RACE DEBRIEF

    Red Bull

    Verstappen was unstoppable – he started on the mediums, fought off Sainz through the first corner and from there was streets ahead as he came home for his third straight win, picking up the bonus point for fastest lap to boot. As for Perez, he also started on the mediums so had to be careful off the line from 11th. He climbed back through the field and was chasing hard in the closing stages to try and make it back to the podium, falling a couple of seconds short.

    READ MORE: ‘We have to keep on working’ – Verstappen vows not to ease off after fifth win of 2023 as he gets set for Mercedes challenge

    Max Verstappen, 1st

    “To win here again feels incredible. It’s a massive pleasure to drive a car like this. It was important to try and keep the lead into turn one, it was quite tight. From there onwards it was about managing the tyres, I was able to create a big gap. We went on to the hards but I didn’t seem to have much grip, I was sliding around quite a lot, the pace was okay but I couldn’t create more of a gap, so we switched to softs and then I just needed to bring it home. We’ve had another strong weekend and that’s of course what I like to see for the Team, hopefully we can keep this up throughout the year.”

    Sergio Perez, 4th

    "I am disappointed with today, we have ultimately paid the price for a bad qualifying. We did have a good strategy but, looking at where we started from, there was only so much that we could do. I think P3 was possible but, if we wanted more points, then I would have had to take more risks on lap one and potentially compromise my race. George went really deep on that first lap, gaining a lot of positions but we took it easier to ensure we had more of a clean start. Then we got stuck behind the Aston Martin and Fernando was quite hard to pass, so it meant I couldn’t progress through the field as quickly as we would have liked. This weekend, in general, has been a step back and we weren’t quite there, but there are plenty of things we can do better. All in all, we brought home twelve points today and I think, looking forward, Canada should be a strong race for us. Everything is pretty close right now so that will be an interesting one.”

    Christian Horner, Team Principal

    “Another great performance from Max. The start was strong, he had to be firm but fair with Carlos into the first turn and from there he managed the race really well. We ran all three compounds today and he had the pace to cover whatever was going on behind him finishing with a 24 second gap by the end of the race. Max was totally in control. But it’s not just Max, the whole Team is operating at an elite level. We have a phenomenal car, we have two great drivers and we are continuing to evolve and become more polished. It was a good recovery from Checo, especially the second part of the race and I think that will give him a lot more confidence. He had a difficult Monaco, a difficult qualifying but a better Sunday. Looking at the gap between the two drivers, the pressure is off now and we know what Checo is capable of. I’m sure he will re-find that form from the early races in the near future.”

    Mercedes

    Hamilton had contact with Norris at the start, having got past the McLaren off the line. Luckily that didn’t damage his W14, as he had some serious pace out there. He was able to run the softs longer than Sainz, which got him ahead of the Ferrari after the first stops, and from there had a lonely race in second. Russell started much further back but was electric off the line, picking up a handful of places despite taking to the escape road through the first few corners. From there he climbed all the way to third with some good overtakes, extracting enough pace at the end to keep Perez at bay.

    READ MORE: Hamilton hails ‘really mega’ progress for Mercedes after double podium in Spain

    Lewis Hamilton, 2nd

    "I am so happy after today. I didn’t expect us to come here this weekend and finish second. I was able to keep everything under control today. We couldn’t keep up with the Red Bull of Max (Verstappen) as they are in another league, but this is still a really positive result. For George to come through from P12 to P3 is also spectacular. I feel incredibly grateful to the whole Team, everyone back at the factory to Team LH all over the world who are always sticking by me.

    "We are learning more and more about the car. I am hoping that the car continues to be like it was this weekend. I am hoping from here onwards we are in a good place. For sure, there will be some circuits where the car isn’t quite in the right window but hopefully the next few races should suit us."

    George Russell, 3rd

    "It was a pretty good race today! This morning, I had a lot of confidence that I could move forward from P12 and thought that P5 or P6 was achievable. After a good start, our pace was just there from the very beginning. We knew after Friday that we had good race pace, but you can never be 100 per cent sure if it will translate to the Grand Prix. I was really pleased it did, I was able to make some good overtakes and bring it home on the podium.

