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#1039 2021 Spanish Grand Prix

2021-08-22 00:00

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#2021, Fulvio Conti, Translated by Sara Miconi,

#1039 2021 Spanish Grand Prix

After the Portuguese Grand Prix, the Circus remains in the Iberian Peninsula, as it is time for the Spanish Grand Prix, held at its traditional venue,

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After the Portuguese Grand Prix, the Circus remains in the Iberian Peninsula, as it is time for the Spanish Grand Prix, held at its traditional venue, the Circuit de Catalunya. The facility was completed in 1991 and has hosted the Spanish Grand Prix without interruption since that very year. The event is scheduled for the weekend of May 7th – 9th, 2021 and is this season’s fourth round. The track is 4675m long and consists of 16 turns, 9 right and 7 left, of various types and speeds. This and its mild climate during the winter make it one of the teams' historically favorite circuits to conduct testing. Michael Schumacher is the circuit’s most successful driver, with 6 wins: the first with Benetton in 1995 and the others with Ferrari, in 1996, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004. Lewis Hamilton has won 5 times on this circuit: the first in 2014, and consecutively in the last 4 editions, from 2017 to 2020. Scuderia Ferrari holds the record among the teams, with 8 victories: in addition to Schumacher's 5, the team from Maranello won with Felipe Massa in 2007, Kimi Raikkonen in 2008 and Fernando Alonso in 2013. As of this edition of the Spanish Grand Prix, the race is run on a slightly different track configuration after work took place during the winter break. The track’s turn 10, known as La Caixa, has been widened at the exit. The turn’s new layout recalls the one previously used between 1991 and 2003. The change to the track layout was made to improve safety conditions for both car and motorcycle races. The track is now 4675 km long. The new track layout is not appreciated by British Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, according to whom this corner is too fast and will not favor overtaking during the race:

 

"It doesn't have the same grip as the rest of the track, but I think it will increase. I really don't understand what the point of this corner is. It's much faster, but I've never been close to another car there, so I couldn't tell you if it's better or worse from a race perspective. Before there was a very slow corner, potentially offering room for overtaking, but after a straight that was too short. So I don't know, hopefully at least it allows you to stay closer to the car in front in the final sector. If so, it could give an advantage on the main straight".

 

For this race, Pirelli, the only tire supplier, is bringing C1, C2 and C3 compound tires, the hardest among those available. Pirelli Motorsport Director, Mario Isola, explains the supplier’s choice: 

 

"In 2020 the race strategy in Barcelona was mainly influenced by high tarmac temperatures. This year, with the race returning to the calendar in spring, temperatures should be lower but will still be a key factor in strategy. The changes to the profile in turn 10 add a new challenge that could affect the way drivers approach the lap. We have seen in the past that the tactical aspect is one of the factors that really makes a difference on this track and that should be the case this weekend as well".

 

For this race, the FIA has established two Drag Reduction System activation zones: the first along the main straight, with the point for detecting the gap between drivers placed before the last corner, while the second zone is indicated between turn 9 (Campsa) and turn 10 (La Caixa), with the detection point set before turn 9. The Federation stipulates that if a driver makes a mistake in the trajectory of the first two turns, he must pass to the left of the bollard placed in the escape route before safely re-entering the track. Failure to comply with this instruction will result in the lap time being deleted by the stewards. If a driver, during his fast lap, goes off in the last part of the track, between turn 13 and turn 15, the current lap and the next one will be deleted. The sequence of curbs installed at the apex of turn 8 have been extended to the exit of turn 7 (TV3). The rear of the curb at turn 13 (Europcar) has been set back to provide a gradual transition of cars. The Grand Prix returns to its classic location on the calendar, in May, after the 2020 edition was held in August, as the event was postponed due to issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The contract to hold this edition of the race was signed only last January. Winter testing was originally scheduled at this circuit: in recent seasons it had been held from March 2nd to 4th. The 2021 Australian Grand Prix was postponed to November due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so the teams agreed to hold the tests for the first time in Sakhir - March 12th to 14th - two weeks before the new start of the season scheduled with the Bahrain Grand Prix. 

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The event, like the last one in 2020, is being held behind closed doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as was the case with the previous race, the Portuguese Grand Prix. On the grandstands, however, a thousand circuit employees are present. In contrast, the Bahrain Grand Prix - the championship’s inaugural race - was held with spectators in the stands, but only those who received the COVID-19 vaccine or those who recovered from SARS-CoV-2 were admitted. The organisers’ explanation:

 

"We have the opportunity to be an example of safe sports and to offer a show with all the safety guarantees. We are very pleased to be able to take the first step toward the gradual opening of our facilities to the public, even if it is a small number of fans at this time".

 

On Tuesday, May 4th, 2021, Williams announces they have hired James Bower: after fourteen years of experience at McLaren, the Englishman becomes the new commercial director of the team acquired by the Dorilton Capital investment fund. Tim Hunt, on the other hand, will take up the position of chief marketing officer. Williams team principal Jost Capito welcomes James Bower with great satisfaction: 

 

"We are thrilled to welcome James Bower to Williams Racing as chief marketing officer. His arrival reflects the positive momentum we are building both on and off the track and is a testament to our ambitions. He has valuable experience in his curriculum and I look forward to seeing him at work".

 

Bower is also enthusiastic and ready to embark on this new adventure: 

 

"I am proud to join Williams Racing at such an important time for the team and our sport. Williams has a special place in the collective imaginary of F1 and I look forward to offering my contribution to its history".

 

The organizers of the Monaco Grand Prix, scheduled for Sunday, May 23rd, 2021, confirm that the event will have a maximum of 7,500 spectators for qualifying and the race and 3,000 for free practice, after they had announced in previous weeks that spectators in the stands would be between 40 percent and 50 percent of total capacity. Minister of State Pierre Dartout announces this on Friday, April 9th, 2021:

 

"It is important that the Grand Prix is held with limited public participation and in compliance with maximum health security".

 

On Tuesday, May 4th, 2021, Cyril Abiteboul, former team principal of the team previously known as Caterham and Renault, now renamed Alpine, becomes a new consultant for the Mecachrome group, a company that assembles French power units. Mecachrome CEO Christian Cornille states:

 

"We are proud that Cyril will be able to provide his support and expertise to the group's teams in this business that, since 1983, has supported prestigious brands in the biggest motorsport categories, F1, F2, F3, endurance and rally. The Mecachrome group needs to understand the trends and opportunities in this area and make them consistent with the group's goals and the transformation undertaken in its other activities".

 

In the weeks leading up to the Spanish Grand Prix, Red Bull Racing had announced that Ben Hodgkinson, head of Mechanical Engineering for 20 years at Mercedes, would become technical director of the engine department. 

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On Thursday, May 6th, 2021, the Austrian team announces that five more engine engineers from the Anglo-German team are moving to the Milton Keynes office. Steve Blewett will be the new power unit production manager; Omid Mostaghimi will be responsible for the electronics and powertrain energy recovery system; Pip Clode will head the mechanical design of this component; Anton Mayo will be responsible for the design of the electronic control unit; and Steve Brodie will be the leader of the group in charge of the operations of this component. Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner takes pride and confirms his team's high ambitions, including in the nascent engine department:

 

"Success will only be achieved by bringing in the best and brightest talent and providing them with the right tools and environment to work in. These appointments demonstrate our commitment, and the UK factory allows us to tap into a huge pool of talented engineers. They will work with our new technical director, Ben Hodgkinson, and key Honda Racing Development staff. They are all experienced, knowledgeable, and innovative-minded – we will have the strongest possible engine technical platform for the future".

 

Red Bull Racing consultant Helmut Marko also claims the strength of the project: 

 

"We are a team driven by passion, we will do everything in-house. Mercedes, on the other hand, offered to double the salary of engineers who wanted to join us. We don't do these things".

 

These are definitely major losses for Mercedes, but Toto Wolff is not alarmed: 

 

“This is normal turnover, they obviously need staff. For me it is all very simple. Red Bull is recruiting employees with the promise of a great future. But I say, be careful, because the future is not so clear and there are different scenarios at stake. The off-track struggle is normal, the battle to grab the best people is always there".

 

For its part, Mercedes comes to Spain on the strength of its recent victory in Portugal and its leadership in the World Championship standings, both Constructors’ and Drivers’. However, Mercedes' head of on-track engineers, Andrew Shovlin, expects differences from the last round:

 

"We have to prepare thoroughly because tire overheating will not be insignificant in Spain, we expect similar conditions compared to those encountered in Bahrain. In Portugal Lewis was third and won, I find that he is really good when it comes to overtaking, he doesn't let an opportunity slip by, and he is very good at putting the car in the right place at the right time. Plus he is great at tire management and not overheating the tires. The key is to make the car slide as little as possible and he succeeds. Right now it is difficult to determine which single-seater is the best performer, and I think the results depend on the drivers’ skill".

 

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff does not let his guard down either:

 

"Back-to-back races bring a greater intensity to the calendar, and they also mean that we don't have to wait long to see action on track. This is an exciting prospect after the race in Portimão, a race we left behind with a double podium and some important lessons learned, especially since a one-two finish was within our grasp without the sensor problem for Valtteri in the closing stages. There is a lot of work still to be done and the pecking order looks set to change from track to track. We know we have to be at the top every weekend".

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And speaking about the fight with Red Bull Racing, the Austrian manager adds:

 

"It will be a head-to-head fight with Red Bull all season long, and we are excited that this battle will continue in a few days in Spain. Usually, by this point in the year we have already spent time in Barcelona for winter testing, but that was not the case this year. So we are looking forward to getting back on track here. The circuit is challenging and multi-purpose, with a mix of corners and straights that make it a real test for the car. It is a track where rear tire management is key for good performance, and that has not been our biggest strength so far this season. There have also been some layout changes for this year, so we're curious to see how the W12 performs here".

