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International media react: Mercedes 'complicate' title fight, Ferrari face questions

Red Bull's Max Verstappen took his fourth win of the season at the Spanish Grand Prix, but much of the international media reaction focused on the opposite fortunes of Ferrari and Mercedes after an eventful weekend at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

Max Verstappen led Red Bull to a 1-2 victory at the Spanish Grand Prix, marking the team's second such result of the 2022 season. The Dutchman had some issues during the race, ranging from a trip through the gravel early on to problems with his DRS (Drag Reduction System) as he battled with the Mercedes of George Russell. But, after Charles Leclerc's sudden retirement from the lead due to an issue with his power unit, Verstappen was able to work his way to the front and hold on to claim his fourth win of the campaign so far. This has also put the reigning World Champion at the top of the Drivers' standings, with a six-point advantage over Leclerc. It might have been a good day for Verstappen and Red Bull in Barcelona, but much of the reaction amongst various international media outlets has focused on the mixed fortunes of their two main rivals, Ferrari and Mercedes.

"Ferrari, where have you gone?"

In the Scuderia's home country of Italy, the Gazzetta dello Sport spoke of the heartbreak that Leclerc's DNF had brought for their fanbase. "Ferrari, where have you gone?" the publication wrote. "Just when it seemed to be witnessing a perfect Spanish GP, millions of red hearts were shattered on Lap 28 when the power unit betrayed Charles Leclerc, until then authoritatively in the lead." It was noted that this first retirement of the season for Leclerc comes with a "huge cost", whilst his teammate Carlos Sainz – who finished the race in fourth after suffering an early spin into Turn 4 – was deemed to have failed to "shine" both at the start and during the Grand Prix. "Leclerc will try to take it back next weekend in Monte Carlo, his home race," the outlet added. "But for Ferrari it is a weekend that hurts and opens up many questions."

A "brutal" day for Leclerc

British outlet the BBC similarly raised concerns for the Monegasque and his team, with a warning that "the statistics look grim for Leclerc and Ferrari". "Verstappen has retired twice this year, but has won every race he has finished," they continued. "This was his third victory in a row. And whereas before reliability had been the big question mark over Red Bull – and still is to some extent – now Ferrari face their own questions." Reflecting on Leclerc's prospects for a win before his loss of power, the publication suggested that it looked like "game over" for Verstappen when, like Sainz, he went off track at Turn 4 in the early stages of the race. "It was brutal for Leclerc," the outlet said. "And while Verstappen has retired twice this season, the difference is that his failures came in races in which he was already well beaten by Leclerc. This cost the Ferrari driver a victory."

Spanish GP marks "breakthrough" for Mercedes

At the other end of the spectrum, the BBC hailed what they deemed to be a "breakthrough" race for Mercedes, with Russell securing another podium. Lewis Hamilton, meanwhile, put in a recovery drive to reach P5, having earlier ended up at the back of the field following a first-lap incident with Kevin Magnussen. The publication suggested that the Silver Arrows have now become a "complicating factor" in what had looked to be a "private fight" for the championship between Leclerc and Verstappen. "Mercedes look like they are back – or at the very least heading very quickly in that direction," they stated.

From "nothing to everything" for the Silver Arrows

With the team having been plagued by issues with the W13 in the opening five races – particularly in terms of porpoising – French publication L'Equipe wrote that both Mercedes and Hamilton have now "regained some of their glory". "We should soon no longer have to wander around the 'mixed zone' of the F1 paddock looking for Lewis Hamilton to show his frustration," they commented. There was praise for Russell's P3 finish as well as Hamilton's "fantastic" comeback, with the outlet questioning whether seeing the seven-time World Champion's "pain" in recent Grands Prix had further motivated the squad to come with a solution for their car troubles. Meanwhile, in the Spanish media, Marca agreed that the Silver Arrows are "on the up". "From pessimism to optimism. From nothing to everything. That's what happened to Mercedes in Barcelona, which was a turning point in their season, or so they believe," the outlet wrote.

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