Tense Spanish Grand Prix gets solid rating

2017 Spanish Grand Prix Rate the Race result

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The Spanish Grand Prix featured something everyone wants to see but very rarely happens: an on-track pass for the win.

Unsurprisingly it therefore picked up one of the highest ratings of the season so far. An average of 7.85 is the second-best of 2017 to date, and well above the average for this track.

The yawning gap to the rest of the field was a cause for concern among some. And the ease with which Lewis Hamilton breezed past Sebastian Vettel raised questions over whether tweaking the Circuit de Catalunya’s DRS zone had been a wise move.

But most of your responses to the race were largely positive:

Absolutely stunning race, best so far. I had my heart in my mouth when Vettel and Hamilton were side by side. Great season so far. Another good performance for Force India, at this rate they can catch Red Bull.

First-lap incident. Contra-tyre strategies. Modification of strategy due to Virtual Safety Car. Disinformation via team radio and some fairly difficult and robust overtaking, towards the edge of legality (Vettel, looking at you in particular).

Even had grumpy old Massa doing what all older F1 drivers seem to do … blocking people trying to overtake, especially Hamilton and Vettel. (I was watching the Hamilton-Vettel gap on the F1 app, Massa was most responsible for their gap shrinking and expanding like an accordion.)

Great duel between the two main-rivals for the 2017 world championship with Lewis Hamilton fighting hard to regain first position from Vettel and winning his 55th Grand Prix. This must be much more rewarding for him winning this way! Sebastian Vettel had the best overtake of the race when he past Valtteri Bottas in great and daring style. Let’s hope those two will fight this way all to the end, with the two Red Bulls coming more and more into the mix to make it yet more difficult!
Antoon van Gemert

The grand prix was much better than I expected it would be, beforehand I thought that whichever driver had the best start and was leading after the first lap would easily take the victory, even if another driver behind was quicker in the race I didn’t think they would be able to challenge or get past, I thought it would be a case of follow the leader throughout the field.

The DRS zone was extended before the race began to make it easier for drivers to overtake on the straight. Views on how this affected the race were mixed:

Hamilton clearly was having issues finding a way around Sebastian but alas, the ‘train’ that DRS creates leaves a driver in front absolutely helpless. If Hamilton had gone around in turn two or three, or out braked Vettel into one that would have been amazing.

In the midfield, Ricciardo was alone, and subsequently nothing exciting really happened save the Sainz/Magnussen battle.

There was a genuine and tactical battle for the front that required pin point timing from Ferrari and Mercedes but ultimately that DRS pass murdered the race.

Please, for the love of god get rid of DRS!
Justin (@Boombazookajd)

I thought the DRS zone extension was a great move, meant people could actually pass on the street.

Really enjoyed the battle for the lead.
Rick Lopez (@Viscountviktor)

We got to see some interesting strategy being played out but we also got robbed of seeing cars fighting wheel to wheel by DRS. Passes aren’t entertaining. I could have happily sat and watched Hamilton battling behind Vettel, sneaking a look, taking some chances and generally racing even if the pass failed. Instead we got this.
Philip (@Philipgb)

This was a great example of the damage DRS does to racing. It was a great race up to that point but ultimately ended in disappointment because of a knee jerk reaction to extend the DRS zone after events in Sochi. We might’ve seen a masterclass in defensive driving from Seb today but instead he had no chance.
Jonny Edwards (@Racectrl)

The scale of the advantage enjoyed by the front runners also drew some comment:

Pretty good race for the lead, and it probably looks like it’s going to be Vettel versus Hamilton all season long.

When was the last time the whole field was lapped except the podium? Worrying, but at least Ferrari and Mercedes are pretty evenly matched.
Alex (@Arobbo)

I doubted the Mercedes strategy, still not sure if they’d have done it without the Virtual Safety Car. Enjoyed the race. Good bit of F1. However lapping everyone up to fourth? Hmm…

Rate the Race: The Twitter verdict

The Spanish Grand Prix also received much praise on Twitter. Here’s a selection of views from race day:

















2017 Rate the Race Results

Race Average score
2017 Australian Grand Prix 6.408
2017 Chinese Grand Prix 7.534
2017 Bahrain Grand Prix 7.957
2017 Russian Grand Prix 4.900
2017 Spanish Grand Prix 7.869

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2017 Spanish Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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30 comments on “Tense Spanish Grand Prix gets solid rating”

  1. Scuderia-Racing-Or-Ping-Pong (@)
    19th May 2017, 16:52

    Let’s hit the 8 for the next few GPs.

    1. If DRS is removed we might.

  2. Baku and Mexico are going to be in competition with Russia for the most boring races on calendar.

    1. You forgot to mention Monaco, Hungary, and to some extent Singapore as well, and BTW, I wouldn’t include Baku to the list yet as I don’t think last year’s race was as boring as many have stated.

