Although the Aston was clearly best of the rest – and Alonso led the first three laps after out-accelerating Perez off the grid – there wasn’t actually that much in it on race day between it, Mercedes and Ferrari, which finished line-astern behind the Alonso/Russell struggle in the order of Lewis Hamilton, Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc. Stroll had been running an early fourth – he’d put a great pass on Sainz on the opening lap – before a suspected ERS-K failure took him out and brought out the safety car.
Hamilton – feeling no confidence in the handling of the W14 – had made the unusual choice of starting on the hard and after a few laps was looking for a way past his medium-shod team mate Russell. But the Mercedes plan in challenging Alonso was to be gentle on the tyres in the early laps so as to mount an undercut threat at the stops. So Hamilton was called off.