2023 Barcelona Grand Prix Race Report

Author Photo

Shantanu Shende

· 5 min read

Pirelli chose the second hardest sets of compound i.e. C1 for the hard, C2 for the mediums and C3 for the softs.

Qualifying Recap:

The unbeatable championship leader, Verstappen, one of the fan favorites this weekend, Sainz, and the Brit youngster, Norris, set the starting grid of the Spanish Grand Prix. Followed by Hamilton, Stroll, Ocon, Hulkenberg, Alonso, Piastri and Gasly the top 10 was completed. Gasly who put up a very fast lap in Q3 session of qualifying, put him up in 4th, but was handed 2 three-place grid penalties for impeding Sainz and Verstappen in Q1 session. Norris did a brilliant job of pushing the car to the limit on the evolving track and starting on 2nd row of the grid, which had lost the entire grip due to the rain during the F2 race. Last year’s pole sitter Leclerc was eliminated in Q1 starting from the pit lane after qualifying in 19th position and being unhappy with the car, the team made changes to the car setup under parc-ferme conditions.

Lap 1 drama:

Max Verstappen made a phenomenal start to his race while being under pressure from Sainz but dealt with it using his aggressive driving style and developed a gap of over 1 second by the end of lap 1. Lando Norris made contact with Lewis Hamilton while going into turn 1 and lost his front wing endplate dropping him to the back of the grid due to the forced pit stop. George Russell had to take the exit route after turn 1 as he had no space on the track when Piastri tried to overtake the Haas of Hulkenberg. Lance Stroll picked up 2 places on the 1st lap after his lightning fast start from a stand still. He ended up losing the position he gained to Hamilton on the 8th lap.

Strategy Games:

The teams were trying to perform overcuts and undercuts to save position from their potential rivals. Not only the top teams but mid-level teams did put up a good show and displayed they could be a threat to the top teams if they don’t perform. There were overtakes happening all over the track throughout the race. Stroll with the good start had went for overcut strategy to save his position against Ocon which was successfully carried out as the pair of Aston Martin finished 6th and 7th, scoring solid amount of points for the team. Sainz also went for the overcut on the pair of Mercedes but wasn’t able to hold them after both the Mercedes put on the softs in final stages of the race, making him lose his podium spot and Mercedes was able to achieve their first double podium. Russell put on the softs on lap 46 as they were working for him just as he expected them to. Hamilton and Perez pit on lap 51 for softs. Russell was able to overtake Perez while Perez was in the pits; Hamilton had a considerable gap between himself and team-mate Russell which prevented him the loss of a position. Perez rejoined the track behind Russell and Sainz, Russell was far ahead of Perez but Sainz was within the striking distance and lost his position to Perez dropping him to 5th. The pace of Ferrari was weaker throughout the weekend as compared to the Red Bull and Mercedes as well. On Lap 53, Verstappen complained about grip and pace of Hard tyres, reacting to which the team made spur of the moment call to pit Verstappen but the huge gap between Verstappen and Hamilton didn’t put any pressure on Verstappen and the team. Tsunoda was handed a 5-second penalty for forcing Zhou off the track at turn 1 which resulted in him finishing in 12th which could’ve been 9th had he not been handed the penalty.

alt text

Perez was slower in the 1st part of the race but his pace improved in the second part of the race. He faster than Russell after coming out of the pits on the softs, but there wasn’t enough race distance left for him to attack and overtake Russell for the last podium position. Leclerc was pressurizing Gasly in the final 5 laps of the race even-though being on used set of hard tyres. If Leclerc would’ve been on a fresher set of tyres he could have been able to overtake Gasly and finish in the points following the penalty handed to Tsunoda.

Verstappen was handed black and white flag for exceeding track limits but still was comfortable enough to push the car to beat his fastest lap time of 01:17:330 by one whole second. Mercedes showed some great improvement in pace and grip after changing the floor design and bringing the sidepods on the W14. The lead of the race didn’t change even once. Aston Martin, McLaren and Alpine had some good pace throughout the weekend, but Ferrari was clearly struggling. Stroll was able to cope up well and put a strong performance while proving his worth, resulting in a good weekend for Aston Martin. The Spanish Grand Prix proved to be a testing ground for the teams for their updates and strategies and gave them some good data to study, boosted the morale of lower teams motivating them to perform better and put up a competition for the top teams and highlighting where teams are lacking and what needs to be improved. Verstappen now leads the championship by 53 points just after 8 races from his team-mate Perez who has bagged 117 points till now. Awaiting the Canadian GP!

#Formula 1#Race Analysis#Spanish Grand Prix
Author Photo

About Shantanu Shende

MSc. Automotive and Motorsport Engineering Graduate.