 

Finally, the Mercedes team principal shuts down rumors of Valtteri Bottas’ possible departure, after the driver was criticized for not performing up to his car’s standard:

 

"Nonsense. Bottas is a great driver who can sustain a direct confrontation with any other opponent on the grid, in Portugal he achieved pole position. Hamilton manages to get the upper hand because of his consistency, especially in the race. Replacing Bottas with Russell in 2021 would not make sense".

 

Lewis Hamilton defends his teammate too: 

 

"Best pair for Mercedes? To be really honest I haven't thought about it much. But from what I've experienced in my relationship with Valtteri, he's been a fantastic teammate, as I've always said".

 

He adds:

 

"I will not be here forever and Valtteri will not be here forever, but I think we have brought results over and over again over the years and we continue to do so. If I'm really honest, I think we have the best lineup currently in terms of results, in terms of the balance we have within our team and in terms of the overall knowledge to grow the car. Valtteri just got pole in the last race. It’s only the fourth race. I think people need to give him a break and let him focus on what he's doing".

 

Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner is of the same opinion: 

 

"I would be surprised by a mid-season swap between the two, in recent years Bottas has always offered Mercedes what the team needed and he has shown that he can be fast driving that car".

 

Red Bull Racing's Dutch driver Max Verstappen will take part in his 100th Grand Prix with the Milton Keynes-based team in Spain:

 

"They flew by, I think I'm getting old".

 

Regarding the upcoming weekend, the Dutch driver is optimistic, but expects an intense battle:

 

"I think the Barcelona track suits us, but Mercedes will also be very fast, the key will be to find the best set-up, Portimão is a bit of a separate track and I think in Spain we will be back to check the competitiveness of the cars without too many unknown factors. Between us and Mercedes I think there is a development race going on and we must not give up".

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Max Verstappen achieved his first success in Formula 1 on this track in 2016, in his first race with Red Bull, after his promotion from Toro Rosso:

 

"Of course for me it is impossible to forget 2016. At that moment everything happened so fast that I almost struggle to focus on my feelings, for sure I was very close to crying from joy, both me and my father, with whom by the way I drove a GT car in Barcelona before starting the season during the winter break and it was a lot of fun".

 

Finally, the Dutch driver reiterates how the environment he is in is ideal for him, and wants to stay there for a long time to come:

 

"I feel great within this team, the atmosphere is great and we are all focused on trying to play our cards this season. I am very happy to be part of this team and I hope to continue to be part of it for many more years".

 

Sergio Perez is also very optimistic ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix: 

 

"I think we will also be in the fight for victory here right away. It's a very special track, with very slow corners; three and nine, however, are high-speed corners, so the key here is to find the right balance and take care of the tires. The wind is also a variable to consider. It's a very difficult circuit, but as I said, we should be competitive from the start and fight for the win. For me it's a special place, I found my first points in Formula 1 here in 2011 and maybe it could be the first track where I go on the podium with Red Bull. It is a track where qualifying is very important and I am pretty sure we are ready for this challenge. I'm really intrigued by what the RB16B can do here and it's a track I like to drive on".

 

The Mexican is still very focused on adapting to the new reality, one of the reasons why results have not been optimal so far:

 

"I expected better things but I prefer to see the glass half full. I am happy with the progress we have made in terms of adapting to the car. Imola and Portimão were very complicated races, but I learned a lot. I had the same pace as the leading drivers and we got some points, we can only improve. I have only been here a short time, but since my arrival the atmosphere has been the same: everyone in the team is working toward the same goal, which is to win races and aim for the championship. It is something completely different from what I am used to and the motivation is really high. I'm very happy to be here and to be part of this effort, I'm pretty sure I won't let this team down".

 

Red Bull Racing advisor Helmut Marko makes no secret of his optimism, and sees the Anglo-Austrian team as the favorite for victory: 

 

"Mercedes has problems with rear tire management. The more grip the asphalt has, the greater the chances of overheating and thus a potential loss of performance. Plus, the turns in Barcelona will also suit our car better".

 

Carlos Sainz Jr. also comments on the world title challenge, although he is not part of it: 

 

"I don't know if Verstappen-Hamilton is a challenge that can last all year. This year Max has the car, he can win the World Championship. However, Hamilton wants to disprove those who say he wins because of the car. Now he wants to show that he makes a difference as a driver even in a year when he is up against a strong Red Bull. You can see he is pushing harder than ever, it is a beautiful duel to watch from the outside, Hamilton is very determined ".

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After that, the Spanish driver adds some remarks about his own team: 

 

"At Ferrari we have to keep working, improve and bring results. It's not easy because I'm 'new': you can clearly see that drivers who have changed teams are having difficulties. If you have experience with a team and a car you know how all aspects work and you know what the limit is. So, taking advantage of that 100% is much easier. I'm trying to adapt as soon as possible, but there are no secrets, races have to pass and experience has to increase. I am happy with how it is going, I know how difficult it is but this year many drivers have changed teams and you can see that you need more than one year of experience to go to the limit with a car. I'm trying to work on myself in three aspects. First, I'm trying to integrate perfectly with the team, I need to know who to talk to if I want something. Then, I'm improving my driving style – each car drives in a different style, Ferrari drives in a totally different way than McLaren, and that's why Ricciardo is struggling. And finally there is adapting the car to you, in terms of setup, seat, steering wheel. If I have to pick one Grand Prix in which to beat Verstappen and Norris, I pick them all! But since it is not possible, I would say Montmeló, Monte-Carlo or Monza".

 

On the Catalan track Carlos Sainz Jr. has often achieved excellent results, so he looks to the next Grand Prix thinking that it is an excellent opportunity to continue the positive trend:

 

"Everyone knows how much I like my home Grand Prix and that Barcelona has always brought me luck, the goal is to maintain this good statistic. There are changes in the circuit, such as turn 10, that can change everything we have seen in the past. On Friday we will have to take new conclusions and properly analyze the data on the sections where the circuit has changed. I don't rule out a race with more than one stop, and as far as overtakes are concerned, there have been more in the last two years. It could be an interesting Grand Prix".

 

There has been speculation in recent days that the Spanish Grand Prix may be removed from the Formula 1 calendar. In this regard, Carlos Sainz Jr. says: 

 

"I think you have to separate things, you have to separate the home Grand Prix and what is the intention of Formula 1 to race outside Europe. Formula 1 has made it clear to us drivers that its heart is still in Europe, in old-school circuits like Spa, Barcelona, Silverstone. They have made it clear to us that F1 wants to be present in the Old Continent. The reasons why the Spanish Grand Prix cannot yet come to an agreement with Formula 1 to remain part of the calendar are a separate issue".

 

As anticipated, there will be no fans in the stands in Barcelona. This news leaves the Spanish driver somewhat regretful, as he will not be able to fully experience the special atmosphere of his home Grand Prix:

 

"It is very special, the home race is always the most important race of the year, the one you want to race right away. But it's true that without the fans it's different, in the end that special feeling that the home Grand Prix gives you is because of the fans and this year we don't have that. When you dream as a little boy you always think about racing a home Grand Prix as a Ferrari driver, with the fans supporting you with flags and banners. That unfortunately is not there, I am not happy about it but hopefully next year will be back to normal. Since 2005, when I met Fernando Alonso, I dreamed of racing here as a Ferrari driver and after more than 15 years I am here. I am convinced that this year, with Fernando and me, there could’ve been a sold-out".

 

Finally, the Madrid native focuses on the challenge behind the top teams, against McLaren and Alpine:

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"If the challenge is with Charles or Alonso? If I were to choose, I would have to say Fernando. Charles is my teammate, we are Ferrari and we want to be further in front compared to where we are and we want to beat everyone. Alpine in Portugal was very strong and Fernando had a good race but we want to be in front and we will push. We have recovered a lot from last year but we cannot fight with Mercedes and Red Bull yet. Lando Norris is doing very well but even last year he was good, it's not like he's a hero now. Maybe he misses having a teammate for now to put pressure and complicate things for him, but his start of the year has been really good. You know I have a good relationship with him and I am happy for him. After the podium I sent him a message, I know that when he is in shape he is hard to beat, but let me have a couple of races with Ferrari and we will have a more controlled Lando…".

 

For Charles Leclerc, the race in Portugal was not very easy, but he believes these difficulties will not be repeated in the Spanish Grand Prix: 

 

"The difficulties in Portimão with the medium tires? Nothing to worry about. I struggled before the race and then on Sunday it got better. Carlos Sainz and I had unexpected results with the medium tires, we have to analyze the data well to try to understand what didn't work. In qualifying with the wind blowing maybe a different approach was needed, instead of trying for top speed right away, maybe it would have been better to go one step at a time. I didn't find confidence with the car and that penalized me for the rest of the weekend. Montmeló is a good track to see who is more complete because there are fast, slow and medium corners. It will be interesting".

 

He adds:

 

"I expect a different race from Portugal, I think there will be more stable weather and wind conditions, it will be a different weekend. I don't have any answers for the performance of the mediums, I have some ideas but no conclusions, but for sure we were fast on the soft and hard, not on the medium. The challenge with Norris? Lando has been driving very well since the beginning of the year, he is not making mistakes and that is a very important thing considering we are all close in the midfield. We need to be perfect to stay ahead of McLaren, that's the goal for Barcelona".

 

Lando Norris performed well and was competitive in the first few races. The British driver is preparing for the Spanish weekend with great enthusiasm:

 

"I'm excited to go to Spain. We seem to be in good shape at the moment, we just need to maintain it and try to keep getting points. We are still in an early stage of the championship, so another weekend like Portugal would be good. We need to keep working and get results. We'll see what we can do, we'll see what the car looks like, but I'm confident that we can run a good race. It is definitely the best season I have ever had in Formula 1, where possible we will try to beat Red Bull and Mercedes in qualifying. At the same time, however, we want to be realistic. It is a mix of confidence and realism. My good season? It's not just about the car, but also about the work we do behind the scenes with the team and as a team".

 

With great performance also comes great responsibility, and the young British driver of the McLaren team seems to know this very well:

 

"I have a different role in the team this year. Daniel has more experience with the other teams, but I am the most experienced at McLaren. Now I play a more important role in the development of the car".

