Kevin Magnussen, Haas, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018

2018 Spanish Grand Prix Star Performers

2018 Spanish Grand Prix

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Kevin Magnussen, Carlos Sainz Jnr, Charles Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton were RaceFans’ Star Performers of the 2018 Spanish Grand Prix weekend. Here’s why.


Kevin Magnussen

It’s not just his team mate’s struggles which is making Magnussen’s star shine brightly this season. He had the measure of Grosjean and the rest of the midfield in Spain.

Carlos Sainz Jnr

In a similar vein, Sainz’s weekend was flattered somewhat by his team mate’s misfortune. But it’s doubtful there was more in the Renault than what he delivered and his pass on Marcus Ericsson was a joy to watch – as much because his rival knew exactly where to draw the line.

Charles Leclerc

Ericsson looked less impressive against Leclerc in Q1, where he was blown away by his junior team mate. Leclerc did the business in the race as well, finishing in the points for the second race running.

Lewis Hamilton

Valtteri Bottas had been on it throughout practice so Hamilton deserves credit for beating him to pole position, however small the margin. In the race he finally clicked with the W09 and drove away from the competition.

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Romain Grosjean

Romain Grosjean, Haas, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018
It just gets worse for Grosjean
Grosjean went off several times in practice and didn’t sound terrifically happy about the car. That’s not too unusual, and nor is the fact that when the serious business started he delivered and made it into Q3, although Magnussen comfortably out-qualified him.

His lap one spin was an error a driver of his experience shouldn’t be making. Keeping the throttle down and spinning the car back into the pack – his explanation notwithstanding – was a serious lapse which deserved a stiffer penalty than a three-place grid drop.

Brendon Hartley

His crash in final practice was a huge and expensive mistake which wrecked his weekend. He slipped to the tail of the field early on, a late pass on a worn-tyred Ericsson the only positive point of an otherwise wasted weekend.

And the rest

Marcus Ericsson, Carlos Sainz Jnr, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018
Sainz and Ericsson gave each other enough room – just
Bottas drove well on very worn tyres at the end and might have been joined on the podium by Kimi Raikkonen who looked likely to make a one-stop strategy work before his power unit failed. Sebastian Vettel’s race was compromised as soon as he ended up on a two-stop strategy.

Both Red Bull drivers had scruffy days – Max Verstappen hit Lance Stroll, Daniel Ricciardo spun – but at least they didn’t take each other out this time. Fernando Alonso’s bold strategy of starting on the super-softs might have paid off better had he not got caught up in the turn three crash. Sergio Perez also reached the points after being out-qualified by his team mate, who retired after losing oil pressure.

Hulkenberg’s weekend never got going: technical problems spoiled his qualifying and he was taken out by Grosjean at the start, as was Pierre Gasly. Stroll’s quietly solid drive brought his Williams home in 11th. His team mate, in a lot of pain, came last after a spin, one place behind Ericsson.

Over to you

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2018 Spanish Grand Prix

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Author information

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 “2018 Spanish Grand Prix Star Performers”

  1. Verstappen drives the Red Bull 20 seconds away from his teammate, onto a podium it shouldn’t by rights be on, yet he gets ‘a scruffy race’ because Lance Stroll is the worst driver in F1? Classic.

    1. Pretty much sums up my initial reaction to the article too. After such a tumultuous previous race I thought Max responded brilliantly all weekend, but especially after DR declared himself faster on lap 14, only to then proceed to eat Max’s dust. Max stamped his authority on it, and put the pressure back on DR. The race wasn’t highly rated, but I had a blast watching Max.

