Mercedes’ strategy helps Hamilton beat Verstappen in Spain

It was round four of the battle between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen and this time strategy made a huge difference as Mercedes sprung a surprise on the Red Bull garage by pitting the seven-time World Champion Hamilton early.

Despite the Spanish Grand Prix in recent years not being the most enjoyable of races, the fourth race of the 2021 season was full of strategy, a few overtakes, and very mixed final standings.

After claiming his 100th pole position in F1 on Saturday, Hamilton became the first driver this season to win from pole position, but it wasn’t as easy as it appeared.

At turn one, Verstappen took the lead of the race and immediately opened up a gap on Hamilton before Yuki Tsuonda’s car failure brought out the safety car. This meant that the field closed up but Verstappen and Hamilton quickly opened up another gap to the rest of the pack.

Hamilton got within a second of Verstappen, but the lack of overtaking opportunities in Barcelona meant that Mercedes took a gamble and pitted Hamilton early, forcing Red Bull into a pit stop a few laps later.

As Hamilton pitted early, he was starting to struggle on his tyres and pitted from the lead, leaving Red Bull with a dilemma of ‘pit or no pit’. They decided the latter and this came back to bite them a few laps from the end as Hamilton overtook Verstappen and opened up an uncatchable gap out front.

Verstappen pitted and at the end claimed an extra point for the fastest lap, taking it off Valtteri Bottas who finished in third and Sergio Perez, who ended the race in fifth also battling for the extra point.

Charles Leclerc impressed in his Ferrari with a comfortable fourth-place finish while his team-mate also scored points with a seventh-place finish for Carlos Sainz.

Alpine really struggled for pace at the end of the race and despite both drivers being in the points for most of the race, Esteban Ocon was the only driver of the pair to score some points with a ninth-place finish. Fernando Alonso ended the race down in 17th place.

McLaren had a solid weekend with a double points finish. Daniel Riccardo looks to finally have an understanding of his MCL35M after a sixth-place finish, with his team-mate Lando Norris ending the race down in eighth.

Pierre Gasly was the final points scorer with a tenth place finish with his team-mate Tsunoda the only driver not to see the chequered flag.

The Formula One circus now moves to Monaco with the Grand Prix taking place on Sunday May 23.

The final standings of the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix: