Max Verstappen, the defending two-time world champion, boosted his lead in the championship race this year to 53 points on Sunday after completing a hat-trick by piloting his Red Bull to a convincing win in the Spanish Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton, a seven-time winner, and George Russell, who had been revived, came in second and third in their significantly improved Mercedes cars, but the 25-year-old Dutchman took the lead from lights to flag, winning by 24 seconds. Verstappen won for the third time in a row, for the third time in Spain, for the fifth time in seven races this season, and for the 40th time in his career, despite getting three official warnings for breaching track restrictions. Following the race, Verstappen remarked that driving a vehicle of this calibre was a big pleasure for him.
F1 Spanish Grand Prix 2023: How the Race Unfolded
After dominating all three practice sessions and qualifying at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, the world championship leader took the lead early on and maintained it throughout the race, finishing 25 seconds ahead of Hamilton. Verstappen's advantage in the world championship over teammate Sergio Perez, who improved from starting 11th to eventually placing fourth, increased to 53 points with the triumph, which came with an extra point since Verstappen produced the best lap in the closing stages. While they were unable to keep up with Verstappen, Mercedes made significant advancements in their massively updated vehicle, making the W14 unquestionably the second-fastest on the circuit as they easily surged ahead of Carlos Sainz of Ferrari, who finished fifth.
Aston Martin was likewise struggling to beat Mercedes, with Lance Stroll finishing sixth and ahead of teammate Fernando Alonso for the first time this season. The Spaniard had a difficult weekend in his home race, finishing seventh. Though teammate Pierre Gasly took the last point when Yuki Tsunoda was given a five-second time penalty for obstructing Alfa Romeo's Zhou Guanyu, who finished ninth, Esteban Ocon continued Alpine's recent progress to finish eighth. Verstappen's victory extended Red Bull's winning streak to seven to begin the 2023 season. The Dutchman is in dominant form as he pursues a third successive drivers' title. Mercedes surpasses Aston Martin to take up second place in the constructors' championship, where Red Bull now holds a 135-point advantage.
F1 Spanish Grand Prix 2023 Results: The Standings
|1||1||Max Verstappen||RED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT||66||1:27:57.940||26|
|4||11||Sergio Perez||RED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT||66||+35.812s||12|
|6||18||Lance Stroll||ASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES||66||+63.320s||8|
|7||14||Fernando Alonso||ASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES||66||+64.127s||6|
|8||31||Esteban Ocon||ALPINE RENAULT||66||+69.242s||4|
|9||24||Zhou Guanyu||ALFA ROMEO FERRARI||66||+71.878s||2|
|10||10||Pierre Gasly||ALPINE RENAULT||66||+73.530s||1|
|12||22||Yuki Tsunoda||ALPHATAURI HONDA RBPT||66||+75.416s||0|
|13||81||Oscar Piastri||MCLAREN MERCEDES||65||+1 lap||0|
|14||21||Nyck De Vries||ALPHATAURI HONDA RBPT||65||+1 lap||0|
|15||27||Nico Hulkenberg||HAAS FERRARI||65||+1 lap||0|
|16||23||Alexander Albon||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||65||+1 lap||0|
|17||4||Lando Norris||MCLAREN MERCEDES||65||+1 lap||0|
|18||20||Kevin Magnussen||HAAS FERRARI||65||+1 lap||0|
|19||77||Valtteri Bottas||ALFA ROMEO FERRARI||65||+1 lap||0|
|20||2||Logan Sargeant||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||65||+1 lap||0|
Verstappen Dominates Throughout
Verstappen was expected to be particularly challenging to beat at the more traditional Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya after winning in Monaco last weekend at a circuit where Red Bull was anticipated to encounter their toughest competition of 2023 to yet. Those predictions came true, as the Dutchman finished the weekend strong to win with plenty of time remaining. Sainz of Ferrari put the most pressure on him at the first corner, but he weathered what looked to be a somewhat subpar start to keep the lead and then cruised into the distance. Verstappen once again looked to have everything under control after securing pole position on Saturday without even needing to do a second run in the final round of qualifying. He only showed his real speed in the last laps to claim the bonus point awarded for the fastest lap of the race. The worst risk he faced was a black and white flag for violating the track boundaries three times. The five-second penalty he would have received for doing it again would have made little difference. Verstappen has won five of the season's first seven races, and with the RB19 seemingly unbreakable in his hands, attention will turn to whether he can equal or surpass the record 15 victories he earned in 2022.
Hamilton Finishes Second
Following the cancellation of the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix earlier this month due to floods in northern Italy, Mercedes was left to make their long-awaited upgrades official in Monaco at the special street circuit where it was nearly difficult to evaluate the modifications. Consequently, there was a lot of interest in how the W14 would perform in Barcelona after the team dropped the idea of a "zero-sidepod" and incorporated a new floor, rear suspension, and diffuser. It wasn't apparent how much progress had been made up until Sunday, but the outcomes were precisely what Hamilton had hoped for following the disappointment of the early season when he admitted to "counting the days" until the improvements. Hamilton, who started from fourth, overtook Lando Norris for third into the first curve, but he immediately found himself in serious trouble when the McLaren made touch with the Mercedes' rear, which had slowed down to avoid a collision with Sainz up front.
Further in the race, Norris fared worse since front-wing damage forced McLaren to stop, placing Norris last and immediately negating a stellar performance in qualifying. Hamilton briefly seemed uneasy and was overtaken by Stroll from behind, but after being convinced that his car was undamaged, he retook the lead and began pursuing Sainz. In the end, there was no contest as Hamilton easily passed Sainz on lap 28 and then cruised through the rest of the race to take only his second podium of the year. "We definitely didn't expect to have the result we had today, so I just really want to take my hat off to my team and say a big, big thank you to everyone back at the factory for continuing to push and bring us a little bit closer to the Bulls. They are still a bit ahead, but we'll keep chasing them down. This is an amazing result," remarked an ecstatic Hamilton.