a problem with the one he used on Friday. Nico Hulkenberg of Renault failed to make it past the first qualifying session because of an apparent fuel pressure issue.

There was some disquiet with the rear-view mirrors Ferrari mounted on the halos. The team will likely have to change it for the next race, but no penalties were expected in Spain.

Brendon Hartley of Toro Rosso did not make it to qualifying because the team was not able to fix his car after a crash in the final minutes of Saturday's practice. He clipped the grass on the entry of a turn and spun into the tire barrier, significantly damaging the car. The rear end fell apart as the car was being hoisted by a crane.

Lance Stroll continued to struggle with Williams, going off track in the final minutes of qualifying. He also went into the gravel in practice earlier on Saturday and on Friday.

Race organisers said additional security was implemented after several cars were broken into at a closed parking lot for the media at the track.

- AP