During the weekend from 2 to 4 June, Formula 1 arrives in Spain, on the Montmelò circuit in Barcelona, for the Spanish Grand Prix. The Grand Prix represents the seventh round of the season one week after the Monaco Grand Prix, the sixth race of the championship. For the second time this season, the world championship provides for the dispute of a race one week after the other. The world championship is still on stage in Europe with the second consecutive round of the season scheduled in the old continent. The Spanish Grand Prix is the first of two total races scheduled for the month of June. This season, the Federation sets the race to take place in June, for the first time since the 1996 edition. On the calendar, the appointments for the Spanish and Monegasque races are reversed, compared to the last few championships. It presents the Spanish Grand Prix after that of Monaco for the first time since 1999. After five consecutive race weekends held on the type of street circuit, the world championship disputes an appointment on a permanent track, for the first time since the Grand Prix of Bahrain, first round of the championship. The contract for the inclusion of the race in the world calendar, still on the Catalunya circuit, was renewed in November 2021 until the 2026 season. For the first time, the Grand Prix is sponsored by AWS, a US company owned by the group Amazon. This edition is attended by 284.066 spectators during the race weekend, which represents the absolute record for the Grand Prix. The previous record belonged to the previous edition of 2022, characterized by 277.836 spectators over the weekend. Present in the Formula 1 world championship calendar since the 1951 season, the Spanish Grand Prix sees the dispute in its sixty-fourth edition, the fifty-third valid for the Formula 1 world championship. It is the second oldest Grand Prix after that of France, with the first edition that took place in 1913 on the Guadarrama circuit, a test not valid for the world championship. The Catalunya circuit, venue of the race, has hosted the world championship since the 1991 season, reaching its thirty-third edition. Various news and curiosities accompany the approach to this race weekend. Teams can test two additional sets of hard tires in the first two free practice sessions of this Grand Prix.
A double day of testing was also made official, again on the Spanish circuit, on the Tuesday and Wednesday following the start of the race, which sees the German team Mercedes and the Italian manufacturer Ferrari engaged in testing next season's tyres. On this occasion, the Brackley team sees the debut with the team of the team's reserve driver, the German Mick Schumacher, on Wednesday. British stable McLaren announces the new technical director of the team, Rob Marshall, coming from the Austrian stable Red Bull Racing. His role within the new team will be effective early next year. Marshall had been with the Milton Keynes racing team for seventeen years and was currently working on studies relating to the 2026 regulations for the manufacturer. The Woking team runs with a celebratory livery to pay homage to the victories achieved between 1974 and 1995 in the Indianapolis 500, the Monaco Grand Prix and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, an award known as the Triple Crown, as part of the celebrating sixty years of the Woking-based team. The special livery was also used in the previous Monaco Grand Prix. The Swiss Alfa Romeo team is entered in the Grand Prix as Alfa Romeo F1 Team Kick. The constructor was initially equally entered in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, before being registered as the Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake, and the Australian Grand Prix. The Australian driver of McLaren, Oscar Piastri, the US driver of Williams, Logan Sargeant, and the Dutch driver of AlphaTauri, Nyck De Vries, debutants in the category in this championship, at full capacity including De Vries, have already competed on the Catalunya circuit in other categories. Piastri raced in the Formula Renault Eurocup and in the 2020 Formula 3 championship, with victory in the Sprint race. De Vries scored a victory in the 2023 Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 championship, then in the GP3 Series and in Formula 2, where he won the Sprint race of the 2019 championship. In the previous season he took the first free practice session on Friday with Williams. Sargeant achieved a first and second place in the 2018 Formula Renault Eurocup championship. Subsequently he made three appearances in Formula 3. The previous year in Formula 2 he finished third in the Sprint Race and fourth in the Feature Race.
Former Formula 1 driver, Briton Derek Warwick, is appointed assistant commissioner for the race. He has already performed this function in the past, most recently at the Bahrain Grand Prix, the season opener. It is the German car manufacturer Mercedes that supplies the safety car and the medical car. Regarding the characteristics of the Montmelò track, with the relative choice of compound compounds, Mario Isola, Pirelli Motorsport Director, declares:
"Traditionally, Barcelona has been one of the most popular venues for testing: both for cars and tyres. It's a complete track, featuring several different types of speeds and corners, and it also has a very long straight. As a result, aerodynamic efficiency is key to being competitive. The final sector has been modified for this year, reverting to the original layout without a final chicane. This makes it a much more flowing track now and also adds to the entry speed onto the main straight. There are two corners, Turn 3 and Turn 9, which are particularly demanding in terms of lateral forces exerted on the tyres. We've chosen the same three types of tyre as the season-opener in Bahrain, but it's important to remember, when comparing to last year, that this year's C1 is an entirely new compound, specifically designed to bridge the gap between the hardest tyre in the range (now called the C0) and the C2. In theory, this should hand the teams a wider range of strategic choices, given that the hardest available compound last year wasn't used at all in the race. Another novelty is the chance that the drivers will have during the first two free practice sessions to try out two additional sets of hard tyres that feature the new construction that will be used from the British Grand Prix onwards. Apart from the use of some new material, which has already been homologated following an extensive test programme, the latest specification is identical to the previous version. Initially this was scheduled for 2024, but its introduction has now been brought forward to make the structure more resistant to fatigue, as the loads generated by the current cars have already reached the targets set for the end of the season after only a few races. This new construction has no impact though on the technical parameters or performance of the tyres. We also continue our 2024 testing campaign after the race, with Mercedes and Ferrari running over two days as we develop the compounds and constructions for next year".
In the Haas Team, Ayao Komatsu, Director of Engineering, on this start to the season, declares:
"I think considering this is the second season after really just concentrating on survival, we are doing well. I think the good thing is baseline car performance is pretty good. That’s actually even slightly better than we anticipated, so that’s positive but what’s lacking is the consistency across tracks and also race pace. That’s what we’re working on, but I think we’re working across departments better, so it’s very positive. So far, I think it’s slightly better than I expected but because the potential is there, we can see it, we just need to improve the race performance".
On the updates and development capabilities of the team, Ayao declares:
"It’s really positive for the team because the first major upgrade we brought to track in Miami, it just worked. It’s not as simple as saying coming from the wind tunnel, this is a big gain and this should work, which happens quite often and you don’t actually see it, but this one was the opposite - it didn't make a huge difference in the wind tunnel in terms of headline numbers, but we believed it was worthwhile introducing it due to certain details we saw. At the track, we saw exactly the behavior change we expected, and in fact, it was actually better than anticipated. Then, following that philosophy, we brought a front wing to Monaco which was meant for Imola, but in Monaco you can’t measure anything so we will measure it this week. Team morale-wise, it’s brilliant".
Regarding the pairing of drivers and the benefits they have brought within the team, Haas’ Director of Engineering declares:
"Nico has brought exactly what we were looking for. From Abu Dhabi testing, it was really clear that he can feel the car really well, so his feedback is very accurate, he’s very calm and he rarely makes mistakes. Even when things are less than ideal, he just stays calm in the car and gives you the feedback in real-time which doesn’t put engineers on edge, it means they can just focus. Whenever he’s running, we can get a decent amount of data and he is able to somehow comment on car behavior in a way that engineers can relate to. He’s really accelerating our development and our set-up direction, and Kevin is benefitting from that as well. If you look at Monaco, okay - we weren’t competitive as a team - but if you look at both driver performances, they were nip and tuck in every session. They learn from each other and have different limitations which helps the other one, but the very fundamentals of the car, they are both clear about what we need to improve, which is exactly we needed".
Ayao then talks about the battle in the Constructors' Championship for the mid-group positions:
"The midfield is really tight. In qualifying, at most races, we almost have it. If we put everything together and we send the car with the correct set-up, at the correct time, it’s operationally good and then the driver performs, we can be up there fighting with Alpine. With race pace, we’re not quite there yet but that’s the bit we’re really focusing on. If you look at Miami, we finished P10 with Kevin which was a bit disappointing, but nobody retired. Apart from the big teams - Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes and Aston Martin - we were only beaten by Pierre Gasly, and with a little bit of improvement I feel we could’ve been there with him until the end. All departments internally are working better together, we’re where we should be I think in our second year of revival".
Kevin Magnussen, Danish driver of the Haas team, on the Barcelona-Catalunya circuit, declares:
"Barcelona is one of the race tracks around the world I’ve driven the most out. Many Formula 1 drivers have that in common because Barcelona has traditionally been a track where we’ve had winter testing and in all the junior categories the track has been used for testing a lot, it’s present on nearly every calendar in every category so it’s familiar".
On the track and on the layout change between Turns 14 and 15, he says:
"I think it’s going to be exciting to try the original layout without the chicane. It always seemed like a great sequence of corners - the last two corners - with it being so high-speed. Let’s see what that does for overtaking, I have a feeling it might be slightly better for overtaking but time will tell".
He also says to know the track, even without having done the classic pre-season tests:
"I think by now knowing the track so well it won’t be that different. We know where the VF-23 is different from the VF-22, and I don’t think from a driving perspective it will be that different. I’m just looking forward to getting to Barcelona, trying the new layout of the track and hopefully having a good result".
Also the other Haas driver, Nico Hulkenberg, has things to say about the circuit:
"It’s a hard neck workout, especially with the revised circuit layout with the last two corners being the old configuration. It means it’s faster, it’s less low-speed because that last low-speed chicane has been cut out. I think the average speed will go up by quite a bit, from a medium to high-speed track, and it’s definitely more demanding. Obviously Barcelona is a place we know very well from the past with all the winter testing we’ve done there. I feel like I’ve done a million laps around there. I’m looking forward to exploring that last sector. Barcelona is a cool city, has great food so no complaints traveling there".
He talks about the changes affecting the track:
"I think it’s actually quite nice for a change because, for a lot of drivers that have been around for many years, they’ve felt a little tired of because you have pre-season testing there and some other testing during the year there, so it does get a bit one-sided, so now I’m a bit more excited to go there without testing. I haven’t raced there since 2019".
