Ahead of the weekend at the Grand Prix, Max Verstappen gave his colleague Sergio Perez gifts for the birth of his child. Onesie, bib, socks and stickers to play with, all in the design of the Dutch World Champion Orange. On Sunday, it was Perez who gave him a gift, albeit involuntarily: the Mexican was in front towards the end of the race and was directed to let Verstappen pass. That helped Verstappen take his fourth win of the season and lead overall.
Verstappen was able to smile again after he loudly complained about the unreliability of the DRS during the race. All tips helped only to a limited extent. “I mean, I’m not stupid,” Verstappen said, “once you get the light and the activating tone and you hit it. I’ve tried everything possible. We obviously have a problem there.” The fact that Ferrari led by Charles Leclerc has given up the ghost and his three-stop strategy running with Perez’s help made his workday very interesting.
What a bitterness, what a bitter bitterness! After a good start, Charles Leclerc put a good distance between himself and the competition. It went well for 27 laps, and his nearest rival Max Verstappen only showed 12.6 seconds. It looked like he could win today without any issues. But suddenly Ferrari lost its power, Leclerc slowed down and had to stop. Scuderia wants to check the engine on Monday to see what happened. After his first fiasco in 2022, Monegassi said: “Something like this is always so disappointing when you fight for the World Cup, every point counts. I think it was hard for others to catch up with me.”
Now he has handed the championship lead to Verstappen and is six points behind. The 24-year-old handled the setback professionally. “He went into the garage and shook hands with all the mechanics,” Team Principal Mattia Binotto said on Sky. “It’s a strong signal when drivers do something like this in a situation like this. It shows what kind of driver he is.” Leclerc saw no reason to be mad at anyone: “I wanted to cheer the mechanics because they were all so depressed.” The season is young, the relationship between Leclerc and F1-75 is basically correct. And it would certainly be better if there was another chance to finish the podium at his home in next Sunday’s Grand Prix.
Fourth in Bahrain, fifth in Jeddah, third in Melbourne, fourth in Imola, fifth in Miami – and now third in Barcelona. George Russell leads reliably on points and is often ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton, the seven-time world champion. And that despite the fact that the W13 bouncing annoyed him. Now it looks like the racing team has got this problem under control.
Russell immediately engaged in a fierce duel with world champion Max Verstappen, whose attacks he skillfully countered for a long time. His car warned him of a high temperature of 37 degrees in the air and 49 degrees of asphalt and technical problems arose towards the end. But this did not bother Russell. Mercedes Motorsport boss Toto found: “George defended himself amazingly against Max. It was the way he put the car into place.”
After a solid start, Mick Schumacher ran on asphalt and felt he might be able to score his first points in Formula 1 on this hot Sunday in May. The tenth started and immediately formed four positions. But then came the disappointment. “I think after a good first lap the hopes were too high,” said the 23-year-old. “But after the second and third laps the feeling started: Oh, that could be tough.”
Schumacher could not stop the attacks. He later questioned his team’s two-stop strategy, too. Schumacher finished the race 14th, without a point, but ahead of teammate Kevin Magnussen, who has scored all 15 world championship points for Haas so far but is now 17th. So this is a success for Schumacher. But some points will be important in the near future to be able to take the pressure off yourself. Two weeks ago, an accident with Sebastian Vettel prevented that.
What would have been possible for seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton in Barcelona if he wasn’t on the first lap? Kevin Magnussen hit the Silver Arrow with Haas in his fourth turn, which then had to dig in. Having started from sixth, Hamilton was way behind and considered naming him a day in advance. But the impulse is back. For his boss Toto Wolff, it was clear: “If not for Magnussen, Lewis would certainly have been in contention for the win.”
The upgrades had the desired effect. FC Barcelona-Catalunya fits Hamilton anyway: he’s won here six times, more than just Michael Schumacher. The season so far has been very unsatisfactory for someone chasing an eighth world title. But now, according to Mercedes, Hamilton has sometimes been the fastest in the field, despite catching up. He advanced to fifth, then was stopped by a water leak and had to slow down. But that didn’t dampen the mood: “This car reminded me of our world champion cars,” Wolff rejoiced. “A race like this feels like a win,” said Hamilton.
Perhaps more than anyone else in the field, Carlos Sainz has had to deal with his driving style this season. With F1-75, Ferrari developed a car that could be used to compete for victories and titles (see Leclerc). But the Spaniard can’t handle it. That didn’t change at his Grand Prix home, which he had been hoping for so much, either because of the upgrades.
Even the start went poorly for the 27-year-old, who lost two places. On the seventh lap he landed his fourth turn in the gravel trap. “The combination of turbulent air from the car in front of me and gusty winds made me lose the rear,” Sainz said. The catch-up race started from eleventh, and fourth place as a result was consolation. But this continues his string of disappointments this season, “a mixture of misfortune and mistakes,” in the words of Sainz.
Aston Martin was hoping to be the center of attention this weekend due to its sporting successes. But Sebastian Vettel couldn’t do better than 11th, Lance Stroll had to settle for 15th. However, there was a lot of talk about the team because Red Bull publicly suspected them of being illegal copying. After the upgrades, the AMR22 changed so much that there was talk in the tracks of a “Green Red Bull” due to the similarities with one concept in particular.
“We will investigate in detail,” motorsport chief Helmut Marko said, who said there was evidence of data being downloaded from the team’s servers. So it leaks. He also noted the change of seven engineers from RB to Aston Martin. The Vettel racing team is defending itself by planning two concepts since mid-2021. Fia has investigated the case and has not seen any violation of the rules. To continue, perhaps.