Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020

2020 Spanish Grand Prix Star Performers

2020 Spanish Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton, Carlos Sainz Jnr, Pierre Gasly and Kimi Raikkonen were RaceFans’ Star Performers of the Spanish Grand Prix. Here’s why.


Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton’s 88th career victory was far from his most exciting, but certainly one of his most emphatic. His first run in Q3 was good enough for pole position – like several others, he didn’t find any more time on his second effort – and a flawless getaway meant he was unlikely to be challenged.

From there he measured his pace judiciously in the opening stages, then began to extract the performance from his tyres when he needed it. His adamant insistence that the team fit medium instead of soft tyres for his final run underlined how he was completely on top of things last weekend.

Carlos Sainz Jnr

An assured performance by Carlos Sainz Jnr vindicated McLaren’s decision to fit a new power unit to his car to address the cooling problems on his MCL35. He almost pipped Alexander Albon’s Red Bull to sixth on the grid, but claimed the position in the race, despite the McLaren not looking happy on the soft compound.

Kimi Raikkonen

Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020
Raikkonen wrung the best out of his Alfa Romeo
Depressingly, starting and finishing in 14th place is what a good weekend looks like for the 2007 world champion this year. The Alfa Romeo C39 was worthy of no better, and in qualifying he even managed to beat a Renault. The car seems to prefer softer tyre compounds, but in qualifying and the race Raikkonen found himself short of them.

Pierre Gasly

In Spain Pierre Gasly took the result he should have had in Silverstone, where his afternoon was spoiled by a poor strategy. Having taken the AlphaTauri into Q3 again, he gained two places at the start and ended the race breathing down the neck of the man who replaced him at Red Bull last year.

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Esteban Ocon

Esteban Ocon, Kimi Raikkonen, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020
Ocon was scrapping with the tail-enders
This was Renault’s poorest weekend of the year. Instead of scrapping in the midfield with his team mate, Ocon had a hard time keeping the Haas and Alfa Romeo drivers behind him – indeed, he was even out-qualified by Raikkonen.

Romain Grosjean

Haas seemed to have made a breakthrough when Romain Grosjean finished both Friday sessions inside the top six. There was no sign of that pace when the serious action began. Grosjean lined up behind his team mate but the pair went in opposite directions at the start. A late spin dropped him to last place.

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And the rest

Alexander Albon, Red Bull, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020
Albon’s switch to hard tyres did not pay off
Max Verstappen split the Mercedes largely because Valtteri Bottas dropped the ball at the start, and ended up on the wrong tyre for the final stint. Albon finished far enough behind his team mate to be considered for the ‘struggler’ list, but you have to wonder about the intention behind the call to put him on hard tyres which everyone else avoided.

Sergio Perez did a fine job on his comeback, only spoiling his day with a penalty for reacting too slowly to blue flags – he did drive past a lot of them before letting Hamilton past. He was superb with his tyres, though, and would have beaten team mate Lance Stroll without his penalty.

Curiously, Daniil Kvyat committed almost exactly the same error as Perez while being lapped by Hamilton, and got the same penalty. He finished 12th after losing a place to Daniel Ricciardo, who completed a miserable day for Renault by taking the chequered flag one place outside of the points. Future team mate Lando Norris took the final point for 10th after admitting he’d been too timid at the start.

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020
Vettel’s strategy seemed like an afterthought for Ferrari
After failing to make the cut for the top 10 again, Sebastian Vettel recovered in the race, using his new tyre advantage to make a one-stop strategy work. Ferrari were bafflingly slow to commit to those tactics, and pointed out post-race that Charles Leclerc would probably have finished fourth on the same strategy had his car not let him down.

Kevin Magnussen had a slightly better weekend in the other Haas than his team mate, including a great pass on Giovinazzi (who was outclassed by team mate Raikkonen). But tyre degradation thwarted Magnussen’s one-stopping plans and he lost two places in the closing stages. The Williams pair came in 17th and 18th, though George Russell was quick enough to only get lapped once.

Over to you

Vote for the driver who impressed you most last weekend and find out whether other RaceFans share your view here:

2020 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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51 comments on “2020 Spanish Grand Prix Star Performers”

  1. Happy to see Kimi in Stars list. What a masterful weekend from the legend.

    Ocon has been a massive disapointment for me so far. I don’t see Ricciardo as a top-tier driver, so keeping up with him is the least thing he should do if he is a future WDC-material.

    1. Ocon future WDC-material?

      While he is not bad, I can’t imagine what must happen in F1 for him to become WDC-material.
      Even 2022 stock cars will not throw him into cnontention.