Then he reminds about his work at the simulator, used in its entirety throughout the season:
"Many teams and drivers do it now and we use the simulator to maximize the preparation process before the weekend, running and trying out several different set-up options to come to the track with the best possible start set-up which I think has worked well so far this year. It’s a tool to develop the car but also to understand the set-up direction we want to take and for me personally, to learn some of the new tracks like Miami, Imola - which didn’t happen - but it’s good for a driver to learn new tracks in the simulator and not start at zero. We try to do half a day running where in that time you do 40 to 50 laps, so you start at 50, 60 percent track knowledge".
In the Mclaren team, an important engagement takes place. In fact, Rob Marshall, the technician who worked for 17 years as Chief Engineering Officer at Red Bull Racing, has now joined the Woking team. Andrea Stella, Team Principal, comments on the news:
"I am incredibly pleased that Rob will be joining McLaren. With over 25 years working in motorsport, Rob comes to us with a wealth of expertise and experience, elevated by his tenure and track record at Red Bull Racing. Rob's appointment is one of the fundamental steps and a natural fit to aid the team's journey to get back to our winning ways. We are a team with the ambition of fighting for championships, but over the last couple of seasons we have not shown a steady upward trend from an on-track competitiveness point of view. Over the last few months, we have worked towards inverting this trend. The approach we have adopted is comprehensive and is based on strengthening the Team from a people and expertise point of view, along with the ongoing projects to upgrade technology and infrastructure that will shortly come to fruition. People and culture are our most important resource. We have recently invested and worked towards developing and empowering the internal talents available at McLaren, and we already perceive and measure the positive impact. In parallel, we have been strengthening our roster by bringing new talents on board. The list was already strong and encouraging, and the addition of a high-end and skilled individual like Rob will further consolidate our ability to establish the highest technical standards at McLaren and be in condition to design winning F1 cars. We look forward to welcoming Rob in the near future".
In the Aston Martin team, Fernando Alonso, after the incredible result obtained in Monaco, is looking forward to racing in his home Grand Prix in Spain:
"The emotions are still high after an amazing result in Monaco. But now we shift our focus to my home race here in Spain. I'm looking forward to seeing all of the Spanish and Aston Martin fans out in full force supporting our team. I hope to see lots of green in the grandstands over the weekend. So far, we have scored lots of third places, a second place in Monaco and the next one we need is the top step. To do this we have to maximise every part of our weekend and capitalise on any opportunities that may come our way. But I am not obsessed with this and we will enjoy every moment. We have a lot of experience of this circuit but it's always a good challenge. It'll be interesting to race again without a chicane at the end of the lap, and hopefully this creates more overtaking opportunities".
Lance Stroll concludes:
"It's great to be able to get back on track straight away at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya after a challenging weekend in Monaco. It's a track that we're all very familiar with, having spent plenty of time here testing over the years, and one that I enjoy driving. After a run of five street circuits, it will be interesting to go to a more traditional racing venue and this will be valuable as we continue to benchmark and develop the AMR23. With it being Fernando's home race, I'm sure there will be plenty of green in the grandstands which is always great to see".
At Alfa Romeo Racing, Alessandro Alunni Bravi, Team Representative, hopes to get more out of the updates brought to Monaco at this track and is confident that everyone in his team is pushing in the same direction about the improvements:
"We are looking forward to heading to Barcelona, a track we know well and where we will be able to extract more from the upgrades we introduced in Monaco. We return to the track where our C43 made its debut, in a filming day, four months ago. A lot has happened since, and there’s still a long way to go until the finish line: but everyone in the team, both at base and at the races, is working to push the team in the right direction. We may not have scored points in Monaco, but the job done on Sunday both on track, in the garage and on the pitwall was good and we can build on that. We have to keep pushing, on a track that can offer more regular circumstances, and make that step forward to get back into the points".
Valtteri Bottas, curious about the new track layout, hopes that more performance can be extracted from the updates brought to Monaco:
"I am very curious as we go to Barcelona. The track layout has changed and there will be an element of discovery to make in practice: in addition, it will be another opportunity to extract performance from our upgrades, especially on a track that is more traditional, in terms of layout, than Monaco. The performance in the Principality was good, as a team: making up four places in Monaco is never easy, even though we just missed out on the points. We must aim for more, though, and Barcelona can be the place where we make a step in the right direction: I’m not the only one in the team who is eager to be on track there, everyone is confident and that’s the spirit we all want to see in the team".
Zhou Guanyu concludes:
"The Circuit de Catalunya is a track we all know well, it’s a known quantity that allows you to really assess where you stand. I enjoy driving here and I’m really looking forward to being back on this track following our filming day earlier in the year. Our Monaco upgrades should be even more effective on this layout, so I am confident we can have some fun and be a bit better here. Last week we were able to make the most progress of all, albeit from the back of the grid, and hopefully that is a good sign going forward. The objective remains the same - qualifying as high as we can and converting that position into points come Sunday".
At Mclaren, Lando Norris is satisfied with having obtained valuable points in Monaco, and is confident that he can also achieve a good result in Spain:
"It's great to leave Monaco with some valuable points for the team. I really enjoyed the race despite the tricky conditions, and I was quite pleased with our pace in the end. There were plenty of positives for us to build on as we head straight to Barcelona. I'm looking forward to racing at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya again. I've finished in the points there before so I'm hoping I can end the double-header on a high. There are some changes to the track this year that should make the racing better, so I'm excited to see what that's like and what we can achieve".
Oscar Piastri, happy to have finished in the top 10 on his debut in the Monaco Grand Prix, is thrilled to be racing again in Barcelona:
"I'm happy to have completed my debut Monaco Grand Prix with a top 10 finish. It was a great way to start the double-header and I finished the weekend with a lot of important learning. Barcelona is a great track, so I'm excited to return. I've raced there in the past and secured a sprint win during my time in F3, but it will be interesting to experience the modified track for the first time. It should make for good racing and hopefully both of us can finish in the points again".
Andrea Stella, McLaren’s Team Principal, is positive after the result obtained in Monaco and hopes to score a few more points for the championship here:
"Leaving a challenging Monaco with two cars in the points is a very positive outcome for the team. Our pace was good on the Intermediates, and it was very promising to see Lando and Oscar overtake in such difficult conditions. We now head into the final race of this double-header in Barcelona. This year the circuit comes with a few changes, including the removal of the chicane, taking it back to the original layout. These changes should give us a faster, more exciting race with great overtaking opportunities, and hopefully some more championship points".
At Alpine, Otmar Szafnauer is fully satisfied with the result obtained in Monaco and with the updates brought as they seem to go in the right direction; he aims to get another good performance in Spain as well:
"We can all take great satisfaction in this result and it just demonstrates what we are capable of achieving. We've brought upgrades to the car in recent weeks, which are working very well, and we should have further validation of those updates in Spain this weekend on a more conventional Grand Prix circuit than the last two events in Miami and Monaco. We are all working very hard to repeat this type of performance but we will also remain realistic. We must keep developing the car, continue to execute clean race weekends and ensure the drivers continue to perform to a high level. Our immediate focus is on preparing for the upcoming Spanish Grand Prix and aiming for another good performance".
Esteban Ocon comments positively on the satisfaction of having climbed on the podium in Monaco, and is ambitious in wanting to achieve another good result in Spain:
"It's been a very good past few days. To be on the podium at the iconic Monaco Grand Prix is a dream for any driver I would say, so it's really great to now say that we've done that. It's now starting to really sink in and the whole weekend was testament of the team's hard work, both at the track and at Enstone and Viry, and belief that a result like this was possible. We will keep our heads down as we know there is a long way to go and we have some ambitious targets that we still want to achieve. And of course, there is not much time to rest and reflect as our focus quickly shifts to the Spanish Grand Prix this weekend".
Pierre Gasly, who was quite satisfied with last weekend, expects to be able to get the most out of it in Spain as well:
"I was pretty pleased on the whole with our performance in Monaco, which finished with a very good team result. On my side, I feel like we built up the weekend well, progressing from a productive Friday through to Saturday. I was a bit disappointed not to have extracted everything in Q3 as we could have been higher on the grid and in a stronger position. In the race, while seventh is a great result and deserved, we know it could have been better. We will continue to work together collectively as a team to make sure we can extract the maximum from race weekends and I'm definitely looking forwards to Spain this weekend where we target another strong one".
At AlphaTauri, despite the result in Monaco that did not meet expectations, Nyck de Vries takes a cue on various positive aspects that can be useful on the weekend in Barcelona:
"I’m glad we can go racing again immediately as there are several positives we can take from Monaco, even if the final result didn’t match our expectations. I had a clean weekend with no mistakes; it was my best qualifying of the year and in performance terms we were closer to the top ten than we had been. We ran our upgrades and it seemed to work, but we must wait for the Barcelona track to give us some real answers as Monaco is not at all representative. It means we will have plenty of work to do during Friday’s free practice. Like most drivers, I’ve spent plenty of time on the Barcelona track, racing there in GP3 and I won the F2 Sprint in 2019, after finishing second in the Feature race the year before. Everyone has plenty of data from there as it used to be the main testing track and it would also feature a lot in simulator development work. I like racing there; it’s a typical European venue and the Spanish crowd are very enthusiastic. I just really like that event and the track, and I’m looking forward to driving the new layout through the final corners, although of course it’s actually the old layout. It’s a good grand prix all round and the fact it’s so close to Barcelona means the fans get to enjoy the city, as well as the racing".
Yuki Tsunoda concludes:
"I really enjoyed Monaco up until the moment it rained in the race on Sunday. We did a good job as a team through free practice and it was the first time I made it to Q3 at this track. Even in the race, things were going well, and the pit stop was well timed, but then the brake problems made it difficult to stay in the top 10. I am keen to get going again in Barcelona, where I picked up a point for tenth place last time. We got plenty of data relating to our updates in Monaco, but on the Spanish track we will definitely get a clearer picture of how they work and if they can put us more regularly in the points. I first raced here in GP3 in 2019 and the following year I finished fourth in both the F2 races. I’ve driven the new layout in the simulator - I think Alonso must be the only driver who remembers it from the past".
