Red Bull driver Max Verstappen delivered another commanding performance en route to victory in the 2023 Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix, leading home the Mercedes machines of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, with teammate Sergio Perez fourth.
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Verstappen controlled the race from lights out to the chequered flag to chalk up his fifth win of the 2023 season and his third triumph at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, while further increasing his lead in the championship standings.
Mercedes enjoyed a much-improved display to take a double podium, Hamilton surviving a first-lap clash with McLaren’s Lando Norris and overcoming an early battle with Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, and Russell working his way up from 12th on the grid with a series of overtakes.
Perez put in a solid recovery drive – after starting 11th – to take fourth, just missing out on the final podium spot to Russell after a charging final stint, with Sainz completing the top five, having dropped away from the sharp end as the race developed.
Fernando Alonso could not add another podium to his, and Aston Martin’s, tally with a quiet run to seventh on home soil. However, alongside teammate Lance Stroll’s sixth place, the green machines bagged a solid haul of points.
After his podium heroics in Monaco, Esteban Ocon had to settle for an eighth position this time out, while a five-second time penalty given to Yuki Tsunoda – for forcing Zhou Guanyu off the track – meant the Alfa Romeo driver and the other Alpine of Pierre Gasly rounded out the points.
Charles Leclerc also gained a spot from Tsunoda’s sanction but could not secure a point after wholesale changes to his Ferrari post-qualifying – and his first Q1 exit since the 2019 Monaco Grand Prix – saw him start from the pit lane.
Tsunoda slotted in ahead of McLaren’s Oscar Piastri and AlphaTauri teammate Nyck de Vries, who were the first of the drivers a lap down on Verstappen, followed by Haas’ Nico Hulkenberg and the lead Williams of Alex Albon.
Norris was forced to pit for a new front wing after his incident with Hamilton at the start and had a lonely race to 17th, with the other Haas, Alfa Romeo and Williams machines of Kevin Magnussen, Valtteri Bottas and Logan Sargeant bringing up the rear.
Verstappen’s win means Red Bull continues their unbeaten start to the campaign, with the reigning double world champion – who also earned the fastest lap bonus – moving 53 points clear of nearest rival Perez in the race for the drivers’ title.
Mario Isola, Motorsport Director, Pirelli:
On a track that is particularly demanding for the tyres, we witnessed a race in which all three available dry compounds came into play; each one used extensively. The C1 covered 41.6% of the laps completed, then came the C2 (30.6%) and the C3 (27.9%). The decision to introduce the new 2023 C1 specification compound meant that a two-stop strategy was on the cards and was used by most of the teams. Compared with our pre-race predictions, we saw that the Medium was more competitive, partly due to the track temperature being significantly lower than last year’s race. Initial analysis suggests that degradation on all the compounds was lower, even with the softest C3. Notable examples of this were the first stints for the two Mercedes drivers, with Russell doing 25 laps and Hamilton 24, or Alonso’s middle stint (25 laps) running a heavy fuel load and yet running at a pretty competitive pace.
It’s been a hectic weekend for Pirelli. Apart from F1 here in Barcelona, we were also working at all three car racing series in which we are the sole tyre supplier – in Sardinia with the WRC and in France at Paul Ricard with the GT World Challenge Europe. Additionally, there was our two-wheeled commitment and in Misano (Italy), we celebrated Pirelli’s 20th anniversary as the sole tyre supplier in the SBK Championship. Pirelli is staying in Barcelona with two days of crucial testing this coming week aimed at next season. The programme is focused on the development of compounds that can be used without the usual pre-heating procedures
How the race was won from the tyre point of view:
Max Verstappen continues on his winning way, victory in the 2023 Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix being the Dutchman’s fifth from the seven races so far in the season. It’s his 40th career 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 began to on the P Zero Yellow medium. Logan Sargeant (Williams) and Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) started from the pit lane, the former on Medium, the latter on P Zero White hard.
It took a lot of work to predict strategies for the Spanish Grand Prix, partly due to the low level of degradation on the compounds and 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, and 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.
The 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.
The track temperature dropped during the race. When the red lights went out, the track sensors recorded 30.9°C; at the end, it was 26.7°C (the highest on the grid was 31.3°C).
Pirelli is staying at the Barcelona-Catalunya circuit for two days of testing for next season’s tyres, with Ferrari and Mercedes running on Tuesday and Wednesday. They will be trying various compounds to be used without being preheated. The next round of the Formula 1 World Championship is the Canadian Grand Prix at Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve from 16 to 18 June.
2023 Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix Race Results
|1.||1||Max Verstappen||Netherlands||Red Bull Racing||1:27:57.940||26||170|
|2.||44||Lewis Hamilton||Great Britain||Mercedes-AMG Petronas||+24.090s||18||87|
|3.||63||George Russell||Great Britain||Mercedes-AMG Petronas||+32.389s||15||65|
|4.||11||Sergio Perez||Mexico||Red Bull Racing||+35.812s||12||117|
|5.||55||Carlos Sainz||Spain||Scuderia Ferrari||+45.698s||10||58|
|6.||18||Lance Stroll||Canada||Aston Martin F1 Team||+63.320s||8||35|
|7.||14||Fernando Alonso||Spain||Aston Martin F1 Team||+64.127s||6||99|
|8.||31||Esteban Ocon||France||Alpine F1 Team||+69.242s||4||25|
|9.||24||Zhou Guanyu||China||Alfa Romeo F1 Team||+71.878s||2||4|
|10.||10||Pierre Gasly||France||Alpine F1 Team||+73.530s||1||15|
|11.||16||Charles Leclerc||Monaco||Scuderia Ferrari||+74.419s||0||42|
|12.||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Japan||Scuderia AlphaTauri||+1 lap||0||2|
|13.||81||Oscar Piastri||Australia||McLaren Racing||+1 lap||0||5|
|14.||21||Nyck De Vries||Netherlands||Scuderia AlphaTauri||+1 lap||0||0|
|15.||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Germany||Haas F1 Team||+1 lap||0||6|
|16.||45||Alexander Albon||Thailand||Williams Racing||+1 lap||0||1|
|17.||4||Lando Norris||Great Britain||Mclaren Racing||+1 lap||0||12|
|18.||20||Kevin Magnussen||Denmark||Haas F1 Team||+1 lap||0||2|
|19.||77||Valtteri Bottas||Finland||Alfa Romeo F1 Team||+1 lap||0||4|
|20.||2||Logan Sargeant||USA||Williams Racing||+1 lap||0||0|
2023 Constructor Standings
|1.||Red Bull Racing||623|
|2.||Mercedes-AMG F1 Team||305|
|4.||Aston Martin F1 Team||221|
|6.||Alpine F1 Team||84|
|7.||Haas F1 Team||12|
|8.||Alfa Romeo Racing||10|