Rosberg takes first 2015 win in Spain
Lewis Hamilton’s run of four straight poles in the 2015 F1 season so far was cut short when teammate Nico Rosberg beat him in qualifying at the Spanish GP.
Rosberg enjoyed a fault-free weekend at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya, while Hamilton had issues with his car set-up. From second position on the grid, Hamilton immediately fell behind Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, then had to endure a lengthy 5.3 seconds pit stop due to a wheel-gun issue in swapping the left-rear tyre (Rosberg’s first pitstop took only 2.85 seconds; that must have pissed Hamilton off).
After Hamilton’s botched stop, his team told him that he would have to pass Vettel on the track, to which he replied, “I can assure you that’s pretty much impossible. Find another solution.” Overtaking at the Circuit de Catalunya is notoriously difficult, even with DRS, which is why eight of the last 10 pole starters here had gone on to win the race.
Hamilton’s team had to change tactic from a two-stop strategy to three, which ultimately still helped him to gain one up on Vettel, but he still finished 17.5 seconds after Rosberg.
Although it was not the perfect race for Hamilton, whose championship lead has been reduced by seven points, in the eyes of Toto Wolff, Mercedes team’s motorsport chief, the race was a great one – the drivers still gave them a 1-2 win, and the two head-butting teammates hardly came close to each other throughout the race. Wolff said, “The result feels like P1 and P1. Because on a three-stop, with a compromised start, a compromised pit stop, finishing P2 is really great driving from Lewis. Both of them were faultless and it is extremely satisfying that we can pull it out even when things are not running perfectly.”
Although Rosberg showed a solid performance to clinch the ninth victory of his career, Hamilton put on the more impressive show considering all that he had to contend with and still managing to land the second place on the podium, while Vettel took third.
Despite being soundly beaten by the Silver Arrows, Vettel remains optimistic about his chances of winning the 2015 championship. Ferrari arrived in Spain with major and impressive upgrades to their cars, having redesigned more or less every aerodynamic surface. Although they were 0.8 seconds a lap slower than Mercedes, Vettel thinks that Ferrari has taken a step forward as a team. “It doesn’t really show here but I am quite confident we will be stepping up our game again in the next couple of races and I look forward to that,” he said.