"The last chicane has gone which means it will be a much faster lap than in previous years. I’m not sure if it will make overtaking any easier or create more chances, but I’ll be interested to see. Having two fast corners at the end of the lap could affect tyre degradation, which is always high here, so it will require a different approach, even if tyre degradation is less this year. In the past, in qualifying, your tyres could be finished before the end of the lap, but the new faster corners at the end mean less requirement for good traction out of the turns. Let’s wait and see. I went straight from Monaco to Spain, trying to fit in some more physical training, which can be difficult to do with back-to-back races".
At Williams, Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance, outlines the situation over the weekend in Barcelona:
"Barcelona is a familiar track for all the teams and drivers and although there are some changes to the track layout for 2023, these are only reverting to a previous layout, which all teams have a lot of experience of. The reintroduction of two high-speed corners to end the lap is quite a departure from the previous layout with the low-speed chicane; this will require some changes to the car setup and will place different demands on the tyres. Following a string of street circuits, it is useful to be returning to a reference racetrack. The requirements for Barcelona won't necessarily suit the FW45, but it remains a useful place for us to benchmark the performance against our competitors' 2023 cars in a wide range of corners. In contrast to the very soft tyre compounds in Monaco, Pirelli bring some of their hardest compounds to Barcelona in a combination that we previously raced in Bahrain. The compounds suit the layout of Barcelona well, but the exact behaviour will depend on the track temperature and the car balance in the high-speed corners. Each driver receives two additional sets of tyres this weekend, which are a preview of the new carcass construction that all teams will use from the British Grand Prix onwards. Testing these additional tyres mean that we have a lot of work to get through in the short Friday sessions, and we will need to carefully choose which of our other test items we weave into the programme. The weather forecast is for typically warm early-June conditions but with a risk of showers during the weekend. We should get all the testing done in the dry but then the rain may start to dictate the programme from Saturday afternoon onwards".
Alex Albon, after the sequence of weekends on street circuits, is enthusiastic about racing in Barcelona and talks about the characteristics of the track:
"I'm looking forward to Barcelona this week, as we head to a racetrack after a bunch of street circuits. It's a track where all the teams and drivers have done a million laps, so we're pretty experienced around here. It's a good track to learn what the car is like with a mix of low speed/high speed, however more high speed due to the track changes, so that will interesting. I think it will make the circuit more fun and more raceable, so let's see where it goes. It shouldn't be a track that normally suits us or at least it hasn't been previously, however by removing some of the corners at the end of the lap, I think it will help us be a bit more competitive".
Logan Sargeant concludes:
"I'm excited and ready for Barcelona this weekend. A track I have a lot of good memories at from the past and enjoy driving on. It should be quite tricky with conditions and generally being a high degradation track, but we are prepared for the weekend".
In the Red Bull Racing team, Max Verstappen is excited to return to racing in Barcelona also to see the new layout of the last two corners, and declares:
"I’m looking forward to going back to a track that we all know so well. I’m also interested to see the new layout for the last two corners. Of course, I have great memories from this circuit, especially winning my first Formula One race there. Outside of the track, Barcelona is a great city too, I enjoy this weekend, it’s a good place to be. Hopefully we’ll have some nice weather to throw into the mix too".
Sergio Perez, after the negative weekend in Monaco, is determined to bring the team back to the standards set for the whole season:
"Monaco was a disaster for me. Everything that could have gone wrong went wrong. So this weekend is all about starting again and making sure we get back to the high standards we have set all season. I want to repay my Team for all their hard work with a good result in Barcelona. We know we have the quickest car out there on the right day and this circuit should suit us, I just need to make sure I have a perfect weekend from start to finish. I need to be consistent to maintain any pressure on Max in the Championship and I need to pick up some wins. If I can get it right here the win is achievable and that’s the aim, as always".
At Mercedes, Toto Wolff compliments his team on the right choices in the rainy situation at the Monaco Grand Prix, and lingers over the weekend in Spain to look for opportunities:
"It's always a challenge when rain falls midway through a race and the Team handled it well in Monaco. We made the right calls and scored some solid points. It is impossible to evaluate our upgrades on a circuit like Monaco, but at least we didn't have any nasty surprises. We now move on to Barcelona. Spain will provide an opportunity for us to establish a new baseline with the W14. It is a track that we are familiar with, although the removal of the final chicane will make it a much quicker lap. It comprises a wide range of corner types; that provides a good opportunity for us to learn about the new package. We don't expect to see a step change in performance, but we're hopeful it will provide a more stable platform. After the Grand Prix weekend, Mick will also get his first real-world taste of the W14 on the second day of the Pirelli tyre test. He has done a great job with the Team so far, working hard back in the simulator and giving valuable input trackside. We're looking forward to him getting his first taste of on-track running this year, and sure it will help him in his role as Reserve Driver".
At Ferrari, Charles Leclerc is positive in returning to racing on a traditional circuit, a testing ground for the cars. Hoping to improve the handling of the car, and the overall performance, the Monegasque driver declares:
"After a run of street circuits, it’s good to be back on a traditional track, one which is well known for being an excellent test bench for the cars. This weekend, we have a package of updates to start evaluating tomorrow. They should improve the driveability of the SF-23, allowing us to take a step in the right direction. So far, our race performance has not been satisfactory but I’m fully motivated for the coming races. Our aim is to improve as quickly as possible and to start winning races, as we were doing around this time last year. I expect the front left, and actually the whole left side of the car, to have a harder time. I’ll also be interested to see if, with this new faster layout, you will still have to manage your tyres for the first two sectors on a quali lap, so they have life in them for the final sector, which is something unique to this circuit".
Carlos Sainz Jr., motivated to race in his home Grand Prix, thanks the team for the development program he will bring to this track, but at the same time is realistic about what could happen in terms of performance:
"Waking up in my home country Spain, knowing a race awaits me, puts me in a good mood, because I feel the support from all the fans. They will be watching from the CS55 grandstand and knowing that the three thousand tickets available for it sold out in eight minutes makes me very happy. I’m also pleased to have noticed that, at the promotional events I’ve taken part in here so far, the majority of people attending are under 30, proving just how much our sport is going through a magic moment also here in Spain. They are a step in the right direction, but they are just part of an ongoing development programme that doesn’t end here. The package will be evaluated on track here in Barcelona and it’s part of a new direction the team has decided to go in with the SF-23. Thanks therefore go to everyone who has been working night and day back in the factory in Maranello. Having said that, we are still realistic, aware that we can’t expect a reversal of the pecking order on track in the space of just one race. However, we do expect to have a more consistent car in terms of performance, which will allow us to better exploit its full potential. I can’t wait to get out on track tomorrow".
Frédéric Vasseur, Ferrari’s Team Principal, is positive about returning to the track in Barcelona, the home race of one of his two riders, and hopes with the updates that will be brought to this track to make some progress in terms of performance:
"Just a few days on from the race in Monaco we are back on track in Barcelona for Carlos’ home race, the Spanish Grand Prix. It means that for the second race in a row, one of our drivers can count on support from his fans, a further incentive for the whole team to do well on one of the best known circuits on the calendar. In Monaco we couldn’t show the real potential of our car, but the race in Barcelona will provide a clearer picture, also because we have brought some further upgrades here, just as we have done at every race so far this season. We expect to make some progress in terms of performance and we hope to bring home a good result for the team".
On Friday, June 2, 2023, the weather is warm and sunny, with an air temperature of 24 °C, slightly below the average and a track temperature rising as high as 43 °C. The first free practice session gets underway at 1:30 p.m. local time and it is Fernando Alonso the first to get out on track. During this session the teams are trying the new prototype of hard compound given by Pirelli before switching to the medium and soft compound in the second half of the session. Pirelli have started to reconfigure the compound due to increased performance of these cars compared to last year, which is putting the tyres under more performance pressure than expected. Tyre degradation will be interesting to observe, with the new circuit layout a faster configuration and thus, likely to be harder on tyres. Verstappen is topping the timesheet in 1'14"606, followed by the other Red Bull of Sergio Perez. Red Bull have cleaned up every race win so far this season, with the Dutchman admitting on Thursday that the driver he has to keep half an eye on is his teammate. Behind the Austrian team duo finish Esteban Ocon and the other Dutch Nick de Vries. Ferrari has only Carlos Sainz Jr. to test the updated version of their single-seater, redesigned in the sidepods and converted to the downwash philosophy in order to improve the flow management at the rear, but he is no quicker than Charles Leclerc, who uses the older version: they manage to finish only eight and ninth fastest. Home favorite Fernando Alonso is sixth fastest for Aston Martin, ahead of Haas’ Kevin Magnussen. George Russell and Lewis Hamilton are 10th and 12th for Mercedes with the McLaren of Lando Norris between them. It is overall a quiet session with only a contact between Pierre Gasly and Logan Sargeant without any damage at the end of the session when the chequered flag was already out. We have to say that Sergio Pérez, Carlos Sainz Jr., Fernando Alonso and Alexander Albon use a transmission assembly outside of the allocation provided for in the technical regulations. The drivers are not penalized on the starting grid as this operation falls within the maximum number allowed by the technical regulations. During the night between Friday and Saturday, Haas and Williams use one of the two covers granted during the season to carry out operations on their cars. Both teams do not receive penalties. The second session of free practice starts at 5:00 p.m. local time and once again Max Verstappen is the fastest on track in 1'13"907 with Alonso only 0.170s behind: the RB19 is in a league of its own in the hands of the two-time world champion. Hulkenberg sets an impressive performance finishing third overall, ahead of Perez and Ocon. Here in Barcelona, on a track where they usually dominate, the Mercedes cars seem to be off the pace both in FP1 and FP2, with the drivers complaining about bouncing at high speed and struggling to find the pace through the final corner. Russell and Hamilton close the session respectively with the eight and eleventh fastest time. George Russell feels positive about the performance:
"We learned a huge amount today and have got a lot of data to go through tonight. We need to learn what we can from the information we've got and try to move forward; I think we can find some gains as there were a few surprises out there today. It's only Friday and we tend not to be Friday specialists. We usually take a step forward on Saturday and Sunday, which is the right way to be. We expect the story to be slightly different tomorrow and then again on Sunday. After all, the points are scored on Sunday so that is what we are aiming for. It was also fun to drive around this version of the Barcelona circuit. It's gone from one of the worst corners in F1 to one of the best! It's now a really enjoyable sector and I think it will help with overtaking in the Grand Prix".