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Daniel Ricciardo is also approaching the Spanish Grand Prix with confidence, knowing that he can focus on the feeling with the car, which still needs to be refined in some details: 

 

"I'm looking forward to getting back on track in Spain. Having been to two unique circuits in Imola and Portimão, it will be nice to do some laps on a circuit I know very well. All the teams do a lot of testing in Barcelona, so we know what to expect from the start. Having so much familiarity with the circuit and the high levels of grip should mean that I can really push the car and not have too many other factors to worry about. I'm getting more and more comfortable with each race distance, so I'm really excited to see what we can do in the next few races".

 

Pierre Gasly, on the other hand, focuses his attention on a typical feature of the Spanish track, namely the overtaking difficulty. This could be a strong point for him and his AlphaTauri, which so far has been very competitive in qualifying:

 

"This year in Spain we won't have a chance to check the evolution of the car compared to winter testing, a pretty good track, but we know that on Sunday it can be hard to overtake and that means that qualifying is very important: so far we have managed to have a couple of good sessions, which is encouraging. We need to focus on getting better Sundays. The track layout has changed in the turn 10 hairpin area, it will be interesting to see what effect that will have on the lap. In the first few races the car was all right, and they say Barcelona gives an opportunity to really understand what the car is like. The key now is to make sure we capitalize in qualifying and then fight for good points".

 

Compared to his colleagues, Yuki Tsunoda focuses on another difficult element of this track, which is tire management, one of the most complex aspects for a rookie to learn: 

 

"In Formula 2 last year, I finished fourth in both races. On the Barcelona track, tire management is one of the most important factors, even in qualifying: if you mistreat your tires in the first sector, you find yourself running out of tires in the third sector and not being able to set a good lap time. I like this track, I'm looking forward to racing here for the first time in a Formula 1 car. I know it well, so I'm pretty confident I can be fast right from the first free practice".

 

Aston Martin's German driver Sebastian Vettel has had a very complicated start to the season, so he hopes to redeem himself, starting with the Spanish Grand Prix:

 

"I'm curious to try the upgrades, Stroll's judgement was good in Portugal and they should help me make a leap forward in terms of performance. Our race pace is not so bad, we have to worry about having a good qualifying because we all know how difficult it is to overtake in Barcelona on Sunday afternoon. The upgrades do what they're supposed to do, so we'll take a step forward, but we don't know what the other teams will do and how many upgrades they'll have".

 

Sebastian Vettel, however, confirms that he is comfortable with the British team: 

 

"To be honest, our car is not fast enough. The new rules have hurt us more than others, it's no secret that we expected to go better. As a team we can still grow. There are many small things that could be better. The spirit in the team is very good. I am still very happy to be here. We have accepted the current situation and are working hard to improve. We are not fighting for podiums and wins, but the atmosphere in the team is good and we are ambitious. I am making progress and so is the team. The team works a little differently than I am used to in some aspects, but we are still at a stage where we can learn a lot and I have no doubt that we will find our way back up".

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On the subject of this year's top duel, the German driver does not go out of his way to make predictions: 

 

"Lewis or Max as world champion? I don't care, it would be a great result for either of them, for a number of reasons".

 

His teammate, Lance Stroll, on the AM21:

 

"We know how crucial it is to extract the maximum potential of the car to have a chance in a tight battle like the one that characterizes the F1 midfield this season, in Portugal we didn't have a good weekend, but we have accumulated valuable data and experience to continue improving the AMR21".

 

Fernando Alonso is also still focused on finding the best possible feeling with his car:

 

"I don't think I'm 100% yet, it takes time. But I feel much more comfortable in the car and the team, and I understand the tires better and better. We are working on the automatisms. I think Sunday can go a little better again".

 

The home Grand Prix is always a very heartfelt event, and this is no exception for the Spanish driver: 

 

"It is always special to race here, I have many good memories. Unfortunately there are no spectators, or at least not that many, so we lose that huge support. We know the track very well after all these years of testing. In that respect, however, there will be something different this year. We haven't driven the new cars here yet".

 

Finally, the Spanish rider reiterates that despite the difficulties he is experiencing, he still feels strong and able to compete to the best of his ability:

 

"I'm at a point in my life where I feel good, I feel able to ride better than ever, I keep thinking what I had already said a few weeks ago. But that doesn't mean that you don't find difficulties when you jump into a new adventure, or come back to a category like Formula 1. At the same time, I had a weekend where I was not totally comfortable at Imola. I was the first to admit that I was not 100% and that I had probably performed below my and others' expectations. But it was an isolated race and I came within a second of my teammate".

 

Alpine's second driver, Esteban Ocon, hopes to repeat the progress shown in Portimão:

 

"The race in Portugal surprised us, for sure. I think the car in terms of balance had been really nice to drive on a difficult track, which had very low grip. I think our stability was quite good from entry to mid-corner. If we repeat the pace we had in Portugal here, I think it will be a good season for us and therefore we can do well here as well. There is no doubt that Barcelona will be a very important weekend. The feedback Fernando and I are giving is more or less the same, the team has a very clear picture of what we are saying. This race is a litmus test for us, clearly. We will know if we have the pace for the rest of the season or if we need to overcome problems. And at that point we will have to ask ourselves why we did so well in Portimão. At the moment there is a great atmosphere within the team, we are working well and have improved a lot. We have optimized the package, we have brought updates. But we struggled here last year and we want to turn the page. Of course, one year does not necessarily follow the year before, so we will find out tomorrow how we do".

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During free practice, Israeli driver Roy Nissany will take George Russell's place at Williams:

 

"I am very anxious to get back in the car. Barcelona was my first free practice session last year and we've made a lot of progress since then, so I'm looking forward to proving it on track. It's nice to experience the development steps every time I get in the car".

 

While George Russell states:

 

"I carry with me very mixed feelings from our weekend in Portugal, there were many positive takeaways, but also many lessons to be learned from Sunday's performance. We know the strengths and weaknesses of the car, so hopefully we can work on that over the course of this week. I'm looking forward to getting back to Barcelona. The first two sectors are fast and smooth, which makes them great to drive. The final sector is quite slow and doesn't offer any overtaking opportunities, but it will be interesting to see how the changes in turn 10 affect driving and racing".

 

And Nicholas Latifi is eager to turn the page: 

 

"I'm looking forward to racing again, especially after the difficult weekend in Portugal, I'm ready to reset and think about the next race. I think Barcelona normally has more stable weather conditions than what we experienced in Portugal, so hopefully that will translate into a better performance. From a personal point of view, I want to try to understand what went wrong last weekend so we can turn things around in Spain".

 

Robert Kubica, instead, will replace Kimi Räikkönen during Free Practice. And in this regard, Alfa Romeo Racing team principal Frederic Vasseur stresses how important his input is: 

 

"It's great to have Robert back in the car for his first practice session of the season and for the Barcelona test. Every time he gets in the car it is extremely valuable for us to draw on his vast experience and get another perspective on the C41. His technical feedback will also be crucial in his runs on the 2022 tires. We are in the middle of a very tight fight in the middle of the pack, and any input from our talented driver pool can be the secret weapon that gives us that edge going forward".

 

As is to be expected, the Polish driver is excited to be back on track: 

 

"I can't wait to be back in the car this Friday and next week. Having last driven the C41 in Barcelona in February, I can't wait to see how much the car has progressed since then, both in terms of updates and the team's understanding of the package. Driving a Formula One car is always a special experience, and I look forward to contributing to the team's effort in the midfield battle. Also, driving the new 18-inch tires will be a new experience and the first taste of the new world that will come next year".

 

Former Formula 1 driver Derek Warwick of Britain is appointed assistant race commissioner for the Spanish Grand Prix. He has served in this capacity before, most recently at the 2020 Turkish Grand Prix. The Turkish Grand Prix was added to the calendar last season by the FIA to replace Grands Prix canceled or postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Grand Prix returned as a Formula One World Championship event for the first time since the 2011 season. For this Grand Prix, like the previous one, German car manufacturer Mercedes is providing the safety car and medical car. 

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On Friday, May 7th, 2021, track activity begins, with the first free practice session scheduled at 11:30 a.m. local time. The sky is clear and temperatures are 21.2 °C and 33.7 °C for air and asphalt, respectively. The humidity is 59.3 percent and there is a very slight wind at 0.4 km/h. Before the start of the first free practice session, the mechanics of Nikita Mazepin's and Mick Schumacher's cars replace the exhaust system, fitting, in both cases, the second unit. The two drivers are not penalized on the starting grid because the fitted units are among the eight available for the entire season. As the session begins, the drivers immediately take to the track for their first installation laps: Lewis Hamilton immediately notices that his car tends to veer to the right on the straight, a symptom of less-than-perfect toe-in. The session ends with Valtteri Bottas’ Mercedes ahead of Verstappen, Hamilton, Norris and the two Ferraris. Gasly, Vettel, Perez and Stroll round out the top 10. Two times were cancelled due to drivers failing to comply with the instructions set by the race director, as they did not pass to the left of the bollard positioned in the run-off lane after failing to maintain the trajectory of the second corner. The cancelled times were set by Carlos Sainz Jr. and Charles Leclerc. FP2 will be held in the afternoon, scheduled at 3:00 p.m. local time. The sky is still clear, but compared to the morning, the asphalt temperature has risen to 40 °C. Air temperature, on the other hand, has remained almost unchanged: it stands at 20 °C. Thus the session ends with no change in the standings, with Lewis Hamilton ahead of Valtteri Bottas and Charles Leclerc. At the end of the first two practice sessions, Lewis Hamilton is naturally satisfied:

 

"It was a very good start to the weekend, the track is wonderful and the car balance proved to be ideal as in the last race weekend in Portimão. The gaps are minimal, but we are fast. Now we will analyze all the data collected and then make our balancing decisions ahead of the next sessions. It is good to see the growth of Ferrari, McLaren and Alpine and not just Red Bull’s. All of this puts pressure on us. We need a perfect set-up for tomorrow".

