Formula 1 returned to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya for the 30th consecutive Spanish Grand Prix at this historic circuit. The track was scorching, with a temperature of 49°C at the start of the race, which is around 7°C hotter than the track temps at the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix. The 2020 Spanish Grand Prix was a real scorcher, and here at F1ntastic, we’re going to review it.
Noticed the meme in the title? Read on, because we’re going to talk about Leclerc’s mechanical failure that caused him to spin.
2020 Spanish Grand Prix Facts and Stats – Hamilton’s STILL Breaking MORE Records
Hamilton has featured in every single piece of Facts and Stats on F1ntastic.com so far. The only time so far the stats were negative and weren’t about F1 records so far was in the 2020 Austrian Grand Prix Facts and Stats. However, despite Hamilton being the star of this race, there are other Facts and Stats to talk about, so let’s get into it!
- Lewis Hamilton took his 156th podium in Formula 1, breaking the all-time podiums record that Michael Schumacher set. Hamilton is now the record holder, and will, I’m sure, extend that record.
- Hamilton lapped every single car except for the Top 3 this race, meaning only 3 cars, including Hamilton, finished on the same lap as the leader. This is the fewest number of cars finishing on the lead lap since the 2018 Austrian Grand Prix. Only 3 cars finished on the lead lap in that race too. The 2018 Austrian GP was the only race in 73 GPs in which Hamilton didn’t finish or score points.
- After the 2020 Spanish Grand Prix, it is evident that Hamilton is the Master of Spain. He has now won for consecutive Spanish Grands Prix, starting from 3 years ago at the 2017 Spanish Grand Prix. Hamilton has also won 4 consecutive races at Silverstone from 2014-2017. He has done the same at the United States Grand Prix in the same years as Silverstone.
- For 29 consecutive races, the Mercedes power unit has led the race for at least one lap. This streak slots in 2nd behind Renault’s all-time F1 record of 44 consecutive races led from 1994-1997.
- Max Verstappen finished in the podium positions for the 5th consecutive race this race. 1 more would put him level with his personal best set in 2018/2019.
- Valterri Bottas took his 50th career podium finish. Fellow Finn and 2-time Formula 1 World Champion Mika Hakkinen’s total is only one podium away!
- Lewis Hamilton was about to be 1 step closer to another F1 record after this race. Jim Clark holds the all-time F1 record for Grand Slams, with 8 of them to his name. A Grand Slam in Formula 1 is when a driver wins the race from pole position, leads every lap of the race, and scores the fastest lap. Lewis Hamilton has achieved 6 of these in his career, and he would’ve gotten his 7th one if Valterri Bottas hadn’t secured the fastest lap on the last lap after pitting for fresh mediums on Lap 64.
- Bottas set a 1:18.183 on the last lap of the race. That is a new track record in a race. Bottas now has 6 track records.
- Racing Point finished in 4th and 5th, with Lance Stroll being the lead Racing Point. The Canadian equalled the team’s best-ever Spanish GP result, which was set in 2017. This was when Racing Point was under the Force India name.
- Stroll’s teammate Sergio Perez followed behind him to the finish line, meaning he equalled Racing Point’s 2017 race results. They finished in 4th and 5th, meaning both the cars finished in the top-5. The 2020 Spanish Grand Prix was the first time this happened since that race in 2017.
- Home hero Carlos Sainz finished in 6th place in his McLaren, matching his career-best finish at the Spanish GP, which he set in 2016. 2016 was the Spaniard’s 2nd year in Formula 1, meaning his first year in F1 was 2015. Sainz finished in 9th in Spain in 2015, and he has never finished below that there, meaning he has a 100% points record in his 6 Spanish starts.
- With Lando Norris joining teammate Sainz in the points in P10, this race was the 3rd time this season that both McLarens have scored.
- The only time Sebastian Vettel has had a worse finish in Spain than the P7 he got his race was when he retired on Lap 1 in 2008.
- For the first time in his career with Ferrari, Vettel’s teammate Charles Leclerc retired from a race because of mechanical issues.
- Looking on the bright side, Sebastian Vettel is now the only driver apart from Lewis Hamilton in the history of Formula 1 to score more than 3,000 points in Formula 1.
- Red Bull’s Alexander Albon beat the AlphaTauri of Pierre Gasly to P8 by just 0.589s, taking his 5th consecutive finish in the points.
- Pierre Gasly reached the final part of qualifying, Q3, meaning he started in the Top 10 in the race. The Frenchman finished in P6, meaning he scored points and reached Q3 at the same GP. This was the first time these results came this season for Gasly.
- Kimi Raikkonen has now completed the most distance in F1 races, beating the previous record-holder Fernando Alonso to the top. The Finn had set the record by Lap 37 of the race when he completed 53,099 miles in F1 races. That’s 29,902 miles more than the circumference of the Earth at the equator, which is 24,901 miles!
