Superior in Spain
One week after the Monaco Grand Prix, Formula 1 arrived in Barcelona for the Spanish Grand Prix. It was an eagerly anticipated weekend for both drivers and fans, partly due to the modifications made to the circuit. The final chicane was removed earlier this year, returning the circuit to its original layout, to increase the number of overtaking maneuvers.
If the qualifying session in Barcelona had to be described in one word, it would be "chaotic." Rain showers earlier in the weekend resulted in different levels of grip on the track. Although it was mostly dry during qualifying, there was a treacherous puddle of water in turn eleven. This caught several drivers off guard during their fast laps. Both Valtteri Bottas and Nyck de Vries ended up in the gravel here but were able to continue the session.
It wasn't just the weather that caused a messy qualifying session. Pierre Gasly hindered both Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen, and as a result, the Frenchman received two sets of three-place grid penalties. Charles Leclerc had issues with his Ferrari, placing him nineteenth on the grid. George Russell and Lewis Hamilton had a clash in Q2. They both lined up for a hot lap but didn't give each other an inch of space. This led to a minor contact where Russell came off worse, ending up twelfth. Russell wasn't the only one with a (sub)top car who didn't make it to Q3; Sergio Pérez failed to improve his time after an excursion into the gravel trap and could only manage eleventh.
Q3 also had its fair share of surprises. Lando Norris maximized the potential of his McLaren and achieved the third-fastest time, followed by Pierre Gasly in fourth. However, Gasly had to start the race from tenth due to the two penalties he received. Carlos Sainz delivered a strong lap in his Ferrari, securing second place on the grid. Max Verstappen claimed pole position, outpacing Sainz by half a second.
Check out the full qualifying results of the 2023 Spanish Grand Prix here.
F1 Spanish Grand Prix 2023
On Sunday, June 4th, at 15:00, the lights went out in Barcelona. Both Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz had a good start, but Verstappen led as they exited turn one. Lando Norris didn't get off to a good start and damaged his front wing against Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes, forcing him to immediately dive into the pit lane.
Despite Lewis Hamilton qualifying in fifth and George Russell in twelfth, far from optimal positions, the Mercedes team displayed strong race pace in Catalonia. Hamilton found himself on course for a podium a few laps after the start, and George Russell made his way through the field. Carlos Sainz couldn't keep up with the pace of the two Britons and dropped several places during the race.
Another disappointing weekend for Ferrari
It wasn't just Carlos Sainz's Ferrari that lacked pace during the race. Charles Leclerc also had issues with his SF-23. The Monegasque driver did everything he could to move up the field, but it wasn't smooth sailing. He hovered between tenth and fifteenth position for almost the entire race. The Ferrari simply didn't have the speed.
Not the desired home race for Alonso
Fernando Alonso was relatively invisible throughout the entire weekend. The Spaniard qualified only ninth, partly due to damage to the floor of his Aston Martin. In the race too, the two-time world champion couldn't match the pace of his competitors at the front of the starting grid. He finished seventh, behind his teammate Lance Stroll.
Tsunoda penalized, otherwise a relatively calm race
The removal of the chicane in the final sector proved fruitful, evident from the numerous overtakes during the race. Although there were intense battles on the track, there were no crashes or significant collisions. All twenty drivers completed the race. Only Yuki Tsunoda went slightly over the line. The Japanese driver forced Zhou Guanyu off the track in turn three and received a three-second time penalty for that.
Third grand slam for Verstappen, Mercedes makes progress
Max Verstappen concluded the weekend in Barcelona with the best possible result: a grand slam. The Dutch driver was the fastest in all practice sessions, secured pole position, led every lap, and clocked the fastest lap of the race. Verstappen shared the podium with Mercedes drivers Russell and Hamilton. Sergio Pérez fought his way up to fourth place, followed by Carlos Sainz in fifth. Nyck de Vries finished fourteenth.
You can view the full results of the Spanish Grand Prix here.