The content is confidential, and therefore only some general terms of the current text are known which is the seventh in the series following the original one signed on March 5, 1981, and the subsequent ones of 1987, 1992, 1997, 1998, 2009. The current agreement , signed in 2020, will expire at the end of 2025. This edition of the race is the first since 2019 in which the maximum capacity for spectators in the stands is allowed. The last two editions of 2020, moved later in the season in August due to the issues dictated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and 2021 were both affected by the health emergency. The editions were in fact held behind closed doors, like many other Grand Prixes, even if the 2021 edition saw the presence of 1.000 employees of the circuit. For this 2022 race weekend are expected approximately 300,000 spectators; an interesting novelty is that this edition of the Grand Prix could be the last where the layout is characterized by the chicane of turn 14 and turn 15 in the third sector, used since 2007 and inserted for safety reasons. For this Grand Prix, Pirelli, the sole tyre supplier, offers the choice between C1, C2 and C3 compound tyres, the harder compounds of the entire range available for the Championship. The same type of tyres was already used during the Bahrain Grand Prix, the inaugural race of the season, and during one of the two pre-season test sessions that took place on this track, at the end of February. Since the 2019 edition of the Grand Prix, Pirelli has always opted for the same type of tyres for this event. To this, by the way, Mario Isola states:
"It's hard to say much about Barcelona that hasn't been said already, as it's possibly the best-known circuit on the calendar for the drivers, with its wide-ranging layout making it a perfect testing venue. It has a bit of everything, with the very technical final sector being particularly important when it comes to looking after the tires . As a result, the teams will have a good opportunity to assess the progress they have made with their cars since the start of the season, although the weather conditions will be much warmer and there will probably be a lot more running on the hard tire than there was in testing, which will perhaps be the key to the race. In the past, Barcelona has traditionally been a two-stopper, so it will be interesting to see if the new generation of tires this year leads anyone to target a one-stopper".
For this race the Federation establishes the traditional two activation zones of the Drag Reduction System (DRS), located respectively along the main straight of the pits, with detection points before Turn 16, and between Turn 9 (Campsa) and 10. (La Caixa), with detection point set before Turn 9. Furthermore, are also officially communicated the track limits that the drivers are required to respect, under penalty of cancellation of the lap time. Any driver who crosses the white line at Turn 1 and Turn 2 with all four wheels must re-enter the track at Turn 3, under the following conditions: the car must pass to the left of the two bollards placed at the entrance to the corner 3; it must enter the track safely and not obtain an advantage over the others. Exceeding the limits of the track at Turns 13, 14 and 15, the lap time, together with the subsequent one, are canceled by the race direction. For the technical checks, at the end of the Miami Grand Prix, the Alfa Romeo of Valtteri Bottas was drawn from among the top ten classified cars. The inspections covered all the components of the internal suspension, both rear and front, and the rear shock absorbers. All components inspected were found to comply with the technical regulations.
Compared to the 2021 edition of the Grand Prix, some changes have been made to the track: a new fence is installed in the pit wall; the escape route present at curve 4 is extended; the pits now have new doors; the structure that supports the five traffic lights located on the starting straight is now higher; a new curb is installed at curve 3; synthetic grass was removed from Turn 14 and Turn 15; at the apex of curve 14 the combination of curbs has been removed. Before the start of qualifying, the two bollards positioned outside the escape route of Turn 1 are also removed. As in the previous races, even for the Spanish Grand Prix, the teams take advantage of all the available time to benefit from the new curfews established by the technical regulation, thanks to which they can make changes to the cars. Thus, Aston Martin uses one of the six curfews granted to carry out operations on its cars without receiving penalties. At Mercedes, in George Russell and Lewis Hamilton’s cars is installed the second unit relating to the internal combustion engine, the turbocharger, the MGU-H, the MGU-K and the exhaust system. The same strategy is used for Zhou Guanyu: the second unit relating to the MGU-K and the third unit relating to the exhaust system are installed on his car.
For this Grand Prix, the FIA designates Portuguese Eduardo Freitas as race director for the first time during the season. Former Formula 1 driver Vitantonio Liuzzi is appointed assistant steward. The Italian has served in this capacity on several occasions in the past, most recently in the first edition of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix run in 2021. It is British automaker Aston Martin that provides the safety car and medical car. The other stewards designated for the Spanish Grand Prix are Tim Mayer, Nish Schetty and David Domingo. Tim Mayer as the son of McLaren founder Teddy Mayer, Tim Mayer grew up around motor sport. He organised IndyCar races internationally from 1992-98 and produced international TV for multiple series. In 1998 he became CART's Senior VP for Racing Operations and in 2003 became COO of IMSA, operating multiple series, including ALMS. In 2009 he left IMSA, working independently for several US series and coordinating US motorsports with the FIA. He was elected an Independent Director of ACCUS and US FIA Delegate, responsible for World Championship events in the US. He Stewards the FIA's Fl, WEC and World Rallycross championships. Nish Shetty sits on the FIA International Court of Appeal as a judge and is a permanent member of the National Court of Appeal (Singapore). He is also Chairman of the Disciplinary Commission of the Singapore Motor Sports Association and a national steward of the Singapore Grand Prix. Sheity has assisted the Association for many years as a legal advisor and committee member.
In addition to being involved in the Singapore Grand Prix, Sheity has acted as a steward in the Singapore Karting Championship. Away from motor sport, he is a Partner and Head of International Arbitration and Dispute Resolution, South East Asia at global law firm Clifford Chance. Vitantonio Liuzzi made 80 grand prix starts, making his debut with Red Bull Racing at the 2005 San Marino Grand Prix before switching to Scuderia Toro Rosso in 2006. He (moved to Force India, where he enjoyed the most consistent pointsscoring spell of his F 1 career. In 2011 he moved to the ill-fated HRT team and raced for final time in F1 at that season's Brazilian Grand Prix. Following his grand prix career, Liuzzi was a regular competitor in the FIA World Endurance Championship,iniapan's Super GT and Super Formula and in FIA Formula E . He has also acted as a steward in the FIA Formula E World Championship. And finally, David Domingo combined his education in law with a passion for motor sport. He began his sports career in as a rally co-driver in 1995, while studying at university, and helped out with the management of his local motor club in Lleida. Since 2004 he has been a steward in national karting, off-road, circuits and rally championships. Since 2010 he has been the chair of stewards in the Intl Series GT Open and Euroformula Open, and since 2014 has acted as national steward in Spain for Formula 1, WRC and World RX. He is a member of several commissions of the Spanish ASN and Catalan Federation.
Because the Aston Martin at first glance actually looks very similar to Red Bull, and the Austrian team's consultant, Helmut Marko, states:
"We are looking at an incredible copy. We are working to understand how a clone of our car came to be. Copying is not forbidden in Formula 1, but we should not forget that seven people recently moved from Red Bull to Aston Martin, Dan Fallows was made an offer that was disproportionately high in salary. There is some evidence that we are looking at in detail, evidence that data has been dumped. After all, is it possible to make such a faithful copy of our car without having any documentation and then also be able to run it?"
The FIA issued a statement, in which it declared that:
"Both teams cooperated fully with the FIA in this investigation and provided all the relevant information. The investigation, which involved CAD checks and a detailed analysis of the development process adopted by Aston Martin, confirmed that no wrongdoing had been committed, and therefore the FIA considers that the Aston Martin aerodynamic upgrades are compliant. Article 17.3 specifically defines and prohibits Reverse Engineering, i.e. the digital process of converting photographs (or other data) to CAD models, and prohibits IP transfer between teams, but equally, this Article permits car designs getting influenced by those of competitors, as has always been the case in Formula 1. In the analysis, we carried out we confirmed that the processes followed by Aston Martin were consistent with this Article's requirements".
For Sebastian Vettel the changes concern the second unit related to the energy recovery system, while the Red Bull mechanics are working to install the third unit relating to the exhaust system on Pérez’s car. A further modification is carried out on Lewis Hamilton's car a few hours before the tests, as well as for Leclerc's car, where the second gearbox and the second transmission were installed. In this case, both drivers are not penalized on the starting grid as the new components are among those usable in the maximum number established by the technical regulations. Remaining in the pre-race technical field, the Federation releases a statement in which it declares the legality of the updates brought by Aston Martin, highlighting how the design of the new components, which recalls the one used by Red Bull Racing, has not violated the provisions. The McLaren team and the mental health charity "Mind" announce a challenge for the fundraising, with the aim of raising 59.000 pounds in view of the week of the British Grand Prix. At the same time, one of the two drivers, Daniel Ricciardo, becomes the Australian driver to compete in the most Grand Prixes. As for Williams, Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance, declares:
"The contrast between the new circuit in Miami and the familiarity of the Circuit de Barcelona- Catalunya couldn't be starker. The drivers and engineers know the quirks and subtleties of this track very well and, whilst the car balance and tire behavior will be different to February, we have a good idea of what to expect and the areas that we will need to work on. The car has changed quite a lot since February and the much hotter track conditions will present very different problems. We showed some encouraging race pace at the last few events and our efforts are now focused on bringing the same level of performance to Qualifying. If we can do this successfully then we will be in a much stronger position going forwards. We are looking forward to having Nyck de Vries in the car for FP1 as it is always good to work with a new driver and get a fresh opinion on the car's strengths and weaknesses. Nyck's experience and professionalism will be crucial on Friday as he will complete some of the key engineering tests in FP1 before he hands the car back to Alex for FP2".
To his words, Sven Smeets, Williams' Sporting Director, adds:
"I'm looking forward to seeing Nyck join the team for FP1 at the Spanish Grand Prix. As he is a very talented and experienced driver I have no doubt that he'll maximize his time in the FW44 and deliver a strong, capable performance for the team".
Nicholas Latifi continues:
"After a few street-style tracks, it's going to be nice to get back to the more traditional Circuit de Barcelona- Catalunya . It's a track that should give us a good measure of where we are with the FW44 and how we've developed it since testing at the beginning of the season. I think we all feel that we've gained a much better understanding of the car and evolved it well, so it will be positive to have that reference point of how far we've come. Hopefully, we can deliver a good result in Spain".
Alex Albon concludes:
"It will good to head back to Barcelona; I'm interested to see how much the car has improved since we were last there for pre-season testing. It's a good track, and one that every driver has done countless laps around, more so than any other circuit. That familiarity will work in my favor this weekend and help me get up to speed more quickly after sitting out FP1 whilst Nyck is in the car. We're hungry for more points after Miami, so that's what we'll continue to push for".
Lando Norris is excited to be in Europe:
"I'm excited to be heading back to Europe and racing in Barcelona this weekend. I like the circuit in Spain as it has some nice features, a mixture of challenges and speeds, and a great crowd . I've put the retirement in Miami behind me and I'm fully focused on the race ahead. We got some good running in at the track during February testing so I'm looking forward to adding everything we've learned from the season so far to the data we got there previously from the new regulation cars. Miami highlighted that we still have a way to go to get back to consistently fighting at the top but it's important for us to remain optimistic. The team are working flat out to bring upgrades to the car as we speak, so hopefully that will give us the boost we need as we head into this double header. Let's keep at it".
Daniel Ricciardo taks about the need to keep a positive mindset:
"I'm looking forward to going to Spain! There were some good battles in Miami with great support as always from the fans, but it proved to be a tough circuit for the team. Looking to Spain, we have to keep a positive mindset and apply everything we learned from last race weekend. Spain was a good race for me last year so I'm looking forward to getting back out there in the new regulation cars and really get the most out of the MCL36. Having tested here back in February, we have more of an idea on what to expect under the new regulations than we do at other race weekends. It will be good to see where we can make improvements and put the upgrades we're bringing to the test. Our performance since Bahrain has showed we can consistently fight for the top ten, so it will be great to get back on track and keep at it. We'll keep pushing and keep coming back stronger".
