Drivers pleased with how new car felt in Barcelona
KUWAIT CITY, May 16: Aston Martin Red Bull Racing brought a major aerodynamic update package to the Spanish Grand Prix and it delivered a major boost as the outfit closed the gap on their rivals. This report sums up a weekend of much promise that culminated in the team’s 50th podium finish in Formula One history.
The Spanish Grand Prix is traditionally the race where Formula One teams bring their first major upgrade of the season and Aston Martin Red Bull Racing delivered arguably the largest and most dramatic package of the year this time around.
Both Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen were pleased with how the new car felt, highlighting the noticeable improvement in downforce and overall performance as early as after the opening day of practice on Friday. The duo locked out the third row of the grid and after solid starts, started to make good progress through the field. The RB14 has been good on its tyres so far this season and that continued in Barcelona, with both drivers able to run a long first stint. That allowed Verstappen to lead the race briefly before he made his one and only stop for fresh tyres.
When the virtual safety car period ended in the second half of the race, Verstappen was caught out and made slight contact with Lance Stroll. However, despite damage to his front wing, the Dutchman showed strong pace for the remainder of the race and was able to hold off Sebastian Vettel, winner of two races this season, despite the Ferrari driver having fresher tyres.
Verstappen crossed the line third to score his opening podium of the year and first since winning last year’s Mexican Grand Prix, seven races ago. The result lifts him into sixth in the drivers’ standings, one place behind Ricciardo.
Ricciardo, who triumphed in China earlier this year, showed patches of good pace, which culminated in him setting the fastest lap for the third time in five races this season – and he ultimately ended the race fifth. With two cars in the top five, having made use of a unique formulation of Mobil 1 motor oil and Esso Synergy race fuel that has delivered improved power and fuel efficiency to the RB14 this year, Aston Martin Red Bull Racing has closed the gap on second-placed Ferrari in the constructors’ standings.
The team responded well to the disappointment in Baku with their second-best result of the season, which will give them confidence that they can take the fight to Mercedes, who won in Barcelona with Lewis Hamilton, and Ferrari. Formula One now heads to Monaco, with the next Grand Prix taking place on the streets of Monte Carlo on 24th- 27th May.
Daniel Ricciardo, Driver
“It was certainly a strange race. At the beginning we had good pace and it seemed like Kimi was a bit slower than Max and myself. I thought I was faster than them but then once they picked up the pace I wasn’t really able to go with them. When we pitted for the medium tyre we came out in traffic and lost some rhythm. I also had a spin on the VSC re-start, struggling to keep heat in the tyres, which really put me out of the race. Fortunately there were no walls but it put me in no-man’s land. There were moments where the car was really fast but it was just too difficult to get it every lap. I would set the fastest lap and then the next lap I would nearly spin. There is potential but it’s just hard to extract consistently at the moment, so we have some more to learn with this new package. In the end, it was a pretty boring race but I’m going to take some positives from the potential we have. Monaco should be our strongest circuit to date on raw pace so I’m looking forward to getting there in a few weeks.”
Max Verstappen, Driver
“I always feel quite good on this track and today has been a nice turning point after the first few races where it hasn’t gone to plan. To come back and get on the podium is really nice. The car behaved really well all race on both soft and medium tyres. It felt balanced and had good pace so I was confident I could push on and achieve a good result. We lost a bit too much time at the beginning behind Kimi and it would have been hard to overtake him. We got a bit lucky with him having the problem and therefore allowing us to get an extra place and increase our speed. After that I could settle down and concentrate on my own race. I saw Sebastian approaching but I knew I had relatively fresh tyres so it would be hard for him to overtake, this allowed me to manage the situation quite well. I had some damage to the front wing which luckily didn’t affect the performance too much. The piece fell off and it only meant a small amount of oversteer so I was able to keep a solid pace and bring it home in third place. We were quick here in the last sector which is all low speed corners so looking ahead to Monaco we can hope for a good result. We will concentrate on the set-up, get a good balance and hopefully put ourselves in with a real chance.”
Christian Horner, Team Principal
“A solid performance today, picking up a podium, and our 150th podium which is notable and deserved achievement for the team. It is also Max’s first podium of the season which will be a good confidence boost for him after enduring a tricky first four races. We had strong pace in the race today and managed to make the soft tyre go pretty much to half distance. The pit stops got us onto the medium tyre which was always going to put us in better shape for the last 25 per cent of the race. Unfortunately Max sustained some damage in contact with the Williams of Lance Stroll under the Virtual Safety Car but even with that damage he had enough pace in hand to maintain track position ahead of Sebastian and make the podium. Daniel had some consolation in his race with the fastest lap proving the strength of the upgrades brought to Spain this weekend. Unfortunately he lost a bit of ground with a spin during the VSC period but once again we’ve seen that we have a competitive race car.”