    "This result highlights all the hard work and efforts that have gone on at the factory to bring these upgrades. We had a strong race here last year, so the next couple of races will be key to see if we can consistently produce results like this and close the gap to Red Bull."

    Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

    "I’m really pleased with the hard work that has been done in Brackley and Brixworth, and happy for everyone in the Team. It’s a good result but we need to be realistic too. The lower temperatures today and on Saturday really suited us; it was nice and fresh, not too hot nor too cold, and the car was in a mega window.

    "We took a decision to go in another direction early in the season; it was a risky move, but everyone has just pushed forward and we’ve got a good race car. We now need to just keep chipping away. We are a good Team at grinding away; once there is a clear direction we just go for it. Let’s keep our expectations real though. We’ve got a long way to go to catch Red Bull but it’s good to see we are moving in the right direction."

    Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director

    "It’s great to see both cars on the podium again. It’s been a while! We’re obviously pleased with the result but it’s more satisfying to see the progress with the car. The Team have been working flat out since the Bahrain test to bring improvements to the car, and it’s nice to see that the recent updates appear to have brought performance.

    "The drivers did a great job balancing the need to push to overtake today with the tyre management requirements. The Team also did really well optimising the race. For sure this track suits the car, especially on the long run, so we’re realistic about our chances in Montreal. We seem to be moving in the right direction though and that’s the main thing. We’ve made good progress in the championship; Max is clearly out of arms reach for us at the moment, but we had fun today and we’re looking forward to the next races."

    Ferrari

    Sainz started on softs and so was quicker off the mark compared to Verstappen, but the Dutchman had the racing line in the first corner so was able to stay ahead. From there Sainz had to look behind rather than in front, and didn’t have the pace on any compound to keep the Mercedes cars at bay today. As for Leclerc, he gambled on the hards from the pit lane but couldn’t make inroads in the early stages. That Ferrari only really came to life on the softs late on, with the Monegasque driver able to climb up to 11th, running out of time to pick off Gasly ahead.

    READ MORE: ‘I did my absolute best’ says ‘gutted’ Sainz as he misses out on a home podium

    Charles Leclerc, 11th

    "Today in terms of balance the car was alright, but the performance was not at all consistent. We ran the Hards twice, but with the first set I struggled a lot, while with the second one it was reasonably good and I was catching Pierre (Gasly) towards the end.

    "We really must analyse all the data, because while the upgrades seem to work as expected, we are always slightly caught out by what is happening with the tyres and we struggle to get them in the right window which is a big problem. We ran the same tyre twice in the same race and we went from having a very bad car to quite a good one towards the end of the race. Now we will go back to the factory and find out what went wrong yesterday in qualifying because that’s what put us in a tricky situation today. There’s a lot of work to do."

    Carlos Sainz, 5th

    "It was a tough race. Unfortunately, we couldn’t fight at the front as our pace is pretty much dictated by tyre management and degradation. I know Sundays have been frustrating so far this season, but we gave it our all on track this weekend and we will keep working on this new package and on developing our car.

    "Thank you to everyone out there in the grandstands cheering for us every day! It’s always a pleasure to race at home."

    Fred Vasseur, Team Principal

    "We made a step forward this weekend in terms of our qualifying pace, with Carlos on the front row after the best Saturday of his season so far. However it is clear that, in terms of race pace, Red Bull and Mercedes are quicker than us. As for the upgrades, I think we have made a step forward overall if you compare this weekend with Miami. Clearly, we know it is still not enough. Our problem is not our outright performance, it is our lack of consistency. Charles’ first set of Hards was a sort of a nightmare but then on his last set of the same compound he was happy with the balance: we must assess this inconsistency. Now we will focus completely on this issue before Canada. For sure we will continue to develop the car but this is a matter of improving by tenths of a second, whereas in the race we are looking for seconds at the moment. There is something in the car that we must unlock if we want to move forward."