The McLaren's team principal, Andreas Seidl, concludes:
"Whilst the race result in Miami wasn't what we wanted it to be, the team are fully focused on the Barcelona weekend and the European double-header ahead of us. Spain is a great all-rounder track, with a nice mixture of high and low speed corners, plus areas that are more technically difficult. We've had some solid results there over the last few years with good points scored, which we're looking to continue this year. We are bringing some upgrades to the car for the weekend. I know it's been an extremely busy week or so for many of the teams making changes ahead of Barcelona so it's going to continue to be a tight fight for points. We performed well at this track in pre- season testing so it will be interesting to see how our car will perform with the upgrades we've made since then. Hopefully we can have some good battles and get both cars back into the fight for good points".
Guenther Steiner, Haas Team Principal, talks about the team’s work during the pre – competition, his impressions about the latest races and his expectations about the future. The Miami Grand Prix was clearly a missed opportunity for the team, having had both drivers run in the points during the race. How do you keep focus on the positive things and what’s to come rather than dwelling on what might've been?
"It was quite disappointing in both qualifying and the race, but we need to keep positive. The positives are the car is good, we just need to get it on the right set-up, getting the tires to work properly and the car is right there. As you could see during the race in Miami, we made up positions until the safety car came out and then we fell back. That's what you have to focus on - staying confident that we have a good machine and that we will make the points that we want to make".
Haas F1 Team moves to the Circuit de Barcelona- Catalunya for the Spanish Grand Prix - the location of the first pre-season test this year. There might not be a big advantage / disadvantage for drivers having / not having tested there, but for the team preparing the race strategy and run plans, is there a benefit to having mileage under the belt with these new cars?
"Coming to Spain and knowing that we have been there, I wouldn't say it's an advantage compared to the other teams as everybody has been there and knows Spain very well. For us, going there and knowing we've run there, and we ran strong and had a good set-up, at least we go there confident. When we get there and start on the right foot, we usually put ourselves into a good position for qualifying and the race, so let's hope it happens this time as well".
Barcelona is usually the time of the year when teams start to bring substantial upgrades to packages, do you expect the grid to stay in the same order as the first five races or do you think this is where we'll see changes in the pecking order, and where does Haas F1 Team fit into that?
"As you say, normally Spain is the obvious place to bring upgrades and I think quite a few teams are planning them. I don't know how much difference they will make on each car and what they will bring. We have decided to wait a little bit longer with upgrades as I still think we have performance in the car without them which we have to get on the track, so sometimes we achieve it, sometimes we don't. We have a good upgrades package in about four or five races coming, so I'm confident about that and what the other ones are bringing, as of right now I don't know, but I will know a lot more next Monday".
Haas F1 Team returns to Europe for Round 6 of the 2022 FIA Formula 1 World Championship - the Spanish Grand Prix. This will be the second time the VF-22 has run around the Circuit de Barcelona- Catalunya after preseason testing in February, but it will be your first experience of it. Does that put you at a disadvantage to those who have already driven over a hundred laps in this year's car? Kevin Magnussen declares:
"Barcelona is probably the Formula 1 track I know the best out of all of them. I don't think it's going to be such a big disadvantage not having driven there in testing. The car is performing well, it's been very good at four of the five tracks we've been at, so I think it's going to do well there too".
With a mixture of high and low-speed corners, there's a reason why this circuit is used for testing. After five races, would you say you fully understand the car now and are able to manage its strengths and weaknesses?
"Our car is pretty good all-round - it's been good in wet conditions, dry conditions and intermediate. It's like always, you need to get the car into the window, and I think we've done a decent job of that this year".
Your best finish at the Spanish Grand Prix came in 2018 with Haas when you secured sixth place. Do you think you can continue the good form that you've been managing so far this season?
"I think we can be pretty happy with the start to the year that we've had. There's always things you could've done better and certainly this year, that's the case too but it's not been a bad start and we're looking forward to the rest of the year".
Barcelona is usually the time of the year when teams start to bring substantial upgrades to packages, do you expect the grid to stay in the same order as the first five races or do you think this is where we'll see changes in the pecking order , and where does Haas F1 Team fit into that?
"I think there's probably a good chance that the competitive order is going to change around a little bit this year. We've seen Mercedes out of shape, sometimes Alfa Romeo has been up there almost with podium pace and other times we've been up there, so the competition is very tight, and I think it's going to make for an interesting season. It's not fun if you know that you can't be competitive and this time there is no way to say that you can't be competitive, everyone has a chance. I think it's way more interesting and a lot more fun - I'm certainly enjoying my time".
Also Mick Schumacher reaches the microphones of the journalists. F1 Team returns to Europe for Round 6 of the 2022 FIA Formula 1 World Championship - the Spanish Grand Prix. This will be the second time the VF-22 has run around the Circuit de Barcelona- Catalunya after preseason testing in February. Do you think that puts you at an advantage for this weekend, already knowing the traits of the car around this track?
"If it puts us at an advantage, I wouldn't think so, at least not more compared to the other teams and drivers - it will be the same for everybody at the end. We will maybe have to learn the track less but anyway we don't need to learn the track as we've driven there so much in the past that it's like printed in my brain in a way. The track conditions will be very different, the temperature is probably 20 degrees different to when we tested there, so the entire way the tire works will shift as well. I think that the advantage is maybe there minimally, not because we've tested there but because we know the track so well".
With a mixture of high and low-speed corners, there's a reason why this circuit is used for testing. After five races, would you say you fully understand the car now and are able to manage its strengths and weaknesses?
"I don't think we understand the car 100 percent yet - I think nobody does - because we are still trying to figure out reasons why the car behaves as it does and try to understand them. We also have updates that come in and those can make it difficult to understand it further because you keep on developing. If the car stayed the same, then you'd perhaps know it a bit better after five races just because it's the same, but we're constantly changing to try and make it faster. The track has a lot of great characteristics in how the tire usually degrades and how the car behaves so I'm looking forward to it and I'm quite excited".
Your best finish at the Spanish Grand Prix came in the 2020 FIA Formula 2 Championship when you achieved third place. Coming back to circuits where you have much more experience, does it give you confidence that you can extract the full potential from the VF- 22?
"Hopefully, but it's the same for most drivers - they've all driven a lot on that track. In the past the track hasn't always been super good to me, but things can change and hopefully they do for the better".
Barcelona is usually the time of the year when teams start to bring substantial upgrades to packages, do you expect the grid to stay in the same order as the first five races or do you think this is where we'll see changes in the pecking order , and where does Haas F1 Team fit into that?
"I'm sure we've already seen quite a few changes, teams are still very close together and that's what we want to see, that's what this whole change was about in the end. I think we've managed to get there and hopefully by the end of the season the spread isn't going to be bigger but actually smaller, and teams still fight heavily between each other and that the midfield pack catches up to the top two teams, which are Ferrari and Red Bull at the moment , that the gap gets smaller and we're able to fight with them. The pace that we had at the end of the race in Imola definitely showed that we were close to them on one lap pace, but race pace is so different when comparing the midfield and top teams, it will be interesting but exciting times ahead".
As for AlphaTauri , Pierre Gasly argues:
"I am looking forward to starting the European part of the season and even if the result in Miami was not what we were looking for, there were some positives to take away from that weekend. We got both cars into Q3, 7th and 9th, making it the best Qualifying so far this season. The race was difficult because, from very early on, I had a big hole in the floor, losing quite a bit of downforce, but even so I could fight for seventh or eighth place with the Alpines, which was encouraging. It was going quite well in fact, until my contact with Fernando. That ruined my race, and it was very disappointing, as we'd had a solid weekend up to that point. We deserved some points , so it was a shame, but the performance is clearly there and there's no reason why we can't have some good results in the upcoming races. Now we come to Barcelona, the sixth race of the season, where I finished ninth in 2020 and 10th last year. It's always an important weekend, because you get a clear picture of the performance of the various cars and where each team is in relation to the others. We should get an idea of where everyone is, especially in the midfield, which is currently very tight: sometimes we're a bit nearer the front and then in the space of just two tenths of a second, you can drop right back. We know it's difficult to overtake at this circuit and it will remain the same, even with these new cars, because of the nature of the track. But it's hard to predict, so let's wait and see what happens. For us it will be important to qualify well, near the front because I'd be surprised if there was ten times more overtaking than before! As a team, we just have to keep working the way we have been up until now and I'm sure that will pay off in terms of results".
Yuki Tsunoda continues:
"Miami was a mixed weekend. At first there was a big gap to my team-mate in free practice, but I managed to progress and that meant I was able to get through to Q3, which was a good result for me and the team, even if it was a bit unexpected. In the race, I lost a lot of positions in the early part and we couldn't put it together, but overall there were some positives from the weekend. I was back home in Italy for my birthday and I had an enjoyable day in Milan. Now we will spend some time in Europe, starting with the Barcelona track where we began our winter testing at the end of February. Of course, conditions will be very different and much warmer this time. Even without that, it is one of the European tracks I know best and in 2020, I finished fourth there in both the Sprint and the Feature Formula 2 races. It is a very technical track with a wide range of different types of corners and speeds, high, medium and low. It is a real test of the car. All the teams know the track very well, so I expect it will be very tight in the midfield where we are racing and I am confident we can perform quite well this weekend. However, I think we still need more car development before we can race really consistently every weekend. I think we can make progress in Barcelona, hopefully have a good result, ending in the points, but I am not expecting it to be easy".
In Mercedes, Toto Wolff states:
"With the third quickest car underneath us, we extracted the maximum points possible in Miami. Considering George's start position, it was a great recovery drive, helped by when the Safety Car was deployed . But the timing was unfortunate for Lewis who was strong all weekend and on course to score P5 without the neutralization of the race. I've no doubt that over the course of the season, a little luck will eventually go his way. During Friday practice, the car showed flashes of its true potential. We continued experimenting with set-up, fitted some new components and that's provided us answers and indications of which direction to go in. A huge amount of hard work has been going on in the factories to unpick the data from Miami and turn it into improvements for Barcelona. Having run there in winter testing, albeit with a car that has evolved a lot since then, it will be a good place to correlate the information we have on the current car and we're h opeful that we'll make another step forward. The track itself is a good all-rounder, so it really puts every aspect of the car to the test. It's never been a great track for overtaking so it'll be interesting to see how these new-shape 2022 F1 cars impact the on-track spectacle in Spain. In basketball terms, we head to Barcelona at the end of the first quarter of the game. We know that once we translate the learnings we've made into track performance, there's still a lot of the game left to play".
The Mercedes reserve driver and current Formula E World Champion for the German team, Nyck De Vries, will take part in the first free practice session on Friday, replacing Alexander Albon at Williams. For De Vries it is the debut in a Formula 1 race weekend, choosing 45 as the number on the car:
"Firstly, I'd really like to thank Williams for the opportunity to run in FP1. It's great for me to get to know the team and drive the FW44, and also to get myself out on track during a Formula One weekend. Preparation for the test is going well so far and the team have been incredibly supportive of me. I'm very much looking forward to the whole experience in Spain now".
Frédéric Vasseur, Alfa Romeo Team Principal, argues:
"We head to Barcelona with the aim of extending our positive streak at the start of the season: I feel we are now in a situation in which our objectives will be similar for each round going forward, and not too different from what we have had so far this season - both cars in Q2, one in Q3 and points on Sunday. This doesn't mean we are underestimating the challenge ahead of us in Catalonia or anywhere else: the midfield is going to be a close, intense and thrilling fight throughout the season, and it will be a fight decided by small margins in each race. We are also very curious about where the updates each team is bringing are going to put everyone: our team had to face a massive challenge to respond to the pressure under which the incidents of recent events have put us, but our workforce have come back with hard work and determination, and we will have plenty to evaluate this weekend. This is a race which can bring a bit of a shake-up to the order we've seen so far, and I am confident our team has done the work needed to be among the ones who have done the better job".
