Race Report: Verstappen dominates Spanish GP

BARCELONA, SPAIN - JUNE 04: Race winner Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing celebrates in parc ferme during the F1 Grand Prix of Spain at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on June 04, 2023 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202306040477 // Usage for editorial use only //

The Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix may have been a dominant performance from Max Verstappen’s Red Bull but it was the race behind Max that really made for a fun and exciting race.

Certainly Red Bull had the measure of the field and Max managed the entire race from start to end with a win but Lewis Hamilton and George Russell in 2nd and 3rd was a real good sign for Mercedes and the upgrades they brought in Monaco.

Win

A big win for Max and Red Bull for a dominant win extending the lead in both constructor and driver championships.

A big win for Mercedes as their upgrades would suggest that they are moving in the right direction. Sure, the weather being cooler helped but Lewis Hamilton’s inspired drive with George recovering to P3 is a terrific sign for the team and a great drive for both drivers. The team has now passed Aston Martin in the Constructor’s Championship.

A win for Zho Guanyu who hauled his Alfa Romeo into the points while his teammate languished in P19. He had some good battles in the midfield and held his own finishing in the points.

Fail

There is a lot to go around here and I’ll start with Ferrari who saw Carlos Sainz start in 2nd but drift backward to P5 despite bringing upgrades. The Spaniard couldn’t hold the Mercedes or a recovering Sergio Perez off showed a lack of race pace with Carlos saying that the race exposed the weakness in their car and it was made obvious that Charles Leclerc couldn’t recover to the points from the back.

A fail for Aston Martin with hometown hero Fernando Alonso struggling all weekend with floor damage and reduced to supporting his teammate, Lance Stroll, to P6 with Alonso in P7. The team lost a place in the Constructors’ Championship to Mercedes and that’s also why Lance’s recent lack of points success has hurt them in aggregate so far this year. This was Alonso’s worst race this season.

A fail for Alpine who looked very competitive all weekend but a double-penalty for Pierre Gasly left him scrapping midfield and unable to score more than a point. Same for Esteban Ocon as he drifted midfield and only managed P8. Saturday’s performance seemed flattering but long-run race pace just wasn’t there.

A fail for Valtteri Bottas for finishing nearly last and for Williams who had no pace all weekend.

WTH

A bit of a WTH for both McLaren and Haas F1 as they looked good on Saturday but both drifted backwards on Sunday. Lando Norris clouted Lewis Hamilton on the opening lap sending his McLaren to the back to be lapped. Nico Hulkenberg looked terrific on Saturday and had some good battles midfield but drifted slowly out of the points.

Finally, lots of passing in this race and a resurgent Mercedes as well as great battles in the top 10 all day and yet there is a lot of moaning about Red Bull dominance. You said you wanted passing, this race had it. So it isn’t really passing you want is it? For eight years Mercedes beat the field’s brains out with sheer domination and not much was said about that but now with Red Bull in a second year of dominance, well, that’s just untenable and unacceptable according to social media. I find it odd that team performance and execution can’t be appreciated these days apparently.

My old friend Derek Warick was the guest steward and it shows. I like Derek as much as the next guy but he does tend to make his presence known. I’m not a fan of micromanaging a race.

Not sure I have my head around the Gunther Steiner comments and reprimand yet.

Pirelli’s Tire View:

  • Max Verstappen continues on his winning way, victory in the Spanish Grand Prix being the Dutchman’s fifth from the seven races so far the season. It’s his 40thcareer win.
  • Proof of the reigning world champion’s dominance can be seen from the fact he secured the third Grand Slam of his career – the win, pole position, fastest race lap and leading for all laps. He did this previously in Spielberg in 2021 and Imola last year.
  • The Mercedes drivers filled the other podium places. Lewis Hamilton who, along with Michael Schumacher has won six times in Barcelona, was second, followed by George Russell.
  • Of all the cars that started from the grid, only Red Bull opted for anything other than the Soft tyre. Verstappen and Perez started on the P Zero Yellow medium. Logan Sargeant (Williams) and Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) started from pit lane, the former on Medium, the latter on P Zero White hard.
  • It was hard to predict strategies for the Spanish Grand Prix, partly due to the low level of degradation on the compounds, as well as the chance of rain arriving, although that was ruled out after a few laps. The first four all took the chequered flag on Softs. The Red Bull pair went from Medium to Hard (Verstappen after 26 laps, Perez 23) while Mercedes opted for the Medium in the middle stint. Aston Martin went for Softs for the first two stints, doing the last on the hardest compound. Others to finish on the Hard tyre were the Ferrari, Alpine and Alfa Romeo drivers and Logan Sargeant (Williams).
  • The Haas drivers were the only ones to pit three times. They started on Softs, switching to Mediums for the second stint, Hards for the third, finishing the race on Mediums again. Lando Norris also pitted three times, but the first time it was to change the front wing at the end of the opening lap.
  • Fastest on the Hards was Alonso. Aston Martin’s Spaniard clocked a time of 1m18.083s on lap 49. Kevin Magnussen was quickest on Mediums in 1m18.069s, while Max Verstappen set the fastest race lap on Softs in 1m16.330s.
  • In his second stint, Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) did more laps (34) than any other driver on the hardest compound. Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) did 32 on the Medium tyre in his last stint. Leclerc, Alonso and Russell did 25 laps on the Soft.
  • Track temperature dropped during the race. When the red lights went out, the track sensords recorded 30.9°C while at the end it was 26.7°C (the highest on the grid was 31.3°C).

