F1: Mercedes rolls to 5th straight win in Spain

Mercedes takes 5th straight

Mercedes’ Hamilton wins 4th straight in Spanish Grand Prix

 

First Came Mercedes…

The 2014 Spanish Grand Prix looked a lot like the first four races of the year for Mercedes.   In fact, the results looked a lot like the preseason practice sessions in which Mercedes came out of the gate with a clear advantage over the rest of the field.   In Spain, Mercedes won the pole (Hamilton), the race (Hamilton), and second place (Nico Rosberg) en route to a fourth consecutive F1 win for fan favorite Lewis Hamilton.  It was the 5th consecutive win for the Mercedes win as Rosberg took the first race of the year.

F1 Fastpass: Lewis Hamilton

The win put Hamilton in the lead for the drivers championship with 100 points.   His closest rival, again teammate Nico Rosberg, has 97 as the first five races have shaped up as a battle of Mercedes drivers.  The Mercedes team has won all 5 races:  4 for Hamilton and 1 for Rosberg.   They’ve dominated the grid, the track, and the podium early in the season, clearly winning the race to adjust to the significant offseason rule changes and the transition to the V6 engines.

Mercedes dominate early

Mercedes wins 5th straight

Their early dominance is evident in both the constructors and drivers championship standings.   Alonso Fernando of Ferrari sits in 3rd place with 49 points, less than half of the leader, Hamilton.

The constructors points provide a better picture of overall Mercedes dominance.  With 197 points, they more than double second place Red Bull (currently at 84 points).

Then came Red Bull…

Red Bull showed signs of revival in Spain, taking the third and fourth place finishing positions.  Daniel Ricciardo found his first (official) podium with the team, finishing third.  While he stood on the podium in the first race of the year in Australia, he was later disqualified for violating some of the new rules around fuel flow.   More impressive, defending champion Sebastian Vettel moved up 11 spaces on the grid to finish 4th.  Could this be a sign of things to come?  Remember in 2013, once the Red Bull figured things out, Vettel rattled off 9 straight victories en route to his fourth consecutive drivers championship.   It’s still early, and we shouldn’t count out the team that has also won four consecutive constructors championships until they are mathematically eliminated.  With the last race of the year carrying double points in an unpopular experiment, there’s a lot of racing left for Adrian Newey and the Red Bull team to make a move.  They have shown excellent speeds in the turns, which could bode well for them in the upcoming Monaco Grand Prix this weekend.

Then Williams holding off Ferrari…

Williams’ Valttteri Bottas held off the Ferrari drivers in Spain and finished 5th, quietly taking his 5th straight top 10 finish.  He currently sits in the 7 spot of the drivers championship with 34 points.

Behind Bottas came the Ferrari team, taking the 6th (Alonso) and 7th (Raikkonen) spots.   While this was also Alonso’s 5th straight top ten, it continues to be a disappointing start for the Ferrari team.   Ferrari always has high expectations, but especially in 2014 with the combination of these former F1 champions.   Further, Alonso would have loved to have found the podium in front of his home crowd.

Grosjean gets in the points race…

In eight place, Romain Grosjean broke through for his first top 10 finish of the year and the first four points for the Lotus team.  Rounding out the top 10 and points for the race were the two Force India cars of Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg.   All in, Force India has re-entered the conversation after a disappointing 2013, and they find themselves in 4th place in the constructors cup.

Finally, here comes McLaren…

The McLaren team of Jensen Button and rookie Kevin Magnussen seem to be going in the wrong direction.  After a strong start, with both drivers in the points for the first two races, they both finished just outside the top 10 in Spain, making it the 3rd straight race with zero points for McLaren.   Their early success provided excitement for the F1 community that would love to see McLaren in the hunt.   Since then, they’ve been moving back in the pack.

This week, the crews prepare for one of the great spectacles in all of sports, the Monaco Grand Prix.   Can Mercedes continue their early season dominance?   While many love this race for it’s breathtaking scenery and star-studded people watching, F1 fans will be watching closely to see if the turn-filled circuit provides an opportunity for Red Bull or Ferrari to begin to mix things up a bit.

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