    2. One would almost think they did it just to make you happy ;)

      1. @coldfly If Keith wants me to subscribe and to become a RaceFans Supporter then this is a foolproof strategy ;)

    3. Riccardo isn’t a top tier driver?

      1. Ahaha, that’s fun, yes!

  2. Verstappen only lapped the whole field because Bottas was on the wrong tires. Nothing special. What a mediocre drive from Verstappen! He should be on the strugglers list!

    1. Looks like Verstappen has to win (and beat BOTH far more faster Mercs) to be a star performer.

      1. Yeah, it is becoming a joke. Verstappen only is considered a star if he wins a race apparently. He is putting an inferior car where it shouldn’t be ….consistently .
        Look how he annihilates his teammates: Albon and Gasly are arguably not tier1 drivers but I consider them still more talented and faster than E.g. Grosjean, Gio or Stroll.

    2. Incredible drive by Verstappen to split the all conquering Mercedes that has 1 second per lap on the field.

      I can’t understand why he isn’t driver of the day.

      1. Another quiet sunday afternoon drive for Max. No pressure to perform either from his fans or his team. No pressure from a teammate as promised by Marko. Had his usual shouty moment at the team that helped nobody. Everyone still using his age as an excuse despite being in F1 for 5 seasons. Odd that at the same age the rookie Hamilton was beating a double WDC.

        1. @riptide I’m in two minds about this. I think Verstappen was consistently excellent in qualifying and the race. However, it wasn’t a stellar (star) performance, just excellent. Hamilton’s was an exceptional performance, even though an average Hamilton performance would have still won him the race, so I agree with him being picked out as star performer and DOTW. But the question is Max. You’re right, it’s 5 seasons. He’s a brilliantly talented driver and has become amazingly consistent, so good that he’s crushing the moral of teammates, which is probably unintentional and even undesired by the team (and ultimately him, given he needs some assistance up front). But – and this is the ambiguity I have – I do think he’s drifted into a ‘holding pattern’, pushing the Mercs but no longer so frustrated with the fact he can’t actually compete for the title (though fortune could see him with some chance this season). Clearly he’s ambitious but he seems now to be waiting for the right car to turn up at RBR or to move to the top team. In some ways, that reduction in frustration is probably helping him get the maximum out of the car. But I just wonder whether it makes RBR a bit less compelled to improve and so less competitive.

          1. @iandearing
            Another quiet sunday afternoon drive for Lewis. No pressure to perform either from his fans or his team. No pressure from a teammate as promised by Wolff. Had his usual whiny moment at the team that helped nobody. Everyone still denying his car is the sole reason why he keeps winning for 7 seasons. Odd that at the same age Max is already destroying the field in an inferior car, opposed to Lewis who couldn’t even win a championship in a car that was miles ahead of the competition. Makes you wonder why all the fuzz.

          2. Yes it’s a shame. Not challenged from behind and in a win/win for chasing those in front. If he gets by one or both of them; even if it’s puncture or other problem befalling then he is a hero. And if he chases them to no avail he is called heroic. Whilst Ham at least has the satisfaction of beating someone in an equal car; and the poles and wins that go with them, I think the pair of them are as frustrated as each other with the current situation.

        2. Max lapped his teammate and out-qualified him by 0.750 of a second.

          Hamilton out-qualified Bottas by less than a tenth of a second.

          Put Verstappen in Hamilton’s car and he’s 6-0 in qualifying versus Bottas.

          1. Ssst, no facts for Ian plz.

          2. Put Verstappen in Bottas’s car and he’s 6-0 in qualifying versus Hamilton and Mercedes would have won 6 races.

          3. So in Max v Ricciardo you are arguing that Ricciardo is better than Max as the facts prove? Can’t say I agree with that, but a valid argument you make there.

          4. Oconomo – “Put Verstappen in Hamilton’s car and he’s 6-0 in qualifying versus Bottas” is NOT a fact, it is speculation.

          5. Oconomo @

            Put Verstappen in Bottas’s car and he’s 6-0 in qualifying versus Hamilton and Mercedes would have won 6 races.

            Even playing your Fantasy Formula 1 where Verstappen beats Hamilton 5-0 in normal qualifying conditions (I doubt it), there’s no way he would have beat Hamilton in wet qualifying in Austria. The 1.2 difference was down to Hamilton’s talent in the rain, way beyond Max that day. Which really makes me think that the idea he’d beat Hamilton under normal conditions is also hot air. When Verstappen has walked the walk, we can talk.