    Aston Martin

    Aston Martin didn’t have the pace to take the fight to Mercedes today. Stroll started and finished sixth, and had Alonso on his tail in the closing stages. The Spaniard had had to work hard, twice pitting into traffic and having to work his way back past the likes of Ocon and Zhou, but despite closing in on his team mate Alonso opted to just bring the car home and make sure the team picked up as many points as they could.

    Fernando Alonso, 7th

    "We didn’t have as much pace today on both the Soft and Hard compounds, so it was a tricky race for us. We tried to go longer on our strategy and hoped it would pay off later with fresher tyres, but our rivals had a little more pace. I think sixth and seventh positions were the maximum for us. I thought our performance seemed better in qualifying, so I think we need to look at why and aim to bounce back for Canada. We still scored some solid points and we had no risk at the end of the race. I want to thank the fans for their passion, energy and support this weekend. It was very emotional and special for me.”

    Lance Stroll, 6th

    “It was a fun battle with Lewis [Hamilton] on the first lap; I’ve pulled that move off before so I knew there was a gap and figured Lewis would leave me a bit of space, which he did. That put me in a good position going into Turn Five and I could hold the place. Then, from about five laps in, we really struggled with the pace. My tyre degradation was higher than expected but the cars around us didn’t seem to have the same issue, so it’s something we’ll look to understand for the coming races. We bring home some good points finishing sixth and seventh, but I think we’d been hoping for slightly more today. I’m looking forward to heading to Canada, my home race, in a few days’ time.”

    Mike Krack, Team Principal

    “It was good to have both Aston Martins finish well this afternoon and we come away from Barcelona with 14 points. Lance and Fernando pushed hard all afternoon, made some important overtakes, and showed great teamwork. We should not be disappointed with this result – even though we did not quite have the pace to fight for the podium today. It was in the first stint on the Softs that we did not quite have the performance to catch the cars ahead and in the second and third stints we managed our pace and had a comfortable advantage over the teams behind us. Before we leave Spain, I want to say a big thank you to the passionate fans: their energy has been very motivating throughout this race week, and we have really enjoyed racing here.”

    Alpine

    Gasly had a dreadful start, dropping from P10 down to 14th to compound his woes from his two grid penalties. But an early pit stop for fresh rubber galvanised him and at times he was the quickest man out there. He climbed back through the field to finish 11th, inheriting P10 thanks to Tsunoda’s time penalty. As for Ocon, he didn’t have the pace to keep Russell and Perez at bay, nor Alonso. He did make his former team mate work hard for the place though, pushing him as wide as he dared on the main straight.

    Esteban Ocon, 8th

    “We leave Barcelona with double points again so I think we can be satisfied with our work this weekend. We finished eighth in the end and I don’t think there was much more we could have done today, with our race pace perhaps lacking a bit compared to our competitors who finished in front. We’ll definitely take a look to see how we can improve that but, overall, it was a strong Saturday and a decent Sunday for us. We can be proud of the last couple of weeks but we know there is work to do to keep heading in the right direction.”

    Pierre Gasly, 10th

    Another double points finish but we always strive for more. On my side, it’s frustrating after such a strong qualifying yesterday and also the fact we showed good race pace today capable of fighting in the top six. Unfortunately, the penalties and the poor start had a big impact on my race, and we’ll collectively review to see what we can improve for next time. The car is performing well – that’s three points scoring finishes in a row – and we must keep striving for more. I’m looking forward to a bit of time off before taking on Canada in two weeks.”

    Otmar Szafnauer, Team Principal

    “We come away from the Spanish Grand Prix with five points after Esteban finished eighth and Pierre tenth. It was a tough race with varying strategies and gameplans. For Esteban he did a good job to be in the mix for the top six, just missing out in the end and there are certainly a couple of aspects from his race to be improved for next time. Pierre already lost six places due to the grid penalty after a superb qualifying yesterday where he was fourth and then lost another four positions on lap one after being caught on the wrong side of a scrum of cars in the opening turns. He did a great job to recover those places in the end to score a point. Of course, we are aiming for more than minor points – like last week in Monaco – but the performance of the car is solid and we’re taking the fight to those ahead. There are some things we must improve – small details to get right – and we look forward to racing in Canada later this month ready to keep battling for those higher positions.”