  3. Thanks for the mention! @keithcollantine.

  4. Glad to see a meaningful pass this year! It was like Arnoux/Villeneuve!! Right? Driver of the Day was DR for not falling asleep.

  5. DRS is a classic example of how people can get things ” so right” and yet also get things ” so wrong”.
    F1 is wonderful . Nothing goes through a turn like an F1 car with a good driver at the wheel and F1 tracks are the most entertaining in all of racing ( with the notable exception of the INDY super speedway.
    One would think that those who created and run F 1 are brilliant but, then they go and institute DRS , a method of assuring that the driver who gained an advantage by better driving or by having a faster car will be past with no possibility of defending the pass.
    This assisted and virtually assured pass is achieved by giving the trailing car a 12 mph boost via a temporary aerodynamic advantage .
    The trailing driver needs only to come within 1 second of the lead car and DRS will propel the following car past the lead car with the mere press of a button .
    In what universe is that a good idea ?
    In indaycar racing all cars have equal ” push to pass” which can be used at any time until the allotted 200 seconds is spent so a car being passed by another car using push to pass can employ its own 50 horse power boost and defend against the pass.
    The overtake or not comes down to the skill of the driver and the smart use of the permitted 200 seconds of boost.
    Compare that to F1’s unlimited ( except for the 1st 2 laps ) DRS option which essentially means that the lesser of any 2 cars shall be permitted to overtake the better of the 2 cars as long as the overtake is performed at designated spots on the track and the cars are within a 1 second gap. This ” helping the unworthy” was installed to ensure more overtaking and is purely for the pleasure of the viewers who want to see passing even without merit.
    In theory a 2nd place driver who simply cannot overtake the 1st place driver can wait till the last lap of the race ,use DRS to pass the P1 car at the last DRS zone and thus win the race because the now P2 can not respond with his own assisted overtake and had no way of defending against the added 12 mph of the other car .
    I for one do not consider that a winning performance yet under F1’s DRS rules that is exactly what has happened .
    Get rid of DRS ! if you want to employ the equality of a push to pass system that is fine . It works in Indycar or simply leave the cars as they are and let the drivers earn their overtakes without any added power or aerodynamic assistance.
    Whatever you do or don’t do is fine but, for God’s sake make the drivers earn their successes . I am sure that all of the real competitors will be fine with that .Don’t give them something just because it is entertaining to watch , this isn’t the circus .

    1. OmarRoncal - Go Seb!!! (@)
      20th May 2017, 0:18

      As the hippie leader said to Forrest Gump: “You said it all, man”.

    2. There was no overtaking before the first round of pitstops. Only due to differences in tire wear and tire compounds there were big enough speed differences to make overtaking possible, so really DRS wasn’t too powerful. The reason Hamilton’s overtake was so crucial was because he would lose his tire advantage over Vettel in the long run, so actually he had a rather narrow window of opportunity and he nailed it.

      I don’t really understand why people are complaining so much about DRS. It was a fine race after all. Without DRS Vettel would have been stuck behind Bottas for a much longer time for example, probably long enough to lose him the race. I’d rather see a (DRS-assisted) overtake.

    3. If the car in front was the better car/driver combo at that moment and the car behind only got past because of DRS (which is unlikely) then the very next lap the ‘superior car’ would just breeze back in front. This pretty much never happens, suggesting that the car behind needs to be significantly faster in the first place to catch and hold on to the back of the other car.

      DRS is not perfect and there is definitely an argument for trialling it’s removal in some races by now to see what happens, however, despite the purist’s rage about it, the fact is that it’s likely racing won’t be as tense as they imagine as time has moved on from where we were when rare but well fought overtakes happened and on the majority of these tracks with these cars there would be no tension because progress would stop about 1 second out from the back of the other car as they can’t get close enough to make a move.

      I’m sure that some people would harp on about how it’s back to the good ‘ol days when men were men but after a season with 2 overtakes due to the odd driver error 90% of the viewership that F1 needs for finance will have gone off to watch paint dry or knit a nice jumper for their nephew.

    4. a method of assuring that the driver who gained an advantage by better driving or by having a faster car will be past with no possibility of defending the pass.

      This statement seems to be the basis for your rant, but we have all seen over and over again that it’s not true. Since the installment of DRS the following car has always needed a significant performance advantage to benefit from DRS. So if a car passes another using DRS, the passing a car is the quicker one by a serious margin anyway.

      In Spain Carlos Sainz was following another car (Magnussen, then Wehrlein) closely for almost the entire race. He was clearly quicker than both, but not by enough to have a go even once. It wasn’t Bernoldi vs Coulthard in Monaco, but it certainly wasn’t far off. As long as the aero characteristics of the cars are what they are, we’re going to need DRS to have any passing at all. All overtakes in Spain were DRS-assisted.

