The retirements of Valtteri Bottas, Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen from Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix opened the door for nearly all of Formula 1’s midfield to break into the points. Most teams seriously nailed their opportunity.
At the front of the field, Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) and Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) had their own scrap, and were ultimately separate by just 3.4 seconds at the checkered flag. In third, Daniel Ricciardo picked up the final podium position for Red Bull, albeit more than one minute behind.
But from fourth on back, the midfield teams starred as five of the seven remaining teams made the top 10 and scored points, in Force India, Renault, Toro Rosso, Sauber and Haas. Force India and Toro Rosso were the only teams today that got both cars in the points.
McLaren didn’t get either of its cars in the points, although Fernando Alonso had what was, from his standpoint, his best race of the season and finishing in 12th. Williams’ Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll, meanwhile, had a miserable day, ending 13th and 16th.
The enthusiasm for Force India might be stunted as the team was called to the stewards post-race for a possible compliance issue with the new regulations regarding the new bigger numbers that were implemented this weekend.
Alas, it’ll be easier to have nearly each driver from fourth on back on the road recap their days, as most spoke to NBCSN’s Will Buxton post-race.
4th, Sergio Perez, Force India (15th straight points finish)
“It has been a fantastic weekend for me. It hasn’t been easy. We brought some parts at the beginning of the weekend. (With) the setup of our car under those conditions, you never know what’s working and what’s not. We made sure we got safely through Turn 1, did an incredible couple of stints. Scoring 15 straight is incredible for the team.”
5th, Esteban Ocon, Force India (fifth straight points finish, best of career)
“This is what you work so hard for. I’m so happy with the result of the day. A fantastic weekend overall. We maximized the results all the time. The team is not doing anything wrong. It’s all great, and I’m so pleased with that.
“We are not the richest team on the grid but we keep up the progression. We’re always there, and we’re always going to be there.
“I think from last year, I was not expecting to be this fast at the beginning .We weren’t there in testing but we are improving all the time. We can be a real P4 in the championship easily.”
6th, Nico Hulkenberg, Renault (third straight points finish, best of season)
7th, Carlos Sainz Jr., Toro Rosso (equal best finish of season)
“It was good. It was a bit chaotic at the start as you saw. We gained a couple of positions. We were P9 and from there it was full on attack to try to recover. We got to P7 from P12 (on the grid), so it was good.
“As you saw, I was pushing the whole time. Pit lane, Turn 1, Turn 5 it was a great battle (with Kevin Magnussen). It was a very complete weekend; it was a lot of positives and a good P7 in the end.
“I think we saw today a race in Barcelona that people are not used to seeing in Barcelona. Usually you start and people disappear into the distance. We put on a good show. I looked at the crowd and they were pumped up. We had a good race.”
8th, Pascal Wehrlein, Sauber (best career finish; seventh on road with 5-second time penalty)
“I thought that’s the perfect strategy for today. We couldn’t two-stop. We committed to a one-stop, that was the only thing we could do… or it was no points we could get from this race. That was the risk, and it paid off.
“The first stint was really difficult. I did one stint on the soft tire. Same amount of laps. That was the most difficult part. Sainz put a lot of pressure, but I managed to put him behind me. With the five second penalty I lost that one, but I was ahead of the rest of them.
“I think I showed in Bahrain, I’m back. This race was better than any race this year. It’s nice to see my back is fine. I’m performing at a very high level. The health and fitness is back.
“It’s nice to me. It was hard to watch the other guy (Antonio Giovinazzi) driving and not be able to drive. The team suffered a lot, but I suffered even more.”
9th, Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso (went from last row of grid to ninth)
“This feels great. I’m proud of myself and my team. We pushed hard. We got it right today. I want to bring the qualifying from first three races back to me; that was my strong point. I did every lap like a qualifying one today. It was completely OK. I wasn’t struggling. I gave my all.”
10th, Romain Grosjean, Haas (inherited point after puncture cost teammate)
“All the guys spun in front of me and I lost a number of positions. We got straight into traffic. I was planning to go much longer, but we got the (virtual) safety car (virtual). The car wasn’t as good as I wanted on the medium. Hopefully we can get better.
“This is two races in a row I’m struggling with the car. I didn’t do any long run with the updates on Friday. We need to make it better for Monaco.”
