Max Verstappen won an action-packed 2022 Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix as pole-sitter Charles Leclerc retired from a comfortable lead. Sergio Perez took second place to secure Red Bull’s second one-two of the season, as George Russell finished third for Mercedes, having been involved in an epic bout with eventual winner Verstappen.
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Soaring temperatures weren’t the only problem on Sunday; huge gusts into Turn 4 caused both Carlos Sainz and Verstappen to go off track and drop down the order early on. That left Leclerc with a comfortable lead and a free pit stop by Lap 22, and it seemed a straightforward victory for Ferrari – until Leclerc’s engine gave way on Lap 27.
Before that, Russell and Verstappen (whose DRS was malfunctioning) had sparred – going wheel-to-wheel on numerous breath-taking occasions – for P2. Now they were battling for the lead. So Verstappen pitted a second time from mediums back to softs on Lap 29 and caught up to Russell’s tail by Lap 37 when Russell swapped for another set of mediums. Sergio Perez was briefly in the lead now – but pitted soon after for a new set of mediums.
Covering off Perez’s alternate strategy and tyre life advantage, Verstappen too was pitted for softs on Lap 45, a new set of mediums now giving him a prime opportunity at prying the leadoff Perez. Verstappen was allowed past and eventually won by 13 seconds; Perez took P2 and fastest lap having stopped for softs late on.
Russell finished third despite having fended off Verstappen’s threats for much of the race, while Sainz finished fourth despite having dropped outside the top 10 early on after his Turn 4 spin. Hamilton passed Sainz for P4 with a brilliant move at Turn 1 with five laps left but then dropped to P5 having been told to lift off by his Mercedes team.
Valtteri Bottas’s soft-medium-medium strategy saw him lose out to soft-tyred finishers Sainz and Hamilton, the Finn taking a still-solid P6 finish for Alfa Romeo. In seventh was Esteban Ocon, up to five places for Alpine with two soft-tyred stints. Lando Norris mirrored the Frenchman’s strategy but finished a few seconds behind in P8 from P11 for McLaren. Alpine’s Fernando Alonso (from the back of the grid) and AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda (from P13) rounded out the top 10 on the same soft-medium-soft-soft gambit.
Sebastian Vettel’s two-stop strategy saw him finish 11th for Aston Martin, 14th-placed Mick Schumacher facing a similar fate as he dropped out of the points late on for Haas with Daniel Ricciardo and Pierre Gasly promoted to P12 and P13 respectively.
Late contact with Gasly at Turns 1-2 put Lance Stroll 15th for Aston Martin.
Kevin Magnussen made contact with Hamilton early on at Turn 4 and ended up 17th – between the Williams drivers – having opted for a soft-medium-hard strategy. At Williams, Alex Albon finished 18th and Nicholas Latifi 16th.
Along with Leclerc, Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu was the other retiree in Spain.
Mario Isola – Head of F1 and car racing at Pirelli commented:
This was certainly one of the biggest tests that our new 18-inch tyres have faced all year, thanks to a high-energy circuit with big degradation expected and track temperatures that exceeded 50 degrees centigrade. We can say now that they coped with the challenge very well, and what makes their performance even more impressive is that the drivers concentrated on just the softer tyres nominated here. In particular, the soft tyre was a revelation, with nearly all the drivers choosing it for the start and many of them running the soft for the bulk of the race.
There was a wide variety of strategies seen throughout the field, with drivers willing to push the limits and target three stops, adding to the spectacle of an extremely hard-fought race: also because these cars make it easier to overtake. Congratulations to Red Bull for a decisive one-two; now we move on to a very different challenge in Monaco next weekend.
2022 Formula 1 Spanish GP Race Results
|1.||1||Max Verstappen||Netherlands||Red Bull Racing||1:37:20.475||25||110|
|2.||11||Sergio Perez||Mexico||Red Bull Racing Honda||+13.072s||19||85|
|3.||63||George Russell||Great Britain||Mercedes-AMG Petronas||+32.927s||15||74|
|4.||55||Carlos Sainz||Spain||Scuderia Ferrari||+45.208s||12||65|
|5.||44||Lewis Hamilton||Great Britain||Mercedes-AMG Petronas||+54.534s||10||46|
|6.||77||Valtteri Bottas||Finland||Alfa Romeo F1 Team||+59.976s||8||38|
|7.||31||Esteban Ocon||France||Alpine F1 Team||+75.397s||6||30|
|8.||4||Lando Norris||Great Britain||Mclaren Racing||+83.235s||4||39|
|9.||14||Fernando Alonso||Spain||Alpine F1 Team||+1 lap||2||4|
|10.||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Japan||Scuderia AlphaTauri||+1 lap||1||11|
|11.||5||Sebastian Vettel||Germany||Aston Martin F1 Team||+1 lap||0||4|
|12.||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Australia||McLaren Racing||+1 lap||0||11|
|13.||10||Pierre Gasly||France||Scuderia AlphaTauri||+1 lap||0||6|
|14.||47||Mick Schumacher||Germany||Haas F1 Team||+1 lap||0||0|
|15.||18||Lance Stroll||Canada||Aston Martin F1 Team||+1 lap||0||2|
|16.||6||Nicholas Latifi||Canada||Williams Racing||+2 laps||0||0|
|17.||20||Kevin Magnussen||Denmark||Haas F1 Team||+2 laps||0||15|
|18.||23||Alexander Albon||Thailand||Williams Racing||+2 laps||0||3|
|20.||24||Zhou Guanyu||China||Alfa Romeo F1 Team||DNF||0||1|
|2.||16||Charles Leclerc||Monaco||Scuderia Ferrari||DNF||0||104|
2022 Constructor Standings
|1.||Red Bull Racing||759|
|3.||Mercedes-AMG F1 Team||515|
|4.||Alpine F1 Team||173|
|6.||Alfa Romeo Racing||55|
|7.||Aston Martin F1 Team||55|
|8.||Haas F1 Team||37|