Max Verstappen took P1 at the Spanish GP with teammate Sergio Perez crossing the line at 2nd, while the former’s championship rival Charles Leclerc suffered his first DNF of the season.
George Russell curated a commendable drive as he rounded up the final step of the podium. Carlos Sainz had a rather uneventful race finishing 4th in front of his home crowd with Lewis Hamilton seeing the chequered at 5th after being second-last on the first lap.
Classification of the Spanish GP:
- Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING RBPT
- Sergio Perez RED BULL RACING RBPT
- George Russell MERCEDES
- Carlos Sainz FERRARI
- Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES
- Valtteri Bottas ALFA ROMEO FERRARI
- Esteban Ocon ALPINE RENAULT
- Lando Norris MCLAREN MERCEDES
- Fernando Alonso ALPINE RENAULT
- Yuki Tsunoda ALPHATAURI RBPT
- Sebastian Vettel ASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES
- Daniel Ricciardo MCLAREN MERCEDES
- Pierre Gasly ALPHATAURI RBPT
- Mick Schumacher HAAS FERRARI
- Lance Stroll ASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES
- Nicholas Latifi WILLIAMS MERCEDES
- Kevin Magnussen HAAS FERRARI
- Alexander Albon WILLIAMS MERCEDES
And the non finishers were:
Zhou Guanyu ALFA ROMEO FERRARI
Charles Leclerc FERRARI
Valtteri Bottas finished P6, out-performing his Alfa Romeo once again. Lando Norris did a brilliant job at 8th, with him suffering from tonsillitis this weekend. Mick Schumacher, after running a fair part of the race on the edge of points, lost out on the same by the last few laps. The other Spaniard, Fernando Alonso finished 9th after starting 20th with his fresh new PU helping him gain up.
Charles Leclerc and Zhou Guanyu were the only two DNFs of the race, the former seemingly retiring due to a PU issue.
As it happened at the Spanish GP:
At the five lights, Leclerc had a marginally better start than Verstappen and edged out the lead going into turn 1. Sainz lost his position to Perez due to his poor start with Russell moving up to P3. It was a fairly clean first few turns but soon after, Magnussen chipped his rear right onto Hamilton’s front, trying to make a move outside the Mercedes. Both cars pit with the Mercedes coming right ahead of the Haas at 20th.
On lap 4, Sainz randomly lost the rear of his F1-75 going into turn 4, as he took to the gravel. Unlike his last few DNF’s, Sainz did recover out of it and re-joined the track right after, albeit losing a handful of positions.
Interestingly enough, just a couple of laps later, Verstappen, running P2 at the moment, had an incident at the exactly same fashion. He re-joined yet again, losing positions only to Russell and Perez.
Within a few laps, the main attraction of the race had started to take shape: the tantalising battle between the defending world champion and the Mercedes newbie, George Russell. But the Dutchman’s woes had just begun, as he was plagued by the same DRS issue that ruined his qualifying yesterday. As seen from the onboard views, Max’s DRS flap would ‘hesitate’ to open inside the DRS zone, as that would mean Max had no overtaking pace over the largely improved Mercedes of the weekend. It was also around the same time that Russell was informed to ease out because of his car overheating.
The two cars battling out for P2 amidst their own issues created a nail-biting racing spectacle for a major part of the race, with Max trying his elbows out to make moves on the No. 63 Mercedes. So much so, the Red Bull was even past at one point, but the young Briton kept his defence strong against the charging Dutchman. In the meantime, Leclerc was flexing his Ferrari’s muscles, as he had extended his lead over the 2nd car by around 10s.
But the championship leader’s luck wasn’t by his side, as he was seen creeping with a loss of power. Charles Leclerc radio-ed to his team a painful “no no no!” as he crawled into the pits. The team retired the car for the Monegasque’s 1st DNF of the season.
Post a chain of pit stops, the pecking order had stagnated as Max was let past by Perez for the lead with team orders, and Russell running 3rd after his scheduled pit stop. Although, the latter made his move overtaking Bottas who had not yet made his 2nd stop.
Spanish driver Carlos Sainz was running 6th at the Spanish GP now, with him closing on the gap onto Bottas. Lewis Hamilton, on the other hand, had an incredible recovery run as he was running 6th after being second to last on the first lap.
On lap 58, both the Ferrari and Mercedes overtook Bottas, as Hamilton then geared up for a battle with Sainz. The 7 time world champion did end up making a move on the misjudging Spaniard as he swept past turn 2. But soon after, Lewis was ordered by his engineer to not put the engine on load as they were running a very high DNF risk. This gifted Sainz the position back on the penultimate lap, owing to a cooling issue on the Merc.
Verstappen took the chequered at P1 in Barcelona, 6 years after his first Formula 1 win at this very track which crowned him “the youngest F1 race winner”.
The 2022 Spanish GP was a rather eventful race; a turn for the better from the many years prior. Such was the case owing to the fact that there were so many potential race winning cars on the grid, Ferrari, Red Bull and throw in even Mercedes. Icing on the cake was the fact that Catalunya is a viper’s pit for race strategies, and we in fact did see some work out and some don’t.
So, which team emerges out as the winners of the weekend?
- Red Bull can be considered as the ones having the best weekend of all. They started off Friday slightly on the back foot, and even Verstappen’s qualifying was botched because of the same DRS issue that plagued him on race-day. But they nursed their issues and came home with a 1-2 and the fastest lap, thus maximising their points haul from this weekend.
- Mercedes need to be commended for their otherworldly turnaround from the previous weekends, as they finally seem to have unlocked the W13’s speed around the track. Running 3rd and even a potential 4th will be a huge positive for the team, considering how the start to their season has been.
As for the losers, who were they?
- Ferrari of course are one of them. Charles Leclerc lost out on a massive chunk of points today as his pace seemed to be set for a GP victory. But an engine failure means Ferrari need to iron out their reliability issues as soon as possible to keep them afloat in the championship battle. (Not to say Red Bull are immune from this; they apparently have been plagued the most from reliability issues). Sainz even had a car capable of winning the Grand Prix, but was unable to do so.
- Haas on the other hand seemed a good contender among the midfield this weekend, but their race pace was nowhere to be seen. Yes, Magnussen had damage, but Schumacher was also set for points but fell off by the end of the Spanish GP. Bear in mind, Haas was the only team on the grid who had not brought any upgrades this weekend.
A few other takeaways from the Spanish GP weekend:
- An incredible drive from both the Mercedes drivers means if the team can give them a potentially race winning car, they sure are up for the championship. (Matter of fact, Russell is only 36 points off the lead)
- Aston Martin came into the weekend amidst severe controversies around their car bearing striking similarities to the RB18. Although the “Green Bull”, as people are calling it, has not yet shown its promise on track in Spain, one could expect some improvements in the coming weeks as they ramp up more and more data for the B-spec of the AMR22.
- Red Bull and Ferrari now seem to be on level playing field as both teams are nursing reliability issues. Carlos Sainz hasn’t had the pace up to his teammate, and this very fact has started to hurt Ferrari bit by bit.
- Red Bull in particular have had difficult times with their power units. Although that problem seemed to have been solved, new things creep up every weekend.
- Alpine are right up there in the midfield as the best of the rest, as McLaren are again showing signs of slowing down.
- The new cars are proving their worth, as was evident from today’s battle between Verstappen and Russell. They could go on for laps on end without much of a visible pace wear-off.
Max Verstappen and Red Bull have taken the leads of both the championships after Sunday’s win. It is just round 6 and things have already become spicy on track! Fret not, Formula 1 returns to Monaco right after 7 days’ time! Stay Tuned for our coverage of that!
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