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Hamilton wants memory of matching Schumacher to "stick" - Motorsport
Lewis Hamilton is eager to ensure the memory of matching Michael Schumacher’s Formula 1 win record at the Nurburgring can “stick” despite his focus on the drivers’ championship.
Hamilton scored the 91st victory of his F1 career in Sundays Eifel Grand Prix, drawing level with Schumachers win tally. It marked the first time since Belgium 2001 that Schumacher had not stood alone at the top of the win charts, with his final victory coming at the 2006 Chinese Grand Prix. Hamilton received one of Schumachers race-worn helmets from his final F1 season to mark his achievement, presented by the seven-time world champions son, Mick. Hamilton admitted after the race that he had not realised he had matched Schumachers record until he entered the pits following his win, but said he was keen to take full stock of the feat in the coming days. I'm definitely going to take this next couple of days to really try to understand, let it marinate, Hamilton said. But what I cannot do is drop the ball. I cannot take my eye off the ball for a second. Yes, I have a [points] gap, yes we've got these great wins, but the championship is still to be won. The job is not done yet, so training will continue to be an importance, diet will continue to be important, getting the right sleep. I don't know what this week will hold. Theres still lots of conversations, Zoom calls that I have with Formula 1 in terms of all their plans, I've got lots of [Hamilton] Commission calls that I continue to have every week. Ill be back in work mode, but I think it's very important - this moment will pass very quickly and we'll be onto the next thing. You know how I've got a bad memory, so I've got to somehow make it stick. The result saw Hamilton extend his lead at the top of the F1 drivers championship to 69 points with six races to go this year, putting him in a strong position to win a seventh title. Doing so would see Hamilton match another of Schumachers records, and make him F1s statistical all-time greatest. Asked how it felt to be rewriting the history books with his on-track achievements, Hamilton said it was a hard concept to try and fully understand. I think its really hard to suddenly be rewriting history, thats a very hard idea, for me personally, Hamilton said. I can only speak of my experience. Its really hard to compute that and put that into reality and meaning. Of course Ive looked at, and I still watch, other people who I call legends in other sports who are chasing historic moments and titles, records that were broken by great legends in the past. Its different watching from the outside to being in it. But what I can say is that Im not done yet. I still feel that Im able to improve. Im driving at a really good level. Related video
Hulkenberg replaces Stroll at Eifel GP - Motorsport
Nico Hulkenberg will make his third Formula 1 race weekend appearance of the season after being named as Lance Stroll's replacement for the Eifel Grand Prix.
Racing Point issued an update ahead of final practice at the Nurburgring on Saturday that Stroll would be sitting out the session through illness, with a final decision set to be taken on his participation ahead of qualifying. Hulkenberg - who deputised for Sergio Perez after a positive COVID-19 test for the two Silverstone races - was due to be on-site for TV duties at the Nurburgring, and was called up by Racing Point once again. After posting a picture from outside of the circuit during FP3, Hulkenberg underwent a rapid COVID-19 test this morning in order to gain paddock access. Upon receiving a negative result, Hulkenberg arrived in the paddock at the Nurburgring with a Racing Point team member before heading to the team's hospitality unit. He was later seen emerging dressed in a full race suit and going into the team's garage. The team formally confirmed Hulkenberg would be replacing Stroll with less than one hour to go until the start of qualifying. "Nico Hulkenberg will drive for BWT Racing Point F1 Team in this weekend's Eifel Grand Prix after Lance Stroll was taken unwell," a statement from the team reads. "Lance didn't feel 100% this morning and the team took the decision not to run him for the rest of the event. "Nico, who previously deputised for Sergio Perez at the Silverstone events, is familiar with the car and team already, and fortunately was in nearby Cologne." Hulkenberg was left without an F1 seat for the 2020 season after being dropped by Renault at the end of last year, only to return with Racing Point for the two Silverstone races in place of Perez. The German driver previously raced for the Racing Point team in its previous Force India guise in 2012 and from 2014-16, giving him prior experience that helped him quickly get up to speed with the team at Silverstone. An engine issue meant Hulkenberg was unable to start the British Grand Prix, but he qualified third and finished seventh one week later at the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix, having been on-course to finish four before a late pit stop. Hulkenberg is known to be in talks with other F1 teams over a possible race seat for 2021 after impressing at Silverstone while deputising for Perez. Hulkenberg finished 10th in the last F1 race to take place at the Nurburgring, the 2013 German Grand Prix, when he was racing for Sauber. Related video
FIA reveals contingency plan for Eifel GP - Motorsport
The FIA will alter its contingency plan to avoid repeating Friday's lost Formula 1 running at the Nurburgring for the rest of the Eifel Grand Prix weekend, Motorsport.com understands.