 

Valtteri Bottas also confirms that he understands his car better:

 

"I think it was a good start, the feeling with the car was not bad and that is always a good starting point. There were no big problems with the balance. This weekend Lewis and I have a similar set-up. Pretty much the same, I think. At this track we have a pretty optimal understanding of what is needed. Tonight we will do the usual things, trying to optimize the set-up in the best way for the rest of the weekend. Every hundredth of a second will help us, even in qualifying. I think with the soft tires in qualifying we had some problems in the balance between front and rear, the gaps will still be small".

 

Max Verstappen did not complete the qualifying simulation, which is why the timesheet may be misleading. But the Dutchman seems confident in the potential at his disposal:

 

"I went a little wide in turn 10, got a little bit of dirt. Overall I think it was a pretty good day, the car is competitive. We look ahead to tomorrow to try to improve further. There was nothing particularly significant today. Putting myself between the Mercedes? Yes, we seemed pretty competitive. Tomorrow we’ll know just how much and it will still be a question mark. Nothing particularly strange happened today and we simply have to make sure we are there tomorrow. turn 10? I think it's better for pushing on the dry lap because it's faster and more fun. But for overtaking I think it's worse".

 

Sergio Perez, on the other hand, showed that he had problems particularly on the dry lap:

 

"It was a difficult day today. We had a couple of delays in both sessions, which means we were in a hurry and ran into some traffic, and with less time for free practice this year, it's important to get laps in. Tonight we have to try to understand some elements and find the rhythm, especially on the single lap. I think the race pace is stronger, but there is work to be done. Let's see what we can find, because qualifying here is especially important. Hopefully we can pick up the pace and be in the mix tomorrow".

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As for the Ferrari drivers, Charles Leclerc is very happy and optimistic about his and his car's progress:

 

"It was a very good day, a clean Friday. I changed my approach a little bit compared to Portimão, trying to progress step by step, and I am driving much better. I'm also feeling better with the car. We know where to improve and we need to do that, because qualifying will really be decisive. I really hope to continue building a good weekend after a good start today".

 

And Carlos Sainz Jr. also has similar feelings to his teammate:

 

"The day was encouraging for us, from FP2 we saw that the track had a lot of grip and this helped us find the balance better and control the rear of the car. Both Charles and I are very happy. In FP2 on my side we lost balance a little bit, we struggled a little bit. Charles on the other hand even set the best time in the last sector. This is very encouraging. We have to keep working and ‘nibble’ something away. We hope to do a good qualifying tomorrow".

 

Lando Norris does not want to expose himself too much, as he and his team typically do in the various free practices:

 

"The new things we tested? Too early to say, some gave good feelings, however, we have not yet taken full advantage of everything. We need to look at today's data to define what went well and what didn't".

 

Commenting on the track results, however, the British pilot confirms that the team needs to take a further step: 

 

"This morning we did well in FP1, but when the temperatures rose we struggled a little bit more. Some things went well, some things less so in FP1 we lapped working more with less fuel and on the dry lap. In FP2, on the other hand, we lapped more with a lot of fuel. It wasn't bad with a lot of fuel, but we need to work more on qualifying".

 

Daniel Ricciardo is struggling a bit more, and admits at the end of practice:

 

"I was struggling with the car and I didn't really have the confidence to push it, we addressed the problem in the afternoon. I think the car was better. We took a step forward. Clearly it's not enough, we need to improve more. On paper it doesn't look great, but it was definitely better this afternoon".

 

At the moment, the Australian driver is lacking full confidence in the car:

 

"The feeling is still a little different, this is probably taking away some of that confidence at the moment. In the debriefs, Lando complains about the same things. But I think he's a little bit more used to this car and probably able to drive it a bit better".

 

Alpine tries to build on the previous week’s positive weekend, with Esteban Ocon setting the fourth time and Fernando Alonso setting the fifth time, with even smaller gaps. In particular, the Spanish driver is happy and confident, stating:

 

"It was a good Friday for us. Over the course of the two sessions we focused on a few small innovations we had in store for this weekend, and we gathered useful data and information in terms of set-up and in terms of tire exploitation. The balance of the car is good, we can be satisfied with both sessions and I look forward to tomorrow with confidence. We will see where we are in qualifying".

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Esteban Ocon has similar impressions to his teammate’s:

 

"Between FP1 and FP2 we made a big leap in quality and behind the wheel I felt it very much. As always Barcelona is a great challenge to find the right compromise in terms of set-up to perform well throughout the lap. turn 10 is very nice to drive and I think we can improve a lot there. Now we will analyze everything to be even faster tomorrow in FP3".

 

Alfa Romeo is struggling to find the competitiveness needed to reach the top ten. With regards to this, Antonio Giovinazzi says:

 

"An okay day, not very good but not too bad either. We are still there, in P13, close to the top ten. Tomorrow we will have to do our best and try to put everything together, including a good slipstream. Going top-ten will be difficult, but we will try. turn 10? I liked it a lot. The one before was too slow and difficult even in race pace. This new one is much easier and also nice to drive. There are different lines with which one can approach the corner. I liked it better. Top ten tomorrow? We will try, it is necessary. Overtaking is difficult, with this turn 10 even more so".

 

Kimi Raikkonen, who unlike his teammate tested only during FP2, said:

 

"I was able to do a good number of laps in the afternoon, which is always good. I know the track very well and there is actually only one new corner to learn. The car performed well, so we can be optimistic about the rest of the weekend. We have work to do tonight, but so does everyone and we will see tomorrow where we finish in qualifying".

 

Robert Kubica, on track during FP1, went off-track and was forced to end practice early:

 

"It was good to be back in the car in an official session and I'm sorry I finished the session like this. It was a small mistake but we paid a high price: I misjudged the grip levels on my first lap on the soft tires, spun mid-corner and got stuck in the gravel. Still, it was good to get the feeling back with this car, especially ahead of next week's test. I'm looking forward to testing the new 18-inch tires. It will be an interesting session".

 

Scuderia AlphaTauri confirms its competitiveness, and nurtures hopes for a great weekend. Pierre Gasly is happy but aware that he still has work to do:

 

"I am satisfied with the performance and speed the car showed today, finishing sixth in FP2 is encouraging. We are still missing something in terms of balance and we definitely need to find the solution before qualifying, because it will be a real battle where every thousandth will make a difference. To win points we need to beat some very tough competition, so we need to improve what are currently some of our weak points".

 

Yuki Tsunoda, on the other hand, focuses on finding his optimal set-up:

 

"Compared to Portimão where I had to learn the track, here I don't start at a disadvantage, now it's just a matter of working well with the engineers at the set-up level to translate the confidence I feel behind the wheel into lap time performance".

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On Saturday, May 8, 2021, the weekend program continues with FP3 scheduled at 12:00 a.m. As anticipated by Christian Horner, a team principals meeting also takes place in the morning, with the subject specifically being track limits, which have been much debated in recent races. The Red Bull team principal states: 

 

"We want stability throughout the season. So we know what we can do and what we can't. But if we start changing from corner to corner within the same circuit, then it becomes quite difficult. We have to be consistent from track to track, from corner to corner. If track limits are hard for teams to understand, how do we explain them to fans? We want to have a white line or a situation where you're either in or you're out like in other sports. Not a situation like we have now, where you can overrun in certain corners but not in others, it comes out a rather confusing scenario - Max lost a fast lap in Portugal by a matter of millimeters. But the drivers push like hell in the race, it's hard for them to realize where the limits of the track are. We will discuss this issue among the team principals".

 

Another topic of discussion on this occasion is the future of the Turkish Grand Prix, which is in danger of being canceled due to flight restrictions enforced by Great Britain (home to 7 of the 10 teams participating in the world championship) to and from Turkey. Liberty Media CEO Stefano Domenicali stated at the end of the meeting: 

 

"We will try to understand in the coming rounds if we need options to manage the calendar schedule. I am not confirming Mugello and Nurburgring, they are not on the agenda. In the next two weeks we need to decide, even earlier. The goal is to keep the 23-race calendar, clearly we need to consider how the situation evolves. Track limits? It is an issue that has an impact on the public's understanding of the races. We need to find a solution that is not technical but physical. The FIA is addressing the issue and we will have solutions soon".

 

The sun is shining in Montmeló and temperatures have risen a few degrees compared to Friday: air temperature is 23 °C and while the asphalt is 36 °C. Before FP3, the mechanics of Fernando Alonso's and Esteban Ocon's cars replace the exhaust system, fitting the fourth and third units, respectively. The two drivers are not penalized because the fitted units are among the eight available for the entire season. At the end of the third free practice session, Verstappen sets the fastest time, ahead of Lewis Hamilton. The two Ferraris follow, ahead of the other Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas, then Norris, Gasly and Ricciardo. Kimi Raikkonen and Sergio Perez complete the top ten. Qualifying is delayed by ten minutes to allow the marshals to fix some protective barriers, damaged during the European Regional Formula 3 race, a side event to Formula 1, which races on the same track. The track is dry and temperatures are still rising slightly, 25 °C for the air and 44 °C for the asphalt. These conditions are excellent for qualifying, which, especially on this track, is crucial: in 30 editions held, 22 have been won by the poleman. In the first few minutes, the frontrunner is Red Bull Racing, whose cars are fitted with soft tires. Mercedes, on the other hand, fit medium compound tires. Soon, Valtteri Bottas sets the fastest time, a 1'18''005, just 0.085 seconds ahead of Verstappen. 