    Alfa Romeo

    Not to be for Bottas, who stopped much earlier than planned as he couldn’t switch on the soft tyres at all. The Finn lacked pace all the way through the race and came home a lowly 19th. But his team mate had a great race – a brilliant start jumped him forward, and from there Zhou did have the pace, overtaking Hulkenberg twice and making a move on Tsunoda. The AlphaTauri man ran him wide and off the track, picking up a penalty and so Zhou inherited ninth at the flag.

    Valtteri Bottas, 19th

    “First of all, congratulations to Zhou and the team for getting points; he showed good pace, and that’s encouraging for the next races, as proof of the hard work put in by the team back home in Hinwil and here at the track. From my side, we found damage to the floor, probably from some debris picked up at the start of the race, and that cost us quite a big chunk of performance: as a result, I just lacked pace altogether today, I wasn’t able to put up a fight with anybody and it was quite a long race for me. I know we can put this race behind us and quickly come back on the right track before heading to Montreal in two weeks. The circuit will be once again completely different, and hopefully it’ll suit our car. We had a decent race in Montreal last year, scoring a very good result for the team: hopefully, we’ll be able to replicate that, and keep this streak running.”

    Zhou Guanyu, 9th

    “I really enjoyed today, it was a well-executed race from my side: I think these have been some of the best two days for me in Formula One, in terms of performance. I had a good first lap, and that was crucial to give us the opportunity to get something out of this race: our pace was strong, although there were times in which we had to manage our tyres wisely. I knew I had to keep the pressure on the others to bring home a result and, when the opportunity was there, I tried to force them to make a mistake. At the end, I knew I had the pace to take Yuki [Tsunoda]: I had DRS, I was half a car ahead going into the corner, but I wasn’t given any space and didn’t have any other choice than to take the escape route to avoid contact. In the end, things worked out well and we were able to bring home two points, which was a good result.”

    Alessandro Alunni Bravi, Team Representative

    “Today, we showed that we’re ready to fight for every single lap, every single tenth of a second on track. We have shown that, working together with determination and as a team, we can deliver the result we all, and our drivers, deserve. The field is very close, we saw that today: every thousandth of a second matters so we need to be aggressive, have a results-driven mentality. We had a hard fight on track with the Haas, the Alpines, the AlphaTauris and to come out of this with points is a very positive result.

    "Zhou drove very well, pushing every lap and working with the team on how to improve his performance. He is making good progress: especially after a tough weekend in Monaco, he showed the ability to bounce back with confidence and the points he scored are a good reward. Valtteri suffered a difficult Saturday, and today he suffered damage to his car that dashed any hope of a comeback. He will get back stronger in Montreal.

    "We had a strong race as a team, with the right strategy calls from the pit-wall and good execution. The team worked really hard and we’re grateful for their effort: the last few weeks haven’t been easy but we knew we would get back. We keep fighting, together with our partners Ferrari, that have helped us to today’s result. We had reasonable pace throughout the weekend and we confirmed that the good things we showed in practice were not a fluke. We saw that our race pace is better than our qualifying pace, which is something we will address as a priority as we aim for another step forward ahead of Montreal. There’s no time to sit down now, there’s work to be done every day both trackside and in Hinwil, and we have full confidence in our ability to deliver.“

    AlphaTauri

    Tsunoda had a great start and found himself running in the top 10. He stopped quite early on, using the undercut to his advantage both times and was holding on to ninth late on. But when Zhou tried a move around the outside into Turn 1, Tsunoda ran him wide and off the track in a move the stewards deemed unacceptable. That earned him a five-second time penalty, which dropped him from ninth at the flag down to P12. De Vries had a quieter race, and couldn’t quite keep up with his rapid team mate today.