Both FP1 and FP2 were unable to take place at the Nurburgring on Friday as poor weather conditions meant the medical helicopter could not fly to the designated hospital in Koblenz within 20 minutes. Transfers to hospitals can take place by road, but must be completed within the same mandatory 20-minute window, which was not possible and therefore prevented the sessions from going ahead. F1 race director Michael Masi said on Friday afternoon that "back-up plans" were being formulated to ensure there was no repeat of the loss of running through the remainder of the weekend. Motorsport.com understands that the contingency plan would see any casualty be transported by road out of the mountains for approximately 3km, before completing the remainder of the journey by helicopter in improved weather conditions. This would all be completed within the 20-minute window, ensuring that sessions can go ahead even if there was a repeat of Friday's weather conditions. As per Appendix H of the FIA's International Sporting Code: "The flight time necessary to reach each of the hospitals mentioned in the medical questionnaire for the competition and approved by the FIA medical delegate must not, in normal conditions, exceed approximately 20 minutes." The forecast is currently improved for Saturday, with a low chance of rain and sunny conditions predicted, but race day is anticipated to have similar weather to Friday. Red Bull driver Alexander Albon conceded that he was concerned about the outlook for Sunday at the Nurburgring. "I'm a bit worried, because Sunday was supposed to be similar today," Albon said. "If it's like that, then we'll need to see what happens." Six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton acknowledged that it was frustrating to be left on the sidelines all day, but doubted drivers would have completed an extensive amount of running in the wet. "It's definitely a bit frustrating to miss out on days like this," Hamilton said. "We probably wouldn't have got a huge amount of running in, because we're limited on tyres, and it's going to stay like this for the weekend. "I'd love to have done an install lap, but because of the helicopter, we've been grounded. But everyone's in the same boat." Related video
Soft tyres "necessary" for Hamilton in Q2 despite plea - Motorsport
Mercedes has explained why it opted to qualify Lewis Hamilton on the less-favourable soft compound tyre for the Russian Grand Prix despite his plea to use mediums.
Hamilton initially set the fastest lap in the second stage of Formula 1 qualifying in Sochi on the medium compound tyre, only for his time to be deleted for exceeding track limits. Hamilton wanted to go for another push lap on the same set of medium tyres, but was instructed to return to the pits. A red flag then scuppered Hamilton's planned second run late in the session, leaving him with just over two minutes to complete and out-lap on the soft tyre upon resumption. Hamilton ultimately made it through to Q3 on softs and went on to take pole position by half a second, but said after the session he found qualifying "horrible" and was uneasy about starting on softs. But Mercedes has said that Hamilton's car was only fuelled for a single push lap during his first Q2 run, meaning he could not go for a second banker lap on the mediums as he had wished. "It was absolutely scheduled," team principal Toto Wolff said of the decision to bring Hamilton in. "We couldn't do another lap, because he didn't have the fuel." After making it through Q2 on softs, Hamilton will start from pole ahead of Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, both of whom are on the more favourable medium tyre. Hamilton said that he had pleaded with the Mercedes team not to fit him with softs for his last run in Q2, believing he could have advanced on the mediums. "I wanted to go back out on the medium, because of course I don't want to start on the soft tyre," Hamilton said when asked by Motorsport.com about the tyre choice. "But we had to wait at the end of the pitlane for two minutes, and the tyre temperatures would have dropped down massively. "It definitely wasn't great, and I did plead to have the medium tyre but they weren't having it. "Naturally I think we'll have a discussion at the end whether it was right or wrong, it doesn't matter now, it's happened, so we'll just make do with what we have." Hamilton crossed the line with around one second to spare to begin his Q2 lap, narrowly avoiding being left 15th on the grid without a time to his name. The six-time world champion had to be given a hurry-up at the final corner by engineer Pete Bonnington to begin his final push lap in order to get to the line in time. Wolff explained why Mercedes had left it a little longer to get Hamilton out instead of putting him at the front of the train of cars, and that the team had no choice but to fit softs to the car. "We couldn't really send him out early, because you need to switch off the car and restart it on the MGU-K, which is something we can't do," Wolff said. "We felt that if he was at the back of the train, and not do the out-lap that he would need to do, we could be caught out because the medium is simply not there yet. "That is why we put him on the soft, which is clearly compromising him for the strategy tomorrow, but was a necessary safeguard today to make sure that he would make it into Q3."