OUTSIDE THE POINTS
12th, Fernando Alonso, McLaren (started seventh, first finish of the year)
“It has been a good weekend in general. A positive. At the moment we finished the race. Hopefully this is a first step forward on reliability. There was not the pace to be in the points
“At end of the day we had too much tire difference. For passing, I was with new softs, and Williams on old mediums.”
14th, Kevin Magnussen, Haas (spirited battle with Sainz; tire puncture after Kvyat contact)
“That one is annoying. We could have had points on both cars. There was some contact. I had a puncture from the contact. I gave it everything I had. If we had finished in the points it would have been a good finish, but we couldn’t do it.”
NHRA Texas winners: B. Torrence, Hagan, Anderson, Savoie
Defending NHRA Top Fuel champion Steve Torrence is a proud Texan who hates to lose. But if there’s one person Torrence likely doesn’t mind seeing win if he can’t reach the winner’s circle – particularly if it’s on home turf – it’s father Billy.
Steve was cheering his father on as the latter boosted his own championship hopes Sunday by winning the Top Fuel category in the final eliminations of the 34th annual AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals in the Dallas suburb of Ennis, Texas.
Billy Torrence (3.775 seconds at 319.67 mph) defeated Jordan Vandergriff (4.299 seconds, 246.03 mph in his first career final round) for his fourth win of the season, including his second win in the first four races of the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoffs. With the fifth Top Fuel triumph of his career, the elder Torrence moved into fourth in the Top Fuel standings, just 71 points behind his son with two races remaining in the Countdown.
Even though Billy’s son lost in the opening round Sunday, he still leads the Top Fuel standings, holding a 33-point lead over second-ranked Doug Kalitta and a 46-point lead over third-ranked and the weekend’s No. 1 qualifier, Brittany Force.
Sunday marked the third consecutive win in this year’s playoffs for the father-son combo and their second straight triumph at Dallas (Steve won there last year as part of an unprecedented sweep of the six-race Countdown en route to the championship).
“It’s home turf and we love to race here,” Billy Torrence said after visiting the winner’s circle. “We’ve raced here our whole career and we have a lot of fans here. There’s no better place to race than Dallas, Texas, and we did have the best car today.
“It has been very humbling, and we’ve been very blessed and fortunate to have the success we’ve had. We’ve got a great group of guys on both cars and our success is just a testament to the work these guys do. I think that we’re probably the second-best car in the country, with Steve having the best. We’ve had a stellar season.”
In Funny Car: Matt Hagan (3.909 seconds at 327.59 mph) roared to his third win of the season – as well as his third at the Motorplex – and the 32nd victory of his career, defeating Bob Tasca (3.928 seconds at 323.12 mph). Hagan also moved up to fourth in the standings.
“We had a great race car today,” Hagan said. “Qualifying was pretty tough, but to turn on four win lights was pretty huge. (Tasca) is a great driver and those guys are good, so I’m glad things turned out the way they did.
“We’re just trying to keep some momentum going, keep doing our job and control what we can control. It was a pretty special weekend. We’ve just got to keep digging and keep working. I love this sport and it’s been a big part of my life for 10 years. I knew (crew chief Dickie Venables) was tuned in and you could see he was confident, and that builds confidence in me.”
Robert Hight continues to lead the Funny Car standings, followed by Jack Beckman (70 points back) and No. 1 qualifier John Force (74 points back).
In Pro Stock: Greg Anderson (6.609 seconds at 209.75 mph) defeated longtime rival Jeg Coughlin Jr. (6.610 seconds at 207.56 mph) to earn his third win of the season, fifth of his career at the Motorplex and 94th of his overall Pro Stock career.
It was the 102nd time Anderson and Coughlin, who qualified No. 1 for the weekend, have met each other in a race, including the 21st time in the final round.
“We’ve had so many titanic clashes with so much on the line, and I knew it would be close,” said Anderson, who is seventh in points. “It’s a total team effort and that’s what it takes to win a national event in Pro Stock right now. You’ve got to have perfection every time out there.
“We made a lot of changes this week and we hit on it. It showed it on Saturday and I knew coming into today we had a chance. Now it’s a matter of if I can drive the car well enough. I can’t tell you who’s going to win this thing because everybody right now can beat everybody else.”
Erica Enders held on to her lead in the category, but saw the margin over second-ranked Matt Hartford drop to only 28 points. Coughlin is third (-65 points) and Anderson is seventh (-99 points).