    Nyck de Vries, 14th

    “Obviously, as a team, we wanted more. Although I had a good start, I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and got stuck on the inside, so we lost too many places and then got stuck behind other cars. We tried to undercut, but I was struggling to get past, which cost me a lot of time. Certain moments of the race were good and the last 25 laps on the medium compound were very competitive, so I think we just need to try and put it together better. This weekend has been competitive from the start, so I definitely think we are making progress with the car. Canada will be a different type of track, but I'm confident we can build on our improvements and capitalise on every opportunity.”

    Yuki Tsunoda, 12th

    “I am super disappointed and frustrated. I think the penalty I was given for forcing another driver off the track was very harsh but it’s something I have to accept. There was little space but still I thought it was enough. On a positive side, the team did a fantastic job to improve the brake issues we’ve been having, and to put me in the fight for points the last two race weekends. It shows that the car is improving and the hard work is paying off. The weekend is done now, and I am looking ahead to the next race in Canada.”

    Guillaume Dezoteux, Head Of Vehicle Performance

    “Until the very last moments on the grid, we monitored the weather closely as it was raining a few kilometres away. Surprisingly, it never arrived and we ended with a two-stop race, close to our predictions.

    Yuki drove fantastically. He was able to stay with Ocon for most of the race, which is encouraging regarding our race pace. Unfortunately, while defending Zhou in Turn 1, he didn't leave enough space at the apex and received a five-second penalty for this, ending up P12.

    Nyck had a strong start, although he lost a couple of positions in the opening laps and ended up in a train of cars for most of the first and second stints. Nyck's third stint on the medium tyre looked strong and he was able to close on Piastri towards the end of the race finishing P14.

    This weekend feels a bit like a missed opportunity, as we believe we had a package strong enough for points and being closer to the midfield in qualifying. Nevertheless, we have learned a lot about our car in a wide range of conditions, and this will give us valuable data for the developments coming in the future.”

    McLaren

    Norris started third, but was picked off by Hamilton. As the Mercedes braked for the corner, Norris got slightly caught out and pit the rear of the W14 with his front wing, immediately pitting with damage. Emerging last, it was a tough ask from there for Norris to be involved in much action. As for Piastri, he lost out to Russell off the line and was running close to the points in the early stages. But the McLaren was harder on its tyres than some others, and the Australian started to fall backwards late on.

    READ MORE: Norris rues 'unlucky' first lap collision with Hamilton but says Spanish GP went 'as expected' after lowly P17 finish

    Lando Norris, 17th

    "Today we had a difficult afternoon. We just didn’t have the pace, compared to what we had yesterday, which is more or less what we expected, so it was difficult for us. At the start I didn’t see the Red Bull go off track, misjudged how much the cars in front were going to check up and I just clipped the front wing. It was the smallest of touches, but it cost us a lot, although I don’t think we would have finished in the points anyway. It was a difficult day for us as a team, but we’ll keep working hard to try to improve."

    Oscar Piastri, 13th

    "It was a disappointing afternoon. Our pace in quali didn’t translate to the race, so it was tough. But it’s important we focus on taking the positives from Saturday’s quali result where our one-lap pace looked very strong. We now just need to work on the race pace as we head to Canada in two weeks’ time."

    Andrea Stella, Team Principal

    "Following a very positive qualifying session, today’s Spanish Grand Prix was a more realistic showing of our current competitiveness. We knew it would be more difficult to perform at the top of the field on race pace today given the hotter conditions. The situation was compounded by contact on the first lap between Lando and Lewis Hamilton, which resulted in Lando pitting for a new front wing and falling 30 seconds behind the field.

    “I would like to praise the team today. Despite a difficult position, both Lando and Oscar both kept pushing, their engineering teams put in maximum effort to extract everything from the cars, and the garage crew delivered good pit-stops. Back at the factory, everyone is working hard to deliver upgrades and looking to the future when we hope to be fighting for more competitive positions."