Vettel tried to buy Ferrari F2004, but was "too expensive" - Motorsport
Sebastian Vettel has revealed he tried to buy a Ferrari F2004 for his collection, but admitted it was "way too expensive".
The F2004 carried Michael Schumacher to his seventh and final world championship in 2004, and the German won 13 of that season's 18 races with it. His teammate Rubens Barrichello added two further victories. Shortly before the Tuscan GP, an example of the car was driven around Mugello by Michael's son Mick, as part of Ferrari's 1000th race celebrations. The F2 racer drove the same car at last year's German GP meeting at Hockenheim, and in the past he's also demonstrated one of his father's Benetton's at Spa. Vettel took time to take a close look at the car prior to the run, and he made the revelation about his interest in it in an interview with his former Red Bull Racing team mate Mark Webber, who raced for the Jaguar team that season. Their conversation went as follows: Vettel: "This is my favourite car. Did you race [against] this car? Webber: "I think I hit this car once in Turkey with Michael, he wasn't too happy with me. But when I see that car I just think of sheer performance, and Michael on top of things of course. It was extraordinary times, wasn't it?" Vettel: "I was just saying, if you look to our cars, our cars are so much bigger nowadays. Obviously we've got a lot more downforce, but this car is 160-170kgs lighter than ours, so big difference." Webber: "You've been adding to your collection recently. Do you have any cars of this generation?" Vettel: "No, there was that one, not that exact one, but the same year up for sale, but it was way too expensive." Webber: "Come on Seb!" Vettel: "It was! It's an incredible car. You'll hear it later." Vettel's current teammate Charles Leclerc, who turned seven in 2004, also took time out from his race preparations to look at the car. "It looks crazy, it looks very, very nice," said the Monegasque driver. "But mostly it sounds nice compared to what we have now. It's part of Ferrari's history, a very special part of Ferrari's history, and it looks beautiful. "I had the chance to drive once the 2003 car, never the 2004, but I hope in the future I'll have the opportunity to drive one of those." Related video
Tuscan GP: Key F1 technical developments on track - Motorsport
Join us as we delve into the latest technical developments on display at the Tuscan Grand Prix at Mugello, courtesy of Giorgio Piola and Motorsport Images.
Racing Point RP20 comparison Photo by: Motorsport Images Racing Point has a large update package available for the Tuscan GP, with the shape of the sidepods and engine completely revised. In this comparison Ive marked the outline shape of the sidepod to make it easier to distinguish the difference. The bodywork is now tightly shrink wrapped to every facet of the internals and the outer section forms a ramp down to the floor. McLaren MCL35 nose detail Photo by: Giorgio Piola McLaren tested a new nose during Free Practice 1, a solution which draws inspiration from the Mercedes design that features a more bulbous tip and stubby wing pillars beneath. As you can see in the comparison with the current wing being readied ahead of it, the cape is now a separate entity too, positioned further back than when combined with the pillars. McLaren MCL35 nose detail Photo by: Giorgio Piola Another shot of the nose which was covered in flo-viz in order that the team gained visual confirmation that it is performing as anticipated. Mercedes new front wing Photo by: Motorsport Images Mercedes has a new front wing at their disposal this weekend, as can be seen here in this comparison. The upper flap on the new wing wraps around the top of the second flap, rather than fall short of it (blue arrow), meanwhile, the second flap is now shallower to compensate and doesnt have the slot in the tip. Renault R.S.20 detail Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images A higher downforce rear wing for Renault at Mugello which has a gentle spoon shaping to the mainplane, whilst a single, endplated T-Wing is also deployed. Renault F1 Team R.S.20 comparison Photo by: Motorsport Images Renault has a new bargeboard cluster and deflector arrangement available, the blue arrow pointing towards the changes to the main vertical elements on the bargeboards, while additional slots in the boomerang connected to them suggests there are further changes hidden away beneath. It has also followed the trend of adding venetian blind-like elements to the front edge of the deflector panel. Renault R.S.20 detail Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images Another shot of the venetian blind-like deflector panel on the Renault RS20. Lance Stroll, Racing Point RP20 Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images Lance Strolls RP20 outfitted with the new bodywork also has flo-viz painted on the rear wing as the team looks for visual confirmation that its working as anticipated. Carlos Sainz Jr., McLaren MCL35 Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images A rear end shot of the McLaren MCL35 which also shows the flo-viz on the new nose. Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo Racing C39 Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images Alfa Romeo's high downforce rear wing and double T-Wing arrangement in Mugello. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes F1 W11 Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images Flo-viz paint on the front wing endplate of Bottas car as the team looks to gather some visual information, whilst also worth noting the use of their new Gull-shaped T-Wing. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes F1 W11 Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images More flo-viz on the Mercedes W11, this time on the lower section of the bargeboard cluster. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF1000 Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images Side view of the Ferrari SF1000s front end with almost a full view of the bargeboard cluster. George Russell, Williams FW43 Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images George Russell with a pair of chassis canards once more, whilst his teammate Latifi uses just one canard on the left-hand side again. Lance Stroll, Racing Point RP20 Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images A wide shot of the new sidepod and engine cover bodywork fitted on Lance Strolls Racing Point at Mugello.