Lewis Hamilton is more pessimistic about this first day of practice:
"I would say it was a difficult FP1 and FP2, trying to get on top of the tyres and the degradation. The car felt OK overall though, and we're fighting as hard as we can to learn as much as we can. Our long run pace didn't look too bad in FP2, but we need to focus on trying to extract more pace from the single lap. It's very close between ourselves and the cars ahead. It's impressive to see the improvements those around of us have made, so it's not going to be easy. I'm focused on doing the best job we can tonight to make the right set-up changes. There are improvements I know we can make, so we will get on top of that. Finally, the final two corners are awesome! It's very fast and I definitely prefer it to the chicane we had in the past. I haven't followed anyone through there yet so I don't know how that will affect overtaking during the race, but it's going to make it tough on tyre degradation.
Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director, in addition declares:
"It was difficult to read the order in the first session, because the extra prototype tyres meant everyone deviated from their normal run plans. Our programme in FP1 was biased towards long run work on the new tyres and it does give us the data we need ahead of their full introduction at Silverstone. The second session was more normal and the conclusions for us were quite familiar; single lap needs a bit of work and long run looks OK. We looked at two different wing levels, which is useful as we have a bit of data to study to understand the effects on tyres and overall pace. We've got a good idea of what the limitations are in terms of balance and hopefully by the morning, we'll have come up with a few solutions to those issues".
Ferrari continue to evaluate their upgrade package, comprising a revised engine cover, sidepods and floor, this time with the Monegasque driver, and it was no better that in FP1 with a sixth place for Charles just ahead of Carlos Sainz seventh. Valtteri Bottas and Pierre Gasly round out the top ten with a great performance. Charles Leclerc is sure they will make steps forward:
"It has been an interesting day, as we had some new parts to try, so we ran very different programmes between the two cars. It was a productive day as we got through all the tests we wanted to do even if it’s difficult to read where we are in terms of performance right now. We will keep pushing to try and make the steps forward that we want in order to be more at ease with the car tomorrow and then we will be able to see where we are. For today, it’s clear that although Red Bull has the edge over everyone, the rest of the field is very, very tight".
Carlos Sainz is still careful in expressing himself as the team is analysing the new parts:
"There were plenty of new things to try today on the car and we were constantly adapting to the setup changes and analysing the differences between parts across the two sessions. We also tried all three compounds, so overall it has been a full day of preparation for the rest of the weekend. Thanks to everyone cheering from the grandstands today, it feels great to see so many people at the track already on Friday".
Almost at the end of the session the sky starts getting darker and clouded, with the air temperature cooled down at 23 °C and the track temperature at 34 °C: these should be more representative conditions for qualifying tomorrow, but slightly less so for the race.
Williams’s drivers, Alexander Albon and Logan Sargeant, have been struggling a lot during this first day of free practice, being last in both of the session mostly because this track doesn't look to suit their car. The American rookie says:
"We reacted well from FP1 to get the car in a reasonable window for FP2. Honestly as a team it's not where we want to be on pace, so we have some work to do for sure. I think we have the car in a reasonable place for the qualifying and race simulation, so we just need to get more out of it tomorrow".
Alex Albon declares there is no a great feeling with the car:
"This track never really suited us, but I don't think our car feels that bad. There's not a fundamental issue with it that we have to try to fix for tomorrow, but that's also not a great feeling because the car is where it is. We can find a couple of tenths here or there if we get everything right, which we'll go for, but not much more as this is just where we're at. We're sort of a normal gap from the top but there are some of the midfield teams like Haas, Alfa Romeos and McLarens doing a very good job, only a tenth off the Mercedes, which makes it look a bit worse. The changes to the last couple of corners of the track feel nice. It's made it a bit more physical which is always a challenge which makes it fun for the drivers".
Dave Robson, Williams’ Head of Vehicle Performance, knows qualifying will be difficult:
"It's always good to come to Barcelona and get a reference for the car. It's clear that we weren't very quick today, which isn't too surprising, but there is still a lot to learn about where that deficit stems from. We completed some setup tests in FP1 and got some useful direction. We reverted to a more normal Barcelona setup for FP2, which the drivers preferred. We took the opportunity to look at the new tyre construction, which we will race from the British GP onwards. It will be difficult tomorrow, but there are still a few things to look at that may allow us to extract a bit more pace from the car in qualifying. There is also the possibility of some variable weather, which may also present a useful opportunity".
Aston Martin today focused his attention their testing programs so they don’t have a cear idea of their pace in terms of performance. Fernando Alonso, at his home race here in Spain, says:
"It's so close over one lap that I think a couple of tenths will put you in a completely different position in the classification, so we won't read too much into the times. We went through our test programme this morning in Free Practice One and learnt about the prototype tyres, with the track a little slower than we expected. The upgrades we've introduced are helping the performance of the car and we are happy with them so far, but let's see where we are tomorrow when everyone is pushing. A lot of the grandstands are green and our Aston Martin merchandise is very popular. The fans have been amazing and it's great to see their support. Hopefully we can put on a good show for them tomorrow".
Lance Stroll completely agrees with his temmate:
"The focus of today has been running various new test items and evaluating the new Pirelli construction prototype tyres, so that made for a couple of busy sessions on track. That's given us a lot of data to work through tonight and hopefully we can find some more lap time ahead of qualifying as the car wasn't quite where I wanted it. The field was incredibly tight in both sessions, so we know how important it is to find that pace and we'll be working hard to do so".
Nyck de Vries, after an amazing performance, starts by saying that this was a decent day for the team:
"It’s been a decent day for us, especially FP1. I believe we were slightly out of position, but we hit the ground running fairly well. During FP2, we didn’t quite get everything together. We tried different things and I think they will give us a better idea for tomorrow to be able to put it together when it counts. Tonight we will check how much the new upgrades are working, as it’s the first day we can have a proper read on it. There's more emphasis on the front axle with the new changes, when previously it was on both. I’m not sure whether the new layout will produce better racing on Sunday because we noticed that it was difficult to follow, but I don’t think we can jump to any conclusions too quickly".
Yuki Tsunoda, out of top ten in both session, says he will give his best on qualifying:
"Overall, today went ok. We have to make some changes ahead of tomorrow’s qualifying to achieve the highest possible position because today, we ended up in the bottom part of the field. The track is definitely faster in the last two corners and harder on the tyres too. Tomorrow is a new day though, which gives us some time to work on our limitations. As usual, I will work together with the engineers tonight to improve the car as much as possible to try to make it through to Q2, and maybe even Q3 tomorrow".
Claudio Balestri, AlphaTauri’s Chief Engineer Vehicle Performance, declares that this was a positive session:
"It was a fairly busy Friday on track. We had a long list of tests to be completed in FP1, including some important runs with aero rakes, while also testing the new Pirelli tyre. We had a positive session where we gathered interesting data on the new Barcelona layout, now characterised by several high-speed corners which are very demanding on the front axle. In FP2, we focused on optimising our setup to extract the maximum from our package, testing different levels of fuel loads and different compounds. We didn’t find a competitive lap time on the soft tyre on the first lap, so we need to look into this, while on the long run, we tried to get a better understanding of tyre management for the race on Sunday. We have a busy night ahead of us to try to find how to improve our lap times and maximise our package tomorrow".
Alpine driver Esteban Ocon is overall satisfied:
"It was a productive Friday here at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya for the team. We used both Free Practice sessions well, testing different things and getting through our planned programme. We made the necessary changes from Free Practice 1 to Free Practice 2 but there is still some work to do to get the car in decent shape both on low and high fuel. Overall, we are satisfied with the day's work, with plenty to go through tonight in order to be in a good position for Qualifying".
Pierre Gasly is confident for tomorrow:
"I would say it's been a solid day for us in Barcelona. The car felt good and we've made a decent start to our weekend which has given us a foundation to build from for the rest of the weekend. It's been good to be back at a permanent race track and a nice challenge with the revised circuit layout without the chicane, which makes the lap feel very quick. There's a few small things for us to solve on our side – normal for any Friday - and I'm feeling confident that we can have a strong outcome tomorrow for Qualifying where we aim for another Q3 appearance".
Also Ciaron Pilbeam, Alpine’s Head of Trackside Engineering, seems confident about the car’s performance:
"We're back on a permanent and conventional circuit here in Barcelona after racing at the last few events on semi-permanent or street circuits. It's a place everyone in Formula 1 knows well and it's a good venue for testing all aspects of the car. We've had a relatively productive day where we've aimed to further validate the benefits from recent upgrades and continue to learn more about the car, especially off the back of a strong performance last time out. We look to be in reasonable shape with both drivers having similar feedback and showing decent pace. It's important to qualify well here but tyre degradation in the race is quite high too so we need to get everything right. The aim is to see both cars in Q3 to put ourselves in the best possible position to have a good race".
Oscar Piastri is getting the right feeling with the car:
"It felt like a decent Friday on track, I made some good steps forward from FP1 to FP2. I think there's a bit of work for me to do on the one-lap pace, but our long runs looked reasonably competitive, so all-in-all, we can be pretty happy with today's running. We'll try to make some improvements overnight, and I'll take some learning from the data ahead of tomorrow's qualifying session".
His teammate Lando Norris declares:
"After a very different track in Monaco, it took me a few laps to get back into the swing of things here in Barcelona. We struggled a little bit with the car from the off, but we improved in FP2. We have a lot of things to look into tonight to try to unlock some more pace from the car. It's not bad, we just need to work on driveability and take a step forward ahead of tomorrow's sessions".
