Ah Barcelona, home of the team who blew a 3-nil lead in the Champions League.. twice.
I should start out by pointing out that Friday marked 60 years since Sir Jack Brabham won the 1959 Monaco Grand Prix, his maiden win in the-then World Championship of Drivers.
Daniel Ricciardo came to the home of F1 winter testing with the full knowledge that he had been hit with a 3-place grid penalty for being a typical Perth driver and reversing into Daniil Kyvat in Baku.
They say that the German Anthem is the Formula One National Anthem… well the Spanish Anthem is the MotoGP National Anthem.
Out in front… actually you probably don’t even need me to tell you what happened.
Valtteri Bottas, for the third race weekend in a row, scored a monster pole position with a 1:15.406, smashing the unofficial F1 track record, and beating Lewis Hamilton by some 6-tenths, with Seb Vettel filling 3rd, and Max Verstappen splitting the Ferraris in 4th, with Gasly in the Gasly position of 6th.
Daniel did manage to make a rare appearance in the Top 10, qualifying in 10th, which after the penalty became 13th, on a track not noted for overtaking, and in a yellow dump bucket of a car, it was only going to get worse.
That was as good as it got for Renault, after Nico Hulkenberg ended up sliding into the barriers in Q1, sliding into the barriers, and eventually deciding to start from the Pit Lane.
Back to Bottas- The last time a Finn scored a hat-trick of poles in F1 was Kimi Raikkonen, back in 2005 in a McLaren- He won in Spain, won in Monaco… and then had a massive tyre failure at the Nurburgring on the final lap when he was in the lead.
Hamilton won the start from Bottas, while Vettel tried making it a line of three on the extreme outside, and ultimately locked up, ran wide and dropped behind Verstappen.
In hindsight, they should’ve cancelled the race there and then, and spared everyone time and money.
Daniel spent the opening 25 laps battling hometown hero Carlos Sainz in his McLaren with the same Renault engine, who comfortably held the factory car at bay, until Ricciardo ultimately passed Sainz on Lap 24, when the Spaniard was stuck trying to pass Pierre Gasly after the Red Bull’s stop, allowing Ricciardo to close the gap and get past, and then immediately stop with Sainz.
After that, Groundhog Day set back in, and Sainz passed Ricciardo, and they then went another 20+ laps doing the exact same thing.
Meanwhile, the Ferrari pitwall yet again melted down as Mercedes handed them their lunch, with Vettel letting Charles LeClerc through to try and attack Verstappen, only to get absolutely nowhere.
It was a procession until Lap 46, when Lando Norris and Lance Stroll decided to take each other out at Turn 1/2, bringing out a rare Safety Car, and effectively giving most of the field a free pit stop, which also made sure that most of the field (Including the Renaults) wouldn’t finish a lap down.
On the restart, Hamilton rocketed clear from Bottas, putting 4 seconds on the Finn and snatching the fastest lap bonus point, while Ricciardo got past Hulkenberg and fought against the Toro Rossos of Alex Albon and Daniil Kvyat, which, much like the battle with Sainz, saw him unable to make any major moves.
Ultimately, in what is a TL:DR of Formula One in 2019– Hamilton won (With the bonus point) from Bottas, allowing Mercedes to tie the record their fifth consecutive 1-2 finish, with Verstappen in 3rd, as the Ferraris once again got smashed on race strategy.
Duncraig Dan finished for the second time in 2019, although down in 12th, but oddly enough, thanks to the safety car, it’s the first time he’s finished on the lead lap this season.
In the Schumacher Ferrari years of 2000-04, another car (McLaren, Williams, Renault) would occasionally pop up and win a race- There’s next to no chance of that happening against Mercedes, unless something weird happens at Monaco in a fortnight.
I think David Croft said on Sky, it’s like the Silver Arrows are testing for a concert; 1-2, 1-2, 1-2, 1-2, 1-2.
Daniel’s problem isn’t that the Renault is a gasbag, it’s that his helmet is CURSED!
He hasn’t scored a single point in his technicoloured dreamcoat helmet, whereas when he adopted the Jack Brabham helmet for ‘F1000’ in Shanghai, he finished 7th.
Bring it back for Monaco, Dan – It’s the 60th anniversary of Black Jack’s maiden win, it’ll bring you good luck!