      This assisted and virtually assured pass is achieved by giving the trailing car a 12 mph boost via a temporary aerodynamic advantage . The trailing driver needs only to come within 1 second of the lead car and DRS will propel the following car past the lead car with the mere press of a button. In what universe is that a good idea ?

      It used to be called a slipstream.

  6. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
    19th May 2017, 19:53


    I think you have been very harsh on Massa. It was completely Vettel’s fault for costing himself time on lap 60 with Massa. Massa went FAR wider than he normally would as well as really slowly. He could hardly have gone any wider without going off the track. Vettel could easily have got past without any trouble if he didn’t make a mistake. He carried too much speed into the corner and also went too wide. He can’t expect Massa to disappear. Massa did what he should have but due to what Vettel did, it is Vettel’s fault that he had to make Massa go slow again further round to let him through. Vettel was the grumpy one here. So it was infact who Vettel cost Massa more time than necessary. Anyhow, is it really Massa’s fault he is all the way back here? Hardly, he was just unlucky with the collision as the start and then several other drivers crashing into him. The commentators on both Sky and Channel 4 said Vettel looked to make a mistake there too.

    I do agree that Massa also slowed Hamilton down too. But he did nothing wrong. He had a very fast car and it wasn’t his fault that he was so far behind. He will have had to cost himself a huge amount of time to pull over and let Hamilton by instantly. Lets remember he is still in the race! Hamilton wasn’t even that close to him so Massa shouldn’t have had to let him by even if he was costing him time. As we have seen in previous races, even just being 2 seconds behind another car can affect the performance. Massa shouldn’t have to get out the way until Hamilton was right up close.

    1. Oh please, give me a break. Massa’s notoriously difficult to pass for some, and harder for others. It’s very notable how much he holds up Hamilton, for example. It’s not as if he was racing for position! (If that was the case, that’s more than acceptable) He was being blue flagged like the other back markers and I watched Vettel take nearly two seconds out of Hamilton, then Hamilton stretch by a similar amount of time while they were getting past Massa.

      So no, I’m not being over harsh at all.

      F1’s history is littered with drivers who when in uncompetitive cars became moving roadblocks. Jarno Trulli even had the phenomena named after him (Trulli Train anyone?). Rene Arnoux was another. Olivier Grouillard, famous for blocking on track and a fiery temper off track.

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        20th May 2017, 10:18

        But he was racing for position?? Just because he isn’t in the top 10 doesn’t mean he isn’t racing for position. Massa was far closer to Stroll (who was far slower than him) than Vettel was to Hamilton. I understand he did cost other drivers time but when you look at what he did on the screen, he really didn’t do anything wrong, especially with Vettel. That was Vettel’s own mistake. And the reason why Massa will have held them both up for Longer will have been because at this stage in the race, the Williams will hardly have been only been a little slower than the leaders. So Massa won’t have wanted to cost his own race too much either. So he just found a more convenient place to allow Hamilton to pass. Such as down the strait with DRS! Just before that, Hamilton just didn’t look close enough for Massa to have to pull over and let him through. Yet again, I have watched this part on Sky and Channel 4 and the commentators didn’t think Massa was doing anything that he shouldn’t. Massa will have possibly been understandably grumpy at Vettel costing him much more time than he needed to.

        We obviously have different opinions. I agree Massa does always complain and make excuses after races but I have to say I pretty much always agree with what he says.

        1. @thegianthogweed But then why didn’t Massa let Vettel pass on the long back straight? That would have been more convenient to both. Of course Massa was racing Stroll, but letting the leaders past quickly also serves some self-interest, as the less experienced Stroll had to do the same thing later on, which would probably have cost him even more time and possibly a place to Massa. Instead Massa was annoying Vettel for no reason. Just as in Russia Massa left the door open when Vettel was well behind, only to close the gap when Vettel got closer. Vettel, as the championship leader, just couldn’t take the risk to dive down on the inside and Massa knew that.

          1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
            20th May 2017, 16:21

            I see what you mean, if Massa didn’t move out the way for Vettel when he did, then he wouldn’t have had to cost himself as much time. But plenty of other drivers have cost the leaders time in previous races. It certainly isn’t just Massa. In Russia, I’d say it was Sainz who was by far one of the most awkward drivers out there when it comes to blocking the leaders. But I still think that if you are also fighting for position further back, you shouldn’t have to suddenly make way for the leaders. If Massa had waited until the straight though, I feel people will have moaned about him holding Vettel behind him for too much time like he did with Hamilton. He held Hamilton up for a while and probably realized he should have maybe let him pass earlier, so then he lets Vettel pass earlier and Vettel makes a mess of it. I don’t see what else he could have done really.