          6. @David BR
            It’s such an illogical assumption rain is an equalizer, the side by side qiali by Lewis and Max showed where the car made an immense difference in grip. Mercedes was on rails with immense down force while Verstappen drove a low down force set-up in his Red Bull. In the slow sector of the track Verstappen wheels started spinning due to poor grip and drivability. Up until half the track they where completely equal.

            The point is we’ll probably never know…both very fast driver, but it is a fact Lewis has little margin to all of his team mates while Max does really crush them…. 0.433 sec gap to Ricciardo is very impressive.
            Dan was only able to beat Max 3 times on merit in 2018…just 3 times, Bottas beat Lewis 7 times while he is a way lesser driver than Ricciardo in my humble opinion

        3. petebaldwin (@)
          19th August 2020, 16:46

          Max doesn’t have a Champion to beat…. Who would we be impressed to see him beat in the field?

          He’s having the same issue Hamilton has now. Go out, put in a 5/10 performance, finish miles ahead of everyone. Both are great drivers but without decent competition in F1 and F1.5, it’s like watching Usain Bolt beat a child with no legs over 100m. It’s not impressive.

          1. I don’t think a 5/10 performance would beat Bottas in his Mercedes. @petebaldwin.

            Without wanting to claim who is better, I do think that Verstappen has performed at a higher level so far this season than Hamilton given the result they bring in and the cars they are driving.

        4. @riptide

          Odd that at the same age the rookie Hamilton was beating a double WDC.

          Put VER in Bottas car and you will see how a multiple WDC will be crushed.
          It is a Mather of access to a car with the potential for WDC. Alas, even with his talents VER is not able to let the thing fly like a real red bull should do ;)

          1. Of course Verstappen would beat Hamilton some days, Button managed that. Just as Ricciardo beat Verstappen. ‘Crushing a multiple WDC’? It’s like a primary school playground fantasy of what competition is like, grow up some.

          2. Yea, the ideal time for Max to be put in for a Mercedes drive would be the last year of the Ham/Bottas contracts. Especially if your dad wanted it, F1 wanted it, and Mercedes had already tried to sign you in the past. Unless you didn’t want to risk it, then you might sign a four year contract elsewhere for peanuts.

  3. Why isn’t Max a Star preformer? because Bottas was on the wrong tyre? That is nonsense talk even if Bottas would have the correct tyre he wouldn’t overtake Max as he was on the right tyre and could counter Bottas. This sounds like Lewis isn’t a star performer either because his opponents were on the wrong tyre….

    I think you should refrase you comments so it make sense.

    1. Week in week out he Maximises his results, should have definitely been a star. We can’t expect him to beat both Mercedes every weekend.

  4. I think Verstappen is a star too. He kept the Mercs honest and beat his teammate. I don’t think he could have done any better.

    He has beat Bottas 3 or 4 times this year. I’m giving him credit for it. It isn’t fair to say it is all on Bottas and Merc.

  5. Stars: HAM, SAI, and VET.
    Strugglers: BOT, ALB, OCO, and GRO.

    1. @jerejj in no way was Vettel a star. Out-qualified by his teammate and on course to finish a long way behind him too, if Leclerc’s car hadn’t let him down.

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        19th August 2020, 18:42

        Leclerc was on a better strategy and was under 5 seconds up the road on Vettel before he spun. I’m not convinced he would have done much better and Vettel did do very well to make the best out of his strategy given his team were rather hopeless about it. Leclerc may have finished ahead, but I doubt Vettel will have been a long way behind if they were on the same strategy.

        1. @tflb @thegianthogweed

          I doubt Vettel would have finished a long way behind Leclerc even on their actual strategies in the race, as he was just 2 seconds behind Leclerc when the latter retired. Maybe Leclerc’s mediums would have held up better and Vettel could have fallen a bit behind in the last 5-6 laps, but otherwise, it’s hard to make a bold prediction, especially since Vettel’s pace on the softs was quite good.

    2. I probably wouldn’t put Vettel as a star given his average performance on saturday, but the Ferrari strategy team should be first in the strugglers list. I understand they’ve made LeClerc their number one, but with Charles out of the race they might consider giving Vettel a strategy that maximizes their/his performance. Apparently they all went out for coffee and left the trainee in charge.

  6. I think you can pretty much lock Max as a Star and Albon as a struggler each and every race and be done with it. But that provokes criticism so reasons are found to mix up these lists a bit.

    Max lapped Albon. Either one was a star, the other was a struggler, or (IMO) both.