 

Also among the fastest are the Ferraris: Sainz Jr. is third, while Charles Leclerc is fifth. Kimi Räikkönen completes the provisional best time in the first sector, but that is not enough for him to pass Q1. Lando Norris, who had only set slow laps thus far, sets the fastest time. Charles Leclerc returns to the track for another attempt, setting a lap just 0.036 seconds behind Valtteri Bottas. George Russell also scores a time valid for advancing to Q2, while Yuki Tsunoda is excluded by a few thousandths. In addition to the Scuderia AlphaTauri driver and Kimi Räikkönen, the two Haas drivers and Nicholas Latifi are eliminated. In Q2 all drivers decide to use soft tires. Max Verstappen is the first driver to set a time under one minute and seventeen seconds, 0.478 seconds ahead of Valtteri Bottas and 0.710 seconds ahead of Lewis Hamilton. In the final stage of the session, Lewis Hamilton beats Valtteri Bottas’ time, who, in turn, beats his teammate again. However, neither Mercedes driver manages to set a better time than Max Verstappen’s. Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez improve their performance in the last attempt and manage to enter the top 10. 

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Daniel Ricciardo is at risk after obtaining P10 earlier, but gains access to the last stage of qualifying. Fernando Alonso manages to enter Q3 by 0.008 seconds. Instead, Lance Stroll and Pierre Gasly are eliminated along with Sebastian Vettel, Antonio Giovinazzi and George Russell. The fastest time in Q3 is set by Lewis Hamilton, who is 0.036 seconds ahead of Max Verstappen and 0.132 seconds ahead of Valtteri Bottas. Sergio Pérez, on the other hand, spins out. Esteban Ocon proves to be very competitive, tentatively placing himself in P4. Charles Leclerc, who is on new tires, reaches P4, while Pérez ends his lap in P8. Hamilton takes his 100th pole position in a race valid for the Formula 1 World Championship. For the British driver it is the sixth pole position at the Spanish Grand Prix, the ninth consecutive for Mercedes at this track. At the end of qualifying Nikita Mazepin and Lando Norris are summoned by the stewards because the Russian Haas driver obstructed the British McLaren driver at turn 14 during Q1. The stewards decide to give the Russian driver a three-position penalty and a point on the Super License. The former penalty has no practical effect since Nikita Mazepin qualified in last position. Lewis Hamilton reaches a historic achievement: he is the first driver in history to achieve pole position number 100. Despite being the favorite, the result was far from easy, and the British driver is keen to point this out:

 

"Perfect lap? I felt like I did well in FP3. We were strong all weekend, but we made some changes. We were worried about the effect it could have in qualifying. We thought we would improve the car, but it's a bit of a gamble. We also had to keep the race in mind. As soon as I got out on the track, I thought we had made the wrong choice. I had to chase, it was really hard. I had to use a few tricks here and there to keep up. The first lap of Q3 though was the best of the whole session. I tried to improve on the next attempt, but I made a small mistake. One hundred poles. I can't believe it. I owe it to the boys and girls in the factory who keep raising the bar and never stop. Working with these people is a dream because of the support they give me. The path we are on is immense. In 2013, we never thought we would get to pole number 100. I am ecstatic. With the setup I did I had so much understeer. I wasn't taking corners the way I wanted. With small adjustments I tried to make the car turn anyway. I will always remember this lap".

 

At the end of practice, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff gives credit to his driver:

 

"Every time I'm asked if this last one was the best lap he did, or if he gave his best race... Lewis is just operating at a level we've never seen before. Even today the car probably wasn't perfect, but he beat the others, and 100 poles is an incredible achievement. There will always be people who will see it that way. The stronger you get, the more jealousy, the more envy and the more negativity you will encounter. What is said is totally irrelevant. If we listened to all the things that are said, we would be very distracted from our work. Andrew Shovlin explained to me that if we put all his pole rides together, the video would last two hours. That is enough to explain what he has achieved. We are talking about an outstanding driver who has grown as a personality on and off the track. There is clearly something he does that he does much better than others".

 

Max Verstappen is satisfied with his result, despite starting behind his rival. The contender for the title that Lewis Hamilton won last year is aware of the strength of his rivals, but also that he is close to the Mercedes drivers and able to fight:

 

"Good lap. I struggled a little bit in Q1. We solved the balance in Q2 which went well. In Q3 I think I did well on both laps. However, the second attempt was slightly worse, partly because there were gusts of wind. Second one is not bad. We were strong today, but they are hard to beat. But being so close makes me confident. The road to turn 1 is long, but you have to get a good start. We think we have the pace, we hope to have a good race. Tire management? Here with these fast corners and overheating tires, tire management is important. We have to make sure we come to grips with it. Problem in qualifying as well? We were trying to prepare for the lap by going very slow so the tires would last until the last sector. But more or less everyone did the same. Nice lap, nice track, great to drive the car here".

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Valtteri Bottas took third place in qualifying, despite making a small mistake on his first attempt, the fastest one: 

 

"Good battle for pole. The first attempt in Q3 was the fastest for everyone I think. I had a small mistake in turn 10 that made me lose a tenth, the margin from pole. But we have a strong package. Tomorrow will be a good battle, no doubt. We will be close to Red Bull, keeping tires in condition will be the key, also for pit stops. One stop? Why not".

 

Sergio Perez was not as competitive as his teammate, partly because he was affected by physical problems:

 

"It was a real struggle, I was not 100% today. The small problem with my shoulder affected me throughout qualifying, but I've already talked to the doctors and the team and I should be okay for tomorrow's race. During the session it got worse and worse as the intensity of the action increased. So it was a bad day, I did not put together a good lap in any of the three sessions. Overall so far it was still not a good weekend. Q1 still looked good, but then we didn't make any progress. In past races the pace came out lap by lap, but not here. Getting to know the car even more will be crucial".

 

Charles Leclerc will start from fourth position. The Ferrari driver believes that this is the best result achievable with this car:

 

"No doubt this is like a pole. You couldn't do better, third place was unattainable. I am very happy with that. I managed to improve in the second attempt in Q3, but my best lap was the first one with used tire. That one was really good, while in the last one I struggled a bit in the third sector by making a mistake in turn 10. In Q1 and Q2 I paid a lot of attention to make clean laps to have as good sets of tires as possible in very good race, while in Q3 I pushed, feeling good with the car and the pace. We are optimizing the package we have, we haven't made any revolutions. It has been the same since the beginning of the season, except for small innovative details. Our job is to optimize the car, we hope for a good result tomorrow, to take advantage of Norris' ninth place and to be as regular as possible, both Carlos and I. That's what we did today and I'm happy about that".

 

Unlike the Monegasque driver, his teammate, Carlos Sainz Jr. says he struggled more. The Spanish driver does not believe he was able to extract the full potential from his SF21:

 

"I didn't have the perfect lap in Q3. I had two sets of tires, the first was good until the chicane, the second was clean until turn 7 and 10. I lost time, I have to analyze that corner because I don't have a good feeling from the front. In general I was strong, I did a very good Q1 and Q2 and I am close to those in front of me".

 

Alpine's French driver Esteban Ocon, after finishing an outstanding qualifying lap will start in P5:

 

"I feel good. It was a good session. It has been a long time since I started in the top 5, it shows that we are working well in my group at the moment. We were not satisfied compared to where we were at the beginning of the season and both factories worked hard to find the right improvements".

 

The French driver, like many other drivers, set a personal best time on his first attempt, but failed to improve on the second:

 

"I was going to improve. But then we had a small problem and we need to look at that, because I was a tenth faster, so I could have been fourth. The car is also in good shape for the race. Charles was very fast on Friday but we will fight".

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Fernando Alonso did not match his teammate's performance, but he was positive ahead of the race:

 

"It has been a good weekend so far, as we are in the top ten again, for the second time this season. It shows the progress of our car, so that's good. In terms of today's session I think my out-lap in Q3 was a bit messy, so I could have been faster. The gaps are very close and obviously it's very difficult to overtake in the race, but we'll try to have good first laps and see where we end up. Anything can happen in the race".

 

Pierre Gasly did not make it past Q2, so it is normal for the French driver to describe himself as disappointed:

 

"I'm obviously disappointed with the final result, it's the first time we didn't make it to Q3 this year and we missed it by only two hundredths, which is nothing. That said, I'm happy with the balance of the car this weekend, but we really struggled with grip. We seem to slip, then overheat the tires, and on this track you pay for those problems. We were slightly more competitive earlier in the year, so we need to figure out how we can regain that advantage in the middle group battle. However, points are scored tomorrow, and we will start 12th and be able to choose tires freely. This will hopefully give us a slight advantage in the race".

 

Yuki Tsunoda, eliminated in Q1, was also less lucky than his teammate: 

 

"With the performance of this car you should easily get through Q2, but I had a lot of trouble getting there".

 

In the past few days the Japanese driver had emphasized the differences in feedback provided by himself and his teammate. At the end of practice, the AlphaTauri driver returned to the subject, saying: 

 

"I wonder if it's the same car. Of course it is the same car, maybe it depends on the driving style".

 

Antonio Giovinazzi will start in P14, a result that reflects his expectations: 

 

"It was a good session and I think we got as much as we could from the car, my lap in Q2 was good, maybe I could have improved a bit more but Q3 was still a bit too far. However, we keep improving and being in Q2 again is good for the team. I am happy with my performance. We are still not where we would like to be in the top ten, but we are making progress. Let's see how our race pace will be tomorrow. The first lap will be important, because overtaking can be difficult here, but we are ready to make the most of every opportunity".

 

Kimi Raikkonen, however, will start further back, in P17:

 

"Very close session? Yes, definitely, it would have been better to repeat this morning's time, but the car was still good. I got a little too close to the Williams in front of me on the last lap and lost a little time in the last few corners, but that's how it went. Race? It's not the easiest place to overtake. Let's see, we'll do what we can".

 

Sebastian Vettel will start in P13, after qualifying just short of the top ten in Q2:

 

"I think it went pretty well. Today the gaps were very narrow. We just found ourselves on the wrong side but let's see what we can do in the race. Every little thing can make a difference, such as having a clean lap. Mine wasn't completely, but now we focus on the race, Q3 ambitions? Yes, after yesterday we both had a chance".