Sainz: Verstappen will have to "fight" for podium place - Motorsport.com
McLaren Formula 1 driver Carlos Sainz plans to go on the attack at the start of the Italian GP, while accepting that his race could turn into one of defence.
Sainz qualified third at Monza, behind the Mercedes pairing of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, and he has the Racing Point of Sergio Perez, the Red Bull of Max Verstappen immediately behind, with his teammate Lando Norris and Renaults Daniel Ricciardo next up. The McLarens have usually made good starts this year, and Sainz suggested that he could mix it with the Mercedes drivers at the start, but would otherwise have to rely on something going amiss for them if he is to improve on his third place. He agreed that his focus would have to be on securing third, with Red Bull and Renault in particular showing good race pace through the weekend and stressed that Verstappen will have to fight his way past. I think more than third would require Mercedes doing something wrong, and we don't normally see them getting anything wrong, or get reliability wrong, he said when asked by Motorsport.com. But you know, never say never. And with Max, our target is if he's going to be quicker, hopefully we can keep him behind at the start, and he will need to fight for it, and get us either on race pace, or around the pitstops. Obviously, we normally get good starts. And I always think about going on the attack. I will still go on the attack independently of who I have in front, because that's the approach that's always worked for me, and I will not change it. But I agree with you that the rest of the race could be a bit of a defending race and we need to keep our eyes open and everything. Sainz stressed that he sees Verstappen as the major threat, given the Red Bulls usual race form. It's been a bit of a surprise to be in front of the Red Bull and the Renault, because honestly looking at the long runs they looked like the quicker car. As we know our car when you get down on fuel it comes to life a bit more. But I think Verstappen is normally the only car that manages to keep up with the Mercedes on race pace and, and for us, I think it's impossible to do that. "So if all of a sudden he manages to have the race pace that he normally has, with the Red Bull, which always comes to life in the race, it's going to be very difficult for us to keep him behind. With Ricciardo I guess its a bit more of a question mark, because he's starting a bit further back. "But that Renault on race pace looked very strong in Spa, and looked very strong in FP2. So I think those guys are going to be the trickiest ones, and the Racing Points I don't know. We'll try to keep behind whoever we need to try to keep behind. We are obviously in a very good position, and we're going to try and keep ourselves there, knowing that Verstappen and the Renaults are gonna be very, very difficult to keep behind. He added: I think they definitely have at least two-tenths a lap on race pace. It's enough I think around Monza to overtake, and to make my life very difficult. But it's a very long race here in Monza, a lot of laps and two-tenths a lap over 50-something laps is a lot, so we'll see how it pans out."
Verstappen doubts party mode ban hurt Red Bull in qualifying - Motorsport.com
Max Verstappen doubts the FIA’s ban on Formula 1 engine ‘party’ modes caused Red Bull’s struggles in qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix.
