Sebastian Vettel has said Ferrari can offer no further excuses if they want to wrestle the championship momentum back from Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes.
Hamilton claimed his second victory in as many races in Spain, while Vettel finished only fourth to fall 17 points behind the Briton in this year’s title race.
Ferrari had arrived in Barcelona as the class of the 2018 field, but Hamilton has led the Mercedes fightback this weekend after winning from pole on Sunday.
Vettel’s Ferrari team have struggled to adapt to Pirelli’s new thinner tyre this weekend, and the German was the only driver of the front-runners who had to stop for fresh rubber twice.
He was running in second but lost two places to Valtteri Bottas and then Max Verstappen during a sluggish stop to cross the line in fourth position.
Ferrari’s strategy appeared curious, given that Vettel conceded track position at a circuit where it is difficult to overtake, but the German claimed he was left with little alternative.
And to add insult to injury for Ferrari, Kimi Raikkonen failed to score any points after he was forced to retire following his second engine failure of the weekend.
“Our tyres didn’t last as long as the others, so we couldn’t follow the same strategy as them,” Vettel said.
“We had to stop again and we obviously lost two positions, and also a bit of time during the pit-stop itself, but staying out was not an option.
“There were three things this weekend. One, we were not quick enough and if we are not able to see then we are more than blind.
“Secondly, we struggled with the tyres. Thirdly, it was a poor weekend in terms of reliability. If we don’t see those issues then there are no excuses.
“But the bottom line is that we are not quick enough today to win, and that is what needs to be addressed.”
Britain’s Lewis Hamilton drove his Mercedes to victory in Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix for his second victory of the season.
The defending four-time world champion and current series leader started from pole position after a record-breaking qualifying lap on Saturday and finished ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas, with Red Bull’s Dutch driver Max Verstappen rounding out the podium.
Here’s some key takeaways from Barcelona.
The Briton led from start to finish to clinch his third win in Barcelona and 64th career victory. Starting on pole, the 33-year-old briefly relinquished the lead when he went in to pit on lap 26, but stormed ahead to snatch victory and now leads the title race by 18 points. It is impossible for anyone to perform at a consistently high level across the entire season, and with the Ferraris gaining solid ground, this season is set up to be a thriller as Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel go in search of that illustrious fifth world title. Advantage may be in the reigning champion’s favour now but expect Vettel to fight back in Monaco in two weeks’ time.
More frustration for Vettel
It looked like it would be a challenging race for Hamilton when Vettel jumped Bottas on the first lap, but two safety cars and some poor strategy resulted in the German finishing fourth. Despite the disappointment, Vettel needs to brush this race aside and focus on Monaco where he has the chance to challenge his rival once again. A minor blip in Spain, but with 16 races remaining, the race is still wide open.
Verstappen restores some credibility
A fine third place finish for the Dutchman after a tough few weeks in which he hitHamilton, divebombed Vettel, collided with Daniel Ricciardo and clipped the rear end of Lance Stroll’s Williams. In Barcelona, Verstappen did a fine job holding off Vettel and restored some credibility to seal a second podium of the season. With a damaged wing towards the end of the race, the 20-year-old showed superb composure to match the same lap times as Ricciardo and drive faster than Vettel. Hopefully the start of a promising season for the Red Bull driver.
The Finn has been on fire in 2018 but he was forced to retire in Barcelona due to engine failure. The 37-year-old was sitting behind Hamilton in second on lap 26 when he experienced trouble with the car and was subsequently overtaken by both Red Bull drivers and fell into 17th. With two podiums in the first four races, the Ferrari driver can still take some respite from his promising start to the campaign despite a disappointing day in Barcelona.
Grosjean triggers major crash
Another bad day at the office for the Frenchman as he lost control of his car on the first lap and spun into a chasing field, that eliminated Nico Hulkenberg and Pierre Gasly along the way. With 16th, 13th, 17th and 15th place finishes in his first four races, it has not been a bright start to the season for the Haas driver. The American outfit had aimed to threaten their big midfield rivals this campaign, but the car’s lack of pace and consistency has seen them struggle so far.
Force India troubles
One of the leading lights of last year’s championship, Esteban Ocon has yet replicate his 2017 form and continues to drop further behind his team-mate Sergio Perez. After retiring in Baku, the Frenchman was full of optimistic coming in to Spain, but was forced to retire on lap 44 due to power failure. It proved to be an unlucky afternoon for the 21-year-old after a brilliant drive was hampered by a terrible pitstop, and then a faulty engine. The Evreux native has plenty of time to turn around his form and needs to step up a gear if he is to be considered for a potential Mercedes seat in the future.
Leclerc delivers again
For the second time in three weeks, the Monaco showed his remarkable ability with a top-10 finish. Starting from P14, Leclerc benefited from the eliminations of Grosjean, Hulkenberg and Gasly to push up into the top ten before maintaining a solid driving ability throughout the race. He may have been overtaken by Alonso and Sergio Perez late on, but a second top-10 in five races is a serious boost for a team lacking in ambition. Aside from the points, Leclerc’s biggest competition this season will be to overshadow 27-year-old Ericsson, who has spent four more years in the sport. Whilst doing that it will open a shop window – as such – for a more experienced team to give Leclerc a better opportunity in a faster car when his contract expires in 2019.
Lewis Hamilton extended his lead in the drivers’ world championship to 17 points on Sunday when he roared to an imperious victory as Mercedes scored a one-two triumph at the Spanish Grand Prix.
The defending four-time world champion 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.
Australian Daniel Ricciardo was fifth in the second Red Bull ahead of Dane Kevin Magnussen of Haas and Spaniards Carlos Sainz, of Renault, and two-time champion Fernando Alonso, of McLaren.
Mexican Sergio Perez of Force India came home ninth ahead of the impressive Monegasque Charles Leclerc of Sauber.
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.