Formula 1 Barcelona: McLaren fails, Hamilton thrives

Formula 1 Barcelona, ​​Winner: Max Verstappen

He probably doesn’t have the best car at the moment, but that can’t stop Max Verstappen from winning. The Red Bull driver celebrated his seventh win of the season in Spain. He laid the foundations for this in the first few laps: Lando Norris was due at the start, and then George Russell on lap 3. Norris, on the other hand, found it hard to beat the Mercedes, and the McLaren only got going later in the run. The decision had already been made. By the time Norris had got through the traffic, Verstappen had already outpaced him. Once again, a perfect management race at the front, in which he was always able to react correctly to the increasing pressure from his pursuer. Verstappen’s lead in the world championship is currently 69 points.

Formula 1 Barcelona, ​​Winner: Mercedes

It was no stroke of luck in Canada! The conditions on the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya were diametrically different to those two weeks ago: hot temperatures, long curves. Nevertheless, the W15 delivered. The Silver Arrows can probably be expected every weekend from now on and that should worry Ferrari in particular, who are suddenly only the fourth best force in the 2024 Formula 1 season and that only a little more than a month after the much-celebrated Monaco victory. Mercedes, on the other hand, seems to be within reach of its first Grand Prix victory since 2022, even if the last bit is still missing at the moment, as Toto Wolff noted after the Spanish GP.

Formula 1 Barcelona, ​​Winner: Lewis Hamilton

So he can do it after all: Lewis Hamilton defeated George Russell in qualifying in Spain, celebrating his first head-to-head victory since the sprint qualification in China. In the race, too, it was Hamilton who came out on top this time – with a bit of luck with his strategy. Far too often in recent weeks he has been on what turned out to be a suboptimal strategy. In view of the plight of the record Formula 1 world champion, there were even anonymous allegations of manipulation against the team from Brackley. Hamilton himself was relieved after the race: Finally, everything worked, qualifying and the race. Well, almost everything. The start was a bit off, making the first trip to an F1 podium since Mexico 2023 more difficult than it could have been.

Formula 1 Barcelona, ​​Winner: Alpine

The trend is again the friend of Alpine. Admittedly, after the weak start to the season, things could almost inevitably only go in one direction, namely up. But with four points-scoring results in the last two races, Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon have blossomed into real players in the midfield battle. Despite the unrest surrounding the team, the comeback of Flavio Briatore, the sale rumors… Not everything is bad in Enstone and with the current developments in the constructors’ championship, there is still a lot to be done. What could also make Alpine a winner this weekend: Carlos Sainz is said to be in talks with the French team again for a cockpit in 2025. He would probably be the best driver option the market currently offers and a strong building block for potential future success.

Formula 1 Barcelona, ​​Loser: McLaren

Yes, the McLaren seems to be the fastest car in the field at the moment. But that is hardly enough to console the Papaya Oranges for missing out on another victory. In the last four races, Lando Norris had the fastest car at least twice, and possibly in Canada too. In Monaco, McLaren, in the form of Oscar Piastri, was also just one position away from victory. It seems almost unbelievable that McLaren did not win a single one of these four races. But it was partly down to bad luck (Canada), but more to Norris, who was not able to maximize the potential of his own car as Max Verstappen does week after week in the Red Bull. Norris’ patience is now running short: the second victory after Miami is long overdue.

Formula 1 Barcelona, ​​Loser: Sergio Perez

It runs like a red thread through the European season: the misery of the Sergio Perez. The Mexican’s season is almost identical to last year and he keeps slipping further and further. In Spain, after two retirements in a row, he at least got some points again, but the gap to Max Verstappen (59.5 seconds) is actually unforgivable, regardless of whether his teammate is arguably the most talented driver in the current Formula 1 field. The comparisons with his two predecessors in the Red Bull cockpit, Alex Albon and Pierre Gasly, have rarely been more apt. Even in the 2023 F1 season, Perez did not have to endure such a huge beating.

Formula 1 Barcelona, ​​Loser: Racing Bulls

Things can happen just as quickly in midfield. A few weeks ago, Racing Bulls were the celebrated newcomers who were slowly catching up with Aston Martin. Now it’s all a matter of guessing: During the entire Barcelona weekend, neither Daniel Ricciardo nor Yuki Tsunoda were able to make any impact, but instead just did their laps at the back of the field with no hope of points. The result is the worst race result of the current Formula 1 season, garnished with a penalty for Yuki Tsunoda, who was caught speeding in the pit lane. The updated VCARB-01 is not performing as expected. After the race, Daniel Ricciardo hoped that it was just a track-specific problem. In Austria, this theory will be put to the test.

Formula 1 Barcelona, ​​Loser: Aston Martin

The form curve is going steeply downwards in Silverstone. The performance of Lawrence Stroll’s team has been mixed since the start of the season, compared to the expectations built up last year. But after Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, the team seemed to have a fixed subscription to the last points places, provided one of their drivers didn’t throw it away themselves. That is no longer the case. The Spanish GP successfully proved that the weak and ultimately pointless Monaco weekend was not an outlier. In the principality, at least the traffic could be used as an excuse for the zero. In Spain, there was no excuse: the AMR24 was simply too slow.

Formula 1 Barcelona, ​​Loser: Williams

Williams and the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. This is no longer a love story. The track on which the traditional British racing team celebrated its last victory in 2012 has not only been a low-yield track for Williams since this generation of rules. Since 2022, however, it seems to be the absolute Achilles heel for the British. In the last three years, they have been able to beat a total of one driver in qualifying – and that with only one car. The team last scored Formula 1 points in Barcelona in 2016, and since then there have been eight races without a point. The drivers back then: Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas. The drivers today, Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant, despaired at the sharp handling of the FW46, which could not cope with the wind at all. The high temperatures also did not play into the car’s hands. The bottom line was a Grand Prix to forget. In terms of pace, it was the team’s worst Formula 1 race this year.

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