Italy marks the first weekend where the FIAs new technical directive banning drivers for changing engine modes during qualifying and the race takes effect, forcing them to use the same setting throughout sessions. Red Bull endured a difficult qualifying session at Monza as Verstappen could only finish fifth, nine-tenths of a second down on polesitter Lewis Hamilton, while teammate Alexander Albon qualified ninth. Second-placed Valtteri Bottas said after qualifying he was unsure how happy Red Bull would be with the engine mode ban that it encouraged given Mercedes dominance. But Verstappen said he did not believe the ban on the high-power engine modes sparked Red Bulls slump in qualifying, putting the result down to the RB16s weakness at low downforce tracks. No, honestly I dont think we went backwards, Verstappen said, referring to the lack of party mode. I think this is also a bit of a weird track to really see the full benefit or differences, because Monza, everybody is in the tow, some have a better tow than others. We have to wait a bit until we go to a normal track again. Nobody wants a tow and to drive in clear air. Too early to say anything about that. But I never expected it to be very different. Of course some other people were shooting some different words. It is what it is. As you can see, it didnt really shake up anything, but I also didnt expect that. Verstappen said that he tried everything with the set-up on his car to try and find more pace, but found he was setting similar times regardless of what tweaks were made. I tried everything, very low, medium-low, and a little bit more [downforce], Verstappen said. I ended up doing the same lap time all of the time, so it just shows that our car is not good enough at the moment. Around here, we know top speed-wise, we are down on power to Mercedes especially, and thats a given, but that is not the deficit we have to them at the moment. Its not that big, the deficit in power. From our side, we just didnt have a good balance in the car, but not only that, but were also lacking grip. Related video
F1 has a "mountain to climb" to exist in 10 years - Vettel - Motorsport.com
Sebastian Vettel believes Formula 1 has a "huge mountain to climb" to still exist in 10 years' time, as he says it needs more than planned rule changes to thrive.
Amid a fast-moving world, with coronavirus having shown how quick situations can change globally, Vettel believes that F1 must work harder to adapt to what is around it. Speaking to selected media ahead of the Italian Grand Prix, Vettel was clear in his view that F1 could not just sit back and expect a rules overhaul for 2022 to sort out all its problems. Asked where he felt F1 would be in a decade, Vettel said: "I think it's a very interesting question. I think first of all, I think nobody would have thought, certainly not half a year ago, of the situation that the world is in now. "It's a question of what the world is going to be in 10 years? So I think it's very difficult from that to look at Formula 1 only. "I think, from my point of view, Formula 1 has a huge mountain to climb in order to still exist and still, you know, attract the fans and share emotions and passion. "The world is changing, the world is changing very fast. And I think Formula 1 has to more than adapt. "I know that obviously there's the regulation change coming [in 2022]. But I doubt that it will be enough. "I think on a bigger picture Formula 1, has to do more than just change the regulations. We all hope that the regulation change for the sport will bring the teams closer together and will make the competition on track closer. "But apart from that, I think the world, as I said, is moving fast and the world will face more and more big topics to fight. F1 cannot remain silent and close its eyes. So it will be actually I think very interesting to see where we are in 10 years and where Formula 1 is." Vettel is heading to his final Italian GP as a Ferrari driver this weekend, with the event set to have a unique feel with it being closed to fans. Having been embraced for many years by the tifosi, Vettel thinks having none of them around this weekend will actually make it a more simple weekend to deal with as he prepares to say goodbye to Ferrari. "It will be a big shame that there is no tifosi in Monza," he said. "It will be the first time for me to race in Monza without fans. "I think it is the first time for many of us and, in this regard, maybe it's a bit easier for me. I think one of the most overwhelming things in the past racing for Ferrari has been the fanbase around the world, but mostly the fanbase in Italy and the tifosi. "Maybe it's a bit easier to race at Monza this year not having the fans around. But don't get me wrong: I think otherwise it would be a lot more difficult or harder to see all the support the people and so on, and to know that it's the last time." Related video
10 things we learned from the Spanish Grand Prix - Motorsport.com, Edition: Global
Although Formula 1's Spanish Grand Prix didn't produce an on-track thriller, it still yielded notable storylines; from the latest chapter in a messy divorce to the clearest signs yet of a change in Mercedes' hierarchy. LUKE SMITH picks out the talking points.