This the end of the 2020 Spanish Grand Prix Facts and Stats, as we now move on to the events of the race.
Ferrari had a very mixed performance this race. Charles Leclerc faced a retirement, marking the only retirement from this race. The Monegasque’s teammate Sebastian Vettel had a better race. The unexpected 1-stop strategy that led to a P7 finished marked a good race for Ferrari (by their 2020 standards, not by their normal standards). First, we are going to take a look at Sebastian Vettel’s performance. Then we will go into detail with Leclerc’s mechanical issue that put him out of the race.
Vettel’s Courage Gets Him Driver Of The Day For The 2020 Spanish Grand Prix
Sebastian Vettel earned a vast majority of the votes for the Driver Of The Day. People all over the world can vote for the Driver Of The Day, based on who they think performed the best in the race. These votes take place every race and open when the race starts, and close when the race ends. After taking 29.7% of the votes Sebastian Vettel had been crowned the Driver Of The Day for the 2020 Spanish GP.
Vettel absolutely dominated the polls, as Max Verstappen only got 15.2% of the votes, which put him in 2nd. Lewis Hamilton got 12.3% of the votes, and home hero Carlos Sainz got 6% of them. And in 5th in the polls is Sergio Perez, earning 5% of the fans’ votes.
Sebastian Vettel deserved to get Driver Of The Day. Only a driver of a calibre as high as the 4-time world champion himself would be able to achieve what Vettel did on Sunday. He could pull off a one-stop and a P7 finish in a bad situation in an underperforming car. I mean can you imagine how difficult it is to hold on to the soft tires for a whole 36 laps? The medium tires were meant to last around 30 laps and the softs around 15-25 laps. But as mentioned earlier, Vettel managed to stretch the soft tires to 36 laps. The German came in for his pitstop on Lap 29, to go from the medium tires to the soft tires.
Then when you move forward to Lap 37 Vettel’s teammate Charles Leclerc has a spin after his engine fails. The Red Bull of Alex Albon then comes into the pits on Lap 39. But then on Lap 41, when Leclerc retired, a whole string of pitstops started happening. Loads of cars started coming into the pits. Leclerc’s retirement had really helped Vettel because the cars ahead of him pitted, and Vettel was now running in P4. The Racing Points and Carlos Sainz managed to get past Vettel, but the German still did an amazing job of holding off a train of 5 cars before finishing in P7. The Red Bull of Alex Albon was just 1 second behind the Ferrari at the end of the race, but Vettel still managed the 1-stop and brought it home for Ferrari.
A 1-stop strategy in a slower car and an incredibly hot track with the least durable tires is very courageous. Vettel’s grit really showed through, along with his skill and pure determination. Vettel also didn’t expect the one-stop. He was just told on the radio to go for the one-stop, and suddenly, he had to manage the tires. There were other factors in play; the leaders did lap Vettel, so that helped him out a little bit, and the overall pace of the top 10 cars behind the leaders was pretty slow, so Vettel could take an advantage out of that. In the end, it was a good performance from Vettel, but on the other side of the Ferrari garage, things weren’t going too well.
Leclerc’s Mechanical Failure That Cause Him To Spin
Charles Leclerc’s day was disappointing. For the first time in his Ferrari career, Leclerc suffered and retired after a mechanical failure, as mentioned in the Facts and Stats above. Neither the spin nor the retirement had anything to do with Leclerc as a driver; Leclerc would’ve been in for a great race. He was running in P10 on the medium tires and he was looking to get past Lando Norris, who was in P9. But coming into the chicane before the final corner on Lap 37, Leclerc suddenly spun.
The video above shows that the engine shut off, and Leclerc’s car just shut off. When that happened, the rear axle got locked. The axle is what lets the wheels spin, and so the wheels stopped spinning and the car just spun around. As Martin Brundle said in the commentary, it was like pulling the handbrake, which locks the rear wheels. This means that Leclerc was not at fault at all for the spin. After multiple tries, Leclerc wasn’t able to switch on the engine, but he tried one last time, and the engine started up again. After some time, the car was functioning normally, but then there was another problem.
“To be honest there were two issues,” Leclerc said afterwards.
“The engine switched off, actually not only the engine but the whole car switched off, and it locked completely the rear wheels,” he continued. “I don’t know what happened, the team don’t know what’s happened yet, so we need to investigate that.”
Ferrari blamed an electrical fault for shutting off the car and for causing the spin, but we don’t know exactly what happened in detail.
“I tried to start the engine after the issue and it was not starting. So I took off the seatbelt getting ready to get out. But they asked me to try one last time, and the last time it actually worked again.”