Valtteri Bottas continues:
"We had a really strong showing in Miami and, with every good result, comes the confidence to push for more. We head to Barcelona knowing we can be in the fight for the front of the midfield again: we're in the midst of an interesting battle with our direct rivals every weekend and I don't expect this one to be any different. It is crucial we have a flawless weekend, here more than ever: Barcelona is a track that holds no secrets for any team, so there won't be any silver bullet to find to be ahead of the others, it will be about execution and doing our homework. For sure, we arrive in Barcelona in a much happier state than when we left after winter testing, which is proof of how well this team has bounced back after the difficulties we encountered in February. I want to repay all this great work with a good result".
Zhou Guanyu concludes:
"Barcelona is another important stage in this season: it's a track the team knows well and I want to make the most of it to get back after the disappointment of a technical DNF last time out in Miami, when we had the speed to bring home some points. Driving this car here is not going to be a new experience for me, of course: as with Bahrain at the beginning of the season, I approach a track on which I've driven before with this generation of cars. Of course, the car we race now is not the same we had in testing, but it's an advantage nonetheless, so my focus will be fully on delivering my best and bringing home the good result our season so far deserves. My target is the same as it was in every round until now, but the confidence in my means to deliver it grows with every race".
As for Aston Martin, Sebastian Vettel declares:
"Barcelona will showcase a lot of the behavior inherent in these 2022 cars; the lower-speed corners will be a physical challenge, while the faster sections will be about bravery and trusting in the ground-effect. Passing has usually been tricky here but I think these cars have shown they're much better at going wheel-to-wheel, so I think it will be a different race to previous Spanish Grands Prix".
Lance Stroll continues:
"I think Barcelona's going to be a great circuit to showcase how these ground-effect cars work in the high-speed sections - especially at the long Turn Three bend - so I think the fans can expect some exciting onboards . weekend also provides a chance to compare everyone's progress after testing here earlier this year. These cars are like prototypes and are improving all the time".
Otmar Szafnauer, Alpine team principal , declares his hopes for Spain:
"Firstly, the aim is for us to have both cars inside the points, which we 're yet to achieve since the first race of the season. for the year, then this is the minimum requirement the remaining Grands Prix. We've demonstrated consistently we have a competitive car and it's important now that we convert that promising pace into points on Sundays. We're certainly aiming to bounce back from Miami by having a much better, and cleaner, race weekend. We can only control what is in front of us, so that's the target in Barcelona and both drivers are ready to deliver".
Esteban Ocon continues:
"Barcelona is one of those circuits all teams, and all drivers, know very well. We have raced and tested there for a while now, but of course it does bring its own challenges just like any track. The first two sectors are fast and can be tricky, with tire management being very important. The final sector is slow speed and you normally feel a loss of grip towards the end of the lap as the tires overheat. In general, it's quite difficult to overtake in Barcelona, although the long downhill straight can give power and DRS advantage, so that is a key part of the circuit. It makes Qualifying and race strategy particularly important to gain track position. Last year, I qualified fifth on the grid so it is a track I enjoy , and we know we can be competitive ther".
Fernando Alonso concludes:
"I have raced many years in Barcelona, so I know the track and place well. It's a track that really shows where your car stands amongst the rest of the field and it's been home to winter testing for a number of years . The track is not easy to overtake on and so you have to qualify well. Unless there is a Safety Car or something unusual in the race then it's difficult to gain ground. We've been qualifying quite well this year so hopefully we can continue the form from previous Saturdays into Barcelona and have a trouble-free race".
Finally, Carlos Sainz gives several statements to the microphones of the journalists. The track for your home race is very well known to all the drivers , given that it has regularly been used for winter testing. What are its main features and which section do you like best?
"This is definitely a track that we know very well and I think all drivers enjoy it. The track layout offers a mix of high, medium and low speed corners that makes it challenging to get the right balance of the car throughout an entire lap. I think turns 3 and 9 are the most thrilling ones. At turn 3, a long high speed right hander, we maintain a lot of G force from entry to exit and turn 9 is a great uphill high speed corner that we expect to take flat out, at least in Qualifying. The track has a lot of character and I look forward to driving this new car here in race conditions".
You arrive in Spain from the race in Miami where you secured your best qualifying performance and your ninth career podium. What is your goal for the Spanish Grand Prix?
"The goal, as in every other race weekend, is to extract the maximum out of our car and try to win the Grand Prix. The fact that it´s my home race makes it even more special because of all the fans and the support we get there, but in terms of goals, we need to always push and fight for the best result possible".
This is another race where a full crowd will once again be allowed in and the Grada CS55 grandstand will be open. What do you expect from your fans and what do you plan to do for them?
"After two years with little or no fans at the track I´m very happy that this year the circuit is completely sold out. Being able to have Grada CS55 again is also very important for me, as it has become a great tradition and it allows me to interact a bit closer with my fans. However, I know we will receive massive support from every grandstand at the track and I can guarantee the fans maximum effort from myself and from the entire team, to give them plenty to cheer about! Hopefully we can have a great racing weekend in Spain and everyone can enjoy the thrills of an F1 race".
It is Friday on a sweltering afternoon in Barcelona and time for the free practice 1 and 2 of the F1 Weekend. All eyes are closely on the cars to spot any new upgrades, because Williams, Aston Martin, McLaren, Mercedes and Ferrari have brought significant packages to their cars.
World Champion Max Verstappen in FP1 sets the early benchmark on hard tyres. After the field changed on the softs Charles Leclerc can set the fastest lap of 1'19"828 in his Ferrari, 0.079 seconds faster than his teammate Carlos Sainz. The Scuderia's package included a new rear wing for Spain and seems to work out. With Ferrari on the top of the field, Verstappen improves to third on softs for Red Bull, 0.336 seconds off the pace, having had a new nose fitted to his car before. Mercedes fitted new engines to both of their drivers’ cars, both donning brand-new parts surrounding the floor area and Lewis Hamilton also having taken a new gearbox this weekend (no penalty applied). George Russell finishes fourth while Hamilton sixth, the last driver within a second of Leclerc. Between the Silver Arrows Fernando Alonso, the Alpine driver, can finish FP1 as fifth and this brings happiness to the crowd.
McLaren's Lando Norris is also testing out a suite of parts and ends up as seventh and two-tenths ahead of eighth-place AlphaTauri driver Pierre Gasly. AlphaTauri who did some upgrades for weight-saving, also took a new rear wings to Spain. Gasly's team mate Yuki Tsunoda rounds out the top 10, behind ninth-place McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo. Esteban Ocon previously dubbed Spain his "half" home race, given his father and extended family live here, and finishes 11th in FP1 for Alpine. Behind Ocon is Lance Stroll, 12th. Aston Martin broke curfew on Thursday and spent the long night fitting upgrades to their AMR22 cars, revised sidepods the clearest indication of a new direction for the team in green. Sebastian Vettel finishes 16th in this session. Alfa Romeo runs reserve driver Robert Kubica in place of Zhou Guanyu for FP1, the veteran Pole finishing 13th, while Valtteri Bottas finishes behind him as 17th. Next on the board are the Haas drivers, Kevin Magnussen 14th ahead of Mick Schumacher. Their upgrades are bound for the French Grand Prix, rather than Spain. In place of Alex Albon at Williams was Nyck De Vries, the Formula E driver and Mercedes F1 reserve finishing 18th. In a homage to Albon’s hair, Nicholas Latifi ran red flow-vis paint on his car early on, the Canadian could finish FP1 on P19. Robert Kubica enjoyed his session and looks forward to driving again:
"All in all, it was a good session for me. I was pleased to see I could get on the pace quickly and that the feeling I had with the car was back to what I had in 2020. Of course, the session wasn’t the easiest compared to when I drove the car in Imola: the conditions here are different and the track is green as opposed to fully rubbered in. Still, the car I drove in Imola was probably the best car I drove in my career in terms of feeling and simplicity of driving. I am looking forward to driving it again".
Nyck de Vries was very nervous ahead of Fp1 and enjoyed his session:
"I will admit I was very nervous ahead of FP1! I’m racing and fighting for championships away from F1, but making your Formula One debut is very unique and special, so I am very grateful for the opportunity. But when you get into the car and start the engine you forget everything around you and you’re alone with the car; all those nerves go away and you focus on your job. It wasn’t easy to jump in not knowing the car or the tyres and everything was new, but I gave myself the time to adapt and I’m pretty satisfied with my performance. I’m always critical of myself so I think there was more on the table, but I’m happy and positive about my first experience with Williams".
Juri Vips will drive Sergio Perez’s Red Bull for FP1 after giving finished practice in F2 on the sixth place. He completes the F1 practice as last on the 20th place and has to get ready for the F2 qualifying at 6.30 P.M. local time. Juri Vips had an incredible moment, driving on the Grand Prix weekend:
"My experience today was amazing. Just to drive on the Grand Prix weekend is an incredible moment. When it first got announced I just kept thinking about when I first started karting and it was just a hobby and now I am going to get in the car. It was a busy session, we did lots of aero mapping so we never planned to do any push laps. I can see why F1 is so hard because these sessions are very hectic! You learn a lot driving, as a junior driver travelling to races with the Team you get to hear the drivers’ feedback but to feel first hand how the car feels is useful for me but also useful for the work I do on the simulator".
After the teams analyze their FP1 result, the FP2 takes place. The track temperature now is even higher than before with 45 °C. Unfortunately for Valtteri Bottas, the FP2 finishes very early, just two laps before pulling of the side of the track at Turn 2 after 10 Minutes, technical issues come to his Alfa Romeo. So for Valtteri Bottas can only put suncream cause of the strong sun and analyze the data’s for a better Saturday. With the first medium tyre rounds done, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen heading those rounds before Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and Leclerc, the teams bolt on the soft tyres, and the serious business of qualifying simulations begins on Friday late afternoon. Verstappen throws down the early gauntlet with a 1'20"006. But as others head out on a track that cooled by a degree or two, Leclerc set the session benchmark of 1'19"670, to complete a clean sweep of best times from Friday in his own upgraded Ferrari F1-75. Mercedes were fast on Friday two weeks ago in Miami and repeated the trick here, as Russell takes P2, 0.117 seconds off Leclerc’s pace, and less than a tenth up on teammate Lewis Hamilton. That leaves Sainz P4, with Verstappen ultimately taking P5 - the reigning champion 0.336 seconds off his championship rival Leclerc. After the Friday Session, Mercedes Driver George Russell says that the massive degradation will be the focus for preparing the Qualifying and Race:
"In Miami we were quickest on Friday, here we're second but the car is definitely reacting differently.. We don't have the porpoising on the straights which is great but we're still experiencing it here and there through the corners which ultimately we need to dial out. Red Bull still look very strong and the team to be reckoned with at the moment. I see no reason why we can't be as close, if not a little closer, to the front throughout the weekend. With the differences in power modes it is difficult to tell where we are on true pace, Ferrari and Red Bull looked to be in their lowest power modes. Degradation was massive for everyone and that's going to be make-or-break in the race on Sunday so that'll be our focus tonight".
His Teammate and 7-times World Champion is very happy with the progress of his Mercedes:
"I'm super happy with the progress and a massive thank you to the team back at the factory for all the hard work, refusing to give up and continuing to push. We're not the quickest yet but I think we're on our way. It's the first time we've driven down the straight without bouncing; we still have some, but it's way better. We're starting to eke into the potential of the car. It remains tough out there but much nicer to drive than it has been before. We've brought a few upgrades and we now need to fine tune them. We have a lot of data to go through to position the car, I think we can get it into an even better place for tomorrow to hopefully tap on the heels of the guys in front. Degradation is going to be key here, with these tyres you can't attack, attack, attack - they require a lot of management in these temperatures".