One week on from the heat-induced shake up the Formula 1 pecking order at Silverstone, hot conditions threatened to do so once again at the Spanish Grand Prix. But instead what unfolded was a somehow torpid and processional affair at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya; a familiar storyline for the track which ended with a familiar winner. For the fourth year in a row, Lewis Hamilton took home victory in Spain after a dominant display that saw him lap everyone except Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas, who finished second and third respectively. It was a race that saw Mercedes recover from its Silverstone tyre woes and prove its strength of depth, allowing Hamilton's lead to swell to 37 points at the top of the drivers' championship. Here are 10 things we learned from the Spanish Grand Prix weekend. 1. Mercedes always learns from its defeats Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes F1 W11 EQ Performance Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images As has often been the case after any defeat through the V6 hybrid era, Mercedes was left licking its wounds following the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix when tyre management woes allowed Verstappen to grab a surprise win. And as also often been the case following said licking of wounds, Mercedes bounced back in emphatic style with a crushing victory. Team principal Toto Wolff had talked up Verstappen's chances going into the Spanish Grand Prix after the Red Bull driver impressed on his long runs through practice on Friday. Track temperatures swelled to 50ºC for the start, and when Verstappen got the jump on Valtteri Bottas to leave Hamilton defenceless, there seem a real chance he could put on pressure for a second straight win. This time though, Hamilton had plenty in hand. After keeping Verstappen at an arm's length in the early stages, he turned the screw from around lap 10 onwards to forge a lead that would prove insurmountable. There was not a single complaint about tyres, no "tyres are gone!" call to Pete Bonnington on the pitwall. "I'm so proud of the team and the engineers that have recovered this weakness of ours," Wolff said after the race. "It shows the strength of the organisation, we have come back with some pain after Silverstone, and Sunday evening, the work started to overcome that problem. "Today we had the same 50 degrees tarmac temperature, and the car was very good. That is actually the thing that makes me the most proud, the strength in the depth of the organisation." 2. Hamilton breaks Schumacher's record in Senna-esque fashion Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1, 1st position, celebrates on the podium Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images Much of the focus heading into 2020 has been on whether Hamilton can reach two of Michael Schumacher's long-standing records, once thought to be unbreakable. The win marked the 88th victory of Hamilton's career, putting him just three shy of Schumacher's tally of 91, which will surely fall by the end of the season. The victory also propelled Hamilton into a 37-point lead at the head of the championship, which would mark a record-equalling seventh crown. But another of Schumacher's records was toppled on Sunday in Barcelona as Hamilton became F1's all-time podium record holder, standing on the rostrum for the 156th time in his career. Hamilton said he felt "humbled and honoured" to reach such a landmark after the race, claiming an accolade that had belonged to Schumacher since he outstripped Alain Prost at the 2002 British Grand Prix. Schumacher's final podium came for Mercedes at the 2012 European Grand Prix in Valencia. Yet it was another F1 great Hamilton seemed to channel in his serene victory on Sunday. Hamilton said he felt "in a daze" at points in the car, not even registering that he was on the final lap of the race as he crossed the line for victory. They were quotes reminiscent of Ayrton Senna, who discussed feeling an out-of-body experience during qualifying for the 1988 Monaco Grand Prix. But Hamilton later stressed it was not such an ethereal occurrence that had taken place in Barcelona. "It's not an out of body experience," Hamilton clarified after the race. "I just think [I was] in my highest form. I always like to talk about trying to be our highest selves, and each of us has I guess, an unlimited capacity, and it just felt like I was at a high plane." 3. Verstappen punches above his weight once again Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16 Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images Given the inherent pace advantage of the Mercedes W11, Verstappen should not be finishing a race any higher than third. But for the fourth race running in Spain on Sunday, that is precisely what he did, again splitting the Mercedes drivers. The groundwork for Verstappen's charge to second was laid at the start, when he ducked into Hamilton's tow and managed to vault past the sluggish Bottas. Although he was unable to keep pace with Hamilton through the first stint, and had to negotiate some radio consternation with his engineer Gianpiero Lambiase, Verstappen always seemed to have enough in hand to keep Bottas at bay. Verstappen did not show a shred of frustration after the race, instead seeming genuinely happy and content with second place. Red Bull evidently lacked the tyre advantage that had put him on course to his unlikely Silverstone win, making any defeat of a Mercedes car a considerable achievement. He may be 37 points back from Hamilton in the points standings and, realistically, stand only a slim chance of getting into the title fight, but Verstappen is helping to keep things interesting at the top - a role that really should be filled by Bottas, as we will shortly come on to. So who has been the better driver so far this season: Hamilton or Verstappen? "There is very little to choose between