Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen took his fifth win of 2023 with a controlled victory at the Spanish Grand Prix, as Mercedes scored a first double podium finish since Brazil last year with Lewis Hamilton second ahead of George Russell.
When the lights went out it was Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, starting from the front row beside polesitter Verstappen who made the best start. On Soft tyres he drew alongside the Dutchman who has started on Mediums, as the pair powered towards Turn 1. The Red Bull driver held firm, however, and moved ahead as they went towards the second corner.
Behind them Hamilton passed P3 starter Lando Norris into Turn 1 and the McLaren driver then clipped the back of the Mercedes as they went into Turn 2. Norris was forced back to the pits at the end of the opening lap for a new front wing and dropped to last place.
There wewre good starts too for soft tyre starters George Russell and Zhou Guanyu who jumped ahead of the second Red Bull of Sergio Pérez who like his team-mate also started on medium tyres. The Mexican, dropped to P12, but soon began moving forward and at the start of lap 2 he powered past McLaren’s Oscar Piastri and then got by AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda Haas’ Nico Hülkenberg to claim P9 before inheriting P8 when Zhou pitted to shed his starting soft tyres.
At the front, Verstappen was already carving out a solid gap to the rest of the field and on lap 11 he was 5.2 seconds clear of Sainz, with Hamilton a further 1.6s back. Lance Stroll was fourth for Aston Martin ahead of the Alpine of Esteban Ocon, while Russell was sixth. In seventh and just half a second ahead of Pérez was the second Aston Martin of Fernando Alonso.
At the end of lap 13, Ocon pitted from fifth place to switch from Soft to Medium tyres andf the Frenchman was followed to the pits soon after by Stroll. Sainz then made his first stop of the race at the end of lap 15 and after taking on Medium tyres he rejoined in eighth place. At the end of lap 19, Alonso dived into the pits. The flurry of stops vaulted Pérez to fourth, 7.5s behind Russell.
Hamilton pitted for medium tyres on lap 24 and he rejoined in P5, behind Sainz. Russell made the same move at the end of the following tour and Pérez rose to second place, 28 seconds behind his team-mate.
Verstappen made his first stop on lap 27 and in a 2.2s halt the race leader moved to hard compound Pirellis before rejoining six seconds ahead of his team-mate who pitted at the end of the next lap. The Mexican’s 2.2s switch saw him emerge in ninth place, behind Alonso.
At the front, Versrtappen was now 12 seconds clear of Hamilton, with Sainz third ahead of Russell. Stroll had climbed back to fifth place ahead of Ocon, while AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda, who had made an early stop for hard tyres, held seventh and Pérez sat in P8 after getting past Alonso under DRS at the start of lap 31.
The Mexican Red Bull driver then began an inexorable march through the order and he climbed back to fourth place with 25 laps remaining. Russell then pitted for a second time on lap 46 and after moving to soft tyres the Mercedes driver dropped to fourth, 13.4s behind Pérez. He quickly began to close on the Red Bull and on lap 51 Pérez’ team pitted him for a second time. The Mexican bolted on a set of softs in a 2.2 stop and rejoined the action in fifth place, 2.4s behind Sainz.
Hamilton, too, pitted on lap 51 and that gave Red Bull the freedom to move Verstappen to set of soft tyres without significant time penalty. He emerged in the lead and soon after Pérez powered past Sainz. The Mexican closed to within four seconds of the Mercedes driver in the end had to settle for fourth place.
Ahead Verstappen was in total control and after 66 almost perfect laps the Dutchman crossed the line some 24 seconds ahead of Hamilton and 32 ahead of third-placed Russell to take his fifth win of the season, the 40th of his career and his third grand chelem after perfect weekends in Austria in 2021 and in Imola last year.
Victory in Spain extends Verstappen’s championship lead and he now has 170 points, 53 ahead of Checo who has 117. Red Bull also grew its Constructors’ Championship lead and with 287 points it is now 135 ahead of Mercedes who have moved into second place ahead of Aston Martin.
2023 FIA Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix – Race
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Honda RBPT 66 1:27’57.940
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 66 1:28’22.030 24.090
3 George Russell Mercedes 66 1:28’30.329 32.389
4 Sergio Pérez Red Bull/Honda RBPT 66 1:28’33.752 35.812
5 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 66 1:28’43.638 45.698
6 Lance Stroll Aston Martin/Mercedes 66 1:29’01.260 1’03.320
7 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin/Mercedes 66 1:29’02.067 1’04.127
8 Esteban Ocon Alpine/Renault 66 1:29’07.182 1’09.242
9 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 66 1:29’09.818 1’11.878
10 Pierre Gasly Alpine/Renault 66 1:29’11.470 1’13.530
11 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 66 1:29’12.359 1’14.419
12 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri/Honda RBPT 66 1:29’13.356 1’15.416
13 Oscar Piastri McLaren/Mercedes 65 – 1 lap
14 Nyck de Vries AlphaTauri/Honda RBPT 65 – 1 lap
15 Nico Hülkenberg Haas/Ferrari 65 – 1 lap
16 Alexander Albon Williams/Mercedes 65 – 1 lap
17 Lando Norris McLaren/Mercedes 65 – 1 lap
18 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 65 – 1 lap
19 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 65 – 1 lap
20 Logan Sargeant Williams/Mercedes 65 – 1 lap
Source : Fia