Riera wins on the Spanish coast
With Mercedes on the right and Ferrari on the left, the top four fed into a single line heading into turn one as Riera broke 130 meters before turn one, he held onto his top spot. Unfortunately, the American Corey Mackey didn’t hit the brake pedal until 50 meters later as he dived to the outside and swooped comfortably into the top spot. Georgiev needed to make an impact starting on the soft compound, but Montero held him at bay to make it top three and all on mediums. 17 cars made it through the first chicane unharmed, much to the dismay of Facelli’s Red Bull who started from pit lane.
After 5 laps around the familiar Catalunya circuit, 8th placed Darren Fisher was hanging onto a DRS train that saw 7 cars receiving a massive speed boost that saw the Renault top out at 336kph lap after lap. The other Renault of Carney was moving up and down the timing screen every time he exited the final turn.
Lap 6 Georgiev awakes and starts the attack on the medium running top three. A quick pass of Montero, 32 seconds before the lead finally changed with Riera back up front. Mackey appeared to have a distinct braking advantage throughout as he cruised back around the Mercedes a lap later with some minor contact on the way.
By lap 7, the 8 car train had attached two more cars with all of the points runners sharing the same straight. Magasrevy would earn the unfortunate honor of being the first driver to throw points away this evening with a spin at turn four after interlocking wheels with Hartos Sauber.
Ferrari had put up a strong fight to the silver arrows for the first 9 laps. Lap 10 would change everything. Mackey lost the lead of the race and lost the rear end of his car all on the same lap. A miraculous piece of awareness by his teammate stopped a Scuderia catastrophy at the chicane.
As the first round of stops concluded, Carney was moving quick…far too quick down the pitlane in fact. A drive through severely compromised the Canadiens day.
Sauber were running 6th and 7th until Mackey spun again at the final chicane causing both Sauber's to trade paint and put a halt on Harto and Mackey's charge. Walcott recovered relatively clean and would have a fairly lonely day from there, crossing the line just ahead of Haynie's Williams in 5th.
Acosta chased Georgiev home all night long creating a massive second gap to the cars behind. Almost enough of a gap to run the hard tires for 3 corners!
Up front it was a dominating Mercedes one-two however, Riera nailed the tough strategy to perfection, managing to stop only 3 times and crucially avoid the hard tires.
Higgins came up a lap short of 7th spot, Fisher and Cardozo finished 9th and 10th respectively.
Argenis Riera 9.5/10 – A truly dominating performance and back-to-back wins have Riera on fire heading to Monte-Carlo.
Ezequiel Montero 8.5/10 – Montero normally wins these types of races but he was outclassed for the second straight race by his teammate at Spain. Montero was beaten today due to his ever-growing unhealthy relationship between the Argentinian and a smooth, silvery and deadly set of the hard compounds. Has a compound ever cost someone a title before? Stay tuned for more!
Cory Mackey 3/10 – (breathing)…There are times when you hope Rfactor 3 is right around the corner and this is Mackey's growing wish for as long as Rfactor 2 is still around…the 2019 Spanish GP replay still exists. Clear frustration with Mackey sliding his car around like a dog running on hardwood flooring was a sight to behold. Then to get another set of the hard tires was a baffling move. The whole thing leaves me kind of…baffled.
Ivan Georgiev 8/10 – Ivans' chances of a win realistically ended when he qualified p4 and started behind his three main rivals on medium tires. Georgiev made some headway on track but his strategy was always compromised. Some great calm driving avoided a two-car disaster for his team and he held an on form Acosta at bay to take his step on the podium. A solid drive but with the win seeming just a stone's throw away at the start of the season, Georgiev has been throwing up air-balls since.
Otto Acosta 9/10 – Loved it! Acosta has found his groove back! Calm passes early on to get him in a good position and great pace afterward. It just wasn’t the type of race where big points were given away cheaply and unfortunately Acosta didn’t quite bring enough $$ out with him on Thursday night.
Richard Haynie 7.5/10 – A lap down cost RH some points against his fight with RW. There wasn’t a lot the American did wrong however, he was caught up in the captain's crossfire when Fisher and Cook collided but got right back to work to make it a good haul of points for the Williams boys.
Richard Walcott 7.5/10 – Walcott didn’t have electric pace or great tire wear but he put two, out-of-date ingredients in the oven and no one got poisoned. He did just enough but a full lap down isn’t anything to write home about.
Mat Harto 6.5/10 – A mixed bag of tricks were thrown out by Harto. The most side-by-side action of anybody saw some jaw-dropping passes and some jaw-clenching gaffs. Backwards into a wall was the deal breaker on a good drive and turned it into the average category. As Harto appears to continue to decline with age, he should know that tricks are for kids.
Janos Magasrevy 6.5/10 – It's ironic that Janos’ report comes right next to Harto’s. It's also ironic that they score the same. The two drivers getting just a little too close, put Magasrevy right at the back. I can't blame Janos for too much but I just can't tell whether a compromised strategy or a bad plan from the start forced Janos onto the Hard tires that half of the grid has very much realized by now…DO NOT WORK.
Jacobo Cardozo 7/10 – Hello..pace..where are you? Cardozo just wasn’t comfortable in Spain and I wasn’t very comfortable watching it. Luckily however he didn’t make any mistakes to bring up last nights dinner.
Darren Fisher 6.5/10 – Fisher put pressure on his mechanics to fix some minor damage quickly and they responded…eventually. A needless damage fix that was caused by needless contact with a lapped Cook spoiled a points-paying evening. Fisher had a better pace than P9 on race day.
David Carney 5.5/10 – Renault's self-inflicted wounds are still bleeding as DC threw away a probable points finish by not coming close to the speed limiter in the pit lane. 12KPH over the limit and a guilty look on his face as he passed the team pit wall. I'm going out on a limb to predict a ghost rebound drive next race. I'll only risk the left knee, however…just in case.
Benny Fascelli 2/10 – Missing the start of the race is against my religion. Benny had sinned before turn 1. A short recovery drive with some minor mistakes and then the usual driver disappearance act followed.
Sean Higgins 7/10 – Sean had a nice drive coming through the field and staying out of relative trouble. I’m not sure whether the world has any more supply of rubber remaining after his 6 stop strategy however!
Jeff Oppenheim 7.5/10 – Toro Rosso must have been delivered a different type of tires to the rest of the pack. Their soft compound appeared to be made of latex as they only would last 8 minutes before needing to be changed. This resulted in Jeff having to run 28 miserable laps on the hard tires. He actually did a good job and may have stolen some points on a different day.
Craig Hunter 7/10 – Same issue as his teammate although Craig chose to do more laps on the hards than anyone else. The Huntsman made the finish although his teammate continues to show which driver deserves the post-race cheesecake.
John Cook 5/10 – It's difficult to get in any sort of rhythm when you are constantly having to move over for blue flags. With the train at the front, it made it almost impossible for the captain to set sail. Sometimes its best to just pull anchor and hit the shower.
Mike Conger 6.5/10 – Finally someone that shares my hatred for a certain compound of tires. Strategy…check, clean race…check! Pace…no no no no no not yet! It could be sometime before we're celebrating the Conger-lines first SRH points but there's a good chance at Monaco if Mike can continue to keep his nose clean.