them," said Red Bull team boss Christian Horner. "I'm hopeful that in the coming races, we see the two of them go head to head, because I think that's what the viewers would love to see, it's what the teams would love to see, and I think it would be good for Formula 1." We can but hope we get treated to such a battle, because based on Sunday's race, even the talent of Verstappen isn't enough to bridge the current performance gap at the front. Read Also: 4. Bottas' championship bid is already hanging by a thread Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1, 3rd position, on the podium Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images For all of the talk of 'Bottas 3.0' or whatever version he is onto by now, the Finn proved again in Spain why he is not currently capable of taking the fight to Hamilton in the title race. Starts have been a weakness for Bottas so far this year. His error off the line in Hungary ultimately resigned him to defeat to Verstappen in the race for second, and a familiar story played out again on Sunday in Spain. Bottas failed to get a tow on the run down to Turn 1, allowing Verstappen to move ahead before Racing Point's Lance Stroll muscled his way into third place. While Bottas was able to clear Stroll within five laps, it was enough time for both Verstappen and Hamilton to pull enough of a gap that the second Mercedes was never really a threat to either of them. Even a decision to switch to soft tyres for the final stint wasn't enough to close on Verstappen, prompting Mercedes to take a third stop late on to be sure of the fastest lap bonus point. Bottas was frank in his assessment after the race, admitting he could already see the 2020 title "drifting away". He sits third in the standings, 43 points back from his teammate - who he has not beaten since the opening race of the season. Beating Hamilton requires running as close to perfect as you can week in, week out. Right now, Bottas simply isn't doing that. And it's a tide that shows very little sign of turning. 5. Stroll is one of F1 2020's unsung heroes Lance Stroll, Racing Point RP20 Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images As Bottas found himself being squeezed out by a pink Racing Point car into Turn 1 on Sunday, it would have come as a surprise to some that it was Lance Stroll and not Sergio Perez who was being so aggressive. But it should not. Not only has Stroll proven himself to be a superb starter through his F1 career to date - even if from lowly grid positions - but he has been one of the unsung heroes of the 2020 season to date. The pace of Racing Point's controversial RP20 car has certainly helped Stroll's elevation to fifth place in the drivers' championship, but he was a close match for returning teammate Perez right the way through the Spanish Grand Prix weekend. Stroll qualified fifth, just one-tenth of a second off Perez, and ran third in the early stages after his lightning getaway. The decision to two-stop him cost him a place on the road to the one-stopping Perez, but that was recovered in the final classification after the stewards handed Perez a five-second time penalty for failing to obey blue flags. It was another fuss-free, mature display for Stroll, who in his fourth season on the F1 grid is removing doubts that may linger over his worthiness of a place in the field. He deserves a lot of credit for that. It was noted that Stroll was having a close chat with Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel after the race, only adding to the suggestions they could become teammates for 2021 when Racing Point becomes Aston Martin. On Stroll's current form, it's hard to argue that he would be completely out of place going toe-to-toe with a four-time world champion. 6. There is a clear disconnect between Vettel and Ferrari Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Marc Gene and other colleagues walk the circuit Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images The divorce between Vettel and Ferrari has long been finalised, but as they come to split up their belongings and get through one final season for the sake of the kids, things are getting messy. But first, the positive: Vettel produced his best display of the season to date as he made an ambitious, seemingly impossible one-stop strategy work to go from sitting 12th after stopping to taking seventh at the line. The fashion in which both he and Ferrari got there, though, was complicated. The plan was always to run a two-stop strategy, with Ferrari putting Vettel onto a set of soft tyres for his second stint after starting on mediums. He spent the early part of the race keeping AlphaTauri's Daniil Kvyat at bay, only to lose a position on the undercut. Vettel got some clear air after the cars ahead pitted a second time and began to push, only to be asked if he wanted to consider going to the end of the race on his current set of softs, with the data showing lower levels of degradation. "Ah for f**k's sake," snapped Vettel. "I asked you this before, now I've been pushing for three laps." He then asked his engineer to crunch the numbers and work out a target lap time for him to get to the end without stopping, something he ultimately made work. Vettel stressed after the race there was no need for Ferrari to review its strategy planning or communications, but the tension between the car and the pit wall was audible to everyone for the second race in a row. The strategy call may have paid off this time, but there is clearly a disconnect between Vettel and Ferrari right now. And that's unlikely to be doing much for his confidence levels. Read Also: 7. Jury still out on Albon progress Alex Albon, Red Bull Racing RB16 Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images The question marks surrounding Alexander Albon are, despite all of the encouraging messages coming out of Red Bull, refusing to go away. Qualifying was better this time