    Haas

    Not to be for Haas, despite having Hulkenberg starting in the top 10. The German lost out at the start, and could not get his tyres switched on. He was forced into an early stop, as was his team mate, only for the American team start to struggle with their rear jack. Slow stops all round for both drivers and more tyre woes saw them come home down the order.

    Nico Hulkenberg, 15th

    "It was tough. Unfortunately, the degradation was really high for us and we had to three-stop whereas the competition didn’t. It looks at first glance that over one lap we’re competitive but in the long runs we still have some homework to do and some pace to find."

    Kevin Magnussen, 18th

    "It was a tough day in terms of tyre management. At the beginning of every stint, it was quite competitive compared to everyone we were fighting, but our tyres just fell off quickly and we had to three-stop which wasn’t optimal. Hopefully we can try and learn about what caused it to improve, but certainly it was a tough race. When you have a bad weekend like this, you tend to find some interesting answers and that’s what I’m hoping for now – onto the next one."

    Guenther Steiner, Team Principal

    "Quite a disappointing result today, we just couldn’t get the tyres to stay alive. We did one more pit stop than everyone else, but even if we hadn’t stopped, we would’ve gone slower and ended up there anyway. We need to go back to the drawing board and try to find a solution to our tyre degradation."

    Williams

    Not to be for Williams. They had lacked pace all weekend, and in race trim it was more of the same. Sargeant had started from the pit lane after the team modified his car overnight, but couldn’t make any headway from there while Albon also failed to get involved. Other circuits should suit their car more.

    Logan Sargeant, 20th

    “Starting from pit lane didn’t cost us too much as we caught the back of the pack pretty quickly. The first two stints were pretty good which was positive, but that last stint was tricky. We need to understand why it changed from stint to stint as I couldn’t find the pace or grip. We’ll get rested up and ready for Canada in a couple of weeks.”

    Alex Albon, 16th

    “The race wasn’t easy, but it was better than I thought it would be. We were fighting and beat three cars on merit. Considering where we were on Friday and Saturday, I’m pleasantly surprised with how today went. You get no prizes for P16 but if there was some rain we could’ve maybe had something.

    “This weekend showed that, unfortunately, when it comes to these proper race tracks like Barcelona we do struggle and lack a bit of downforce. We’ve got some upgrades coming soon and hopefully once we get that increase in performance we can fight more in the midfield like the start of the year. Until then it’s about maximising the car we’ve got. Hopefully, we can do a bit better when we get to Canada.”

    Pirelli

    Mario Isola, Motorsport Director

    "On a track that is particularly demanding for the tyres, we witnessed a race in which all three available dry compounds came into play, each one used extensively. The C1 covered 41.6% of the laps completed, then came the C2 (30.6%) and the C3 (27.9%). The decision to introduce the new for 2023 C1 specification compound meant that a two-stop strategy was on the cards and was used by most of the teams. Compared with our pre-race predictions we saw that the Medium was more competitive, partly down to the track temperature being significantly lower than during last year’s race. Initial analysis suggests that degradation on all the compounds was lower, even with the softest C3. Notable examples of this were the first stints for the two Mercedes drivers with Russell doing 25 laps and Hamilton 24, or Alonso’s middle stint (25 laps) running a heavy fuel load and yet running at a pretty competitive pace.

    "It’s been a very busy weekend for Pirelli. Apart from F1 here in Barcelona, we were also working at all three car racing series in which we are the sole tyre supplier – in Sardinia with the WRC and in France at Paul Ricard with the GT World Challenge Europe. Additionally, there was our two-wheeled commitment and in Misano (Italy) we celebrated Pirelli’s 20th anniversary as sole tyre supplier in the SBK Championship. Pirelli is staying in Barcelona with two days of very important testing this coming week aimed at next season. The programme is focused on the development of compounds that can be used without the usual pre-heating procedures."

    HIGHLIGHTS: Watch the action from the Spanish Grand Prix as Verstappen dominates to take victory