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However, the German will be able to choose the compound for the first stint of the race, unlike the drivers who will start in the top ten:

 

"We can choose our tires. Now we will see what we can do, but for sure if we could have decided we would have gone to Q3, it will still be a tight race. Possible points tomorrow? Yes. There is always a possibility. We'll see. Starting further ahead is easier, but we are where we are".

 

Lance Stroll has a different opinion than his teammate about the tire options for the start of the race:

 

"It's a pity we missed Q3 by such a small margin, only a few thousandths of a second, the positive side is that, starting 11th, we have the flexibility to choose our starting tire and that could be crucial, because I think tire wear will be a very important factor in the race. It's not easy to overtake here, but if we can get a good start and gain positions on the long straight into the first corner, we can give ourselves a good base to reach the points".

 

Lando Norris complains about a slowdown, caused by Nikita Mazepin, that prevented him from improving in qualifying:

 

"I feel like this cost me the whole qualifying today, the car was good. I feel like I didn't do a bad job. I just had one guy slow me down a lot - Mazepin - which meant I had to use my second set of tires. When you are separated by thousandths of a second, you want to have the opportunity to improve and you can't make mistakes. When there's an episode like that and you only have one set of tires to really push on… that definitely cost us today. So it's a little annoying. I feel like we could have been fifth or sixth, something like that, but it didn't happen. There was some gravel in turn 13, and I was told Perez spun there. I think I was the first to pass in that section and I was a little bit unlucky because there is some gravel on the track and I lost a couple of tenths".

 

Daniel Ricciardo, on the other hand, points out that he finds it absurd that a rivalry between the two McLaren drivers is being created:

 

"I find all the narrative that is unleashed after a few races about duels between teammates really funny, it takes time to be able to express all the speed when changing cars, plus Lando is having a really great start to the season. Both factors have meant that until now I have not excelled over him. Making progress gives me positivity, it's just a pity I didn't make it in time to launch for the last attempt in Q3, I could have found that tenth that I missed to start even further ahead".

 

The Spanish Grand Prix is scheduled for Sunday, May 9th, 2021, with the start scheduled for 3:00 p.m. local time. Unlike previous days, the sky is a bit more overcast, with a few drops of rain falling about half an hour before the start. However, a regular start will be made with slick tires. Temperatures are lower: 21 °C for the air and 33 °C for the asphalt. All cars have soft tires, with the exception of Kimi Raikkonen's Alfa Romeo, which will start on mediums. The race starts and Max Verstappen overtakes Lewis Hamilton at the first corner, taking the first position. Immediately behind, Valtteri Bottas is also overtaken by Charles Leclerc at turn 3. Behind them are Daniel Ricciardo, Sergio Pérez, Esteban Ocon and Carlos Sainz Jr. On Lap 7, Yuki Tsunoda's AlphaTauri stops at the exit of turn 10, a dangerous position. Race management sends the Safety Car on track. One of the few drivers to opt for a tire change is Antonio Giovinazzi, but his stop lasts longer than expected, as one of the tires is deflated. Alfa Romeo Racing replaces the entire set of tires and the Italian driver restarts last, not having made it in time to join the rest of the group before the restart. At the restart, the classification remains unchanged: Charles Leclerc tries to overtake Lewis Hamilton, at the first corner, but fails to get alongside the Briton. 

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Verstappen, on lap 15, has a margin of 1.1 seconds over Hamilton, 5.4 over Leclerc, 6.6 over Bottas and 11.3 over Ricciardo. On Lap 11, Lance Stroll overtakes Fernando Alonso, starting on the outside of turn 4 and completing it on the inside of turn 5. Meanwhile, a 5-second penalty is given to Pierre Gasly for not positioning himself correctly on the grid at the start. The French driver will serve it during his pit stop on lap 20. Tire degradation is high and therefore many drivers make their stops, all mounting medium compound tires. On lap 23 Valtteri Bottas, Esteban Ocon and Lando Norris make their stops, while Verstappen pits on the following lap. The pit stop time has a slightly longer duration than usual, that is, 4.2 seconds. The Dutchman, upon re-entering the track, finds himself ahead of teammate Pérez, who lets him pass. Daniel Ricciardo also makes a pit stop, on lap 25. Lewis Hamilton leads the race, followed by Charles Leclerc, who does not pit. The Monegasque driver's gap to Max Verstappen is more than 19 seconds. On lap 27, Sergio Pérez pits, re-entering the race in P8. On the next lap, Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc also pit, opting, like the drivers before them, for medium tires. The British driver re-enters the race behind Verstappen. After the stops, Valtteri Bottas overtakes Charles Leclerc. In fifth place is Daniel Ricciardo, then Sergio Pérez and Carlos Sainz Jr., who undercut Esteban Ocon to overtake him. Hamilton scores two fast laps in a row on new tires and looks like he can get closer to Max Verstappen. Sergio Perez approaches Daniel Ricciardo, who is in P5. Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel both pass Antonio Giovinazzi, on more than 20 laps old tires, for P12 and P13. Lewis Hamilton struggles to get close to Max Verstappen to take advantage of the DRS, failing to overtake him. On Lap 42, Mercedes calls Lewis Hamilton back to the pits: the world champion puts on another set of medium tires, re-enters the track in third, more than 22 seconds behind the race leader. Daniel Ricciardo and Carlos Sainz Jr. also opt for a second stop a few laps later, fitting soft tires and re-entering the track in P8 and P9, respectively. Sergio Perez loses his trajectory at turn 3, but without consequence. The Mexican driver quickly gets back within striking distance of Ricciardo and on lap 45 overtakes him on the outside of turn 1, taking fifth position. On lap 52, Lewis Hamilton reduces the gap to Bottas, who gives up his position, and the British driver begins to get closer to rival Max Verstappen. Valtteri Bottas stops shortly after for his second stop, to set the fastest lap. Bottas re-enters the track behind Charles Leclerc, who after four laps gives up third place to the Finnish driver. 

 

On lap 59 Lewis Hamilton overtakes Max Verstappen, moving into the lead of the race. Daniel Ricciardo and Carlos Sainz, thanks to a strategy that turns out to be favorable, reach P6 and P7 respectively, passing Ocon and Norris. Max Verstappen pits again, to put on soft tires and try to set the fastest lap, which awards an extra point. The Red Bull Racing driver sets the fastest time in the race on lap 62. At the end of the race Fernando Alonso tries to defend himself from Lance Stroll. The Canadian driver quickly approaches on newer tires and completes the overtake on the Spaniard on lap 62. Stroll thus gets the point for P10, excluding Alonso from the top 10. Pierre Gasly also fitted a new set of soft tires, so the French driver manages to overtake both of them and take P10. Lewis Hamilton wins the Spanish Grand Prix, and race number 98 in his career. Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas complete the podium. The top three finishers repeat the exact same podium as the 2020 edition: such an event had occurred only for the 1964 and 1965 editions of the British Grand Prix (with Jim Clark first, Graham Hill second and John Surtees third), the 1998 and 1999 editions of the same Spanish Grand Prix (with Mika Häkkinen first, David Coulthard second and Michael Schumacher third) and the 2012 and 2013 editions of the Bahrain Grand Prix (with Sebastian Vettel first, Kimi Räikkönen second and Romain Grosjean third). This same podium finish has already been repeated for the third time in four races this season, following the Bahrain and Portuguese GPs. Charles Leclerc finishes the race in P4, ahead of Perez, Ricciardo and his teammate Sainz. Esteban Ocon finishes eighth, ahead of Norris and Gasly. Three times were cancelled due to drivers not complying with the race director’s instructions, after they failed to maintain the line at turn 2 and passed to the left of the bollard positioned in the run-off lane. The cancelled times belonged to Nikita Mazepin, Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll. At the end of the race Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll are summoned by the stewards because of the duel between the two drivers as the Canadian driver attempted an overtake at turn two. The marshals decide not to impose penalties on the two drivers as it was a normal race episode. The reigning World Champion, immediately after the conclusion of the race, expresses his satisfaction with yet another victory achieved:

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"I want to greet the fans, who came here for the first time. I'm feeling great after this race. Here we go again, the hard work is paying off. The start was the limit, there was a lot of rubber on the right. Red Bull got a great start and then it was a chase on my part. I got so close and thought I had to make the tires last and then attack, but then I stayed there. After the second stop I had to make up more than 20 seconds. It was a good gamble, but it paid off. Strategy? It was not the one we planned at the beginning, although we knew there was a possibility of two stops. In theory the one stop was faster, but I know from experience that finishing the race on a one stop here is difficult. I was unsure whether or not to follow the team's order to come back in, I was unsure whether to stay out and attack. In the end, I followed the team's instructions. There is a great bond of trust between us. The team is extraordinary in its every member".

 

The Englishman also analyzes the start, in which he momentarily lost his position to Max Verstappen, explaining that he is focused on the championship and looking at the long term:

 

"Mistake at the start? No, no mistake. I didn't see him, I couldn't see him, once he lined up and then got to the right he was in my blind side. I had no idea where he was. I braked as late as I could to gain space. If I had turned we would have collided. It was a sensible choice on my part. The start was good, but they were faster. I took care to give the necessary space to Verstappen at turn 1. I always think about the championship, about the fact that even a race is a marathon, not a sprint. I could have been more aggressive, but if I'm in the position I'm in, it's because I'm not aggressive when I don't have to be".

 

While on the rest of the race, the Mercedes driver states:

 

"I learned a lot about Max, maybe more than all the other races combined. I was following him relatively closely. I learned a lot about his car and how he uses it. So it was a good race from that point of view".

 

Finally, Hamilton comments on the race strategy, which helped him win: 

 

"It had been the plan all weekend to make sure we had two medium tires to be able to make two stops. Although a single stop seemed potentially better, I know from experience that a single stop here is very difficult to do. I was going to have a chance to pass him before I stopped and I was really torn. Like ‘do I go in or do I ignore the call and stay out?"

