By Daniel Wilson.
The weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix was one of the most dramatic and exciting for a long time, and it was largely because of what happened between the two Mercedes team-mates on the first lap.
Hamilton and Rosberg’s calamitous crash at turn four meant we were set for the first Grand Prix without a Mercedes since their dominance began two years ago, and so does this raise the question as to whether the sport needs the team?
It’s no secret that Formula One has been labelled ‘boring’ lately, and much of that is down to one team dominating. Mercedes have won 36 of the last 43 races since the V6 turbo era began in 2014, and have subsequently taken back to back driver and constructor championships. Only Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel have kept Mercedes off the top step of the podium in that time, but yesterday a new star emerged.
After the Silver Arrows beached themselves in the gravel, Red Bull were in a position they used to call home. Ricciardo led from his new teammate Max Verstappen, with home-boy Carlos Sainz in third in the sister Toro Rosso.
But the battle soon emerged between the Red Bull’s and the Ferrari’s, and two conflicting strategies meant we had four cars and no idea what order any of them would finish in.
However, unless you’ve been living under a rock in the last 24 hours, you’ll know F1 has a new star in the shape of Max Verstappen, who at 18 years old, became the youngest ever GP winner and the first Dutchman to stand on the top step of the podium in Barcelona.
Verstappen, who was making his debut for Red Bull in Barcelona after the demotion of Daniil Kvyat, ran a set of medium tyres for 32 laps and held off a persistent Kimi Raikkonen to claim Red Bull’s first win since Belgium two years ago.
But Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo were left wondering why their team had given the then number two drivers a quicker two-stop strategy, leaving them third and fourth at the chequered flag.
However, it proved how good F1 can be when there is a level playing field, and unfortunately, it’s taken the unthinkable for Mercedes to silence F1’s critics.
Formula One does need Mercedes, because they are a part of the sport’s history that stretches back to the 1950’s. Sadly, they, like any other team in their position, are not going to stop striving for success, so it’s up to Ferrari and Red Bull to take on the mighty Merc’s even when they remain on track.
And who knows, with developments in the pipeline and tracks like Monaco coming our way, those two might be about to join the party. Well, that’s the hope!