Hola race fans!
Here we are, five races into the season and the competition is fierce. And I don’t just mean for the world championship! Our plucky pets have been putting on some awesome displays in a bid to win Badger’s coveted Top Dog rosette. Dan Ricciardo is currently top of the league with two ‘best in show’ prizes. But impressive young pups Pierre Gasly and Charles Leclerc are snapping at his heels after claiming the prizes in Bahrain and Baku.
Badger likes to share the love, so we have a new winner this week. Who barked loudest in Barca? Which fella takes the paella? OMG, the tension! Come on folks, click those Catalan castanets for…
At first, I was confused who to pick. Looking back in my race notes – yes folks, I take this column writing very seriously you know – I only wrote Hamilton’s name down once. And that was just to say which lap he pitted on (Lap 26, if you’re interested). Sometimes a driver is so completely in the zone, so in tune with the vehicle he is sitting in, so jaw-droppingly quick, there really are no words.
And so it was for Lewis in Spain in what was surely one of his most perfect drives. Having claimed pole position over team-mate Valtteri Bottas by less than the blink of an eye, no-one could have predicted such utter domination of proceedings come race day.
His start was decisive enough, but nothing spectacular. Vettel may have got the jump on Bottas at Turn 1, but that was the closest he, or anyone else, got to Hamilton’s rear wing all day. Any hopes of a repeat of last year’s brilliant battle between the two leading men were soon dashed as Hamilton sped off into the distance like a greyhound after a rabbit.
We barely saw him after the Safety Car restart (poor old ‘nil points’ Grosjean in the wars again!), only during his pit stop (super slick) and lapping other cars (pretty much everyone in the field). He blitzed lap after hyper-quick lap with the concentration and finesse of a champion matador.
Sadly, for us, he did zero overtaking – because he was so far out in front. He was always in complete control of proceedings, didn’t put a wheel wrong and frankly, must have been wondering where the hell the competition had got to. When he took the chequered flag, he was 20 seconds ahead of Bottas. His team-mate. In the same car. Twenty. Seconds. He could have nipped off for a cheeky siesta and still won the damn race!
By his own admission, Hamilton has been punching below his weight for most of this season. Well, his mojo is well and truly back, his championship lead has grown to 17 points and his rivals are on the ropes. Let’s hope the Prancing Horses and Red Bulls get their act together in time for the next bout.
So it’s Felicidades to Señor Hamilton for a truly stunning drive. Next time, be a good boy and give the others a chance.
There were plenty of good drives to savour in Spain, thanks to the TV feed not having much to look at up front!
The Spanish duo of Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz had strong showings in front of their adoring home fans. Sergio Perez was nice and feisty, Kevin Magnussen had another solid points finish and I was super impressed by both Sauber boys – especially Charles Leclerc, who again showed tremendous maturity doing battle with Alonso.
Special mention must go to Max Verstappen who managed to stay out of trouble to finally make it onto the podium for the first time this year. Fingers crossed this is the start of seeing Max back to his scintillating best.
Next up, it’s the glitz and glamour of Monte Carlo. Get ready to place your bets on who will be Top Dog in Monaco. Meantime, remember to follow Badger GP for news, views and expert musings on the crazy world of Formula 1. See you in the Principality.