The beginning of the European F1 season in Spain this weekend has seen a number of teams introduce upgrades for their cars, initially threatening to shake up the pecking order. However, once again, it was Mercedes who reigned supreme during qualifying as Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg locked out the front row of the grid.
Hamilton managed to edge out his teammate by one-tenth of a second in the final part of qualifying yesterday, and secured his fourth pole position of the season in the process. Daniel Ricciardo finished as the ‘best of the rest’ in third, whilst Valtteri Bottas and Romain Grosjean both put in remarkable displays to qualify fourth and fifth respectively.
However, Kevin Magnussen and Sebastian Vettel both had car trouble, and were unable to post a time when it mattered on Saturday.
FROM THE STEWARDS’ OFFICE
Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne was handed a 10 place grid penalty on Friday evening after the team failed to correctly fit his left-rear tire during the second free practice session. The team was also handed a €30,000 fine. In qualifying, Vergne did not run in Q2, and instead opted to save a set of tires.
Sebastian Vettel suffered a gearbox failure during Q3 on Saturday, and was therefore classified in 10th place. However, after changing said gearbox, the defending world champion will start the race from 15th place.
The stewards also conducted an anti-doping test as per the FIA guidelines on Pastor Maldonado, Adrian Sutil, Nico Hulkenberg, Jean-Eric Vergne and Romain Grosjean.
2014 SPANISH GRAND PRIX STARTING GRID
1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes
3. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull
4. Valtteri Bottas Williams
5. Romain Grosjean Lotus
6. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari
7. Fernando Alonso Ferrari
8. Jenson Button McLaren
9. Felipe Massa Williams
10. Nico Hulkenberg Force India
11. Sergio Perez Force India
12. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso
13. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber
14. Kevin Magnussen McLaren
15. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull
16. Adrian Sutil Sauber
17. Max Chilton Marussia
18. Jules Bianchi Marussia
19. Marcus Ericsson Caterham
20. Kamui Kobayashi Caterham
21. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso
22. Pastor Maldonado Lotus
You can watch the Spanish Grand Prix live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 7:30am ET today.
After a month break, the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires is back in action this weekend at Barber Motorsports Park, with two of its series tacking the 2.38-mile road course in Birmingham, Alabama.
Both the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires and the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires have double-headers this weekend, with Pro Mazda returning to Barber after not running there last year.
The season-opening weekend in St. Petersburg was a tale of two completely different stories, with two different winners – Pato O’Ward and Santi Urrutia – and more than a fair bit of chaos for Indy Lights, while Pro Mazda saw Rinus Veekay sweep the weekend.
Talking points for both series heading into Barber are below.
Santi Urrutia displayed great patience at St. Petersburg, finishing second in Race 1 and winning Race 2 after rivals like O’Ward and Colton Herta faltered. However, Barber has not been one of his better tracks, with finishes of 11th, 15th, and 13th in three of his four Indy Lights starts. Yet, he did win Race 2 at Barber 2016, so he has had success there before, and he will be one of the favorites heading into the weekend.
Pato O’Ward looks poised to be a title contender in 2018 and will look to avenge a somewhat disappointing outing at St. Petersburg. O’Ward had the speed to sweep the weekend, winning Race 1 handily and dominating Race 2, but a mistake late in the race saw him overshoot Turn 4 and briefly stall before he could rejoin, relegating him to seventh. If O’Ward can show the pace he showed at St. Pete, he might end up being the man to beat.
Colton Herta will look to rebound from a St. Pete weekend in which he flashed the speed that caught everyone’s attention last year, but also committed the same mistakes that ultimately prevented him from taking a championship. After finishing third in Race 1, Herta crashed while chasing then leader O’Ward in Race 2. Herta won Race 2 at Barber last year, and getting another win this weekend, along with staying mistake free, would go a long way to erasing his problems from St. Pete.
Aaron Telitz is also looking to rebound after a down weekend, as his St. Petersburg weekend lasted all of two corners across both races – he won the Pole for Race 1, but crashed in Race 2 qualifying, and the Belardi Auto Racing team could not repair the car to allow him to race. After the team borrowed a chassis from Carlin for Race 2, Telitz get collected with Juncos Racing’s Victor Franzoni right off the start, and he crashed again, this time in Turn 2. Telitz finished on the podium at Barber in 2016, the year he won the Pro Mazda championship, and he’ll look for more of the same this weekend.
Rinus Veekay had a perfect weekend to open the Pro Mazda season. The Juncos Racing driver outdueled Exclusive Autosport’s Parker Thompson for the Race 1 victory, and then ran away with Race 2 to complete the weekend sweep. Veekay was expected to be a title contender after moving up to Pro Mazda in 2018, and if he can repeat his St. Pete performance, then he may leave Barber as the heavy favorite in the championship.
Not to be forgotten, Parker Thompson sits second in the Pro Mazda title chase, and looks to avenge losing out to Veekay in St. Pete Race 1, and then fading somewhat to finish fifth in Race 2. Thompson was the only driver to regularly challenge Veekay and Oliver Askew in the 2017 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda season, and he and Exclusive Autosport have adapted nicely to the new Tatuus PM-18. If they can show the same form at Barber, and then finish the job with at least one trip to Victory Lane, then it could set the stage for another titanic Pro Mazda championship fight.
Last year’s USF2000 champion Oliver Askew had a quiet weekend in St. Pete, finishing fifth and sixth in the two races. He swept the Barber races in USF2000 last year, and will need a similar performance to vault himself forward from his current place of sixth in the standings.
Carlos Cunha and David Malukas head to Barber third and fourth in the championship after solid St. Pete weekends – Cunha had finishes of fourth and third, while Malukas had finishes of seventh and second. Neither was necessarily looked at as a title combatant entering 2018, but repeat performances in Barber could vault them into title contention.