A lap after Leclerc got the engine fired up, he was going down the main straight. He came on the radio and told Ferrari that he didn’t have his seatbelts on. The radio message above shows that. The message also shows that Ferrari asked Leclerc to pit. Leclerc couldn’t fix the issue himself, because he was missing the attachment for the seatbelt, to attach the seatbelts together. He informed Ferrari about this issue over the radio as well. As a driver, Leclerc has done everything he needed to, and everything he can. Then Ferrari’s mistake comes in.
When Leclerc came into the pits, Ferrari changed his tires. However, the mechanics were spending a lot of time on the seat belt. They didn’t have the attachment ready. Leclerc was pretty angry on the radio because he told them that the attachment wasn’t there. He then later explained that the attachment flew off. He could have explained that earlier, so he is a little bit at fault there. In the end, the Race Engineer told him to switch off the engine, and the mechanics wheeled the car into the garage.
You can’t help but feel bad for the 22-year-old, because he could’ve been in for a good race. He later revealed details about how he was doing a one-stop, and was heading for a top-ten finish.
“To be completely honest it was not that bad of a race. We had a good chance to finish around P6/P7. We were very quick on thew soft towards the end and then on the medium we couldn’t show as we were in traffic, but we were planning a one-stop on my side and I think it was working pretty well until the issue.”
The next race is the Belgian Grand Prix, where a year ago, Leclerc stormed to his first-ever race win in Formula 1. Let’s see, will he be able to achieve at least a podium there? Let me know what you think in the comments below!
Red Bull’s Pace Drops As They Struggle With Tires
Red Bull had even more of a mixed race than Ferrari. For the first time this season, Alex Albon finished below his qualifying position, so he had a pretty tough race. However, Max Verstappen split the Mercedes after getting a good start and overtaking Bottas to take 2nd and maintain 2nd place, so he and the team were incredibly happy with that. Now, let’s take a look at Alex Albon’s race, before we move onto Max Verstappen, which is the final part of this Race Review.
Alex Albon Has a Bad Race With Tire Issues Hindering His Performance
“It was a hard afternoon and I’m not happy with my race,” said Albon. “It was really tricky out there and I just didn’t have any grip on any tyre compound. Each stint I was nursing and looking after the tyres but after six or seven laps I just had no grip.”
Albon was definitely not happy, but Christian Horner, the Team Principal at Red Bull, was very happy with Albon’s race. However, he thinks that Albon needs to improve in qualifying,
“It’s his Saturdays that he needs to work on,” said Horner. “Hopefully we can do more to help Alex and as soon as he finds that consistency and confidence and he starts qualifying in position then with the race pace he’s has I think he’ll be knocking on the door of the podium before long,” Horner continued.
“I mean Sunday afternoons, he’s doing great: his overtaking, his pace, is everything that you could expect,” he said.
“His recovery at Silverstone, it was phenomenal. Some of the passing moves – you know some of the corners he was going around the outside of – you hold your breath. So it’s just getting him more comfortable with the car over a single lap,” added Horner.
While the boss was happy with the race, the driver himself wasn’t. Albon had a conversation on the radio with his team, informing them of all the troubles he faced with his tires. You can watch and listen to this in the video above. While Red Bull will look into the issues with the tires, and hopefully, come back stronger for Belgium.
Max Verstappen Is Happy With The Race Despite Angry Radio Messages In First Stint
Max Verstappen’s race was better than Albon’s. The Dutchman got a good start from P3 on the grid and quickly took 2nd place from Valterri Bottas, and then held that position to finish in P2 in the race. Hamilton initially pulled away from the pack after he got an even better start. But on Lap 6, Verstappen started catching Hamilton, while managing the tires, but then things started getting worse.
“Of course initially it was just managing tyres so I tried to back out of it as well but of course Valtteri’s got back into P3 so you can’t drop back too much. Then as soon as Lewis started to push a bit more I couldn’t follow the same pace, and he just drove off.”
“From then onwards I just tried to do my own pace and do the fastest strategy that we could do, and stay ahead of Valtteri and that worked out quite well today so I’m happy about that. We split the two Mercedes cars again so I don’t think there is much more I can do at the moment.”
It was overall a good race, and once again, Verstappen got the most out of his car. Red Bull are looking to challenging the Mercedes cars, which they did very well with a great strategy at the 70th Anniversary GP. Verstappen was happy with the strategy as well. But this race is the 2020 Spanish Grand Prix, and at this race, things got a little bit heated.
“I wanted to pit, and they didn’t call me in. I was massively struggling on the tyres and I lost quite a lot of lap time over the last two laps and I already said on the radio I don’t care if you put me out behind the Racing Points because I will pass them easily because we’re a lot faster, especially on new tyres. So that was the conversation.”
In the end, this race was a good one for many, a bad one for some, but definitely one to remember. This is the end of the 2020 Spanish Grand Prix Race Review. Let me know in the comments below what you think about these Race Reviews, and be sure to give us some feedback. Stay safe, and stay on the lookout for new posts!