Andrea Stella, McLaren’s Team Principal, declares that the team is of course still working on the car:
"It's been a solid Friday at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya with many laps on the board, helped by the extra experimental tyres provided by Pirelli. We've done some aerodynamic work today with rakes to support short-term and long-term development. We also worked on our understanding of the tyres, that is going to be crucial here, given the expectation of it being a multi-stop race. Our competitiveness contained no surprises, and our task now is to do a good job overnight, to give us a car tomorrow that is a Q3 contender and capable of scoring points on Sunday".
Valtteri Bottas had a decent Friday, after some adjustments made on his car:
"I think we had a decent day. The car felt better for me in the second practice session after we made a few adjustments, and my lap time improved as well. Now, all our focus will be on analysing the data we gathered today, in order to find something more ahead of tomorrow. I like the changes they made to the track; I think it’s good fun. I prefer this layout without the final chicane, I think it adds more flow to the lap which is nice. As predicted, the field is extremely close, and any tenth could be key for a good qualifying. I think we can set a realistic target of aiming to get into Q3 tomorrow, which is what we will be working towards".
Zhou Guanyu had fun today, despite all the work done in order to better understand the upgrades:
"I like high-speed tracks, so today has been quite a fun experience here in Barcelona. It was a rather smooth day, we did a lot of work to understand our upgrades and the new layout. The new final sector is demanding for the tyres, it will add some challenges with overtaking and with tyre degradation: it’s also quite bumpy, but overall, I’m quite happy with it. The field is really close, P8 to P20 are within fine margins so tomorrow we’ll need to be at our best in qualifying. Of course, we will need to find a little more tonight, but if we do our homework we can be in the mix for a good result".
Kevin Magnussen is doing great this year taking his Haas to the limit:
"Today was fun. The new layout is pretty full-on, it’s a good change. FP1 was very good for us, we tried something that didn’t work in FP2 but Nico was fast, so we know the speed is in the car and we’ll work tonight as we always do to try and get on that pace tomorrow. It’s super tight, I was P15 and seven tenths off P1 which is crazy, but it is what it is and means we have something to fight for".
Nico Hulkenberg, on the other hand, had an anonymous Friday:
"It felt decent, especially that lap on new softs, it gives you a lot of grip over one lap. Particularly in FP2, I think we picked up some performance which wasn’t quite there earlier. I’m satisfied with how it’s gone and hope we can keep it up for the next two days. There’s always more to explore, there’s always more to do, but I had a good rhythm today and felt at home in the car. I felt like I was in the driving seat which is important - especially around here - it’s been a positive Friday".
Guenther Steiner, Haas’ Team Principal, adds:
"It was a good start to the weekend today. In FP1 we tested the new tire which will be used at Silverstone to get some experience and data but otherwise, pretty good running. Obviously with Nico reaching P3 in FP2 it’s good, but we all know that qualifying is tomorrow, and the race is on Sunday".
Max Verstappen still remains the unquestioned leader of this season:
"We had a good day today. The car was in a good window and of course we will try to fine tune a few things here and there but the short runs and long runs look good. The last two corners are better and more fun to drive, F1 cars feel much better at high speed. I tried to follow a few cars through there as well and it seemed okay, I’m positively surprised by the overtaking opportunities. I still need to look at the data and see how the other cars compare but today was a good day".
Sergio Perez says that today was overall a good day:
"We always try a lot of stuff in Barcelona, because it is always the most representative track we visit and really puts the whole season together. The new variation on the last two corners is quite tough on the neck, but obviously it was a very short day and I think we will feel it more on Sunday, it could be tricky on the muscles! Today was a good day, there is plenty of information for us to look at overnight. All in all I think there were lots of positives to take but we have to turn up a gear for Quali, as well as try to understand the tyres for the long run. This will be key for Sunday with the tyre degradation around this track".
Simone Berra, Pirelli Chief Engineer says:
"It was a very busy Friday at the Barcelona-Catalunya Circuit. Apart from the usual programme, with teams evaluating the three compounds available for the Grand Prix, they also tried two sets of C1 tyres, with a new construction, which will be used as from the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. The increased work load made for a busy time on track throughout the two hours. As for the new construction, the initial analysis of the data gathered suggests that it matches our predictions in terms of its behaviour. Namely, that it delivers similar performance compared to the current construction. Therefore, it is interesting to note that some teams used one of the two available sets to do longer runs on this Hard compound to gather data for Sunday's race. In fact, over the two hours of free practice, only one team used the white-banded tyre. The C1 introduced this year was actually based on the experience of last year's Spanish Grand Prix when the Hard, the tyre now called C0, was hardly used in the Race as its performance was unsuitable, whereas the current C1 now looks one of the most likely race tyres, which is why some drivers have two sets available for Sunday. Finally, it is worth noting that today's quickest lap time is already almost as quick as simulations for pole position suggested and that, here on a permanent race track and despite the unknowns relating to what each team is doing, the times are very close with seventeen drivers within less than a second of each other in FP2".
Saturday, June 3, 2023, the third free practice and the qualifying session of the 2023 Spanish Grand Prix at Montmelò will be useful to understand the premises of Friday practice sessions, but the weather may be inclement due to the forecast predicting heavy rain around 1:00 p.m., thus hitting FP3 in the middle of the session. This day will be crucial especially for Ferrari, in order to confirm whether the upgrades brought to Barcelona will effectively increase the car performance and efficiency and the team will fix their Achilles’ heel, that is tyre degradation. Also, Aston Martin promised that the car would gain 0.2 seconds after the recent upgrades, so they may be even closer to Red Bull and can even challenge them for the final victory. Mercedes can finally test the new sidepods that were ready for Imola and see that these can help the car get closer to Red Bull. The third free practice starts regularly on dry conditions, with Max Verstappen immediately getting the fastest time in 1'13"664, but right before the rain hits the track, the session is red-flagged due to Logan Sargeant ending up into the gravel and hitting the wall in the last corner before the straight. When the session restarts, the circuit is definitely wet, so the cars have to mount intermediate tyres and no one can improve their previous best laps until the track gets dry again. Previously, the FIA, at 10:30 a.m., issued a statement in which they would grant each teams an extra set of intermediate tyres before the start of qualifying, due to the weather conditions. Some drivers, like Hamilton and Norris, try to run on soft tyres, but they fail to improve their times for the track is still damp, so Max Verstappen once again leads the free practice, ahead of Checo Perez (1'13"914) and Lewis Hamilton (1'14"072). Later, at 4:00 p.m., the qualifying session starts. The rain has lifted, the track is mostly dry but the temperature is not the ideal for setting the fastest times and there is still a chance of rain during the session. Some drivers struggle to find the perfect grip, such as Tsunoda and Alonso going off track during the out laps, and eventually, after five minutes, the session is red-flagged after Bottas and Albon go outside into the gravel and the track needs to be cleared. The red flag may be the best solution for safety, but if the session re-starts when it starts raining again, this may be trouble for many drivers who have not set a lap yet, such as Leclerc and Perez, who did not even go outside the box at the start of qualifying. When Q1 resumes, Verstappen is still the fastest, followed by a surprising Piastri with his McLaren and Hamilton. Sainz, while doing his first fast lap, is blocked by Gasly, who slows him down, and the team wonders if he will get a penalty for impeding like Leclerc at Monaco. Shortly after, Gasly is once accused of impeding, this time by Verstappen. Charles, meanwhile, is really struggling and stays in the elimination zone for the whole session. The Monegasque tries to save himself in the last few minutes but ends up in P19, in last row with Logan Sargeant. Bottas, Magnussen and Albon are the other drivers eliminated.
Lewis Hamilton is the fastest of Q1, followed by Norris and Russell. Perez was also very close to being eliminated, finishing P15. Q2 is also eventful, with Perez going outside and driving on the dirty side of the track right when doing the fast lap, and just before the end of the session he manages to do a last lap, but it is not enough to enter the top ten and he ends up P11 and out of Q3. There is also some drama in the Mercedes team as Hamilton and Russell touch, the seven-times world champion having his front wing damaged; an incident, fortunately without consequences, that reminds of the crash between Hamilton and Nico Rosberg in 2016, which contributed the assignment of the world title to the German driver. Despite this, the driver who has it worst is George Russell, who fails to qualify for Q3, ending behind Perez in P12. Verstappen is the fastest in this session, with a time of 1'12"760, followed by Norris (1'12"776) and Sainz (1'12"790), the only driver left defending Ferrari colours. The Aston Martin seem struggling, despite the promises of the last few days, while surprising is Haas, with Hulkenberg entering Q3 with the tenth-fastest lap. The other drivers eliminated in Q2 are Zhou, De Vries and Tsunoda. In Q3, Max Verstappen dominates the session right from the start with a staggering time of 1'12"272, about one second faster than all the others. Hamilton is the one who gets the closest, followed by Hülkenberg, who takes advantage of the lack of traffic to set the third-fastest time with a new set of tyres. In the last few minutes, all drivers try to improve. Sainz scores the first front row of the season with a time of 1'12"734, while Norris consolidates a very strong weekend for McLaren by placing third with 1'12"792. Max Verstappen’s best lap remains undisputed, so he claims his fifth pole position of the season, the seventh for Red Bull, which so far always went on pole position, twice with Sergio Perez. Gasly is fourth, but eventually, after the end of qualifying, he is handed a six-position penalty for impeding twice, so he will start in tenth place. All in all, it has been a qualifying session full of surprises, with the weather conditions complicating the situation for all drivers, with some who still managed to take the best out of their cars, like Verstappen, Sainz, placing his Ferrari for the first time in front row in this season, and Hamilton, and others who made even small mistakes but affected the overall performance and had to settle for lower starting positions, like Alonso, Perez and Russell, and others who really did not find a good balance, such as Leclerc. McLaren surprised everyone, with Lando Norris scoring his best qualifying of the season with a third place, but Sunday will be decisive to verify that the car can perform well in the long run. Max Verstappen is happy with the new layout and with the overall weekend so far:
"We had a good day today. The car was in a good window and of course we will try to fine tune a few things here and there but the short runs and long runs look good. The last two corners are better and more fun to drive, F1 cars feel much better at high speed. I tried to follow a few cars through there as well and it seemed okay, I’m positively surprised by the overtaking opportunities. I still need to look at the data and see how the other cars compare but today was a good day".
