The hotly contested Spanish Grand Prix was tricky for the Mercedes Petronas AMG team, who are struggling to optimise the performance of the 2013 Mercedes car – one of the quickest on the circuits. Nico Rosberg managed a strong sixth place finish, while Hamilton was knocked back to twelfth.
For the second successive race Nico Rosberg qualified in pole position, showing both his own skill, and the dynamic potential of the Mercedes car. It was a tough race though, and despite holding his lead well in the first stint, Rosberg was forced to drop back to prevent his tyres from being damaged. He managed to hold onto sixth place, despite the close attention of Paul di Resta.
Hamilton was similarly positive in qualifying, and he began the full race in second position, just behind Rosberg. After suffering a lack of balance he was forced to switch to a four-stop strategy, and was unable to recover, finishing in twelfth place outside the points benchmark.
Rosberg’s eight point haul ensured that Mercedes Petronas AMG ended the day with 72 points, in fourth position. It’s an excellent achievement, and the team is considerably ahead of the fifth placed opposition, but considerable work will need to be put in to leapfrog the teams in first, second and third place.
Toto Wolff is disappointed by the gap between third and fourth place, but remains confident in the potential of the Mercedes team. He said: “Today’s race showed a similar pattern to what we have seen with our team in recent seasons: we have a quick car but it works the tyres too hard. The drivers experienced the reverse situation to what happened in Bahrain: Nico drove a very controlled race and was able to make a three-stop strategy work, while Lewis was forced to stop four times because he simply didn’t have enough grip at any point through the race and the car was sliding around.”
The Monaco Grand Prix beckoned, on 26 May.