  7. Apart from those lapping, [Ham, Ver, Bot] Kimi made the most overtakes I believe. But pitstops took him to the back of the field twice, so it was rather like sprinting up a down escalator. :)

  8. Verstappen by far!
    Hamilton shouldn’t even be mentioned.
    And Bottas should be a struggler.

  9. Vettel is not on the list? Sure? Please … what an absurd way of expressing an opinion by a “specialized journalist”. His obvious rejection of the great champion and by extension Ferrari is really reprehensible. Pathetic.

    1. @jorge-lardone Vettel struggled with his car all weekend, not as much as in Silverstone, but he wasn’t comfortable and he wasn’t as quick as LeClerc. His finishing place after taking care of the tyres doesn’t fix a broken weekend. Was it a good drive? sure… but you can’t define it as a “star” drive.

      I do admit some of the choices made are very random, week in, week out, about what constitutes a “star” or “struggler” drive. But even so, I doubt Seb’s weekend qualifies for a star.

  10. Max makes it look so easy to get 2nd place again in probably the 3rd car that it isn’t even considered a star performance anymore.

    1. Hear hear.

      Only if Max keeps the 4 quicker cars behind, he is considered star performer apparently. (Yes, if RP had better drivers they would have had a few podiums by now)

    2. Yep, I think Max winning will get him star performer because his/our expectations are so high of him. I think it was just a standard great drive from Max

    3. F1oSaurus (@)
      20th August 2020, 9:54

      @anunaki Verstappen is in a car that’s only 2 tenths slower than Mercedes on race pace. So he basically cruised home in P2 after Bottas lost out on the start.

      At least Hamilton had a team mate to contend with and showed great tyre control.

      Hamilton overcame the tyres issues Mercedes had in 70th anniversary race and went above and beyond. While Bottas still didn’t seem entirely on top of those issues.

      Verstappen managed his tyres even worse than Bottas and he could potentially have lost P2 to Bottas because of that. All the crying in the car about his strategy didn’t help either.

      1. Cruising in front is the way to manage your tires.
        Following close is the way to burn up your tires. Ham did nothing special in that regard.

      2. Yeah Max is 0,2 off The Mercedes in racepace. But the other redbull is behind the RP and lapped.

        Albon has the same amount of points as Stroll in the WDC, And Perez has only 8 points less while missing 2 GPs. So normally he’d be ahead.

  11. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
    19th August 2020, 18:48

    I think Verstappen should be a star performer really and Albon a struggler. I agree Hamilton was brilliant again this race, partly the reason for agreeing that Bottas isn’t a struggler. I mean even though Bottas pitted 3 times (once at the very end) this got him around 40 seconds behind Hamilton. The more realistic gap was around 25 seconds. Given just how good Hamilton and Verstappen were, this wasn’t terrible from Bottas. It can be noted that Albon got pitted at a strange time, but it shouldn’t have lost him a great deal more time than Bottas pitting for a 3rd time. But he finished 90+ seconds behind Verstappen which is shocking IMO. Albon’s overtaking and defensive driving is good. But his qualifying pace is not great and race pace seems just awful. I don’t think it is down to verstappen being as good as he is that makes the gap this big. Bottas is often considered poor when his gap to the best driver on the grid is nowhere near this big.

    1. F1oSaurus (@)
      20th August 2020, 9:57

      @thegianthogweed For being a star something must go very well. Verstappen was struggling with his tyres and fighting with his engineer. Which could have cost him the P2 that was handed to him at the start. Only because Bottas was struggling did he manage to cruise home

  12. I think it’s a bit strange that Max isn’t a star. He beat a clearly faster car, whose driver isn’t considered a struggler. He outqualified his team mate by a huge amount. This was all on merit, not by luck. Mercedes claims that Bottas might have beaten Max if they had pitted him on one specific lap, had fitted the right tires, had a fast stop and Max had a slow stop. It seems rather optimistic and speculative. Most importantly, it didn’t happen.

    Ultimately, this drive is part of a season where Max is consistently good, dragging a car that is at most second-best on the grid, to incredible results. Despite having a race-ending mechanical in the first race, while Bottas had none, he has more points than Bottas and only finished behind Bottas once. If Max keeps going like this, he’s certain to rank at least the nr. 2 driver for the season and perhaps even number 1. And not as an impetuous talent with ups and downs, but as a mature driver that maximizes his results.

    1. I think Bottas should be struggler but it was a standard awesome drive by Max, nothing new as our expectations of him are so high. Would Bottas passed him on the medium tyre? who knows

  13. Agree with others Verstappen was a star performer. Great qually, top start and kept it up in the race. Beating a Mercedes in this day and age is quite something.

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