His teammate, Sergio Perez, must put a lot of effort for climbing up to the podium but is still satisfied:
"We always try a lot of stuff in Barcelona, because it is always the most representative track we visit and really puts the whole season together. The new variation on the last two corners is quite tough on the neck, but obviously it was a very short day and I think we will feel it more on Sunday, it could be tricky on the muscles! Today was a good day, there is plenty of information for us to look at overnight. All in all, I think there were lots of positives to take but we have to turn up a gear for Quali, as well as try to understand the tyres for the long run. This will be key for Sunday with the tyre degradation around this track".
Christian Horner, Red Bull’s CEO and Team Principal, knows that there will still be many obstacles in the race:
"Max has certainly picked up where he left off in Monaco, he did tremendously well today but tomorrow brings new challenges. There are still a lot of variables to consider; the weather, reliability, the start, strategy and then these final two corners, so Max will not be resting on his laurels. Comparatively, Checo had a difficult qualifying. He went off and then tyre temperature unsettled him. P11 tomorrow leaves him a lot to do but we know he can do well here. He will race hard and come out fighting".
In Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton was not expecting so much progress after the new car upgrades and talks about the incident with his teammate:
"I was a little bit surprised to see us so far up today and ultimately competing for the front-row of the grid. We did some great work overnight with our analysis of yesterday; we all did a lot of work trying to figure out where we could find more lap time. I knew when I woke up this morning that I was on a mission, although I didn't expect we would be fighting for P2. On my final lap, I think I was on the front-row all the way until turn 10. I got on the power and the car just snapped into oversteer; I will have to check but I think that's where I lost two tenths. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed driving the car today and I'm really encouraged to see where it is at. A big thank you to everyone at the factory as it shows we are progressing. The incident with George was just a miscommunication. Obviously, we made some contact and I put a wheel on the grass. The car didn't feel different afterwards though, so I think it will be OK".
George Russell is disappointed but knows that it could have been worse after the incident:
"It was an odd qualifying session today. It was clearly tricky for everyone out there and it was quite a mixed-up order. Straight out of the box, I felt like I had no grip from the tyres, and I was really struggling with the car. It was starting to bounce a lot in the high-speed turns so I couldn't go flat out through corners we were able to in FP3. I wasn't surprised to be knocked out in Q2 because the car was off the pace. I didn't have a good feeling with it so it's disappointing. I'm not too sure what happened in the incident with Lewis. It was all quite surprising. I was starting my push lap and getting the slipstream from Sainz ahead. Next thing I know Lewis was alongside me. We're fortunate nothing more serious happened and it was clearly a big miscommunication from all of us in the Team. It didn't contribute to the lack of pace though and that was the main problem for me. We're starting quite a few positions lower than we should be, but I'm sure tomorrow will be a better day".
Toto Wolff, Team Principal & CEO of Mercedes team, says that the car can still perform better and states that the cause of the incident of his two drivers was a communication issue:
"I think we have more potential in the car that we couldn't unlock today. We had a good car in Q1, at least with Lewis, and both drivers were happy in FP3. I think we had everything today to fight for the front two rows of the grid. We should have been right behind Verstappen and that's why our disappointment is so great. Of course, it doesn't help when you have a misunderstanding between the two cars. It was a lack of communication that we should have handled in the garage. It was an intense moment at the end of Q2 though, so there is nobody we need to blame. We will now see what happens tomorrow. I think we can have a solid race; our long run pace looked strong on Friday so we will see what we can do. We are also building a good base to learn from with the car, and this weekend will provide us with a new baseline".
Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director, hopes for a positive race despite the disappointing qualifying:
"It was a slightly frustrating day considering our pace in final practice was good. George struggled to get the tyres in the window through qualifying; they were working well in similar conditions in the morning so clearly, we have something to learn there. Lewis was in a better place, but we'd have been a lot happier if we were a tenth up the road on the front row. It's always annoying when you are the wrong side of a tight pack of cars, but we were in the mix for P2 and that is encouraging. Sadly, we didn't do a great job of coordinating the cars so they both lost their runs at the end of the second session, and we broke a front wing in the process. Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day; we had decent long run pace on Friday, and it should be a track where we can do something with that. There is still a risk of rain but even if it's dry, we've got every chance to come away with some good points tomorrow".
In Aston Martin, Lance Stroll, who out-qualified his teammate Fernando Alonso for the first time in this season, feels that his car responded well to the changes made before qualifying:
"We had a solid qualifying session today and found a strong rhythm on track. The car was feeling good - a big improvement from yesterday - so I'm pleased with the set-up changes that we made overnight. The field was incredibly tight though and there are a few cars that are out of position across the grid which will make for an interesting race. I think tomorrow is a big opportunity, so we'll be working through the data and strategy plans tonight to ensure we're ready to make the most of it".
Fernando Alonso, instead, who struggled a lot due to damage to the floor, thinks that he still can make a good race with the current pace:
"I made a mistake on my out lap in Q1 and ran wide at the exit of the last corner which damaged the floor. This cost us some crucial lap time today. It's a shame as I think we had the pace to be fighting at the front. We'll see what we can do tomorrow as I felt like the car was still competitive even with the damage. If we can put it all together, I'm still optimistic we could score some good points tomorrow. The fans have been amazing, so we'll be trying to put on a show for them in the race".
Mike Krack, Aston Martin’s Team Principal, says that, despite the difficulties, the team can compete for a good position in the race:
"It was quite a challenging qualifying session with a slightly damp and green track making Q1 especially difficult for all the teams. Fernando got caught out on a wet patch in the final corner during his out lap, he ran wide, and picked up significant floor damage by going through the gravel trap. With a big loss of downforce, it was a remarkable achievement to see him progress through to Q3. Lance had a clean session, kept his head down, and recovered well from a difficult day of practice yesterday. He felt there was a bit more performance to come, but we should not be disappointed with getting both cars into Q3 - something that a few of our direct competitors failed to do. For tomorrow, we know we have a quick car in race trim so we will be aiming to progress and come away from Spain with both cars scoring good points".
In Ferrari, Carlos Sainz, in his home race, says that he did his best and must repeat himself in the race:
"I’m happy with my qualifying today. The conditions were not at all easy out there, but we managed to put together some good laps and I think we extracted everything from the car. I left nothing on the table this afternoon. However, the weekend is not done and now we need to execute the best race possible. The time gaps have all been very tight the entire weekend and it won't be an easy one but we will go for it. I want to thank all the amazing support from the grandstands! It really makes a difference and I hope we can put on a good show tomorrow".
Charles Leclerc, probably the most troubled driver on the grid in this Grand Prix, states that the problem may be the car:
"We will have to check the car and look at the data as there was clearly something really odd about the way it behaved and it felt very different to the way it had throughout the weekend up to that point. I basically had zero rear grip. The car was extremely oversteery and unpredictable. The car would be okay and suddenly it would snap away. It was something to do with the rear right corner. At first, I thought it was something to do with my first set of tyres, so we changed for a new set, but there was still this very strange behaviour from the rear tyres. It’s obviously very disappointing but it will be a long race tomorrow, overtaking is possible and degradation is a big factor so we will see, but of course we will be starting from very far back".
Frédéric Vasseur, Ferrari Team Principal, praises Sainz for his second place on the grid but acknowledges that Leclerc’s car needs to be investigated further:
"We had a very good result from Carlos and we are more than pleased for him. I think it is a good reward also for everyone working in Maranello as they pushed like hell to bring the all upgrades and the parts in time to Barcelona. It was quite challenging for them but I think it paid dividends today and, hopefully, also tomorrow in the race. However, it was not an easy qualifying for us as our other car will be at the back of the grid tomorrow. We are investigating Charles’ problem: he was complaining a lot about the car in the left-hand corners. It’s a shame and it shows how close qualifying is now between the teams. In the past, two or three top teams could get through Q2 on the Medium tyre, but that’s no longer possible as the gaps are so tight and the slightest issue, like the one Charles had today, and you are out. Overall, I think we have made a step forward, but it’s tomorrow that counts and we have to target the podium with Carlos. As for Charles, I’m not sure Barcelona is the easiest place to overtake but maybe the new layout will help and he will be able to fight for points tomorrow".
In Alpine, Esteban Ocon compliments his team for the improvements made on his car and is happy about the unusual grid start for tomorrow’s race:
"It's been another positive day for us. A big shoutout to Enstone and Viry as the car has been strong again this weekend and the updates we have brought have been working well. We had both cars into Q3 which was the aim today so well done to the team for that achievement. We performed well all of Qualifying up until the last run in Q3 where I did not quite nail the lap and lost some valuable lap time. That said, seventh on the grid tomorrow is not a bad place to start and we will give it all to finish with some strong points. I also have to say it's great to see a bit of a mix up on the grid ahead of the race. It's great for the sport and I think we'll have an exciting Sunday and of course we'll be pushing for some good points".
Pierre Gasly is sorry for causing impeding twice and blames the traffic for it:
"I'm very pleased to qualify in fourth place in Qualifying today, my best result with Alpine this season. It was very close out there, very fine margins between many cars, and in the end we're just less than one tenth of a second from being on the front row. We built up our session well, kept finding improvements and then we finished with a very good lap in Q3, which was really enjoyable I must say. It's a real pity we will not start from the second row tomorrow after the penalty for impeding. I think it was very unfortunate with the traffic, cars so close together and the high-speed final corners. We have to accept it, move on and keep our heads down for tomorrow where I know we can still have a strong race".
Alan Permane, Alpine’s Sporting Director, is delighted by having two cars in top ten, despite Gasly’s penalty:
"We can all be satisfied with the performance of our cars today with Pierre qualifying in fourth and Esteban in seventh. The car has been strong all weekend - we had a solid day yesterday in preparation - and we knew we would be in a very close fight in the upper end of the Q3 and inside the top five. Esteban didn't quite maximise his lap in Q3 and probably is a few places short of where his pace has been all weekend, while Pierre delivered a superb lap at the end to finish very close to the top three. Unfortunately, Pierre's penalty means we start tomorrow in sixth and tenth but we know we can still have a good race from there. There will be a real mix of strategies throughout the grid for the race and we will do our best to gain some places and come away with deserved double points".
