This weekend marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Spanish Grand Prix at Catalunya, a circuit located on the outskirts of an industrial park. The circuit is such a good challenge of man and machine, its been a popular destination for testing since it’s creation in 1991. It’s a given that drivers, technical boffins and statisticians know this circuit like the back of their hand and it has produced some epic drives in it’s twenty-five year history.
Sadly, the weekend’s Grand Prix wasn’t one of those that will go down in the pantheon of the greats.
After telling the world that he had turned himself around and would be a ‘newer more aggressive’ driver, Rosberg did exactly that, dominating the weekend practice sessions and putting the number 9 onto pole. Rosberg had been happy with the car from the moment it rolled down the pit lane in FP1 – Hamilton not so, unable to find a balance that suited his style.
From the get-go, it was Rosberg’s race. After leading into T1 and witnessing his team-mate being swallowed up by Vettel, all Rosberg had to do was keep it pointed in the right direction and hit the loud pedal. That he did – after the first lap he was a clean 1.1 seconds ahead of the Ferrari. That gap continued to build and it became apparent to Hamilton that this one wasn’t going to fall into his lap so easily. Cue some head scratching, some rapid statistical analysis and it was decided that ‘Plan B’ was the way forward.
Now there is plenty I could write here about various strategies, how they played out and my thoughts on the effect on the championship. But if I am honest, it would probably be about as dull to read as what the race was to watch.
Action came in the form of pit stops, where Fernando Alonso started the game of ‘Pit Crew Skittles’ when he came steaming into the pit lane and managed to run long, sliding into the front jack and sending it flying. Thankfully the front jack man had to sense – and the reactions – to leap out of the way in good time and the only damage was the obliterated front jack and a pair of underpants. It has been revealed this morning that a visor tear off became lodged in the cooling vent for the brake system, meaning Alonso could do very little with overheating brakes. He was lucky to be able to stop where he did.
Round two of ‘Pit Crew Skittles’ came in the form of Romain Grosjean, who decided to up the game by sending the front jack man flying. The poor chap was spotted later sat in the garage, looking a little worse for wear and holding a bag of ice on his… erm, man bits. Naturally, his team mates were all full of sympathy as they pointed and laughed at the poor chap and his swollen meat and two veg. What we didn’t see was the front right tyre man who has ended his weekend with a broken ankle we are told after the front wing collected him too on the way through. We wish the both of them a very speedy recovery… and the front right wheel man too.
I got jumped on by the Hamilton fan club during the race for what seemed to be ‘biased Rosberg’ comments when I even suggested that Hamilton was being a little princess-like. I said it on Twitter and I will say it again, I am not biased towards Rosberg. Or Vettel, Bottas, Raikkonen, Ricciardo or any of the other drivers that take part in the championship. I have my opinions, as we all do and sometimes I feel that Hamilton – in particular – doesn’t do himself any favours in the public opinion stakes. Further evidence of that came post race when he criticised the team for his finishing second. Hamilton is a great driver, he wouldn’t be a double world champion if that wasn’t the case, but he does need to think about the long-term effect of dropping his bottom lip when things don’t go his way.
I gave the race 4/10 yesterday and watching the highlights didn’t budge that initial rating. There were some great moments of track action and we even had Pastor Maldonado living up to that Mad Max sponsorship by lapping with half of his rear wing missing. Sadly he was retired before the end of the race but I have to say, he was about the only one who was actually out there providing some decent racing and passing before the rear wing disappearing act.
Driver of the day went to… no one. But a special mention when to the front jack man and his family jewels for putting everything on the line in the course of doing his job. There’s ‘taking one for the team’ and then there is being hit in the ghoolies by a jack, thrust into you by a car travelling at the sharp end of 60kph.
Jorda watch: Once. Lap 8. Poor job by the FOM cameramen and director. Although we did get a shot of those beautiful blue eyes of the soon to be Mrs Bottas. I’d have thought with the lack of track action we’d have numerous shots of the shorted Spaniard. Maybe even she was so bored she went off to Granollers and had her nails done.
Next time round, it’s off to Monaco.