            It is rather unfortunate that Massa has had clear bad luck in both of the last 2 races. He won’t have been involved at these moments in the races if not for his bad luck. Even in Russia, I don’t really blame Massa for what happened. Vettel was just unfortunately in the wrong place at the wrong time. Bottas was in a convenient place for Massa to let him by without loosing much time and Vettel wasn’t. All Massa could have really done is braked much earlier and cost himself a lot more time to allow Vettel through. And Massa maybe didn’t want to loose any more time than he already had done as he’d already suffered a slow puncture. I do wonder if some people would change their minds about lapped drivers if they happened to be one of the top team’s cars that suffered a puncture right at the start of the race. Does this mean they then shouldn’t be allowed to scrap with the leaders even if their pace is decent again? Massa was very quick at this point. One of the quickest on the grid infact as he had only just pitted so it must be incredibly frustrating to him that it is only down to bad luck that he is all the way back here even though his car is still really strong.

          2. @thegianthogweed Thanks.
            I believe in 2010, with three new teams, the blue flag rules became stricter, so back-markers had to get out of the way almost immediately or they got a penalty. I didn’t like it too much that they had to sacrifice their race so much, but if the rules are the same for everyone, then it’s sort of OK. Also, the speed differences were generally huge.
            This year we have increased aero-dependency, which makes it harder for the leaders to even follow those back-markers, so they will naturally lose more time due to the turbulent (“dirty”) air. But weirdly, it seems the blue flag rules aren’t enforced as strictly as before, which has led to several situations in which the back-markers interfered with the leaders.
            The situation in which back-markers are (almost) as fast or even faster is a difficult one, but yes, it happens. I remember the 2013 Brazilian Grand Prix, where Vettel (who was leading the race) was passed twice by back-markers on fresh tires. That race Hamilton even collided with his current teammate Bottas, who tried to unlap himself. The problem is that if the speed differences are small the leaders won’t be able to get close enough to trigger the blue flags, while they’re still in the dirty air. So maybe back-markers should get blue flags when the leaders are within two seconds (instead of 1.5).

    2. Rubbish

  7. Great race, great camera work, great side stories… I’m impressed with this new formula!

  8. Clearly better than last years. Last year though it felt really good to have a Sunday like that.

    1. @peartree I felt otherwise: IMO last year’s race was a bit better, not much, but still.

      1. @jerejj Really can’t imagine how, this years race was clearly better, the difference is whether you liked last year’s result better, if you did good for you, so did I.

        1. @peartree The reason I felt that way was perhaps because last year there was battles for a position at the front for most of the race, yes, this year’s race had that as well, but for fewer laps.

  9. The Skeptic
    20th May 2017, 7:50

    It’s funny how some people moan about Hamilton’s DRS assisted pass on Vettel, whilst also praising Vettel’s DRS assisted pass on Bottas!

    Without DRS Vettel would have been stuck behind Bottas until he pitted. DRS enabled Vettel to gain the speed advantage he needed to do his “double-weave bluff” overtake. Imagine the outcome of the race in that scenario!

    In both cases, DRS assisted the overtake just enough to make it viable. The bigger factor was the better tyres on the car of the pursuer.

    1. I was going to point this out.
      I think as long as your pass is spectacular (and Vettel’s was) the ammount of DRS assistance doesn’t matter.
      Driving a Ferrari doesn’t hurt too! :p

    2. +1 to all of that.

      And consider which track we are talking about.

    3. Ju88sy (@)
      21st May 2017, 0:29

      Agree, the primary reason for Hamilton getting past Vettel was not DRS, it was the soft tyres and Hamilton setting up the final corner exit several turns before. His drive off corner was so much faster than Vettel, DRS amplified this and Hamilton flew past, even without DRS he would probably have been able to make it with some late braking into T1. Overall it was supremely planned and executed from Hamilton, just as Vettel’s move on Bottas was spontaneous and brilliantly executed.

      1. @ju88sy The primary reason WAS without doubt DRS. Yes the softer fresher tyres definitely helped with that but it wasn’t ‘supremely planned and executed from Hamilton’, it was more the first time around that Vettel didn’t also have DRS from lapped cars. As soon as Vettel couldn’t use DRS to defend, Hamilton was past.

        1. Just to respond to that, it was actually Vettel that commented that Hamilton set the overtake up before the final corner…….

          Hamilton would have known that Vettel did not have DRS at the end of the lap, the overtake was essentially ‘made’ at the exit of the final corner you could see the difference in exit speed prior to the DRS activation, he would have got past Vettel even if he had DRS, albeit with some late braking, so yes it was very well planned and executed.

          Go watch the exit from the final corner again.

  10. Many people complain about Pirelli’s tires and DRS; it is funny, because, as it can be visible in the chart above, the average rates of the period 2011-2017 is far higher (roughly 2 points) than the average of the previous one (2008-2010). Once, in Barcelona we used to have incredibly boring races… now the things have changed !

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