Fernando Alonso made it both Spanish drivers in the top six, as he ended up a promising two-tenths off Verstappen’s time in his Alpine, and ahead of the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez – in for his first session of the day after giving up his car to Juri Vips for FP1. After this reasonable Friday, the Spanish driver is hopeful to put a good show tomorrow on Qualifying:
"It was a reasonable day for us today. After winter testing in February, we had some tests to do because the car has changed so much between then and now. We tried to evaluate a few things and carry out our normal job assessing the tyres. We have collected some useful data, but it’s clear we need to further improve the car for tomorrow. The balance isn’t perfect, so there is more of a job to do tonight to make sure that we are best prepared for qualifying tomorrow. I enjoyed seeing the grandstands full and hopefully we can put on a good show tomorrow".
Sebastian Vettel took P8 in the heavily updated Aston Martin AMR22, narrowly ahead of the second Alpine of Esteban Ocon, with Mick Schumacher doing a good job for Haas to round out the top 10. He is positive and says that the team is moving in the right direction:
"It feels like we are moving in the right direction, but we must remember that this is the first day of our running this car. You cannot make many comparisons to pre-season testing because the weather and track conditions are so different, so there is still a lot to learn and understand. Still, it is positive to end today inside the top 10, but let's see how we go across the weekend. We do not expect immediate results, but we want to continue to make progress".
After the FP1 and FP2 session, Esteban Ocon says that it is good to see how different the car is since they drove the car first for Winter testing in Barcelona. The Alpine car in his eyes goes to the right direction:
"It’s great to be back driving in Barcelona. It’s nice to feel how different the car is since we first drove here for winter testing. It’s definitely evolved in the right direction, and I can feel a significant difference. Today we seem to be contenders for the top ten, which is always positive on a Friday. There is more work to do, though, that’s for sure. After both practice sessions today, we know where we need to focus our efforts to be in a good position for tomorrow. All in all, it’s been a solid day of data gathering and now it’s heads down tonight to make sure we can be at our best tomorrow for qualifying".
Traction problems appeared to hamper Pierre Gasly, who complained of getting sideways every time he touched the throttle on his AlphaTauri. But he managed to get the AT03 under control enough to take P11, ahead of the Haas of Kevin Magnussen, with Lance Stroll 13th for Aston Martin ahead of the second AlphaTauri of Yuki Tsunoda. Sebastian Vettel teammate Lance Stroll, thinks the day with his Aston Martin was positive:
"It has been a positive first day. We are making progress but we took it a little carefully today because we are understandably a little short on spares. Today feels like a step in the right direction, but we are still pushing for more. Over one lap, the car felt good, but I think there is more to come with the car balance. We will go away tonight and investigate the data and see where we can make improvements before qualifying tomorrow".
After this difficult session, Pierre Gasly finds these worlds to his Friday:
"It feels good to be back in Barcelona. Today hasn’t been our best Friday though, it’s been extremely difficult. We can’t seem to get the car where we want it, the conditions aren’t helping and it’s hard to cope with, but that’s the same for everyone. It’s not going to be an easy race for anyone, the car has never liked these super-hot temperatures, so we’ll need to analyse everything tonight and work out what’s best for us to get the most from it. There’s a lot of things we need to improve tonight and then after FP3 tomorrow we can look to see what’s achievable for us in Qualifying. We’re not too far from the top 10 so we just need to go away, focus on ourselves and hopefully we’ll be in Q3 tomorrow".
And Pierre Gasly Teammate, Yuki Tsunoda, is not happy with his car in the moment and he is sure that they have a lot of work to do till tomorrow qualifying:
"I’m not that happy with the car at the moment. We’ve got a lot of work to do for tomorrow if we’re aiming for Q3 in Qualifying, but I think it’s possible, we’ve still got another practice session to make changes to the car and extract the most from this package. Currently, the weekend has been going smoothly, so I hope this can continue and we can look for points on Sunday".
Kevin Magnussen thinks that the pace seemed to be okey:
"It was nothing too out of the ordinary, I think the pace seemed to be ok in both low-fuel and high-fuel. We’ll go and see if we can find a bit more lap time as there’s always stuff you can do and certainly, we’ll try hard to find a little bit more to get into Q3 tomorrow. It’s going to be hard, but we’ll try".
And his teammate Mick Schumacher thinks they are in a good place for tomorrow:
"It was positive. As I said this morning, I think there’s still a lot of potential in our car right now, so the upgrades from other teams have to work in the first place to be able to better and that’s not always the case. I feel it’s pretty positive, I feel good in the car, I still have some ideas so I’m ready to go racing. We’re in a good place for tomorrow".
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal, hopes they will make another small step for tomorrow:
"Except for a little glitch at the beginning of FP1 on Kevin’s car, it was a good session. We used FP1 to do some aero tests on Mick’s car and some set-up tests on both, and then we were ready for FP2 and it went pretty well. Hopefully we’ll make another small step tomorrow and we’ll look forward to qualifying".
It was a compromised session for McLaren, Daniel Ricciardo not managing a soft tyre run until late in the session and taking 15th, while Lando Norris was forced to miss a chunk of FP2 after running wide at Turn 9 and damaging his floor. After a tricky day, he finds this words:
"It was a tricky day for me. I think there are positives with the new bits on the car, some things were working well, and I think the team are happy with some of the improvements. I made a mistake in FP2, which unfortunately cost me the rest of the session as there was a bit of damage to the floor. So, not perfect but nonetheless, I’m still hopeful for tomorrow because the car seems in a decent place".
After trying different settings on both sessions for Daniel Ricciardo, he still thinks they are not where they want to be:
"There’s quite a lot to digest today. We tried quite a few different settings for both sessions. We clearly aren’t where we want to be on the timesheets but there’s a lot to dive into tonight. I think we’ll find some things and, let’s say, find the optimal set-up for tomorrow and hopefully that puts us inside the top 10. Right now, there’s still a lot to take in so I’m not too sure how much to look into the times today. It was interesting to see the other cars and teams and what they’re doing. But we’ll focus on ourselves as for sure everyone today was exploring a few new things on their cars".
Bottas managed to pip his teammate to 16th despite his early stoppage. Zhou Guanyu having also given up the early afternoon session to Robert Kubica, with Alex Albon taking P18 for Williams, the Thai driver having missed FP1 in favour of Nyck de Vries. Valtteri Bottas thinks having difficult Fridays is a bit of trend for them at the moment:
"Having tricky Fridays seems like it’s a bit of a trend for us at the moment, we don’t get much running but we managed to bounce back every time before and we can aim to do the same this time around. The positive from the day is that the one lap I had on medium tyres was really good, the car felt well-balanced so we have a good starting point to work on. Compared to February, when we had a lot of issues here, we have made a big step forward: we took a cautious approach with our upgrades but we pushed more and more towards the optimal set-up. For sure, we will be able to find out even more about the car tomorrow".
His teammate Zhou Guanyu had a lot of fun today:
"It was a lot more fun today than during winter testing in February, that’s for sure! Only one session for me today, so there’s a big margin of improvement for tomorrow: I think I am still finding the limit of the car, as well as of myself, and I think that tonight we will be able to analyse all the data we collected today and come up with an even better set-up for tomorrow. I am confident for qualifying but, as always, it will be a matter of delivering a good, flawless day, if we want to get the most out of the weekend".
Albon was a full 0.878s up on teammate Nicholas Latifi, as Norris brought up the rear in the second, and heavily updated, McLaren. Albon thinks he got back quikly after missing FP1 due to Nyck De Vries driving his car:
"I think I got back up to speed pretty quickly after missing FP1 due to Nyck driving; every driver does enough laps around here that we know the circuit like the back of our hands, so it was a good session to miss in that respect. On track, we’re not as quick as we’d like to be, so our focus tonight is to look over the data to see what we can improve going into Saturday. We can see already that tyre degradation will be a challenge this weekend. It’s not something that’s been a huge issue so far this season, but I’m expecting that there will be a lot of emphasis on tyre management due to the nature of the track, so that could make things interesting in both Qualifying and the race".
Nicholas Latifi focused on trying many different things on the car and sees a lot of work for the night:
"Our focus today was on trying a lot of different things and parts on the car. We didn’t come here with upgrades, but instead different parts to understand and try to optimise the package and, without sugar-coating it, we were very far off. It’s been a bit of head-scratching as it’s not just one problem we are facing, but there are a lot of different issues we need to address. I think in FP1 especially it was extremely out of the window and it felt like I was driving a completely different car, but for the long-term learning for the team it’s important, especially at a track like this where we know how the car should feel. So it’s been good in that sense to understand the set-up options we have, but I think we have a lot of work to do tonight to go into the details and fine-tune everything ahead of tomorrow".
Ferrari’s updates looked to be working nicely on Friday in Spain, but so do Mercedes’ ones. What can those two teams, plus the likes of Red Bull, Alpine, Aston Martin and the rest, achieve in qualifying on Saturday? Ferrari's driver Charles Leclerc thinks they got to analyze the latest data to find where they can improve on this track:
"Our qualifying runs don’t look bad, but we have some work to do, in particular on our race pace and on tyre management. The stints we did on the Soft compound felt better than those on the Mediums. Tonight, we will analyse our latest data to find where we can improve on this track, as the conditions are very different to the last time we were here during winter testing".
Carlos Sainz thinks his FP1 was better then his tricky FP2 session:
"A bit of a tricky FP2 compared to a positive FP1, as we struggled a bit with tyres and balance after the changes we made. We need to look at it and find the correct adjustments for tomorrow, but we’ve got plenty of data and I’m sure we’ll find a more comfortable set-up. It seems like there is a lot of degradation with the heat, which could be crucial for the race, so we’ll also keep an eye on that. I’m very impressed with the number of fans in the grandstands today. It’s fantastic to see all these people supporting us and their good vibes are a huge motivation".
Ferrari’s biggest concurrent are the drivers from Red Bull. Max Verstappen thinks he has overall a good day behind:
"Overall it’s been a good day, the long runs look positive so we can be happy with that. It has been a bit tricky to find the right balance with the heat and we still have a lot of work to do over one lap. It’s tough on the tyres around here, we are not on top of that just yet but at least we know the weather will be consistent tomorrow. I’m looking forward to pushing hard as a Team come qualifying tomorrow. It was also good to have Juri with us in FP1, I hope he enjoyed his first session in the RB18".
Sergio Perez finds these words after missing the first session in FP1:
"Everything comes fast when you miss a session, I was getting up to speed this afternoon and experiencing the tyre degradation - it means you basically have two laps because it is not a track that helps you with the tyres. You have one lap to read the balance and then after that you are just getting up to speed but you don’t have great grip. I was able to get a read on the long runs and hopefully overnight I can find the time I need to be in contention for the fight for pole. I will do some extra work on low fuel in the morning during FP3 to see which direction to take but we are confident we know. It was nice to be able to lend my car to Juri for the morning, I think he had a good time out there and did some important work for the Team".
Jonathan Eddolls (Chief Race Engineer) clarify that the Barcelona track is a track all the team and drivers know very good:
"Although Barcelona is a track both the team and drivers know well, the conditions were significantly different to those in winter testing, with track temperatures close to 50°C. This has had a significant impact on tyre performance, both grip and balance, with the handling characteristics being exaggerated. We had an extensive test plan in FP1 across the cars on the aero and mechanical side, which allowed us to confirm some pre-event theories and we then took this learning into FP2. The focus of FP2 was on the short-run performance on the Softs and then the long-run performance, to evaluate the best tyres for the race. The soft tyres have the most grip, but also have higher degradation compared to the Mediums and Hards, so we need to review the best choice for Sunday, which is expected to be the hottest day of the weekend. Although we made changes to the car for FP2, neither driver was totally happy with the balance, so we have a lot of work to do tonight to analyse the data and set the car up in the best possible way for tomorrow".
