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Valtteri Bottas must avoid conceding lead to Lewis Hamilton: Spanish Grand Prix takeaways

Ferrari's team tactics also among the talking points after Sunday's race in Barcelona

Lewis Hamilton, second left, was visibly quicker in Barcelona, but Valtteri Bottas, right, could have made his life tougher had he maintained the lead. Joan Monfort / AP Photo
Lewis Hamilton, second left, was visibly quicker in Barcelona, but Valtteri Bottas, right, could have made his life tougher had he maintained the lead. Joan Monfort / AP Photo

Following Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix, the fifth race of the Formula One season, here are some talking points from the action in Barcelona.

Bottas must work on his starts

Valtteri Bottas can make good starts. He did it in Australia when he out-dragged Mercedes-GP driver Lewis Hamilton into the first corner to set up his race win at the season opener in March.

But something has gone awry since then. He has started ahead of Hamilton in the past three races, a great effort given what a great qualifier the five-time world champion is.

Yet he lost the lead in China and then on Sunday in Spain, and only held him off in Azerbaijan because the run to the first turn was so short.

Gifting Hamilton track position is criminal. Beating him, in the same machinery to the world title is a massive ask, so giving up the hard-earned advantage gained on Saturday in qualifying in the opening seconds is the equivalent of shooting himself in the foot.

Hamilton was visibly quicker in Barcelona, but Bottas could have at least made his life tougher if he had maintained the lead.

Once is bad luck. Twice is unfortunate. But three times is becoming an issue.

Bottas has to nail his getaways and quickly or any hope of beating Hamilton is done.

Sebastian Vettel and Leclerc He held up teammate Charles Leclerc and it took Ferrari four laps to tell Vettel to allow him past. Charles Coates / Getty Images
Sebastian Vettel and Leclerc He held up teammate Charles Leclerc and it took Ferrari four laps to tell Vettel to allow him past. Charles Coates / Getty Images

Ferrari’s team tactics remain abysmal

One of the key things in F1 is to think on your feet, something Ferrari seem unable to do.

They would have had lots of permutations in their head for Sunday’s race. Sebastian Vettel damaging one of his tyres as he out-braked himself at the start was probably not one of their main ones.

But the German was hampered by his flat-spotted right front Pirelli and it slowed him.

He held up teammate Charles Leclerc and it took Ferrari four laps to tell Vettel to allow him past.

Later in the race the boot was on the other foot as Leclerc, on a one-stop strategy, was holding up Vettel, who had been forced onto a two-stop plan due to an early first visit to the pits to get rid of his damaged tyre.

Again Ferrari dithered and more time was lost before Leclerc yielded.

Beating Mercedes is hard enough as it is, but both those cases probably cost their drivers behind at least five to six seconds.

Sunday was not about a race win as Mercedes was in a class of their own at the front but one of their drivers should have been on the podium in third.

But instead it was Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen who was there.

Ferrari have to tighten up as an operative unit and quickly.

McLaren driver Lando Norris learnt an important lesson on Sunday: don’t presume anything in the sport. Mark Thompson / Getty Images
McLaren driver Lando Norris learnt an important lesson on Sunday: don’t presume anything in the sport. Mark Thompson / Getty Images

Learning curve for Norris

Lando Norris has had an impressive start to life in F1 at McLaren, more then holding his own against the more experienced Carlos Sainz.

But he learnt an important lesson on Sunday: don’t presume anything in the sport.

He crashed out in a collision with Racing Point’s Lance Stroll and arguably only had himself to blame.

The two were going wheel-to-wheel through Turn 1 and collided on the entry of Turn 2 as Norris hit the left rear of Stroll’s car.

Yes, Stroll did not leave the Briton room, but Norris was unwise to just expect the Canadian to move aside and left himself in a position where he could be hit.

It was a bit of inexperienced driving, but given he is 19 and this was only his fifth grand prix that is understandable.

Norris presumed that he be would given space, having been side-by-side into the previous braking zone, but that did not materialise as Stroll turned across him as he took the normal racing line.

Given the skittish reputation that Stroll has not many of the F1 grid would willingly put themselves in a position where they were at the mercy of the Canadian’s judgement.

Norris did and he paid the penalty for it and it is an error he can learn from.

Updated: May 14, 2019 10:09 AM

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