“Monaco is going to be a unique challenge in two weeks’ time and I’m looking forward to it” – Valtteri Bottas.
Round four of the 2021 season has been and gone at the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday after an exhilarating battle between this year’s tight field.
Lewis Hamilton managed to take the win with an impeccable race strategy, stealing the lead from Max Verstappen with a final move on Lap 60.
Verstappen led the majority of today’s race but ended up a “sitting duck” as Hamilton closed in for the overtake – Verstappen ultimately took second in his 100th race for Red Bull Racing.
Coming home third was the second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas, who had to give way to Hamilton to allow the world champion a better chance of reaching the top step of the podium once again.
Further afield, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc drove an impressive race, crossing the line in fourth, followed by Red Bull’s Sergio Perez in fifth, and McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo in sixth.
Other points scorers today were Carlos Sainz in the second Ferrari, McLaren’s Lando Norris, Alpine’s Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly in the AlphaTauri filling P7 through to 10th respectively.
Here’s what some of the drivers had to say after Sunday’s race:
Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes P1
“What a day! It was a remarkable job by the whole team again this weekend and it’s so good to see fans back here. I even saw a few British flags in the crowd and I’ve really missed that! I feel great like I could do that all over again, all the training is clearly paying off!
“It was really close off the start, there was a lot of rubber down on the righthand side of the grid and Max got a really good start. I then went hunting and was so close to Max for so long during the opening stages of the race, and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to make the tyres last in the dirty air.
“It looked like a long way back after the second stop – it was something like 20 seconds off Max – but it was a really bold call by the team. I was really conflicted, it felt like I might have the shot to make the move before Max stopped, but we just have that trust between us in the team and it was a great call.”
Valtteri Bottas – Mercedes P3
“Losing that position to Charles at Turn 3 on the first lap compromised the first stint of my race. I was hoping for more today but that made it difficult.
“My overall pace wasn’t too bad – a bit of a shame that we couldn’t finish higher, but at least I managed to get on the podium. I’m never happy to settle for third, I’m here to win but it was a good day for the team, scoring more solid points.
“Monaco is going to be a unique challenge in two weeks’ time and I’m looking forward to it.”
Max Verstappen – Red Bull Racing P2
“I tried everything I could today and took the lead at Turn 1 but from there we were just lacking a bit of pace to Mercedes. Of course we wanted to win but I cannot feel too disappointed as I did everything I could out there and maximized the opportunities.
“Even if we had looked at another strategy and done a two stop and pitted before them, we wouldn’t have made the time up as they were just faster than us. I know how fast I can go and where the limit of the car is and when they can do a free stop behind it is easy for them to do a different strategy.
“I pretty much knew that when he pitted for the second time that he would come back at me on the new tyres a bit like Hungary 2019 and although I did everything I could I was a bit of a sitting duck.
“The pace difference on the tyres made it an easy pass for Lewis and then I was able to at least keep second place and take Fastest Lap. It was just a day where we lacked a bit of pace and second was the best result possible so now we need to look at why they seem to have jumped ahead a bit in terms of race pace.”
Sergio Perez – Red Bull Racing P5
“This isn’t an easy track to overtake on which made for a tough race. We had a good first lap and made up some positions but it took me quite a long time to get past Daniel. The McLaren was extremely fast on the straights so it was really hard to try a move but we made it work around the outside of Turn 1. I knew what I had to do, I pushed on and managed to make it work but we didn’t have much tyre life left afterwards so it was tough.
“I’m getting more confident with the car now and every time I get to the end of a weekend, I think, ‘I wish the weekend was just starting now.’ Also, every circuit is different so what I learn here will be different to what I need in Monaco but the main thing is that I am still adapting and hopefully soon we can be 100%.
“I am excited for Monaco, especially with this car as historically it’s been competitive and I think we have a chance of winning.”
Daniel Ricciardo – McLaren P6
“It was a good weekend. I would say the best weekend so far as a whole and I felt like I got the maximum out of the car today. I was defending the whole time! We jumped a few spots at the start and I think naturally those cars were a little quicker, which left me defending. It meant that the pace was high, and it forced me to push the whole way. I ended up learning even more about the car.
“We’re obviously competitive for points, but we just need that little extra step. Ferrari had a bit more than us today and obviously we know the Red Bull is fast. We know we’ve still got some work to do but all-in-all it was a smooth, well-executed weekend. The team made some good calls for the pit-stops and I think top-six was the best result possible.”
Lando Norris – McLaren P8
“Tough race! It was expected really, just because it’s so difficult to overtake. Despite that I think we achieved everything we could. On paper it’s not as strong a result as we’d like, but I don’t think that really matters today – we had decent pace all day. Given the characteristics of this track we did what we could, and that was P8 and double points, so I’m happy for the team.”
Charles Leclerc – Ferrari P4
“It was a very good race. I had a good start, then went for the outside in turn 3, which worked out for us. From then on, we had a very competitive race. Our pace was strong, both on the Soft and Medium tyres. Still, P4 was the best we could achieve.
“I am really happy though, because from the cockpit you can feel when you do a good job and that was the case today.
“As a team, we did a really good job, everything went perfectly. We see that we have made a lot of progress compared to last year, and this is credit to everyone working so hard back at our factory in Maranello.
“We were quite strong in the third sector, which is very technical. Hopefully, that’s a positive sign for Monaco. Since the beginning of the season, we seem to be strong in the slow corners, so I am crossing my fingers that it will stay that way. I am really looking forward to my home race. Seeing fans there in the grandstands will be amazing and I hope to be just as competitive there.”
Carlos Sainz – Ferrari P7
“I am not very satisfied with P7 today, to be honest. I had a poor getaway at the start and after the first corner I found myself surrounded and lost a couple of places. From then onwards though, we had a very strong pace.
Today the car was well balanced and it performed quite well with the tyres. We still lack a bit of speed on the straights, which makes us struggle for overtaking. We must work on that and I must keep working on refining some details, because today with a stronger start we could have made it to P5.
The strategy worked well, and the guys put together a couple of fast pit stops. It was a good team effort and we leave Spain with good points for the Championship. We must continue to analyse where we weren’t perfect, and push from there!”
Esteban Ocon – Alpine P9
“It was a tough race today. We have a few things to review as we weren’t as fast as the Ferraris or the McLarens in the race. A positive thing is that last year here, we didn’t score points and this year we come away with two.
“It’s not ideal after qualifying, but we’ll take it and move on to the next race. We have more work to do on race pace and, as always, some things to discuss to improve ourselves.
“We’ll see how we do around Monaco, it’s great that we’re going back there, and we go there with some motivation to have a better result.”
Fernando Alonso – Alpine P17
“It wasn’t where we wanted to finish today but I think the weekend in general was positive. We had some good performance from the car, and we are definitely heading in the right direction.
“In Portugal we were fast, but we didn’t know if it was specific to that track, so our progression this weekend shows we are in a good place.
“We had some fun battles today and I enjoyed the racing, but we just couldn’t hang on in the end with the Medium tyres. We had to try something different and it didn’t work out. We’ll go again in Monaco and have some fun there.”
Racing resumes in two weeks’ time for the Monaco Grand Prix on May 23.