Red Bull’s Max Verstappen has taken the lead in the Formula One drivers’ championship following a comfortable victory in the Spanish Grand Prix.
Verstappen overcame an early spin at turn four to battle through the pack and win the race. Teammate Sergio Perez finished second, meanwhile Mercedes newbie George Russell finished an impressive third.
Ferrari had a torrid Sunday having placed their cars on pole and in third place following an impressive qualifying session. Charles Leclerc recovered from a mistake to snatch first place on the grid after a superb final flying lap. The Monegasque driver beat Verstappen to the punch by three tenths of a second.
Leclerc started the race on the defensive, cutting his Red Bull competitor off at the first corner and gaining an advantage of over ten seconds. But the comfortable drive was short lived. An engine failure led to shouts over the radio of “NO,NO” as the car slowed and he retired in the pits. A painful end to what was looking like a successful weekend.
Red Bull will be delighted with how Sunday played out for them. Despite the Max Verstappen spin and Sergio Perez starting in fifth position, the bulls recovered well. Perez got off the starting line well and managed to push up to fourth place and was fighting for position with George Russell.
The Red Bulls had much more pace than the Mercedes and managed to pass Russell in due course. The team decided to pit Vertsappen, who had a DRS problem and put him on the soft tyre. This gave him the pace to compete without his rear wing opening. An order from the team for Perez to allow the Dutchman through cemented the win for him. It was also an impressive one-two for Red Bull.
George ⚔️ Max
— Formula 1 (@F1) May 22, 2022
Carlos Sainz had an almost identical spin to Verstappen. This left the driver languishing in eleventh for a period of time. He did well to recover and finish fifth for the title challengers.
Have Mercedes Recovered?
Mercedes had made it well known that upgrades would be brought to Barcelona with them. The eight time constructers championship winners have had a torrid start to the season. The main issue for the team has been the porpoising issue that has plagued many other teams.
There were visible changes on the car ready for the weekend. A new floor which was more rigid and sturdy meant that the porpoising stopped and pace quickened on the straights. Mercedes visibly had more pace and were able to hold their own in the top five. However, they will still be looking for more pace in coming races. George Russell managed a podium in Spain. Whilst after an early collision with Kevin Magnussen, Lewis Hamilton recovered to finish fifth. There was one issue that became recurring. The car seemed to have an overheating issue which will be of concern with the Monaco Grand Prix next week.
The overriding question is, are Mercedes back? Well with the pace they had on the straights, they are certainly improving. But it would be presumptuous to assume they are back in the championship race. There is a lot of work that still needs doing.
Brilliant Bottas Battling
Valtteri Bottas has had a stellar beginning to this season having amassed an impressive 38 points. That is 37 more than his rookie teammate Zhou Guanyu. Bottas produced another stunning drive as he held fourth position well for much of the race. Late overtakes from Lewis Hamilton and Carlon Sainz pushed the Finnish driver down to sixth. This was through no fault of his own as his tyres had fallen away. Bottas sits eighth in the world championship standings. Alfa Romeo will be delighted.
Pink Mercedes, Green Red Bull, Still dreadful
Aston Martin had high hopes coming into this season. The team owner by billionaire Lawrence Stroll have been trying to break away from the middle of the pack. Their poor results this season have seen them fading to the back of the pack. The Spanish Grand Prix was marred in controversy for them however. With their car looking suspiciously like the current Red Bull. The floor and new sidepods had a stark resemblance, this led to complaints from the Red Bull team. First and second practice looked promising for Aston Martin. But qualifying as the race were poor once again. Sebastian Vettel finished eleventh, and Lance Stroll finished fifteenth.
The next race sees a trip to Monaco, the infamous street track will throw up plenty more excitement for fans and drivers alike. Qualifying starts at 3pm BST on Saturday the 28th May and the race begins at 2pm BST on Sunday the 29th May.