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Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix 2024

Winners and Losers from 2024 F1 Spanish Grand Prix

Who has made the list of Winners and Losers from Barcelona and the 2024 Spanish Grand Prix?

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Analysis
To news overview © XPBimages

Once again, the Spanish Grand Prix provided a solid, if not outright spectacular show as Max Verstappen banked a 61st career victory. 

The scary thing is that he is now just 42 victories behind Lewis Hamilton's record of 103, which seemed unassailable just a couple of years ago. 

But Verstappen was made to work for it by pole-sitter Lando Norris in the McLaren with Red Bull  no longer able to clearly say it has the best car. 

We start our Winners and Losers round-up with the race-winner who showed something a little different.

Winner - Max Verstappen

Now, long-time readers of this analysis will remember your writer's reluctance to place Verstappen in the 'Winners' column when he's obliterated the field and won by 25 seconds.

He has to do something special to be considered, and this was a special drive - or rather overtake. 

The act of passing George Russell on the brakes and around the outside at Turn 1 on Lap 3 was key to unlocking Verstappen's race. In passing the Mercedes decisively, first time around with the minimum of fuss, he was able to get the crucial clean air to look after his tyres and drive the race and pace he needed. 

He always had Norris's late charge covered as Verstappen showed another tool in his armour, something Norris could not quite follow as he spent multiple laps tucked up behind Russell. 

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	© XPBimages

Losers - Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri

Now, McLaren itself was not a loser in Barcelona. The MCL38 was quick, it took pole after all, and carved great chunks out of the RB20 in Norris's late charge, but it was more the drivers at fault - but for separate reasons. 

For Norris, his slow start was the undoing of his race. The pit-stops were largely clean, McLaren put him on a strategy where overtaking quickly was key - which he did, apart from one example. 

Being bottled up behind Russell in the first stint rendered all of the latter good work mute as Verstappen bolted up front. If Norris wants to defeat this Verstappen-Red Bull combination, he must learn to pass slower cars like Russell was at that stage in an instant. No ifs, no buts, just killer instinct. 

As for Oscar Piastri, this was perhaps his worst weekend in F1, struggling badly especially in the final sector with the balance of his car. 

He was stumped as to the cause, indicating multiple issues were at play. That is a concern, as if a driver knows they are lacking in certain areas, they can work to fix it. If the problems are global as he hinted after qualifying, it's a worry.

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	© XPBimages

Winner - Lewis Hamilton

Once upon a time, you'd have got long odds on Lewis Hamilton going 13 F1 races without a podium - sprints don't count. 

It is interesting to note that although Mercedes has struggled terribly in the ground effects era, some of its best results have come in Barcelona - a track renowned as the ultimate test of a car. 

In 2022, after first-lap contact with Kevin Magnussen, Hamilton rose through the field to finish fourth with Russell third. Last season, in Mercedes' best result of the year, Hamilton led a two-three with it being a three-four this time around, again in Hamilton's favour. 

Hamilton had a spring in his step after a good Friday in which he topped FP2 and although pole was just out of reach, he still took third - the first time he has started a grand prix in the top six all season. 

He followed that with a typically gutsy race, barging past Carlos Sainz's Ferrari and dispatched Russell easily in the final stint for the 198th podium of his career. 

It is his first visit to the rostrum since Mexico City last season as Mercedes finally appears to be heading on the right track.

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	© XPBimages

Loser - Sergio Perez

Oh dear. This is simply not good enough from Perez, who form is starting to take an alarming dive, just as it did in 2023.

That was tolerated by Red Bull as the RB19 made mincemeat of the other cars, with Verstappen winning the Constructors' by himself by 166 points, but the point was made that Perez would need to be better in 2024 if the pack got closer. 

That is exactly what is happening with McLaren just needing to iron out the last one or two growing pains to be a two car attack against the one-handed Red Bull. 

From 11th on the grid, Perez in a Red Bull, Perez would have expected to be at least seventh at the flag, behind the two Ferraris, Mercedes, Norris and Verstappen. 

He wasn't just eighth, but he finished over 25 seconds behind Piastri - even if he was on a three-stop strategy to Piastri's two. That is just not good enough for a driver who has eight points in four races. 

Perez is becoming the anchor on Red Bull and if his performances don't start improving, that new two-year contract will begin to look somewhat shaky.

Winner - Alpine

If you consider where Alpine was at the start of the season with its overweight and slow A524, then both cars nicely inside the top 10 at Barcelona of all tracks was perhaps the last it would have expected.

Weight has been shifted from the chassis, with other upgrades working well to allow the team to begin to challenge for points finishes, although both Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon were somewhat stumped as to why they were so quick in qualifying.

Come the race, it was always going to be tough to stay where they started, with Perez and Piastri both passing the French duo, but ninth and 10th for the second successive race was another step in the right direction. 

Bringing back Flavio Briatore as an executive advisor is also an intriguing move by the team, who has suffered upheaval on a scale rarely seen in F1 over the last 12 months. So why not think outside the box for a change?

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	© XPBimages

Losers - Ferrari and RB

On street tracks, Ferrari looks to be the car to beat, but unfortunately for it, the calendar is not made up of them. 

Both drivers have reported that the SF-24 struggles in long corners, which most of the calendar features. From looking like real title challengers in Monaco, the team has since scored a double DNF in Canada and a five-six in Spain. 

Monaco is an outlier, because it's well, Monaco, with Spain the ultimate test of a car, as previously mentioned. There is work to do to fix this weakness that left the red cars firmly fourth quickest, behind Verstappen's Red Bull, Norris's McLaren and the Mercedes duo.

As for RB, it brought a huge upgrade package to Spain, including a new floor and sidepod inlets. Although it used the weekend as one big test session, being dumped with both cars in Q1 and then finishing 15th and 19th in the race was a cause for concern. 

If you are writing off the weekend for upgrade testing, you want to show something, anything as a sign of improvement. That was not forthcoming.

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	© XPBimages

Loser - Logan Sargeant

This was terrible from Logan Sargeant. 

Yes he was battling floor problems on his Williams, but one sobering fact was that team-mate Alex Albon started from the pit-lane, and within 10 laps, had caught and passed him. 

For a driver who is fighting to save his F1 career, performances like this simply will not do. Granted Spain was a poor track for the team overall, but he was still well off Albon and picked up a totally avoidable penalty from the stewards for impeding Lance Stroll in qualifying.

Sargeant has been around long enough now to know that if you are slow on the racing line in qualifying approaching a braking zone, it might be an idea to look in the mirrors, with the team even needing to inform you. 

With only a best finish of 14th in Saudi Arabia, it feels as if this story won't get a happy ending.

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	© XPBimages

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