 

Valtteri Bottas, who finished third, says he lost all hope of victory because of a bad start: 

 

"I think the thing that made the race more complicated for me was being behind Charles on the first lap. I didn't see him, he chose the best line, and being so far behind him ruined the race for me. Beyond that I had good pace from the first laps. Too bad, but at least I got the podium. Today it was small details that made the difference. The third corner on the first lap, otherwise I had the pace. We are scoring a lot of points, but without perfect races. Monaco will be a particular track, let's see how it will go. At turn 1 I was trying to keep up with Max, but we were too close and there was no room".

 

The Finn also explains why the team asked him not to hinder Lewis Hamilton:

 

"They told me over the radio not to hinder him too much, but I don't race to let others pass. I was focused on my race and on having the necessary gap on Leclerc to make an extra stop and go after the point for the fastest lap". 

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And he adds:

 

I heard the message and obviously we were on different strategies at that point. But at that moment I was trying to get Leclerc away from my pit window so I could stop again and get back on track ahead of him. So I didn't want to lose too much time and I tried to balance the two needs. Clearly as a driver you try to prioritize your race, but we also work as a team and there is no intention to ruin a win for the team. So I just tried to do the best thing for us as a team and for myself".

 

However, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff makes no secret of the fact that he did not completely appreaciate the Finnish driver's behavior during that part of the race:

 

"I understand that we are talking about drivers, and I know what their instincts are. We would have liked something different, because Lewis was on a completely different strategy. He would have caught up with Verstappen faster, but in the end we still achieved the result. I can understand that Valtteri had another difficult day and was bored. But if we had lost the race, I would have been much more critical of him. Surely we can learn something from this situation, in both directions. We will talk about it, but it will be a friendly discussion. Valtteri keeps getting points, in qualifying there were three drivers in three points, the race before he was on pole, so his speed is remarkable. But when things go wrong at the start, it's easy to lose time from the leader and it's basically a knockout, behind Charles he lost something like 20 seconds and at most he could have been third".

 

And, finally, he compliments the team for the excellent strategic choice:

 

"When you are over twenty seconds behind it is hard to believe in a victory, but it was a very good call by our strategists. I am especially happy for the work of our colleagues operating remotely, a great satisfaction for example for Rosey to win such a race before going on maternity leave. By our calculations we should have caught up with Max Verstappen on the last lap. We have a fast car, of course losing the lead of the race at the start is not ideal, but then in the chasing role, in some ways, at the strategic level it can be easier".

 

Max Verstappen is not satisfied, despite being in the lead for most of the Spanish Grand Prix:

 

"I expected it to end like this in some ways. Already in the stint where I put on the mediums it was clear that they had more pace because they were nimbly within second. That was all I could do. They made another stop and that's when I knew it was over, because I was struggling with the tires and you could see that every lap it was coming up fast. I was a bit of a victim in that situation. When there is traffic there are assessments to be made to avoid getting stuck. They had much more pace today than we did. By making another stop I don't know if we could have caught them. I tried everything, but it was not enough. Is this a Mercedes track? Yes sure, good to have been close, but it shows that we are not at the level we want to be at. We still have to push hard to catch up because we are slower at the moment. But clearly we have grown so much compared to last year".

 

The Dutch driver also adds a remark on strategic difficulties, pointing out just how much a weekend riddled with Sergio Perez’s difficulties facilitated Mercedes' choices: 

 

"They are faster than us and I am alone. That's why they can make an extra free stop".

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Christian Horner acknowledges their rivals’ superiority on track, and compliments Max Verstappen's race:

 

"Today we can only take our hats off to Mercedes, they were faster than us. Verstappen could do no more. He was outstanding at the start, fully charged, putting the car in a perfect position. Then unfortunately in the end of the race we were in that difficult position where you can't leave the lead to those chasing you".

 

Regarding Sergio Pérez's race, the British manager states:

 

"His race in Barcelona was compromised by spending so much time behind Ricciardo. In the end he succeeded, but he couldn't make any further progress because this is a track where it's difficult to overtake. Obviously we desperately need him to close the gap so that Mercedes does not have the strategic options they had here in Spain. However, I am convinced that Checo will be there when he finds more confidence in the car as time goes by".

 

Finally, he too analyzed the Mercedes strategy, admitting that there was no chance to counter it:

 

"Unfortunately, like in Hungary in 2019, they could make a free stop without losing positions. That broadens your strategic options a lot. The facts tell us that Pérez was unfortunately in the mix and that the two guys in front there were leading by a big margin over the pack. That's why Lewis was able to make a free stop, mixing things up, also because they knew that overtaking Bottas was never going to be a difficult problem to handle. That's why we need both cars from a strategic point of view, so that this option is not available to Mercedes in the future".

 

Helmut Marko, in this regard, adds:

 

"We had a set of new soft tires, but we would have ended up behind Bottas with an obligation to pass him on the track, when Hamilton made his second stop we realized it was over for us. Only a safety car would have allowed us to take advantage of the available set of soft tires without losing too much ground. The margin is not that wide in light of the number of races still to go, but we certainly need to find some extra speed in the race".

 

Liberty Media's head of motorsport, Ross Brawn, also expresses his opinion on the Spanish Grand Prix:

 

"Hats off to Lewis, this was another fantastic weekend where he made even more history by taking his 100th pole position. It is simply an incredible achievement. It was a fantastic Grand Prix and you didn't know who could win until the very end. Max fought excellently but Lewis was simply too fast. I'm not sure Red Bull could have done anything different than what they did in terms of strategy in Spain. If they had called Max into the pits right after Lewis, they would have conceded track position. The fact that they would then have been closer at the end of the race is simply speculation".

 

The British manager was impressed by Max Verstappen's strength and determination, adding:

 

"Max did everything right at the start to take the lead. He is not afraid to fight with Lewis. But he knows that it is unlikely to beat him if he is second at the end of the first lap. And that motivates him to stay in front at the first corner. In contrast, Lewis knows he can win at any time, so he doesn't risk being too aggressive at the beginning. Max will not let this result get him down, though. His driving was excellent, but the package was not fast enough. He knows this is his best chance to win the world title and he will want to win in Monte-Carlo".

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Sergio Pérez’s result does not leave him satisfied:

 

"The feeling with the car is improving. Every time I get to the end of the Grand Prix I say to myself, 'I wish the race weekend would start now,' because I have more and more knowledge of the single-seater. But given how limited track time is at this time, then it becomes very difficult to get to extract 100% of the potential right away. I think it's important to keep making strides, it just takes me a little too long to get up to speed when we go to a new circuit - I use the whole day on Friday to adapt my driving style. You can see I am improving, but little by little, and when I put it all together I will definitely have the pace to be able to go fast. From Verstappen I can learn to get the most out of the car and adapt in driving style, those are the things I'm working on. But then you have to consider that every circuit is different. It's not like what you learn at Montmeló will definitely work at Monte-Carlo. The main thing is not this, but to adapt my driving style to the car, and hopefully I will be able to do that 100% soon".

 

Charles Leclerc is beaming. The Ferrari driver finishes in P4, without any worries and without any mistakes:

 

"Today we had a perfect race, with no mistakes. The strategy was the right one, as was the management of the whole race. At the start I saw the opportunity and tried to take it. Initially I said to myself 'now we are fourth, it's okay,' but there was a clear path on the left: I went to try to overtake and it went well. The first stint on the softs was then very competitive, as was the one on the mediums. In my opinion we had a better pace than we showed, we tried to manage in order to respond to Pérez's comeback".

 

The Monegasque admits that he never completely gave up hope of a podium finish, but always with the knowledge that it would be beyond expectations:

 

"I hoped for the podium, in fact over the radio I got a little angry because they were giving me Ricciardo's lap times, but I wanted Bottas' because I wanted to aim for the podium. There was optimism, I wanted to try but we didn't make it. As I said, we had a good race, especially in tire management. I'm working a lot on that: in 2019 it was something I was very weak on. We saw it with so many poles and so few wins, the responsibility was mine, but I think I made a good step forward this year".

 

Finally, the Ferrari driver makes a hopeful comment regarding the Monaco Grand Prix, which has similar characteristics to the Spanish track's T3:

 

"In the third sector we were surprisingly strong, we never were in previous years. Even without podiums (Ferrari had two after the first four races, editor’s note) we are better off than last year. There is motivation in the team, it's not about flukes. This fourth place is well deserved. We are optimistic for Monaco because we are competitive in the slow corners, but there is still a lot of work to be done. With the right set-up, Mercedes and Red Bull will still be ahead in two weeks".

 

Ferrari's team principal Mattia Binotto congratulates Charles Leclerc, but also gave proper credit to the team:

 

"Charles had a great race. But you have to recognize the work of the team. This is a team result, not just the drivers’. The car has definitely improved since last year. We were lapped last year, so the progress is obvious. Sorry to hear comments that give credit not to the team but only to the drivers. A great Charles but not the car? I have a press office that keeps me informed about the comments, we know that Leclerc can win, in fact we renewed him until 2024. Our car today is not at the level of Mercedes and Red Bull, we know that".

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The Italian manager also talks about the decision not to be biased in his choices following the initial overtaking of Valtteri Bottas:

 

"Charles' race start? He is extraordinary in this. In the melee, in finding the gap and defending himself. Again today he made a beautiful start and kept behind Bottas for the whole stint. We knew the race was not about him, that's why we went long with the stop. His attitude of wanting the podium is right. Why were we giving him the gap on Ricciardo and not Valtteri? From our side it was right to give him the most correct numbers, having them all in front of us".

 

Finally, the team principal mentions the Monaco track, since he believes the SF21’s characteristics are well suited to the circuit:

 

"Now we will see in Monaco, where the driver can make such a difference. How confident the driver is with the car makes a difference. It’s obvious that it is a good opportunity, but it is for all the other teams and drivers. So once again our commitment is to do better than the others. I think on this kind of track, where you need aerodynamic load, we have something more than McLaren. Now we will go to Monte-Carlo, then we will see the development, even if small, that will be done in the season. We can also count on our two drivers. They are both very strong. Too bad about Carlos' start, he had good race pace today as well. Our team always performed well in the strategies, while others made mistakes. These have been difficult races, in special conditions. We may not always be the fastest, but the most consistent. That is the most important thing. Today Red Bull made mistakes in their stop. The important thing is for it to last 2.5 seconds, not 4…".