      1. I could understand leaving him off the list due to misreading Stroll’s attentiveness.
        But overall Verstappen’s weekend was still better than MAG and SAI’s IMO (even taking into account the difference in material).
        @hahostolze @robbie

    2. Max did have a good race but the only reason he finished 20 seconds ahead of Daniel was because Daniel spun, not because Max was exceptionally quicker. Furthermore, he was fortunate to be in front of Vettel because of Ferrari’s slow pit stop. Max drove into the back of Stroll, and it was due to his sudden acceleration rather than Stroll’s sudden braking so I feel that it was more Max’s fault than Stroll’s. While he dealt very well with the damage he was lucky that a) the damage wasn’t worse, and b) Stroll didn’t get any damage as Max could easily have been penalised. Overall, Max made an error which turned this into a bit of a scruffy race for him as it put him on the back foot for the final few laps of the race, regardless of the fact that he drove well enough not for it to cost him any places, I don’t think Keith is wrong for pointing that out.

      1. I agree it was Max’s error to hit Stroll. But I wouldn’t call accelerating under green on a straight ‘sudden’. Especially with Vettel right behind you.

        Not sure what Stroll was thinking but it looked really stupid.

        1. Was it Max’s error? My understanding is that Stroll lifted unexpectedly and unnecessarily. Certainly I’ve not heard one F1 insider talk about a potential penalty for Max, nor any wrongdoing on his part.

          @breesegp Max had already created quite a gap to DR well before DR spun. That DR spun only reinforces that Max had the much better day. DR’s spin does not let DR off the hook for the gap.

          1. @robbie
            It doesnt let DR off the hook but it makes the gap less impressive for MV. This aint MV vs DR.

          2. @rethla Nonetheless DR had no answer for Max after he himself declared he was faster than Max. I think it is indeed MV vs DR, just as we compare all driver pairings, especially after their previous race. I would think many would be on the edge of their seat, as I was for the start of Spain, given their proximity to each other, and their recently warmed rivalry.

          3. @robbie
            Ofc they have their ongoing teammate battle but from this weekends “Stars” list DR is already excluded and that doesnt affect MVs rating.

          4. Lol🙄

      2. Max was 10 seconds in front of Daniel before the VSC. And also lost 5 seconds behind a very slow driving Stroll during the VSC. He was much quicker than Daniel. Check the race data.

      3. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        19th May 2018, 21:44

        Well, I have to say that it was Verstappen’s fault. Stroll has the right to set his own pace. The safety car had only just ended just then. It was clear Stroll hadn’t restarted to full speed and the reason he will have been going this speed will have been because of the VSC. I’m not sure why he slowed down that bit more, but during these periods, drivers should be prepared for the unexpected. Verstappen shouldn’t have been driving that close to Stroll. If he had held back, that contact won’t have happened.

        1. It’s a bit surprising even for Stroll to take his name seriously, though. It’s a race, not a stroll, and as soon as the VSC is released, they should be off. I don’t blame Verstappen for not anticipating a driver not racing to the maximum when he should be doing so.

    3. Guybrush Threepwood
      19th May 2018, 22:59

      Ricciardo was only a few seconds behind max when they had their first pitstops, but Ricciardo came out in traffic which cost him time. Ricciardo’s fastest lap was a second faster than Verstappen’s.

      It doesn’t really matter though. May as well be racing around Monaco passing is that difficult.

  2. Hi Keith…
    Can we assume that the driver on top of the list is the one you consider ‘the starest’ and the at the end is ‘the strugglest’?

    1. I think Keith once said that there is no particular order. Or I’m just remembering things that did not happened

    2. @ruliemaulana If there is no particular order, perhaps drivers should be listed in their order of classification, or alphabetical order, to avoid that perception.

      1. Andrew in Atlanta
        19th May 2018, 14:02

        Or people could not ASSUME things not offered at all anywhere in the list? Seems basic common sense to not infer a ranking that is not mentioned by the creator of said list.

  3. Magnussen is finally getting to stretch his legs, i love this season.

  4. Anyone has the accumulated score of the star performance and strugglers?

    1. @melmgreen Not sure if I counted them correctly but:

      +3: Magnussen
      +2: Leclerc, Hamilton
      +1: Vettel, Sainz, Perez, Hülkenberg, Gasly, Ericsson, Bottas
      0: Vandoorne, Stroll, Sirotkin, Ricciardo, Räikkönen, Ocon, Alonso
      -1: Hartley
      -2: none
      -3: Grosjean
      -4: Verstappen

  5. Thx @huhhi

  6. What a great race by Magnussen, really, hats off to him!

  7. MAG is really BACK this season.. if this kid first get his talent in gear he could be very good… give him a Ferrari and VET will be under pressure – or let him drive second and defend VET… noone ever dares to take a shot..