In Pro Stock Motorcycle: Jerry “Alligator Farmer” Savoie (6.881 seconds at 195.90 mph) took a big step towards potentially earning his second PSM championship in the last three seasons, defeating three-time champion Eddie Krawiec (6.901 seconds at 195.62 mph).
It was Savoie’s third win of the season and 12th of his career. It’s also his second win in the first four playoff races and fifth straight appearance in the final round at the Motorplex. He’s now third in the PSM standings, 94 points behind five-time champion Andrew Hines.
“It was a great day and we knew we had a good bike coming in,” Savoie said. “We said if we held our composure we could win this thing. For the most part, tracks favor certain riders and we’ve been blessed here. It’s a great place and today was great.
“Bottom line, I want a championship just as bad as anybody else, so whoever is in my way I’m going to do everything I can to try and beat them. I felt good and we’ve got a great team. To me, this win gives you more hope and means a lot. This gives you that window of opportunity where you could win a championship again.”
NOTES: Only two races remain this season: Las Vegas in two weeks (Oct. 31 – Nov. 3) and Pomona, California four weeks from now (Nov. 14 – 17).
TOP FUEL: 1. Billy Torrence; 2. Jordan Vandergriff; 3. Brittany Force; 4. Austin Prock; 5. Leah Pritchett; 6. Antron Brown; 7. Shawn Reed; 8. Lee Callaway; 9. Steve Torrence; 10. Terry McMillen; 11. Doug Kalitta; 12. Kebin Kinsley; 13. Mike Salinas; 14. Cameron Ferre; 15. Clay Millican; 16. Richie Crampton.
FUNNY CAR: 1. Matt Hagan; 2. Bob Tasca III; 3. John Force; 4. Robert Hight; 5. Tommy Johnson Jr.; 6. J.R. Todd; 7. Jack Beckman; 8. Shawn Langdon; 9. Tim Wilkerson; 10. Ron Capps; 11. Paul Lee; 12. Blake Alexander; 13. Cruz Pedregon; 14. Jim Campbell; 15. Jeff Arend; 16. Jonnie Lindberg.
PRO STOCK: 1. Greg Anderson; 2. Jeg Coughlin; 3. Deric Kramer; 4. Matt Hartford; 5. Erica Enders; 6. Chris McGaha; 7. Aaron Stanfield; 8. Bo Butner; 9. Jason Line; 10. Fernando Cuadra Jr.; 11. Val Smeland; 12. Kenny Delco; 13. Shane Tucker; 14. Fernando Cuadra; 15. Alex Laughlin; 16. Richie Stevens.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1. Jerry Savoie; 2. Eddie Krawiec; 3. Angelle Sampey; 4. Andrew Hines; 5. Steve Johnson; 6. Karen Stoffer; 7. Scotty Pollacheck; 8. Matt Smith; 9. Hector Arana; 10. Ryan Oehler; 11. Angie Smith; 12. Hector Arana Jr; 13. Kelly Clontz; 14. Michael Ray; 15. Jianna Salinas.
FUNNY CAR: 1. Robert Hight, 2,437; 2. Jack Beckman, 2,367; 3. John Force, 2,363; 4. Matt Hagan, 2,325; 5. Bob Tasca III, 2,315; 6. Ron Capps, 2,302; 7. J.R. Todd, 2,274; 8. Tommy Johnson Jr., 2,243; 9. Shawn Langdon, 2,239; 10. Tim Wilkerson, 2,188.
PRO STOCK: 1. Erica Enders, 2,395; 2. Matt Hartford, 2,367; 3. Jeg Coughlin, 2,330; 4. Jason Line, 2,327; 5. Deric Kramer, 2,323; 6. Bo Butner, 2,321; 7. Greg Anderson, 2,296; 8. Alex Laughlin, 2,239; 9. Chris McGaha, 2,217; 10. Val Smeland, 2,124.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1. Andrew Hines, 2,464; 2. Karen Stoffer, 2,383; 3. Jerry Savoie, 2,370; 4. Eddie Krawiec, 2,365; 5. Matt Smith, 2,297; 6. Hector Arana Jr, 2,274; 7. Angelle Sampey, 2,248; 8. Angie Smith, 2,181; 9. Ryan Oehler, 2,159; 10. Hector Arana, 2,128.