Pat Fry, Chief Technical Officer, is happy with the upgrades so far this weekend, they are functioning well:
"It was a relatively standard and trouble-free Friday Practice today where we’ve completed a normal programme mixed between short runs and long runs. We’re looking reasonably competitive on single lap pace, as we have been recently, but we have been concentrating on experiments to improve our long run pace and have plenty of data to work through this evening. It’s been a key area of focus for us at the moment and we’re trying different things to further improve our pace on that front. The upgrades we’ve brought to this race are relatively small steps but, they all count, they are functioning well, and we’re happy with those so far this weekend".
Andrew Shovlin adds that the tyre management cause of the degradation should make the strategy very interesting:
"It's been a solid start to the weekend, the car is behaving more normally here in Barcelona. We've made progress on reducing the bouncing with this aero update and the pace looks to be a step forward; not quite at the level of Red Bull and Ferrari but we've hopefully pulled ourselves out of the midfield group. We've also had a smooth introduction for the second power unit with both drivers. The hot conditions here are giving the tyres a tough time, it's very easy to overheat them and the degradation rates are high which should make the strategy quite interesting. We'll be running in the simulator in Brackley tonight, trying to find a bit more time in the car but at least we have a good platform to base this on and hopefully we can find a little bit more to carry into tomorrow".
Andrea Stella looks forward to the qualifying on Saturday after this very busy Friday sessions:
"It’s been a very busy Friday with a lot of test items to go through here in Spain. We introduced our new aerodynamic package and needed to assess that, but also had work to do understanding the tyres in these hot conditions, which are very different to those we experienced here during winter testing. Daniel’s sessions were quite clean and we have gathered a lot of information from those. We had a few more issues on Lando’s car. We needed to stop his programme early, after we picked up some damage running over a kerb - but we can repair that overnight. There’s a lot of analysis to do this evening - but hopefully we’re in good shape for qualifying and the race".
Mario Isola, Motorsport Director, saw some quite big gaps between the compounds, and they seemed to be bigger than he expected this weekend:
"The free practice sessions went largely according to expectations: after Bahrain, this was the first big ‘degradation’ circuit of the year and we saw track temperatures that peaked at nearly 50 degrees this afternoon, adding to the challenge: especially for the soft tyre. The front-left tyre was the one that was most stressed and that’s going to be the limiting factor, probably leading to a two-stop race for most drivers. How that two-stop is run will be the big question, with the teams having to manage their tyre allocation very carefully tomorrow in order to end up with the tyres they want for the race, bearing in mind also that they have to keep one obligatory set of medium and one set of hard. We saw some quite big gaps here between the compounds in free practice, a bit bigger than we expected this weekend, and that will certainly influence the strategy decisions ahead as well".
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance compliments Nyck for an excellent job in FP1 to understand the car:
"We tried some new components on the car today and collected some useful data, which will allow us to decide how to build the cars for tomorrow. Nyck did an excellent job in FP1 to understand the car and complete the programme as planned; these cars are not easy to drive, especially when the track is so hot, and he did a good job of coming to terms with that and learning how the tyres behave. Nicholas ran most of the test items today with Nyck and Alex acting as the baseline and whilst this gave Nicholas few more balance issues than he would’ve liked, he was able to provide some good feedback, which will help us get the most from the new parts. Alex had a short day and whilst he knows Barcelona very well, there is no substitute for time in the car. However, he was up to speed quickly in FP2 and was able to understand the requirements of the Soft tyre during that session. We have some improvement to make in terms of how we get the most out of the tyres for a single lap, but even if we do this overnight, it will still be a challenging weekend and we will be looking to Sunday to provide some opportunities as tyre management is likely to dominate the Grand Prix".
So, on Sunday in Barcelona we will see different cars with upgrades and some opportunities, as tyre management is likely to dominate the Grand Prix. We are looking forward to an interesting qualifying session. On Saturday, May 21, 2022, at 1:00 p.m., the last free practice session on Barcelona's track starts. It is the last chance for the teams to make some changes in the cars. Indeed, Ferrari's mechanics are now working on Sainz's car: they are changing the chassis due to some issues with the supply system. During this session, the team will also compare the two cars regarding to the management of the tyres. Yesterday there were some doubts on race's pace simulation about the Ferrari, which was not comparable to Red Bull and Mercedes. The latter seems to be more competitive than before: during Friday's race simulation, Hamilton was quicker than Russell, and the two cars were even faster than the Ferrari. On Friday night some teams worked outside the allowed time. Among these, Ferrari, Williams and McLaren, who worked on Norris' car after the issues he had after passing on the curbs in FP2. On Saturday the air temperature is 31 °C, while the track temperature 44 °C. The session starts and the two McLarens are on track, together with Pierre Gasly.
Lando Norris starts his lap with medium tyres and records 23.191 in the first sector, 54.709 in the second, and closes in 1'23"641. Pierre Gasly is forced to get out of his car because smoke comes out from the rear part. Valtteri Bottas starts his lap on soft tyres and records -0.384 compared to Norris' first sector, scores a purple in the second, and closes the third in -2.315, taking the first position with 1'21"326. Mick Schumacher on medium tyres scores +1.642 compared to Bottas' 22.807 in the first sector, +3.272 compared to Bottas' 53.322, and closes his lap with +4.141 in the third position (1'25"467). Kevin Magnussen on Medium tyres starts a few seconds later than his teammate and scores +0.139 in the first sector, +0.838 in the second, +1.503 in the third, and takes the second position (1'22"829). Yuki Tsunoda on Hard tyres is fourth (+3.573), while Mick Schumacher slips on the fifth position. Max Verstappen is in the garage, out of his car, talking with the manager. Mick Schumacher comes back to the garage because something wrong happens in the rear of his car. The team radio said to him to come back to the box slowly: it could be a brakes issue. Fernando Alonso scores a purple in the first sector, +0.165 in the second, and closes in +0.449 in the second position. Carlos Sainz starts his first lap, scores 52.737 in the second sector and overthrows Valtteri Bottas with 1'20"484 on Soft tyres.
Charles Leclerc starts his lap and scores a purple in the first sector (22.509), -0.264 compared to Sainz's time in the second and closes his lap in 1'20"278, taking the lead with two tens less than Carlos Sainz. The two Aston Martin cars are in eleventh and twelfth position, with Lance Stroll (+3.167) and Sebastian Vettel (3.192) on Medium tyres. Sergio Perez starts his first lap, scores a +0.901 in the second sector, and finishes in 1'21"518 in the seventh position. Lewis Hamilton starts his first lap on soft tyres at 41 minutes to the end. The British driver scores +0.534 compared to Leclerc's time in the first sector, +0.955 in the second and closes with +1.222 in the sixth position (1'21"500). We'll box, box to sort this DRS out, says the Mercedes team radio to Lewis Hamilton. Carlos Sainz tries again and scores a purple in the first sector, +0.164 in the second and finishes with +0.371 and a +0.206 gap to overtake to reach Charles Leclerc. Alex Albon scores +1.577 in the second sector and finishes in 1'22"939. Also Charles Leclerc tries again and scores +0.020 in the second sector, and closes his lap in 1'20"401, a little bit slower than his time. Max Verstappen gets on the track at 35 minutes to the end. The temperature is increasing.
George Russell tries again on soft tyres. He scores +0.022 compared to Leclerc's time, +0.442 in the second, and +0.735 in the third, taking the third position (1'21"013). Sergio Perez on soft tyres scores +0.269 in the second sector, +0.263 and steals the third position from George Russell (+0.735). It is Verstappen's turn. He scores a purple in the first sector, +0.118 in the second, +0.197 in the third, closes his lap in 1'20"475 and takes the second position (+0.197). Meanwhile, in the Haas garage, the mechanics are fixing the rear part of Schumacher's car before the qualifying at 4:00 p.m. Hamilton's DRS has been recharged, so the Mercedes driver tries again and records +0.068 in the first sector, +0.698 in the second, and +0.892, taking the sixth position (+0.892) at Russell's back. Kevin Magnussen closes his lap in 1'20"646 and takes the fifth position. Carlos Sainz tries again. He scores -0.074 in the first sector, -0.064 in the second and -0.149 in the third, taking the lead with 1.20.129. However, it lasts a few instants. Charles Leclerc scores -0.240 in the second sector and -0.357 in the third and closes his lap in 1'19"772.
"The sectors you gave me, is that to the fastest or to?"
Says Hamilton to the radio team. They reply and explain:
"that's to George. So that's best sectors to George".
And Lewis says:
"I only ever want to know the fastest".
Hamilton starts again. The British driver scores +0.589 in the second sector and +1.118 and takes the seventh position (+1.118). Daniel Ricciardo scores 1.858 in the second, +2.966 in the third. The Australian driver closes in 1'22"738 and takes the thirteenth position. Alex Albon starts his lap. He scores +0.146 in the first sector, +1.099 in the second and +1.800 in the third sector. The Thailandese driver finishes in 1'21"572 in the eleventh position. Valtteri Bottas finishes in 1'20"781 in the sixth position. George Russell gets a purple in the first sector compared to Leclerc's time, -0.022 in the second sector, and takes the second position (+0.148). Fernando Alonso starts his lap. The Spaniard driver scores +0.390 in the first sector, +1.460 in the second, +2.417 and finishes in the thirteenth position (+2.003). The two Ferraris start the race pace simulation at 11 minutes to the end of free practices and seem to have solved their issues. Meanwhile, Max Verstappen starts his lap. The Netherlands driver scores -0.243 in the first sector, -0.030 in the second, +0.072 and climbs to the second position (1'19"844) at ten minutes to go. Lewis Hamilton scores 22.1 in the first sector, -0.138 in the second, +0.230 and finishes in 1'20"002 in the third position, behind George Russell. Sergio Perez scores in the second sector -0.018, in the third +0.488 and finishes in the sixth position (1'20"260).
Esteban Ocon climbs to the ninth position (1'20"882). Lando Norris tries again, finishes in 1'20"403 and climbs in the seventh position. Daniel Ricciardo tries again at 3 minutes to the end. He scores -0.097 in the first sector, +0.562 in the second, does not improve and remains eleventh. Fernando Alonso scores 1'20"981 and remains thirteenth. At 1 minute to the end of the free practice, Kevin Magnussen finishes in 1'25"931 and takes the eighth position. The FP3 ends and Charles Leclerc confirms himself as the leader of all the FP3 sessions at 1'19"772. Max Verstappen is in the second position (+0.072), followed by the two Mercedes of George Russell (+0.148) and Lewis Hamilton (+0.230). Carlos Sainz is fifth (+0.357), followed by Sergio Perez (+0.488), Lando Norris (+0.631), and Kevin Magnussen (+0.874). Valtteri Bottas is in the ninth position (+1.009), at his back, Esteban Ocon (+1.110), Daniel Ricciardo (+1.138), Sebastian Vettel (+1.172), Fernando Alonso (+1.209), Zhou Guanyu (+1.429) and Yuki Tsunoda (+1.677). Lance Stroll is in the sixteenth position (+1.748), followed by Alex Albon (+1.800), Nicholas Latifi (+2.647), Mick Schumacher (+5.695), the only driver with the medium tyres, and Pierre Gasly with no time.