  8. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
    19th May 2018, 20:33

    Sorry to those guys who get sick about me going on about Ericsson, But I really am puzzled about this “pass” that Sainz apparently has on Ericsson. I don’t believe it happened but will happily be proven wrong if someone can find a clip of it.

    So here is why I am puzzled. Sainz pitted on lap 26. He came out behind Ericsson (who had not pitted)
    On lap 28, Sainz had ago into the first 2 corners (I think this is where the shot on this site is from) This was great driving from them both. But Ericsson managed to keep him behind. On Lap 29, Sainz had another go into turn one, But Ericsson defended well and prevented it from going any further. Lap 31, Sainz was still behind. Again, in the first corner, Ericsson defends, Sainz makes a late change of direction and goes to the outside, gets partly alongside, but Ericsson has the racing line and makes it stick. Over the next few laps, there wasn’t any coverage on them. I was watching channel 4 (which I am now watching recorded) I don’t think they skipped anything. On lap 36, Ericsson was ahead of Sainz on the graphics. While he wasn’t on the screen at this stage, he suddenly dropped down the list. This was because he pitted. Can somebody confirm with me when this pass happened?? Is passing Ericsson while pitting what counts? I don’t think so. Or is getting alongside and then falling behind right after what counts. Not sure about that either.

    I rarely see mistakes from Keith but I think this could be one. But like I said, happy to be proven wrong. I just feel it is unlikely that I will be wrong. But my main point is that SainZ is one of the star performers and it seems one of the main highlights of him being good this weekend is something that appears untrue. I’m not against Sainz getting this, but it is the description that is bothering me. But I wasn’t actually that impressed by Sainz anyway. Stuck behind a slower Sauber on 26 lap old tyres when he had just pitted for 9 laps was a bit much really. From what I think happened, he only got past when Ericsson pitted.

    1. Yep, Ericssons defence was so great even an imagined overtake makes a starperformer.

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        21st May 2018, 22:22

        I can’t tell if your comment is just sarcasm or not :D

        But from this replay, at 2:50 is very liekly where the shot on this site is from. As this attempt was the only time Sainz got this far along side. But what makes this strange is that he didn’t get past so I don’t get why it seems to be counted as a great pass. It was great defending from Ericsson and good driving from Sainz, but even after a few more attempts, the fact was that Ericsson was still in front and stayed there until he boxed.

        This apparent pass seems to be the main reason that it appearers Sainz is a star performer as the the only thing mentioned about his own performance was a pass that didn’t get completed (at leased from all the coverage shown on the live feed) Makes no sense to me.

    2. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      20th May 2018, 10:28

      @keithcollantine sorry to go into this much about one little thing, but as it is the highlight of your comments about Sainz, I would like to know where he did this overtake, as from what I can work out, Sainz only got past when Ericsson pitted.

  9. I would say that SAI do misses the killer instinct when doing overtakes – recently on ERI..HUL seems to be much more cold here in the outbreaking in the same car.. or is it just me?

    1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      21st May 2018, 21:57

      I think it is sometimes too much of a risk to outbreak the car ahead of you. As you often have to rely that they will certainly notice you and basically accept responsibility if they don’t. Sometimes it pays off more to not take risks. But I myself still haven’t found any evidence that Sainz overtake Ericsson which is why I don’t get that the description of Sainz’s race says his ”pass” on Ericsson was a joy to watch. He got along side twice and that was good wheel to wheel action, but he was stuck behind for 10 laps in a quicker car laps when Sainz himself was on new tyres and Ericsson was on over 26 lap old tyres. Sainz passed him when Ericsson pitted unless someone can find something that proves me wrong. For this reason, I don’t know why he was one of the star performers.

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