Lando Norris is certainly the most unexpected contender for the first positions, claiming the highest qualifying of the season. It was also surprising for he reveals that the free practice sessions have been troublesome:
"Things have turned around this weekend from Friday's running, when the car wasn't feeling too good at all. I didn't feel confident yesterday, but we went from lacking pace and car balance to doing our best quali by quite a long way this season. So, I'm very happy. Q1 wasn't anything special but in Q2 and Q3, I just found a little bit more confidence in the car when things dried out a little bit more and it all came our way, and we ended up P3. Very happy with the result. Big thanks to everyone here at track and back at MTC. We know we've got work to do but we keep pushing forward as a team and can be proud of today".
His teammate Oscar Piastri is also in top ten, an extraordinary result for this season, which started with many difficulties:
"P10 this afternoon, obviously a very good day for the team with both cars starting in the top ten. It was a really competitive qualifying session, it's just a shame I didn't put it together right at the end of Q3. I was confident in finishing higher up the order but on reflection, it was certainly an encouraging day. We can now take lots of positive momentum into tomorrow's race to aim for another double points finish".
Piastri will then climb up to P9 on the grid thanks to Gasly’s penalty. Andrea Stella, McLaren’s Team Principal, says that Oscar could even do better if it was not for a small mistake:
"This was a positive afternoon for the team here at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Lando was running at the front of the order all through qualifying but having him starting P3 in tomorrow's Spanish Grand Prix is a nice surprise and an over-achievement. Oscar was quick all session and he was competing also for a spot at the front of the order in Q3. Unfortunately, a small mistake in turn 10 meant he went on to a wet patch and lost a lot of time, finishing in P10. Overall, we're happy with today but we must not get carried away. Tomorrow, we race to stay in the points and that's what we are preparing for this evening".
In AlphaTauri, Nyck de Vries, who starts on P14, in front of his teammate, feels that he could have done better, especially after Q1, in which he classified eighth:
"It’s been a positive weekend, but I am disappointed with the outcome of qualifying. I had two spins at the exit of Turn 11 so I wasted two sets of the soft compound and had no new tyres left for Q2. There was a wet patch that I did not see but clearly felt, so my confidence got the best of me in the end. It's a shame because we had good pace, so I hope we can carry that into the race tomorrow. It will be a long race and a lot of focus on tyre degradation, with rain possibly creating even more opportunities, so let’s see".
Yuki Tsunoda also had some troubles in Q2 and could not improve, and hopes that it will be better in the race:
"The team did a good job and my lap was good, but I made a mistake just going outside of the track and my time was deleted. I'm very frustrated with myself. I knew I had to give it everything to make it to Q3, so I don’t have any regrets, but at the same time, it was just so close. The conditions were tricky going from damp to dry, which made things interesting. My expectations for tomorrow aren’t too high, but anything can happen, and I'll be prepared for every scenario in order to maximise our chance for points".
Guillaume Dezoteux, AlphaTauri’s Head of Vehicle Performance, makes a summary of the team’s weekend in Barcelona, what they have worked on and how the weather conditions affected them:
"After a positive Friday during which we completed our programme on both cars, the main target was to extract more performance from the soft tyre over the first lap. On Yuki's side of the garage, we were also targeting car setup adjustments to increase stability. The changes applied worked well on the few laps we were able to do under dry conditions at the start of FP3. After a few minutes, rain hit the track and provided the possibility to test the intermediate tyres. The qualifying session has been intense. The track was almost dry at the beginning but the last sector was still slippery. A light drizzle started immediately and the low grip caught out many drivers, including Yuki and Nyck, who damaged their tyres and couldn't close a lap before the red flag from Bottas in Turn 12. From this point, the rain stopped and we could see the track improving significantly. Both drivers did a good job to make it through to Q2. Q2 was looking difficult because we had no more new tyres available and on such a severe track, tyre performance tends to drop fast. Yuki's last lap in Q2 was very strong, but unfortunately, it was deleted for track limits at the exit of Turn 5. It was a frustrating end for him but he can be happy with this lap after having struggled with balance yesterday and this morning. In regards to the race, we are expecting tyre degradation to play a decent role, so we will analyse all the possibilities tonight to make up ground and bring home points tomorrow".
Alessandro Alunni Bravi, Alfa Romeo’s Team Representative, says that the qualifying session does not correspond to the good job done on Friday, and that there is still room for improvement:
"We showed a solid performance in the three practice sessions, so it’s fair to say that the results from qualifying don’t really reflect what could have been predicted. It is not easy to read this session properly, but we need to understand why this happened. We are disappointed because we know we did not extract the maximum we could from our package this time around. Overall, we could have done better today, especially in the transition between FP3 and qualifying, but our focus is now firmly on tomorrow. We have to execute a perfect race tomorrow to recover as much ground as possible. We have seen in the past that we can gain places on Sunday: that’s when it counts and that’s when we need to deliver".
Valtteri Bottas is only happy with the new upgrades, while qualifying has been tough:
"We can take one positive from today: the upgrades we brought in last week appear to be working, I could feel the difference during practice. Unfortunately, qualifying didn’t really represent where we are really standing with our car: it’s been quite tricky today, I never found the same grip I had in practice, and I didn’t feel as comfortable as earlier in the weekend. I felt a lot of sliding, which was a shame because I really thought we had good potential here. The changing weather conditions didn’t help, either: during the last run, in the out lap, I had to stop for over ten seconds after Turn 12, to let some cars on a flying lap through, and I think we lost a bit of tyre temperature there. Hopefully, qualifying has just been an outlier and we’ll have better pace tomorrow. I am confident we can put up a fight and make some progress, and possibly reach the top ten".
Zhou Guanyu says that the car has improved compared to last race, and the qualifying was also positive:
"I had a clean lap in Q2, probably the best I could, and I only missed out on Q3 for a couple of tenths. I gave it all, but we didn’t have any new set of softs after the red flag in Q1: when you’re fighting for such small margins, that was enough to put us out, so that was it. The experience I had with the car was a lot better today and I hope to carry this feeling onto tomorrow, to make up some ground. I expect us to be a lot closer to a few of the cars ahead of us, who had new tyres today. I feel we’re in much better conditions this weekend than the last, but we still need to push and improve more to be even further up the grid. We will need to do a good job tomorrow and grab any chance we can".
In Haas, Kevin Magnussen is not happy, also seeing where his teammate is placed on the grid, and blames it on different aerodynamic setups:
"It’s disappointing, the other car showed what’s possible and we haven’t got it right this weekend. With the field being so tight, it’s just a massive penalty when you miss that window. Nico went to the higher downforce set-up and it seems that it’s working well, so a good job done by the team and I’m happy to see the car performing. Unfortunately, it’s P17 for us tomorrow but we’ll try again and hopefully our car set-up is good for the race".
Nico Hülkenberg, who scored an unexpected eighth place on the grid (seventh after Gasly’s penalty), knows that the race will still be difficult, despite the good starting place:
"That’s our best qualifying of the season so far, clean and well executed by the team and myself. It’s positive and a very decent position to start the race from tomorrow. Track position is pretty valuable here in Barcelona, so we’ll take that and get ready for a tough fight. It’s not going to be an easy race, it’s going to be a tire degradation race with strategy, and we have to play our cards well, but the car has been performing and I feel within the midfield we’re definitely competitive".
Günther Steiner, Haas’ Team Principal, sums up the situation:
"We had pretty good speed in qualifying today and it showed that yesterday, it was real. Unfortunately, Kevin didn’t make it into Q2. Nico did a very good job and we got into Q3 again, where we want to be, and now we get prepared for the race tomorrow".
In Williams, Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance, tells about the work done on the cars and the difficulties after Sargeant’s incident in FP3:
"We made some large changes overnight to both cars and managed to progress the setup. Fortunately, we were able to complete a few laps during the early part of FP3 to confirm the balance. Logan went through the gravel at T14 just as the first spots of rain started falling and this did a lot of damage to his car, requiring another stellar effort from the team to get his car ready for qualifying. Meanwhile, Alex had a quick look at the intermediate tyre and was comfortable with his car. Conditions were tricky at the start of qualifying, but this was an opportunity for us to make some progress and in a clean session Alex was capable of making Q2. This would have been an excellent result but an early trip to the gravel at T5 damaged the floor of his car and he carried an aerodynamic penalty through the rest of qualifying. Logan had a compressed Q1 session following the repairs to his car. He had a tricky final out lap negotiating the traffic whilst preparing his tyres and couldn't put a representative lap together. There may be further rain around tomorrow afternoon and so we'll look to take advantage of that".
Alex Albon admits that it was an unusual session and that the team is more concentrated on the race:
"I really like the conditions we drove in qualifying, I normally tend to do well in them, but I just got caught out on my first lap and the damage affected the rest of the session, which is a bit of a shame, but we've got some pace. I feel like we've used this weekend as a bit more of a test session because of us being a bit more off the pace than normal. I think we've focused a little more on the Sunday car which should hopefully put us in a good place tomorrow".
Logan Sargeant, once again involved in an incident, is grateful for having been able to run in qualifying, even if it has been difficult:
"Firstly, grateful to the team for turning the car around for qualifying. The first lap back out wasn't too bad. Everyone wants to get in front starting the last lap, and I had a comprised outlap with the tyres a bit out of the window for that last push, which was frustrating. I'm disappointed but I put us on the back foot earlier on today. Tomorrow's going to be tricky, but we'll see what we can do".