Spanish GP Results:

POSNODRIVERCARLAPSTIME/RETIREDPTS
11Max VerstappenRED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT661:27:57.94026
244Lewis HamiltonMERCEDES66+24.090s18
363George RussellMERCEDES66+32.389s15
411Sergio PerezRED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT66+35.812s12
555Carlos SainzFERRARI66+45.698s10
618Lance StrollASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES66+63.320s8
714Fernando AlonsoASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES66+64.127s6
831Esteban OconALPINE RENAULT66+69.242s4
924Zhou GuanyuALFA ROMEO FERRARI66+71.878s2
1010Pierre GaslyALPINE RENAULT66+73.530s1
1116Charles LeclercFERRARI66+74.419s0
1222Yuki TsunodaALPHATAURI HONDA RBPT66+75.416s0
1381Oscar PiastriMCLAREN MERCEDES65+1 lap0
1421Nyck De VriesALPHATAURI HONDA RBPT65+1 lap0
1527Nico HulkenbergHAAS FERRARI65+1 lap0
1623Alexander AlbonWILLIAMS MERCEDES65+1 lap0
174Lando NorrisMCLAREN MERCEDES65+1 lap0
1820Kevin MagnussenHAAS FERRARI65+1 lap0
1977Valtteri BottasALFA ROMEO FERRARI65+1 lap0
202Logan SargeantWILLIAMS MERCEDES65+1 lap0
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Fabio

I did not agree with the penalty for Yuki either.

Worthless Opinion

I agree Todd about thinking the race is boring then recounting all the great passing and it seems discordant. There were some mega double moves in that race. Maybe we just get spoiled really quick? But counterpoints. 1) I don’t agree no one moaned about Merc dominance 2) point 1 actually makes this worse because part of the problem is like ‘here we go again’ and it’s like 1 year out of every 16 has any intrigue 3) continuing on point 2, in what other sport can anyone be arsed to watch when they know who the champion is going… Read more »

Worthless Opinion

Also the drivers are so professional and well trained now they never say anything stupid or even anything they think or mean, to say nothing to going down to another driver’s pitbox to physically threaten him. It’s a bit sanitized compared to what a lot of us grew up with.

Xean Drury

Sports always evolve and change. If they were still using the same cars they used back in 1966, I don’t imagine you’d be too content with that either. After so many street circuits, having one finally on a proper race track where there was gobs of overtaking and mixed pit/tire strategies was a great reward. I’d suggest that if this race and the season as a whole hasn’t provided you with excitement, then maybe F1 has moved away from your likes. Maybe another racing series would provide you with more entertainment. Maybe it’s time to move on. ~X8

Worthless Opinion

I don’t really buy the whole ‘if youre going to criticise america go live somewhere else’ point of view but to your point i do vastly prefer motogp (because its so much better), but that shouldnt mean i cant also watch f1 while pushing for IT to get better, which i think is part of a fans job. But anyway i was just trying to reply to Todd’s WTH point like ‘how can people complain about this or say its boring’ and i’m just like look, i still enjoy it, but in fairness i understand those critics point heres what… Read more »

Tim C.

I record the race and wait to see who wins. If it’s someone other than a Red Bull, I’d watch the recording. If it’s a Red Bull win, I just hit “delete” and move on to something else. Plus, I can go to YouTube and see a 5 to 10 minute highlight video. I don’t recall the last time I saw a whole F1 race.

Xean Drury

I’m certainly not of the opinion that things can’t nor shouldn’t improve. But if the main grievance is that it’s boring when you know the winner going into it, then I’m not sure what to tell you. The history reads line a metronome:
1975-1977,1979,1982-1983: Ferrari
1968,1970,1972-1973: Lotus
1984-85,1988-91: McLaren
1980-81,86-87,92-94,96-97: Williams
19992004,07-08: Ferrari again
2010-13: Redbull
2014-19: Mercedes

Formula 1, for worse or worse is a dynasty sport.That’s all I’m saying.~X8

Worthless Opinion

I think you make a strong point. It may be that watching a sport where the players all have different equipment leads to predictable outcomes (like when the Patriots use different balls than everyone else) and that the best racing action often happens in spec series, but no one (myself included) has any right to criticize a sport for its dna being what it has always been. Well said, Xean. I yield.