A tough afternoon at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya saw Daniel and Dany recover from difficult starts to record a double points finish. Daniel crossed the line in a lonely seventh place, while Dany had the more eventful Spanish Grand Prix, eventually taking the final point on offer after a last-gasp tussle with Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz.
Daniel started the race in P10, following a qualifying performance that left the Australian puzzled and somewhat unhappy. His mood would not have improved at the race start where he was hustled down to P11, passed by both Lotus drivers. He reclaimed tenth from Romain Grosjean on lap four and then moved up to ninth on lap six, picking off Toro Rosso's Sainz. There he stayed until lap 13 when he pitted to shed his first set of option tyres.
Daniel was one of the earliest to pit, suggesting the Australian might be aiming for three stops – though a long middle stint of 29 laps on a second set of options dispelled that notion. Re-emerging in P13, he climbed back up the order as others pitted ahead, eventually reaching P7 before his second and final stop on Lap 42. Taking on the prime tyre, Daniel maintained his seventh position through the stop and, indeed, stayed there until the chequered flag, finishing 30 seconds up the road from Grosjean.
Daniel drove a strong race today, and did a great job to extract everything he could out of the car.
"I am more satisfied today as we achieved everything we could and seventh was the maximum I could get out of the car," said Daniel after the race. "There were some parts of the race that were encouraging but we're still further off than where we want to be, but we'll keep pushing. We came here with upgrades this weekend but they didn't give us what we were expecting, so that's something we'll keep working on. We're still a fair bit behind Williams at the moment but I think we have a good chance to close the gap a bit further in Monaco."
For Dany, the Spanish Grand Prix was rather more eventful. The Russian was swamped off the line, dropping from P8 to P13 before setting about a spirited recovery drive. Having been tucked up behind home favourite Fernando Alonso, Dany opted to make an early pit stop, coming in on lap 11 to swap to a second set of option tyres. That dropped him back to P16. Pit stops ahead saw him rise to P14, before he worked his way past Sainz on lap 18 to take 13th position, and the other Toro Rosso of Max Vestappen on lap 23, putting him P9 and in relatively clear air.
Dany made his second stop at the end of lap 38, taking on the prime tyre for a long stint to the flag in the 66-lap race. He emerged from the pits in P12 and, when the stops shook out, reclaimed P9, a position he held to the penultimate lap where, following a robust tussle, he was passed by Sainz. The Spaniard, having disposed of his prime tyres in the middle stint, used the superior pace of the option compound to reel in his former Red Bull Junior team-mate. Dany defended hard but Sainz managed to squeak through.
"We didn't have enough pace today," said Dany. "I had a poor opening lap, dropping a few places and from then on that compromised my race. Because here at this track, if you lose places at the start, it's almost game over, as it is so hard to get close enough to pass. I had a nice battle with Sainz towards the end. We need to improve the car in every area at the moment. On the positive side, both our cars finished the race, which is good on the reliability front. This was a bad day for me, so now I just want to look ahead to Monaco in the hope we can be more competitive there."
There were some parts of the race that were encouraging. We'll keep pushing.
In a weekend where the team had championed reliability but suffered issues from the off – at least in the case of Daniel – finishing with both cars in the points is a minor victory to take from the race and towards the Monaco Grand Prix.
"Daniel drove a strong race today, and did a great job to extract everything he could out of the car to finish seventh which is where we are for the moment," summarised Christian Horner. "Dany had a tricky first lap which landed him in traffic, and as a result used up his tyres fairly quickly and needed an early pit stop. He drove a solid race over the next two stints to cross the line in tenth place."
At the front, Nico Rosberg broke Lewis Hamilton's run of recent victories. The German made a clean start from pole position and never looked troubled as a by-the-numbers two-stop strategy took him to an unchallenged victory. Behind him Mercedes team-mate Hamilton was made to work a little harder in the opening stages. Starting on the dirty side of the grid he spun his wheels at the start and dropped behind Sebastian Vettel into Turn One.
I had a poor opening lap, dropping a few places and from then on that compromised my race.
He stayed behind the Ferrari driver in the opening exchanges but used the superior pace of the Mercedes to reclaim second position by running a three-stop strategy against Vettel's two. Behind them Valtteri Bottas took fourth for Williams, holding off the second Ferrari of Kimi Räikkönen. Then came the second Williams of Felipe Massa who took sixth position, the last car unlapped. Behind Dan, Grosjean finished five seconds ahead of Sainz and Dany.