Finally, Mario Isola, Pirelli Motorsport Director, sums up the situation related to tyres in this Grand Prix and talks about the risk of rain in the race:
"That was a very exciting qualifying this afternoon full of twists and turns. In the first part, the rain made a brief but significant appearance, but the track dried out quickly and considerably after that. The rain fell not only in Q1 but also prior to that in FP3 and during the Formula 2 race and so the grip levels were far from ideal, which made it even more surprising that no fewer than ten drivers lapped under our previous simulation predictions for the pole time of 1m13.400s. In fact, the actual pole time was almost 1.2s quicker! The fact that the top six places featured six different cars proves how closely matched the teams are, even if one driver and one car are still the clear favourites also at this track. From what we have seen so far, race strategy would seem to match our predictions, with a two-stop race being a better bet than a three stop, while the best tyre to race on is the Hard, the new C1 introduced at the start of this year. A further consideration is the long run down to the first corner, so choosing the Softs for the start could be the way to go, because it offers extra grip off the line. Having said that, these options could be academic as Meteo France is predicting a 60% chance of rain from 15 tomorrow…".
After qualifying, the stewards award Pierre Gasly being with two three-place grid penalties for impeding both Verstappen and Sainz, and the Frenchman, who qualifyied fourth, will start from 10th place on the grid. Another news arrives on Sunday morning: the Ferrari team confirm that they had replaced the entire rear-end of Leclerc’s car under parc ferme conditions following his Q1 exit, so in the afternoon he is going to start the race from the pit lane, together with Sargeant, who changed the suspension set-up and adjusted the brake cooling.
Sunday, June 4, 2023, the sky is cloudy and everyone is ready to start. Verstappen, Perez and Sargeant are the only drivers on mediums, Leclerc on hards and the rest of the field is on softs. When the lights go out, Verstappen slips away managing to mantain the first position ahead of Sainz, who tries to steal him the lead into Turn 1; but the Dutchman defends from the home hero, while Hamilton makes a move on Norris before banging wheels with him and forcing a McLaren’s pit for a new front wing. Stroll makes his way up to third, with Hamilton going fourth, ahead of Ocon, Alonso and Russell, whose trip along the Turn 1/2 escape road has been noted by the stewards, Hulkenberg, Zhou and Perez. Verstappen has a very strong pace and laps more than half a second quicker than Sainz, while his team mate Perez passes Hulkenberg and Zhou. Russell passes Alonso for P6, just before Hamilton cleares Stroll to return to the podium positions; but a news arrives from the stewards: Russell has not to face any further action for his lap 1 off-track excursion. Bottas, Hulkenberg, Zhou and De Vries already pit for fresh tyres, while Russell on lap 11 goes past Ocon into Turn 1, gaining seven positions from his P12 start place. Leclerc, in the meantime, has climbed from the pit lane to 11th. Verstappen’s advantage over Sainz is now up to six seconds, while Hamilton is one-and-a-half seconds back and his team mate Russell stalks the fourth-placed Stroll until he passes him. Ocon pits on lap 14 and emerges just ahead of Hulkenberg, Tsunoda and Zhou.
Also Stroll pits for a new set of tyres a lap later, and Sainz swaps his soft tyres for mediums, before Hamilton reports that his rubber is still feeling really good. Meanwhile, Leclerc, after 17 laps on the hard tyre, pits for softs and comes back out just in front of Norris, who is now the penultimate runner, ahead of only Albon, after his opening lap contact with Hamilton. Verstappen, Hamilton, Russell, Alonso, Perez and Gasly are the top six runners, with no pit stops yet, on lap 19, while Sainz heads the train of cars that have already pitted. Alonso stops on lap 20 and emerges 10th, as the two Ferraris battle with Gasly; Sainz passes him just before his pit, and Leclerc doe sit immediately after, but loses the new position a few moments later. At this point, Russell asks his team if a one-stop strategy may work, and his engineer said it is not impossible, as the soft tyres appear to last long on Hamilton’s cars. Verstappen’s lead over the Briton is now 11 seconds, while Perez runs around half a minute away from his team mate. On Lap 26, Hamilton pits, swapping from softs to mediums, and emerges some three seconds behind Sainz, with Russell doing the same one lap later and coming back out between Stroll and Ocon. A lap after this, Verstappen goes from mediums to hards and emerged some five seconds clear of Perez and still in the lead. Perez does the same on lap 28 and emerges ninth, while Hamilton uses DRS on the main straight to pass Sainz for the second place. Russell reports some drops of rain as clouds continue to cover the circuit, but a few laps later he understands that it was likely only sweat. Perez makes a lot of passes, clearing Alonso, Tsunoda and Ocon, and getting back up to sixth. Russell uses DRS to pass Sainz on the run to Turn 1 and puts his Mercedes into the podium positions, with team mate Hamilton and Verstappen respectively 8 and 14 seconds further ahead.
Russell’s engineer says on the radio and the British driver responds:
On lap 41, Verstappen has a wide moment at Turn 5. In addition, he is one of seven drivers to have stopped just once, along with Hamilton, Russell, Sainz, Perez, Alonso and Leclerc, with the rest of the field having made two pits. One lap later, Ferrari make a double pit as Sainz and Leclerc stop for new hards.
"Not amazing. Let’s see a few more laps".
Verstappen says about his tyres, before having another wide moment at Turn 5: this leads to another deleted lap time and means he has no more warnings to use up. Alonso and Russell stop for a second time, leaving Verstappen, Hamilton and Perez as the only one-stoppers. On lap 51, Hamilton and Perez both pit for new tyres, with Hamilton returning to the track in second and Perez dropping behind Sainz and Perez, before leader Verstappen opted to do the same on the following tour – all three moving to softs. Alonso and Ocon are involved in a close call along the pit straight as the Alpine driver forces the Spaniard towards the grass; they avoid contact as Alonso moves into P7 behind Stroll. When the race enters its final 10 laps, Verstappen is given a black-and-white flag for a third trip over the white lines at Turn 10, and his race engineer on the radio reminds him that no risks are required given his lead over Hamilton. The reigning world champion takes the chequered flag and gains another victory in this season 24 seconds ahead of Hamilton, with Russell eight seconds further back, managing to keep Perez at bay for the final place on the podium. Sainz is fifth in his Ferrari, while the Aston Martins of Stroll and Alonso take sixth and seventh and Ocon crosses the line in eighth. Tsunoda was ninth and Zhou coming home 10th, before a run-in between both at Turn 1 in the closing laps, forced the Chinese driver wide and led to a stewards’ investigation, which result is: Tsunoda being dropped from his P9 finish to 12th, promoting Gasly into the points. Leclerc ends outside the points, while Piastri and De Vries are 13th and 14th. Hulkenberg, Norris and Magnussen finish P15, P17 and P18 respectively, with Albon winding up 16th, Bottas 19th and Sargeant 20th. All drivers made it to the chequered flag. This is the third straight win for the Red Bull team, with Verstappen being unstoppable and also picking up the bonus point for the fastest lap:
"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 managed to climb through the field but not to make it to the podium:
"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, Red Bull’s CEO and Team Principal, compliments with all the team for the optimum results achieved:
"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 refind that form from the early races in the near future".
After the contact with Norris at the start, Hamilton had a lonely race in second to get the second podium of the season:
"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".
Russell, who started back, climbed all the way to third with some good overtakes, also managing to keep to keep Perez at bay:
"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 is satisfied. They took a risk but they managed to get the right direction to go:
"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, admits the progress they are starting to make:
"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".
Sainz was quicker off the mark compared to Verstappen, but the Dutchman managed to stay ahead. From there the Spaniard didn’t have the pace on any compound to keep the Mercedes cars behind:
"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".
Leclerc started from the pit lane and was able to climb up to 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 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".
Frédéric Vasseur, Ferrari’s Team Principal, concludes:
"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 didn’t have much pace. Stroll started and finished sixth:
"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".
Alonso pitted two times into traffic and had to make his way back:
"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".
Team Principal Mike Krack is overall satisfied with the amount of points earned:
"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".
After the good result in Monaco, Ocon didn’t have the pace to keep his opponents at bay:
"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".
Gasly at the start dropped from P10 to 14th due to two grid penalties. But he climbed back through the field to finish 11th:
"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, Alpine’s Team Principal, analyzes the race:
"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".
Bad race for Bottas, who stopped early and lacked pace, ending P19:
"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 had a great race and comes home ninth:
"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, Alfa Romeo’s Team Representative, points out why the team work is important and hopes to continue improving:
"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".
Tsunoda had a great start and was running in the top 10. But when Zhou tried a move around the outside into Turn 1, he 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 down to P12 at the end:
"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".
De Vries had a quiet race:
"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".
Guillaume Dezoteux, AlphaTauri’s Head Of Vehicle Performance, concludes:
"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".
Piastri 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 he started to fall back:
"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".
Norris started third and had the contact with Hamilton, so had to pit for the damage, emerging last:
"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".
Andrea Stella, McLaren’s Team Principal, concludes:
"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".
Kevin Magnussen declares:
"It was a tough day in terms of tire management. At the beginning of every stint, it was quite competitive compared to everyone we were fighting, but our tires 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".
Hulkenberg started in the top 10. The German lost out at the start, and could not get his tyres switched on. He was then forced into an early stop:
"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".
Guenther Steiner, Haas’ Team Principal, talks about tyre degradation:
"Quite a disappointing result today, we just couldn’t get the tires 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 tire degradation".
Albon declares that this race was not easy:
"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 racetracks 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".
Sargeant started from the pit lane after the team modified his car overnight, but couldn’t make any headway from there:
"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 weeks' time".
Mario Isola, Pirelli Motorsport Director, analyzes the race:
"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".
Max Verstappen's domination of this World Championship, which at the moment has virtually nothing to tell, at the level of challenging for the title, continues. The Dutch driver seems destined to easily win his third World Championship, and one wonders if Red Bull Racing can win all the races in the 2023 season. In Barcelona, Mercedes became competitive again, while the value of Aston Martin could not be appreciated. On the other hand, the performance of Scuderia Ferrari is disappointing. Despite upgrades, the Maranello cars are unable to express themselves and at the moment remain the fourth force in the World Championship. The next stop is Montreal’s Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve for the Canadian Grand Prix, which will take place on the weekend from June 16-18.