 

Carlos Sainz Jr. finished P7, but is happy with the pace his car showed in the race:

 

"Today's race was mostly decided at the start, I don't know what happened. I have to analyze calmly to see what I could have done differently. I felt I was a bit compromised because I had two cars alongside and I couldn't pull away late, losing a couple of positions. The pace, however, was still very good and the car easy to drive. It behaved well with the tires and was very fast. Too bad I couldn't overtake, it still lacks some speed in the straights. If you make a bad start you have to recover fast, but today there was no way to do that. We have to continue like this, today the strategy and pit stops were perfect".

 

Finally, the Spanish driver is satisfied with the car at his disposal, and is therefore aware that he can aim higher in the next races:

 

"In general, the car was well balanced. We were faster than the rest of the group, especially in the second and third sectors. Of course, I am not satisfied with seventh place; I could easily have been in the top 5. That's what the difference is between a good start and a not-so-good start in this Formula 1. We were faster than McLaren and we hope to be faster again in Monaco".

 

During the race, the Spaniard had a small misunderstanding with Lando Norris during an on-track battle. The issue was resolved, however, without any problems for either side. The Englishman explained the incident this way:

 

"I was defending myself against Carlos. I moved and then moved slightly again, which is not allowed to do. I didn't want to do anything aggressive. I knew he was passing. It went like that. But that maneuver didn't mean anything in particular".

 

Carlos Sainz Jr., for his part, confirms that there is no tension between him and his former teammate:

 

"For my part, I had an immediate reaction to Norris' move, I think I almost crashed into him. But we talked after the race and everything is fine. To be honest, black-white flag or otherwise, I'm fine with him".

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Esteban Ocon says he is slightly disappointed, due to a suboptimal strategy and a less competitive race pace than he showed on a single lap. However, the French driver also sees the bright side: 

 

"A year ago we had no points, this year we have two. Not ideal after yesterday's qualifying, but we take them gladly. We were not as fast as Ferrari and McLaren here, we need to improve on the race pace. To have secured more points, however, satisfies us, and now we think about doing well in Monaco".

 

Fernando Alonso started in the top ten, but finished the race without scoring points: 

 

"I had a good time, I struggled a lot, in Portugal we were fast, probably because of a particular characteristic of that circuit, however we didn't do badly here either. The strategy didn’t work out, in the end with the medium tires we were an easy target. We should have tried something different. I'm looking forward to having fun in Monaco".

 

Antonio Giovinazzi's race was compromised from the first laps due to a pit problem: 

 

"Once again a problem at the pit stop. There was a flat tire before we put them on the car and we lost that set of new medium tires by refitting the used ones. In addition, during the Safety Car regime the delta (the time that appears on the steering wheel during neutralization and that drivers must comply with, editor’s note) did not work, it remained on my screen, so I had to follow it instead of chasing those in front. That's why I restarted with even 10 seconds from the group. Definitely a 'no' race. The pace wasn't bad, but when you're too far back it's hard to catch up, especially with this year's cars that are all close together. These problems happen a little too frequently, it's true. We know that to get into the points this season we have to do the perfect race, not make any mistakes, but unfortunately we are not doing that and we are still at zero. Let's see how it will go in Monte-Carlo, there the driver can make a bit more of a difference. I’ll race at home, we hope to have a good race there".

 

Alfa Romeo's chief track engineer, Xavi Pujolar, tries to explain what happened at the race start: 

 

"It was an operational problem. When everything was ready to use that set of tires we realized there was a damaged valve. We have a monitoring system and when the race started everything was okay. But at the time of the pit stop something was wrong, maybe the problem goes back to two laps before the stop".

 

Kimi Raikkonen, on the other hand, had a smooth race, and believes the one-stop strategy was correct:

 

"We did the best we could with a car that was actually running quite well. I had a decent first lap, made up some positions, and then had a long first stint. We always planned for a one stop. I think the strategy was the best we could have chosen today. Unfortunately, we again went very close to the points but didn't get anything out of the race. One retirement didn't help us, but we have to keep working to find the little thing that is still missing".

 

George Russell ends the race in P14:

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"We have to be satisfied with our performance. The car performed very well in the race, although the result does not suggest as much. We made only one stop against the two by our rivals. I was fighting with Fernando Alonso trying to pass him, and whoever came behind me on new softs was much faster. As soon as one overtook me, they all did. The tires were on the limit, I was on the limit and the car was on the limit. This was the maximum and I'm really glad we went for this strategy because it gave us a chance".

 

Nicholas Latifi had better feelings in the race than the rest of the weekend: 

 

"As we expected, it was a challenging race, but it was the session where the car was at its best. We didn't start well, but thanks to the strategy we made up some positions. Certainly ahead of Monaco we have a lot of work to do".

 

Mick Schumacher could not be competitive for most of the race:

 

"It could have been better, but we knew it was going to be a difficult race for us. I didn't get off to a great start, but on the first lap I found some trajectories that allowed me to gain positions because the drivers in front were blocked by others. Then in terms of race pace we struggled with the rear tires, especially the C3s, the softs. Now Monaco is waiting for us, let's see if we can be more competitive there".

 

Nikita Mazepin was even worse, finishing the race behind his teammate:

 

"I suffered from great oversteer with all sets of tires fitted in the race. Perhaps the lower temperatures had this effect combined with the set-up we had chosen. I have a lot to learn and I'm glad I finished the race without any particular mistakes".

 

Before the race, the Russian driver had knelt on the ground. Since last year, sportsmen have been making this gesture to express solidarity with protests against certain episodes of racism in the United States. Mazepin explains that he made this gesture - in contrast to what he had done in previous occasions - revealing how his motivation was completely different from what is advocated by F1, but very important in his country:

 

"I decided to kneel to show respect to those veterans and people who lost their lives 76 years ago in the war. This holiday is quite important, my family - my grandparents - participated in the war. Yesterday I saw statistics saying that it is a holiday that is even more important to Russians than New Year's Eve".

 

Pierre Gasly made a mistake, but more generally his car showed a lower race pace than in previous races. Nevertheless, the French driver managed to get a point:

 

"A Sunday with mixed emotions. In the race I think I made a good comeback, but we lack pace compared to the first two rounds and it's frustrating. I'm angry with myself for making that silly mistake on the grid, thus getting a penalty that made everything more complicated. That said, I had some good battles during the race and managed to overtake some cars to finish tenth. The car definitely had potential, but we couldn't get it going consistently through all the corners. Now we will work hard ahead of Monaco; I trust the team to take some steps forward in the next races".

 

Yuki Tsunoda, who was forced to retire after a few laps due to a technical problem, commented after the race:

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"It was a frustrating weekend for me and I'm obviously disappointed that I couldn't finish the race, because I think the pace at the beginning was pretty good. At the moment, we don't know what happened to the car; we will wait for it to go back to the garage to investigate and then we will go over everything together with the engineers. Now all I have to do is wait for the next race in Monaco: it will be my first time there and I'm looking forward to driving on such an iconic circuit".

 

Daniel Ricciardo, who finished the race in P6, said:

 

"It was a good weekend. I would say the best weekend so far overall and I feel I got the most out of the car today. I had to defend the whole time. We gained some positions at the start and those cars were a bit faster than us, which forced me to defend. The pace was high and I had to push the whole time. So I ended up learning even more about the car".

 

Analyzing the comparison with Ferrari, the Australian talks about the SF21's greater speed: 

 

"We are obviously competitive for points, but we need that little extra step. Ferrari had a little bit more than us today and obviously we know Red Bull is fast. We know we still have some work to do, but all in all it was a quiet, well-run weekend. The team made some good pit calls and I think top 6 was the best possible result".

 

Lando Norris is not fully satisfied with his race, but he is still happy to have helped the team by winning points again:

 

"Difficult race. It was expected actually, because it is difficult to overtake. Despite that, I think we got everything we could. On paper it's not as good a result as we would like, but I don't think that really matters today. We had a good pace all day, given the characteristics of this track we did what we could, and that was eighth place and two cars in the points. So I'm happy for the team".

 

Sebastian Vettel describes himself as disappointed, as he did not have enough pace to get close to the drivers ahead of him:

 

"It was a complicated race. We were never fast enough to improve our race pace, so I will need to review, and analyze, if we could have done better in some other aspect. The race was not lacking problems, but I think it still reflects the level we are at right now".

 

The German champion concludes by issuing a comment on the updates brought by his team: 

 

"They worked both this week and last week in Portugal. Not knowing what the other teams are doing, however, it’s relative. Certainly, with such compressed gaps in qualifying, it would only take a couple of tenths to make a difference by starting further up the grid".

 

Lance Stroll does not hide the disappointment of losing tenth position to Pierre Gasly's overtake:

 

"It was quite frustrating not to have finished in the points. We fought hard with the AlphaTauri, but we didn't do enough to take P10. We also fought with Fernando Alonso, and what happened at turn one was a race incident: I braked deeply going into the corner and he had braked late. We touched and he pushed me out. This weekend helped us learn and improve the car. We will keep pushing to unlock even more speed before Monaco".

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At the end of the Spanish Grand Prix, the Federation announces that Sergio Pérez's Red Bull was drawn among the top ten cars for scrutineering, and they were found to be in compliance with technical regulations. With the fourth round of the World Championship having ended, Lewis Hamilton dominates the standings with 94 points, followed by Max Verstappen, who follows just 14 points behind. As for the World Constructors' Championship, Mercedes is at the top of the standings with 141 points, ahead of Red Bull Racing, which has won 112 points so far. Now the Circus will move to the principality of Monte-Carlo, where the historic Monaco Grand Prix is scheduled for Sunday, May 23rd, 2021, a venue for rather special and fascinating races that are always capable of providing surprises.


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