At 4:00 p.m., the qualifying for the fiftieth Grand Prix of Spain starts. The air temperature is 35 °C, with 20% of humidity, while the track temperature is 50 °C. Indeed, these conditions make the asphalt extremely abrasive. Mercedes seems to have solved the purposing issues almost at Ferrari and Red Bull's levels. The Haas team is still working on Mick's car after the fire from the rear braking system in FP3. Mick is already in the car, ready to start and helps the mechanics to change the gear. The green light turns on, and the sixth qualifying of the season starts. Pierre Gasly and Zhou Guanyu open the dances with soft tyres. Zhou scores 22.757 in the first sector, 53.161 in the second and closes his first lap in 1'21"065. Gasly mark the records 22.694 in the first sector, 53.589 in the second and completes his first lap in 1'22"022, taking the second position. It seems his car is smocking. Yuki Tsunoda is faster than Pierre Gasly and takes the second position (+0.771). It is Red Bull's turn. Sergio Perez drives in -0.367 in the first sector, compared to Zhou's time, in -0.648 compared to Zhou's second sector (53.161), closes in -0.618 and takes the first position (1'20"447). Max Verstappen scores -0.232 in the first sector, -0.303 in the second, and -0.356 in the third. He is a tenth slower than during the last free practice session but manages to take the lead with 1'20"091 and takes the first position. Lance Stroll almost crashed Lando Norris going out from the boxes, and the McLaren driver complains about it with his team radio. The FIA stewards will investigate the unsafe release involving Norris and Stroll after the session.
Meanwhile, Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc are approaching the second sector. Sainz scores -0.55 in the second sector, -0.199 in the third, and puts his car in the first position (1'29"892). His teammate scores +0.046 in the second sector, -0.031 in the third and overthrows the lead (1'19"861). Lando Norris climbs the rank to the fifth position in 1'20"838. Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel are completing their laps. Lewis Hamilton closes in 1'20"252 in the fourth position, before Valtteri Bottas. George Russell steals the position from Lewis Hamilton (1'20"218) because he is a little bit quicker than Hamilton. The Aston Martins are not shining particularly. The car is version B, completely modified, which looks like the Mercedes cars but has the sidepods similar to those of the Red Bulls. Alex Albon climbs in thirteenth position at +1.784 gap from Charles Leclerc. Max Verstappen is third (+0.230). The two Mercedes are doing a good performance: George Russell is in fourth (+0.357), followed by Lewis Hamilton (+0.391). Valtteri Bottas is sixth (+0.494), followed by Sergio Perez, Zhou Guanyu, Lando Norris, Esteban Ocon and Kevin Magnussen. Fernando Alonso starts his lap: he scores +0.080 compared to Leclerc's 22.333 in the first sector, -0.591 in the second compared to Leclerc's 52.256, and finishes in 1'21"403 in the twelfth position. Yuki Tsunoda improves and climbs to the thirteenth position. Daniel Ricciardo is fifteenth (1'21"275), behind Sebastian Vettel in fourteenth position and Yuki Tsunoda in thirteenth.
"So we gonna get tight on time?"
Says Russell to his team radio because of Hamilton' slowing in the pit lane.
"We are going to miss the flag".
At five minutes to the end, Alex Albon, in the sixteenth position, Lance Stroll, Pierre Gasly, Mick Schumacher and Nicholas Latifi risk the exclusion from Q2. At 1 minute to the end of Q1, Schumacher tries to save himself from the elimination. He starts from the nineteenth position and scores -0.060 compared to Ricciardo's 22.425 in the first sector, -0.123 compared to Ricciardo's 52.918 in the second, -0.592 in the third and manages to take the eighth position. Lance Stroll scores in the second sector +0.103 and closes the lap in 1'21"418. Stroll improves but not enough to qualify for Q2 and puts his car in seventeenth position. Kevin Magnussen tries again, scores in the second sector +0.257 and climbs to the fifth position (1'20"227). Pierre Gasly manages to do some improvements: in the second sector he scores -0.208 and takes the eleventh position (1'20"719). Sebastian Vettel climbs into the fourteenth position and puts Fernando Alonso in the drop zone. Daniel Ricciardo improves and climbs from the sixteenth position to the tenth (1'20"549), eliminating Sebastian Vettel. Yuki Tsunoda manages to save himself from the elimination zone, taking the twelfth position (1'20"707) and putting Esteban Ocon in the elimination zone.
Ocon manages to get in fifteenth position (1'20"880) for less than a tenth from Sebastian Vettel (+0.074). Fernando Alonso did not finish his lap because Lando Norris overtook him as the McLaren driver was starting his last Q1 lap too. The Q1 ends, and the drivers who succeed in qualifying for Q2 are Charles Leclerc (1'19"861), followed by his teammate Carlos Sainz (+0.031). Max Verstappen (+0.230) is the third, and at his back, there is George Russell (+0.357), Kevin Magnussen (+0.366), Lewis Hamilton (+0.391), and Valtteri Bottas (+0.494). Sergio Perez (+0.586) is in the eighth position, followed by Zhou Guanyu (+0.615), Daniel Ricciardo (+0.688), Mick Schumacher (+0.822), Yuki Tsunoda (+0.846), Pierre Gasly (+0.858), Lando Norris (+0.977) and Esteban Ocon 1'20"880. Sebastian Vettel is the first of the excluded (+0.074). You must be kidding, says to his team radio when they told him that he would not drive in Q2. He does not believe that he is out. Fernando Alonso is out (+0.163), followed by Lance Stroll, Alex Albon and Nicholas Latifi. Sebastian Vettel is sad about today’s result as in free practice they had a better performance. He explains that today he struggled with the balance:
"We were looking stronger in free practice and I honestly thought we would do better in qualifying. This afternoon, however, I struggled with the balance: I had a lot more oversteer and could not really carry speed into the corners without losing the rear. Still, the team has done an incredible job to bring two all-new cars to this race - that was a huge effort. The reward of all that effort is not showing quite yet, but I am sure it will come. Tomorrow is a new day and we will be pushing hard. It does not help when you start farther back, but I think we should be able to make up some ground in the race".
Similar to his teammate, Lance Stroll had some issues with the balance of the B version of the Aston Martin car:
"It is a disappointing result today. I have struggled with the balance of the car all weekend and, when you do not feel comfortable, you cannot set fast laps. We know it is early days with this package, though, so we need to make sure that we understand the reasons for today and see how we can improve the set-up moving forward. Now, it is about focusing on tomorrow. The conditions are likely to be very hot and the tyres need to be managed, so maybe we can make up ground with a good strategy. We will see".
The Aston Martin team principal, Mike Krack, is of course disappointed with today’s result:
"Clearly, we are disappointed with today’s qualifying performance, having successfully got one of our cars through to Q3 in both of the last two Grands Prix - but, with today’s high temperatures, we had oversteer and traction issues. We will now work hard over the next few hours to give ourselves the best possible chance to score points in tomorrow’s race".
For Alonso qualifying was difficult and there was a bit of a misunderstanding on his Q1 final lap:
"It was a difficult qualifying session for me today and we had a bit of a misunderstanding on my final lap of Q1. I thought we had a one or two second margin to get across the line, but we actually had a twenty second margin in the end. It’s a high price to pay here because as we know it’s very difficult to overtake on this track. Let’s see tomorrow because in the last few races people who have started towards the back of the grid have had a well-timed Safety Car and then are inside the top ten. We need to hope for one of those tomorrow and maybe we get some luck and take some points. Today the car was not as fast as yesterday and we need to understand why that was the case".
Alex Albon says that today they struggled with the traffic at the end of the session:
"We really struggled with traffic at the end of that session; it’s always an issue when there are a lot of cars out on track. I’d had a couple of decent runs and I felt like the car was in a good place after the work we’d done to resolve some issues. There was more pace in the car today, but when I came out for my final run there was a traffic jam which made things messy and meant I couldn’t improve on my final time. It’s frustrating as the car and the tyres were performing, so I’m disappointed that we didn’t get a more representative result".
Nicholas Latifi forecasts that tomorrow’s race will be difficult for every team because of weather conditions:
"I think tomorrow will be a very long race for everyone. It’s going to be the hottest day tomorrow and high tyre degradation will be an issue up and down the pit lane, irrespective of pace, so if anyone gets that wrong it can create a lot of opportunities, so there is still reason to remain optimistic. It was very tricky today - we were really struggling yesterday and overnight we made changes to try to go in the right direction and the car was more normal to how it tends to be in qualifying today - but we are still lacking pace and missing a lot in the high-speed corners".
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance explains that yesterday night they made some changes to improve the balance of both cars:
"Having struggled yesterday, we made some changes to the cars overnight, which improved the balance for both drivers. In FP3 we focused on tyre preparation in the hot conditions and found a good window that both drivers were comfortable with. Although the car was performing better today, we knew that to make progress in Qualifying we would need to get absolutely everything out of the car and tyres, and so we opted to run Alex at the very end of the session".
Then he complains these changes were not enough because both drivers had problems with traffic that undermined their chance to improve:
“Unfortunately, an unnecessary traffic jam in the pit exit held him up and compromised his track position, which prevented him from improving his lap time. Nicholas tried the opposite strategy and ran early for the final run, which enabled him to have a clean lap and set a good time. Unfortunately, we are just not quick enough this weekend and we will have to be opportunistic tomorrow if we are to get something from the race".
Aside from Fernando Alonso (Alpine), two Aston Martins and two Williams are excluded. The FIA stewards decided that no further investigation was needed for the case of impeding between Alonso and Norris during Alonso’s last lap. The green light turns on and the Q2 starts. None is out on the track, the teams are likely either thinking about doing just one run to save the tyres. Before qualifying, the situation was the same for all the teams: 1 set of hard, 2 mediums and 4 softs. The major teams (Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes) have just used a set of soft tyres. Indeed, the two Ferraris, Max Verstappen, Zhou Guanyu and Yuki Tsunoda, are on used tyres to save the tyres. At 11 minutes to go, someone is getting back to the track: Ferrari, McLaren, AlphaTauri, and Mercedes. Lewis Hamilton is the first to start: he scores 22.115 in the first sector, 51.838 in the second, drifts in exiting the chicane and closes in 1'19"794. He takes the lead temporarily, but George Russell scores 21.995 in the first sector, 51.771 in the second, closes in 1'19"470 and takes the lead. Mick Schumacher finishes his lap and takes the third position (1'20"436), while Valtteri Bottas do a good performance (fifth 0.583). The two Haas are eighth and ninth, and Lando Norris is the last driver to qualify. Carlos Sainz scores +0.715 in the second, +0.916 in the third and takes the fifth position (1'20"386), behind Valtteri Bottas. (0.583). Sergio Perez closes his lap in 1'19"830 in the third position (+0.360).
Charles Leclerc is slower than George Russell is by two tenths in the first sector, scores +0.373 in the second and -0.499 in the third, and takes the fourth position (1'19"969), making all the drivers beyond slip of one place. Max Verstappen scores +0.541 in the second and +0.639 and takes the sixth position (1'20"109). Five minutes to go and Daniel Ricciardo, Esteban Ocon, Zhou Guanyu, and the two AlphaTauri are in the drop zone. Mick Schumacher, the two Ferrari and Max Verstappen go back to the garages. Verstappen is again out on the track with new tyres. Charles Leclerc and his team decide that the driver will remain at the box and will not run anymore in Q2 for today. It seems to be a strategy to save a set of new tyres. Pierre Gasly’s team radio warns the driver that it is not allowed to stop or slow in the pit lane while it is permitted on the track. At two minutes to go, everyone is out except Charles Leclerc, who is in fourth position. Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz are out on new soft tyres. The Ferrari driver scores +0.085 compared to Russell’s 21.995 in the first sector, +0.128, -0.017 and takes in the first position 1'19"453. Mick Schumacher scores 0.886 in the second sector and seems not to improve in ninth. In the third, he scores +1.115 and takes the ninth position (+1.20.568). Charles Leclerc slips into the fifth position.
