Sky F1’s Karun Chandhok reflects on the Spanish GP, which Ferrari thought could be the turning point in their season – but the end result only strengthened Mercedes’ F1 2019 title advantage:
“The F1 World Championship moved to Barcelona where predictably all the talk coming in to the weekend was about upgrades, and whether Ferrari would be able to drag themselves ahead of Mercedes and finally take their first win of the season.
As the weekend unfolded however, it became evident that the engine upgrade that they rushed forward along with the aero updates from Baku weren’t going to be enough. With every race that passes, we’re starting to see a trend that on the entry of the slower speed corners, the Mercedes is just a better car than the Ferrari. This came to the fore in the final sector of the lap here in Barcelona during Qualifying where Bottas was a massive eight tenths faster than Sebastian Vettel. That really doesn’t bode well for the red camp at the next race in Monaco!
The Bottas versus Hamilton story could be the one that replaces the Ferrari versus Mercedes one when we talk about the narrative of the World Championship battle. Valtteri’s Qualifying lap was absolutely brilliant. Lewis had a scrappy lap which probably exaggerated the gap, but even so, credit where credit’s due to Bottas – beating Lewis by six tenths of a second in Qualifying takes a pretty special effort.
The Ferrari weekend was very underwhelming. The gulf between them and Mercedes in Qualifying was enormous and in the race, they once again got into the awkward team orders scenario. I think they were right to ask Seb to let Charles past early on but after the pitstops, when Charles was on the hard tyre and Seb on the mediums, I don’t really understand why they didn’t swap them round immediately as the German was faster and probably going to pit again. Either way, it was all academic and they were going to finish 4th and 5th anyway which on the whole is not where we expected to see them after pre-season testing at this same circuit.
Off to Monaco next and it will be interesting to see if Bottas can hit back with a victory there. He’s clearly got the one-lap speed sorted and pole position there is obviously of huge importance. Think back to 2017 and Valtteri’s lap to get third on the grid that day was superb so he can deliver around the streets of the principality. For the sake of everyone watching, I really hope that we see this inter-Mercedes battle develop into a season long fight because at the moment it does look like neither Red Bull or Ferrari are close enough to challenge the Silver Arrows.”