around for Albon, who took sixth on the grid, albeit still seven-tenths of as second back from Verstappen in the sister Red Bull RB16. Given race pace has been his huge strength so far this season, it was a good opportunity for him to try and take a step towards his teammate and at least win the midfield battle. But Albon never got the chance. He failed to get close to the Racing Points ahead in the opening stages, and slowly slipped back from both Stroll and Perez as the first stint wore on. Red Bull then opted to bring Albon in early, at the end of lap 16, to take a set of hard compound tyres. The tyre did little to instil confidence in any team through the weekend - it completed fewer laps than either the longest soft or medium stints in the race - which, combined with traffic, meant Albon's times took a hit. Even when Albon got onto mediums for his third stint, he struggled to keep them alive. That allowed Sainz to get the jump on the Red Bull, and for one-stopping Vettel to also stay ahead in the final stages, Albon heading up a frustrated train of cars stuck behind the Ferrari. "I didn't have any tyres on each stint," Albon said. "I don't know what it is, but it's the opposite of Silverstone. It was a bit like qualifying, but just more, really struggling to keep the tyres alive." Albon still can't put his finger on what the problem is. And there's only so many 'recovery drives' one can talk up before you have to question why he is having to make a recovery in the first place. 8. Barcelona still isn't a good track for modern F1 cars A photographer in an empty grandstand Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images The Spanish Grand Prix rarely registers as hosting thrilling or exciting races, such is the difficulty of overtaking around the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. And the 2020 edition was no different. We thought we'd seen the last of the track in 2019, only for F1 to strike a late deal to keep the circuit on the calendar for this season, which will now carry over to next year by virtue of the revised contracts in the wake of the pandemic. That means we're probably set for at least one more rather underwhelming, forgettable affair, because the track simply isn't any good for modern F1 cars. Even in the extreme August heat that some thought could spice things up, drivers were left managing their cars early on, trying to stay out of the wake of the cars ahead. It's hard to follow in Barcelona. We know that. And hopefully that will be remedied by the new cars coming in 2022. But to have points in the race where no car was within a second of any other is a pretty damning reflection of the track's suitability to the current formula. 9. The FIA is serious about stopping car copying Lance Stroll, Racing Point RP20, Sergio Perez, Racing Point RP20 Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images The hullabaloo over Racing Point's brake ducts petered out a little in Barcelona - even if the potshots between team principals continued - but there was at last clarity over the future direction the FIA wanted F1 to go in. In a letter sent by the FIA's secretary general for motorsport Peter Bayer to all teams ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix weekend, it was confirmed there would be a firm clampdown on car copying from 2021. The move had been discussed by the FIA's head of single-seater matters, Nikolas Tombazis, one week earlier at Silverstone, but the arrival of an official communication made clear just how seriously the sport's governing body is taking the matter. Bayer told teams the updated rules would "expressly prevent teams from using photography or other reverse engineering techniques to copy large parts of other teams' cars", thereby outlawing Racing Point's approach to copying last year's title-winning Mercedes W10 car. The assurances given by the FIA to teams on the matter were enough to prompt McLaren and Williams to withdraw their appeals against the Racing Point sanction, with their fears being sufficiently allayed. Renault and Ferrari will continue with their appeals however, taking it to the FIA's International Court of Appeal. It is good news for those keen to see F1 remain a sport for independent constructors - but could yet open a can of worms over what is and is not deemed to be "copying". 10. Toto Wolff's future remains an open question Toto Wolff, Executive Director (Business), Mercedes AMG Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images All eyes may be on Hamilton as he comes to finalise a new contract with Mercedes beyond the end of the year, but its team principal is increasingly becoming a focal point too. Wolff is also out of contract at the end of the year, and has previously said he would be considering what kind of role he wanted to retain with Mercedes moving forward. The suggestion has been he could take a more senior role that would see the day-to-day running of the team be handed over to someone else, with Wolff no longer attending every single race. Wolff gave some of his most honest thoughts on his future over the Spanish Grand Prix weekend. He said the challenge of the sport "takes a toll" with so much travelling, but added there was "no reason not to continue with Mercedes". "We will find out in which role," he said. Talks are set to continue between Wolff and Mercedes CEO Ola Kallenius about the matter. Wolff also said he was consulting his wife, Susie, with family matters certainly being a consideration. "I think you need to listen to yourself, which is not always easy," Wolff said. "I can set up a car more easily than to set up myself. It's where Formula 1 is going. It's to take the right decision for the team, which is my highest priority. "I'm discussing every millimetre with Ola Kallenius and with Susie, and hopefully I'll be in the same space next year and discuss with you all. If not, I'll be staying close to the team." Related video