Kevin Magnussen is temporarily in the eighth position, and Charles Leclerc is fifth. Pierre Gasly completes the first sector in +0.243 and the second in +0.313; he is improving but not threatening Leclerc’s position. Indeed, Pierre takes the thirteenth position, so he is excluded from Q3 (1'20"861). Yuki Tsunoda puts his car before Pierre Gasly’s one, but he is excluded in twelfth position (1'20"639). Kevin Magnussen climbs to the fourth in 1'19"810, making Charles Leclerc slip to the sixth position. Zhou Guanyu scores 1'21"094 and takes the fifteenth position. Daniel Ricciardo manages to save himself from the drop zone and takes the ninth position (1'20"287), putting his teammate in the elimination zone in eleventh position. However, Lando Norris crosses the finish line and climbs to the seventh position (1'19"977), putting Mick Schumacher in the drop zone. Max Verstappen closes his lap in 1'19"219 and takes the lead in Q2. When Q2 stops, Charles Leclerc is in sixth position. Carlos Sainz is second (+0.234), followed by George Russell (+0.251), Lewis Hamilton (+0.575), and Kevin Magnussen (+0.591). Lando Norris is in eighth position (+0.758), followed by Valtteri Bottas (+0.834), the only Alfa Romeo driver who qualified for Q2. In last position is Daniel Ricciardo, with 1.20.287, while the drivers excluded are Mick Schumacher (+0.149), Ocon (+0.351), Yuki Tsunoda (+0.352), Pierre Gasly (+0.574), and Zhou (+0.807). However, Norris’ time is eliminated for track limits at turn 12, lap 12. Therefore, Mick Schumacher is saved from the drop zone.
Sorry for the car, Pierre, says the team to Gasly. Yeah, At least, we tried, replies the driver. Then he explains that they have struggled all the weekend and had issues in FP3 on the out-lap. This costed him the chance to drive through all session:
"We’ve been struggling all weekend and then we had the issue in FP3 on the out-lap which meant we couldn’t run at all that session. I want to say a big thank you to all the mechanics that put the car back together in time for Quali today, as there was a lot of work involved. We’ve lacked pace on this track, so we wanted to try some things this morning but unfortunately that wasn’t possible. So, we thought we would try something different for Quali, aiming to get some extra speed from the car, but it just didn’t work and it was a difficult session. It didn’t pay off, but tomorrow is another day and ultimately where we score points. It’s going to be a pretty long race, particularly with the degradation as we think there will be a lot of stops, so I think there will be opportunities to move forward and head towards the points".
Yuki Tsunoda is happy with today’s results, considering the issues they had during the free practices:
"I think we extracted the maximum from the car today, so I have to be happy with that. I’ve been on the back foot from FP1, as we’ve really struggled with pace here in Barcelona, especially compared to Miami, so we thought from the beginning that getting through to Q3 would be difficult. It’s not been the best weekend so far for the team, but hopefully we can put it altogether for the race tomorrow".
Jody Egginton, Technical Director, says that today’s results do not reflect what they would like:
"Today has been difficult, we are not where we wanted to be with the car here in Barcelona. Both the drivers have worked hard to get the most from the car in Qualifying, but with the balance not quite where it needs to be it’s not been possible to progress beyond Q2 on this occasion and this is something we are focused on addressing. The engineers will continue to look for improvements we can make for the race so this, together with the pre-race strategy work, will be the focus tonight. Unfortunately, we are starting outside of the top 10, although overtaking is historically not that easy here, we will be looking for any opportunity to get our cars moving forward tomorrow. The target is to get into points scoring positions with both cars, in what is likely to be a tight race in the midfield".
Esteban Ocon is frustrated because the car could have shown more potential:
"It’s not been an ideal day for us today and definitely frustrating as we know there was more performance to unlock from the car. Our tyres were overheating a little bit throughout qualifying as we maintained the minimum out-lap speed, but it was going to be a tough challenge to reach Q3. A range of strategies are possible for us tomorrow so that makes things interesting for the race. We can pretty much play with all tyre combinations and we know strategy will be very important for our day to go well. I’ll start the race in a better position than I did in Miami so we’re going to go out there and see what we can do to come out with points".
Otmar Szafnauer, Alpine's Team Principal, is sad because this qualyfing does not reflect the potential of Alpine’s car, especially after the good results in Friday Practice. On Fernando’s side, he explains that it is all about timing issues that made him misplaced in traffic on his out lap and that ultimately compromised his qualifying effort.
"We feel frustrated by today’s Qualifying outcome as that was not where we hoped to be, and it does not reflect the true potential of our car after a promising Friday Practice yesterday. Unfortunately, we have neither car inside the top ten for contrasting reasons. On Fernando’s side, quite simply, there was a problem with timings, which meant he was misplaced in traffic on his out lap and that ultimately compromised his qualifying effort. Esteban was able to progress through Q1 and ran strongly in Q2, adhering to the minimum out-lap speed on his runs where a significant number of his direct competitors did not. In the end, he fell just short of reaching the top ten and we will look into some of the factors that contributed to this deficit, as we feel we had the pace to be in Q3. Tomorrow is a new day. We were left feeling disappointed in Miami after Qualifying last time out and we enjoyed a strong race on Sunday, so all is not over yet. We’ll do our best on strategy and I’m sure both Fernando and Esteban will be determined to bounce back in tomorrow’s race".
Lando Norris, complaining about how things went despite the good pace the car had, says:
"It’s been a frustrating end to what was otherwise a quite promising day. From what I could see in the cockpit, I thought I was inside the line but unfortunately I wasn’t, and so I had the lap deleted. It is frustrating, because we had good pace in the car, and we could have been two or three positions higher. Overtaking is difficult in Barcelona and it’s not going to be an easy race - but hopefully we can make up a few positions and have a good Spanish Grand Prix".
Zhou Guanyu is optimistic about tomorrow:
"I’m optimistic about tomorrow’s race, as we definitely have the pace to fight for the top ten, but I’m convinced we could have battled for P10 or P11 today. We wanted to avoid the situation we had in Miami, where we got stuck in traffic at the end of Q1, so we chose to go for three runs on soft tyres in the first part of qualifying. It was the safe choice although, in hindsight, my second lap would have been enough to get into Q2. The second segment was always going to be tricky, with no fresh tyres, but that is what we had and we got the most out of it. We’ll aim to make up some ground tomorrow and end in the top ten at the end of the day".
The Q3 starts. Both Ferraris and Max Verstappen are on new tyres while Mick Schumacher is on used tyres. Ten minutes to go, and Lewis Hamilton starts his lap. The Mercedes driver scores 22.097 in the first sector, 51.711 in the second, and finishes in 1'19"664, taking the lead. Carlos Sainz closes the first sector in 22.176, 51.821 in the second, and finishes in 1'19"425, stealing the first position from Lewis Hamilton. Charles Leclerc scores 22.105 in the first sector and 51.890 in the second. Then, he suddenly spins his car, so does not complete the lap and returns to the garage, even if scored two purples. It seems that in Turn 14, Leclerc crossed the curbs with the left front rear and his car slipped and spun. Sergio Perez takes the second position (1'19"486), while Max Verstappen overthrows Carlos Sainz and takes the pole position in 1'19"073. Carlos Sainz slips to the second position (+0.350), followed by Sergio Perez (+0.413), George Russel (0.530) and Lewis Hamilton (0.591), Valtteri Bottas (0.783), Daniel Ricciardo (1.224), Kevin Magnussen (2.278) and Mick Schumacher (2.700). Charles Leclerc and Daniel Ricciardo have scored no time yet. Daniel Ricciardo scores 1'20"297 and climbs to the seventh position. Carlos Sainz goes back to the garage, and Charles Leclerc is in the tenth position with no time.
At 3 and half minutes to the end of Q3, Charles gets back to the track to warm up the tyres. At 1.40 minutes to the end, he starts his lap. In the first sector, scores +0.026 compared to Max Verstappen’s 21.978, -0.248 compared to Max’s 51.662, and achieves -0.323 compared to Verstappen’s time. With 1'18"750, Charles Leclerc conquers the pole position. Carlos Sainz starts a few seconds later than his teammate. The Spaniard driver scores +0.211 in the first sector, +0.110 in the second, and 0.416, finishing in 1'19"166 in the third position. Max Verstappen raises the foot from the pedal because he has no power in Turn 3. Lewis Hamilton is in fifth position (0.762), but George Russell is almost flying in the first sector. Meanwhile, Sergio Perez takes the fourth position (+0.416), but George Russell steals it from him with 1'19"393 (+0.643). Lewis Hamilton is sixth (0.762), Valtteri Bottas (0.858), Kevin Magnussen (0.932), Daniel Ricciardo ninth and Mick Schumacher tenth. Charles Leclerc did a kind of magic after the spin. The Monegasque driver did not complete a lap twice today, the first in Q2 for a strategic reason and the second in Q3 because he spun. Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen get off the cars and greet each other. Lapo Elkann, with a yellow Ferrari suit, goes to congrats Mattia Binotto and kisses him on the cheek. At the end of qualyfing, Charles Leclerc explains that he had some difficulties, especially with the tyres, during the first two FP:
"We really turned things around since yesterday and our team did an amazing job. We struggled a lot in the first two practice sessions this weekend, especially with the tyres. We analysed all the data and made significant changes to the car last night. We saw some improvements this morning when we did a long run and hopefully it will be enough to beat our competitors who have had an advantage in this area for the past two races. As far as qualifying goes, it was a tricky session. I think that my first lap in Q3 was great until I pushed a little too much in turn 14 and lost the rear. I had just one shot to bring it home after that and I’m very happy with my lap and our performance in general".
Carlos Sainz is satisfied with today’s position:
"Overall P3 is a decent result for tomorrow and we feel positive for the race, as the upgrades seem to be working well. We still struggle a bit with the rear being very light in this car, so I’m not driving it exactly the way I would like to. However, we still managed to grab P3, which is a good position to attack tomorrow. We’ll give everything from there to fight for the win. A big thank you to the mechanics for their hard work overnight to change the chassis and also to every fan out there in the grandstands for their incredible support. Let’s race tomorrow".
Laurent Mekies, Racing Director, is happy with today’s results:
"There were several positives to take from today, first and foremost Charles’ qualifying, which I think was simply amazing. Already on the lap on which he spun, he looked to be on course for pole position and afterwards, he did very well to keep calm and concentrate, putting together a fantastic lap. Carlos also did very well. He has been quick all weekend and this afternoon, he was on the pace, just missing out on the front row by less than a tenth. We expected it to be a very close competition with our main rivals as usual and so it was, with Verstappen qualifying between Charles and Carlos. Another positive aspect was that the risk we took with Charles in Q2 paid off as it gives us greater flexibility tomorrow in terms of his strategy, with an extra set of new Softs. Well done also to the team, who worked late into the night to fix the problems on Carlos’ car and to everyone in Maranello for their efforts in fine tuning the updates introduced at this race. They worked, although we believe it will take a few more races to get the most out of them. We can be happy with how today went, but we are not getting carried away when it comes to tomorrow’s race. It’s possible our rivals could be more competitive tomorrow than they were today and I think that any aspect, from the start to tyre degradation, which will probably be the highest we have seen so far this season, could make the difference".
Max Verstappen is relieved with today’s result because of the issues he had:
"We are starting second tomorrow which we can be happy about but it was a bit of a shame with the last run. The DRS didn’t open so I backed out and aborted the lap as I was losing a lot of time, three or four tenths. That meant we didn’t get the opportunity to fight for pole, nevertheless, we will give it a good go tomorrow. Ferrari are looking pretty strong so it will be hard to beat them, they did a long run this morning and it looked strong. Tyre management is going to be really important tomorrow with the heat and you also need overall race pace. Hopefully we’ll have more pace tomorrow and there’s a long run into turn one so a lot can happen".
Sergio Perez is not satisfied because he could have done more, especially in Q3:
"Today was tough, there was more to give, especially on my final run in Q3, we tried something different with the set-up and it felt a bit awkward, so I didn’t get a great lap. I have felt like I have been struggling throughout the weekend, I haven’t been comfortable, we tried some things on the car and the pace was there but I couldn’t quite make it work to put that lap together today. It’s not an ideal result but I think we will have good race pace and we will push from the start. I still think we can fight from fifth, tomorrow is a long race and anything can happen. I think it is going to be very hot, especially for the tyres, degradation will be high so it will be an interesting one. Ferrari were very strong today so we will see what we are able to do against them come race day, hopefully we are able to get them back. Tomorrow is a different situation and our long runs have looked good in practice so we can be confident".
