Kurt Verlin
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2019 Spanish GP: Hamilton Regains Championship Lead

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Three wide at the 2019 Spanish GP
Hamilton, Bottas, and Vettel at the first corner
Photo: FORMULA 1 | YouTube
2019 Spanish GP Top 10

In recent years, the Spanish Grand Prix has lost some of its luster. The track itself is great fun for hot lapping — I’ve raced on a laser-scanned version in racing simulations many times and it is one of my favorites on the Formula One calendar — but not so great when it comes to providing overtaking opportunities for modern F1 cars, which are extremely long, wide, and hard to follow because of all the turbulent air they leave behind them.

As a result, the 2019 Spanish GP was similar to the 2018 Spanish GP, and the 2017 Spanish GP, and so on: After the start, there really wasn’t much to watch. Even with the buff to DRS, cars struggled to pass, as the longest straight at the Circuit de Catalunya isn’t all that long, and only comes after a series of corners where the aforementioned turbulence prevents cars from getting close. It’s what allowed Max Verstappen to hold off the much faster Kimi Räikkönen to win his first race with Red Bull in 2016.

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It was arguably even worse this time around as the grandstands were unusually empty, presumably because of the absence of Fernando Alonso, the two-time Spanish champion who retired last year and therefore who, for the first time in over a decade and a half, was not competing at his national F1 race. Carlos Sainz Jr is another Spanish driver and even took over Alonso’s seat at McLaren, but he doesn’t have the fanbase to fill grandstands like his predecessor.

Unfortunately, the results of the race did not bode well for the future of the season either. Mercedes captured its fifth 1-2 finish out of five races, and while Ferrari had the pace for third, the team once again managed to throw away a better result through sheer incompetence. The drivers did fine, but got in each other’s way twice and both times Ferrari was simply too slow to react, or even seemed confused about what was happening.

Verstappen did well to secure third place for Red Bull, marking the second podium for a Honda-powered driver this year and pushing him up to third in the drivers’ championship as well. But if anyone thought the 2019 Spanish GP wasn’t very thrilling, one has to wonder what they’ll think of the upcoming Monaco race, which has the worst reputation of all for hosting unexciting races.

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2019 Spanish GP Championship Standings