2019 Spanish GP: Fastest of the day

The Spanish GP was absolutely dominated by Mercedes. They were the fastest during the free practices, qualification session, and race. Ferrari and Red Bull were not even close this time, so I think you all know what to expect from this article.

Fastest 20 laps

Mercedes did 17 out of the 20 fastest laps of the race, with Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen being the other 2 included drivers in this graph. From the Silver Arrows, Lewis Hamilton did 10 fast laps, while Valtteri Bottas took the remaining 7.

The fastest time of the race, a 1:18.492 done by Lewis Hamilton in lap 54, was far away from the rest of the drivers. His closest follower, Valtteri, was almost 2 and a half tenths away from him. Max Verstappen was the closest non-Mercedes driver to the fastest time, and he was still 1.276 seconds away. Ferrari’s fastest time, a 1:19:919, was 1.327 seconds away from Lewis’ time.

Fastest drivers by average (mean) lap time

Key points about the following graph:

  1. The graph shows all lap times done by a driver during the entire race, minus laps where the safety car was deployed or laps where they went in or came out of the pits.
  2. The graphs are ordered by the mean, from lowest to highest.
  3. The horizontal line represents the mean.
  4. The box represent the interquartile range, from 25% to 75%.
  5. The top labels show the mean for each driver for the entire race.
  6. The border of the points shows the tire that was used for that particular lap.

The difference in actual race pace, and not only on one lap pace, was not as large as I expected. Yes, Hamilton and Bottas were still the fastest drivers of the day, but Verstappen’s race pace must be really encouraging for Red Bull.

Lewis’ mean time of 1:21.611 was 150 thousands of a second faster than Valtteri’s time. It may not sound like much, but over a full race this means over 10 seconds in total time difference. While Bottas had a magnificent quali session, he was beaten by Lewis’ fantastic race pace. The Britishman took the lead at the beggining of the race and after that he was untouchable.

Valtteri had a great week too nonetheless. His mean time of 1:21.761 was over a second faster than Verstappen’s time. If you take a look at the graph, the difference between Bottas and his teammate was caused by only 4 or 5 laps where Hamilton was faster. Bottas is still in the championship race and will keep putting pressure on Hamilton, no doubt about that.

Max Verstappen took the 3rd spot at Barcelona and looked happy with his performance. Max keeps being one of the most consistent drivers of the grid during this season and has shown something that he lacked during the past few years, maturity. His mean time of 1:21:873 shows how fast and consistent he has been, and highlights the progress of Red Bull with their new Honda engines. Are they team #2 already? Hard to say, but they keep looking stronger and stronger.

Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc follow in 4th and 5th place. The German driver was 341 thousands of a second slower than the race leader, while the Monegasque was more than a half a second slower (614 thousands of a second slower to be more precise). Ferrari’s pace is worrying if we consider that they should be title contenders. They keep showing problems in one lap pace and race pace as well, and at the moment are not close to Mercedes. Some people may say that perhaps it is time for them to start worrying more about Red Bull than Mercedes, but that is certainly not the mentality that the Italian team must have.

Finally we have Pierre Gasly. While he seems to be getting more adapted to the car, he is still not close to Max’s speed. His mean time of 1:22.625 was 752 thousands of a second slower than his teammate’s. If we also consider than Gasly’s fastest lap of the race, a 1:20.536 only ranked as the 63th fastest of the race and was 0.767 seconds slower than his teammate’s fastest lap, then we have to accept that the Frenchman is still underperforming.


Mercedes had a fantastic weekend in Barcelona and looked storonger than ever. Both Lewis and Valtteri were the fastest in average lap pace and one lap pace.

Red Bull keeps finding reasons to smile with Verstappen’s performances, but they must be worried about Pierre. I believe that drivers deserve time to adapt, but at the end of the day Gasly needs to start improving and soon. One thing is to be 1 or 2 tenths away from your teammate’s pace, but 7 tenths is way too much difference for any competent driver.

Ferrari must be getting worried. Monaco is the next race, and after what we just saw from Mercedes in Barcelona, the Silver Arrows are looking as strong favourites. Something has to change if they want to challenge for the championship. Will the Scuderia be able to turn the tide?

Thank you for reading, let me know what you think in the comments below.


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