The Red Bull's Team Principal, Christian Horner, is overall satisfied with Max’s grid position, considering the issues he had with the DRS, which meant he didn’t get the chance to reply to that final lap from Charles Leclerc. However, he adds that even without that issues they would not have equated to the Ferrari team’s results but they would have been closer.
"I’m pleased we will start from the front row tomorrow with Max in P2, as he had a DRS issue on his final lap which meant he didn’t get the chance to reply to that final lap from Charles. While I don’t think we had enough to beat his time today, I do think we’d have been closer without that issue. It shows that it’s such fine margins in this sport and that’s the same with Checo, he didn’t quite nail Sector One which means he starts from P5, but he’ll race ok from there. In these temperatures it’s all going to be about tyre degradation and management, so I think it will be a very close and fascinating race tomorrow".
On the McLaren’ side, Daniel Ricciardo is happy with his participation in Q3:
"It was a pretty good session. I’m happy with Q3. I think that was our target, for sure, so we had our work cut-out for us. I think it was a pretty tricky weekend so far, just trying to understand the new parts on the car - but I’m relatively happy to get into Q3 and just get on top of it enough to do that. I think we’re still fighting a little bit in some areas so I’m just trying to perfect it - but on paper ninth is a solid place to start, and we’ll keep chipping away. So hopefully we’ll keep finding bits and pieces and get some solid points tomorrow".
James Key, McLaren's Executive Technical Director, says that this weekend the team has brought new developments for the car and they spent yesterday’s free practice sessions optimising and upgrading their work:
"This has been a busy weekend, we brought a lot of new developments for the car here at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Much of yesterday was spent trying to understand and optimise our upgrade, and there was a great deal of work overnight to analyse it. In FP3 this afternoon we made the progress we hoped for and were able to start exploiting the performance gain we were expecting, so far everything has correlated well, but there is still a little work to do to get the most from our new parts. This afternoon was a mixed bag. Daniel did a great job to get through to Q3 and will start P9, Lando was unlucky to lose his Q2 lap, running a fraction beyond the track limits and sadly losing a lap good enough to put him into the top 10 today. He’s only dropped to P11, however, and he can achieve plenty from there tomorrow, there’s everything to play for. Our set-up is race-biased rather than qualifying-biased, so we’re hopeful of making good progress”.
George Russell is satisfied with today’s results. According to him, it was the best qualifying position of the season. He recognises that there is a big gap with Ferrari’s pace but the car is finally showing its potential:
"Today was a good step in the right direction. It's our best qualifying position as a team this season, ahead of one Red Bull, and a positive session for us as we've finally got a good baseline. The pace gap to Ferrari on pole is still big, but there was more potential for us, too - the tyres were not in a perfect window and that made it tricky, especially in Q3. There's a long race ahead tomorrow and I think we'll be in a better place then - while some of the cars around us are a bit of an unknown. And on the development, we've finally now got a good baseline, and we need to continue this path and find more performance".
Lewis Hamilton underlines that there are no more issues with bouncing on the straights but some there are still on the turns:
"We've made steps forward this weekend and I'm very proud of the team for all the work they have done. The car is on longer bouncing on the straights, but we still have some in the corners, so we need to keep working. Overall, it's a positive step to be in Q3 with both cars, and looking at George's time, we are getting closer to the front. It was a confusing session out there as we had been given a delta time to respect in qualifying for the out laps - and not everybody was doing so. The cars that followed the guidance had a performance disadvantage as the tyres were hotter starting the timed lap, so hopefully that will be examined properly. Looking ahead to the race, we had decent long runs yesterday, and we know the conditions will be very hot - my target will be to go forward from P6".
The Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff, says:
"P4 and P6 are probably the best positions we could have expected to slot into today, given the challenges we have faced in the first five race weekends, and the progress we are now starting to make with the car. I believe we have a race car more than a qualifying car, so we will see how that goes tomorrow; the trend has generally been for Red Bull to be stronger in the race, Ferrari less so, but who knows what will happen tomorrow. Overall, I think we have made a solid step forward this weekend, and we know how to unlock more performance, too. Our rivals have continued development while we have paused to solve the bouncing - so when we pick that up and start to better understand the tyres now the bouncing is gone, then I think we will be closing them down".
For Andrew Shovlin it is disappointing not to have both cars in better grid positions, taking into account how much progress they have made. However, he recognises that:
"It's frustrating not to be closer to the front; we've clearly made progress with the car, but we were getting a bit of overheating in the final sector and once it starts, the sliding generates more temperature, and the problem compounds itself. That explains a good proportion of the gap but no doubt we've also got a bit to come on the setup. It's a very different package that we have brought here and we're still learning how to get the most out of it. We're looking forward to tomorrow, our long run looked a more competitive than single lap yesterday so hopefully we can put some pressure on the cars ahead of us and the high degradation should give some interesting options on strategy. Considering the gaps that we were looking at in the last few races, we never expected to close up in a single step so while we can't be satisfied with fourth and sixth, it is at least encouraging that we have a car that is behaving in a more predictable way and that we are making steps in the right direction".
On Alpha Romeo’ side, Valtteri Bottas is happy about today’s results. The Finnish driver explains that the team did not expect that the car would have behaved well on this track:
"I am happy about today’s result, we had a strong qualifying and we are in a really good place for tomorrow. In theory, we didn’t expect this track to suit us too well, but I think the upgrades gave us a good step forward in terms of performance. We had a solid FP3, which allowed us to make up some of the ground we lost yesterday, and we were quite consistent in each run throughout the day. I am glad we qualified well as I don’t think it will be easy to overtake on this track: I think P7 was the best result we could get today so I am happy we have achieved it - actually, the gap to the cars in front is not that big! Our car is usually better in the race, so we could be in for a good Sunday".
Frédéric Vasseur adds that P7 is the best possible result for day and Valtteri’s performance was impressive:
"The team bounced back really strongly from a challenging Friday, and this clearly shows we are not letting any adversity get in the way of our work. On this day, P7 on the grid was the best possible result and Valtteri delivered an impressive lap to bring home this result. He will be in an excellent position to fight for a points finish - and so will be Zhou, who showed really good pace so far this weekend. We know our car tends to be stronger in race trim, so both drivers will be in a condition to battle the cars around them and hopefully bring home some more points".
Kevin Magnussen is really happy about today’s results:
"I’m very happy with that. Two cars in Q3 for the first time this year just shows that the car is very good. It’s been interesting because a lot of teams brought upgrades this weekend and it doesn’t seem like they’ve found a huge amount and we seemed to have also found a little bit, even without upgrades and just in the set-up. We had a DRS issue, which cost me some lap time, how much I don’t know, but it was close to the top-five and there was more in it. We start P8 tomorrow, let’s go for points".
Mick Schumacher recognises the efforts the team did to overcome the difficulties they had this weekend, especially after not having driven in FP3:
"We’re obviously happy about getting into Q3. Even though it didn’t really look like we were on the pace, we still managed to do well. Not having driven FP3 definitely put a spanner in the works but we managed to overcome it, so I’m very happy about today and very thankful for the team. It felt great knowing that we haven’t brought any updates and a bunch of teams have, knowing that we’re still in that ballpark is definitely a good feeling".
A very good result today and a pretty nerve-racking day in total, says Guenther Steiner, who compliments his team for their amazing job, especially after Mick‘s issue:
"A very good result today and a pretty nerve-racking day in total. In FP3 Mick had the issue with his rear brakes and the hard work the guys had to do to get the car ready for qualifying - they did a terrific job to get it there just in time and you can’t ask for more of the team. In qualifying, two Haas cars in Q3 for the first time since 2019! For the whole team, I think it shows that we’ve made progress in the last races and it’s fantastic. Kevin had a few issues with DRS and that maybe hindered a little bit of what could’ve been a better result, but we are happy with this result today".
Finally, Mario Isola, Motorsport Director, explains the teams’ tyres strategies in the specific weather conditions on the track. He underlines that managing the soft tyres was crucial to exploit the potential fully. He also speaks about Leclerc’s calculated risk to drive just one run in Q2, which will give him more options tomorrow. Regarding the race, he thinks that:
"It was a hot and tough qualifying session, where managing the soft tyre was crucial in order to extract every last bit of performance. Not only that, but strategy played an important part and Leclerc’s calculated risk to complete only one run in Q2 - a decision that was also taken by Mercedes - could give him some different options. Degradation will definitely be a factor tomorrow, with temperatures predicted to be perhaps even hotter than today, so this is likely to be the most challenging race of the year for tyres so far, where management and strategy will be key to success. One interesting thing we saw today was FP3: often this is focussed on preparation for qualifying, but today we saw lots of teams optimising set-up and balance in the light of the degradation experienced yesterday".
On Sunday, the two Ferraris will start from the pole position: Charles Leclerc in P1 (1'18"750) and Carlos Sainz in P3 (1'19"166). Max Verstappen will be in the middle in P2 (1'19"073) and George Russell will start from P4 (1'19"393), followed by Sergio Perez in P5 (1'19"420). Lewis Hamilton conquered the P6 (1'19"512). At his back, the ex-teammate Valtteri Bottas in P7 (1.19.608), followed by Kevin Magnussen in P8 (1'19"682). Daniel Ricciardo managed to qualify among the top ten drives in P9 (1'20"297) and at one-tenth of the McLaren driver, Mick Schumacher will take the P10 (1'20"368). The sixth stop of the 2022 season is the Spanish Grand Prix. On Sunday, May 22, 2022, the climate is very hot and the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is full of fans of all teams, even if Carlos Sainz and Fernando Alonso are the most awaited drivers. Alonso is set to start at the back, because of the new power unit mounted on his car; Sainz is third, behind Max Verstappen and team mate Charles Leclerc. Behind them are Russell, Sergio Perez and Lewis Hamilton. With an air temperature of 36 °C degrees Celsius and track temperature of 49 °C degrees, the lights go out and the Gran Prix starts. Charles Leclerc immediately takes the command, but Max Verstappen is alongside him into Turn 1. Carlos Sainz falls to fifth, overtaken by George Russell and Sergio Perez.
Kevin Magnussen tries to challenge Lewis Hamilton into Turn 4 but the two bang wheels, so the Haas driver ends in the gravel and falls to last place, while, after pitting, Lewis Hamilton emerges nineteenth. Charles Leclerc is in the lead with Max Verstappen on his tail, while George Russell manages to stay third. Further down, Esteban Ocon overtakes Daniel Ricciardo on the main straight, while Fernando Alonso is up to fourteenth. One lap later, Esteban Ocon takes the position off Mick Schumacher, and a little later Fernando Alonso with DRS passes on Sebastian Vettel for the thirteenth position. On lap 7, at Turn 4, Carlos Sainz spins and falls from fifth to eleventh, but fortunately he avoids the barriers. Two laps later, Max Verstappen goes off at the same corner, finishing in fourth position behind team mate Sergio Perez. Charles Leclerc is running comfortably in the lead, while behind him Sergio Perez is trying to take the position off George Russell. The British driver manages to stand up to both Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen. On lap 11 Carlos Sainz, Fernando Alonso, Pierre Gasly, and Zhou Guanyu pit for mediums and one lap later, Daniel Ricciardo passes to softs and Alex Albon to mediums; then, also Lando Norris takes the mediums and Mick Schumacher softs. On lap 14, Max Verstappen and George Russell are called in to pit for mediums, and the Mercedes emerges ahead of the Red Bull. Two laps later, Max Verstappen is right on George Russell’s tail, but when he presses the DRS button, the system only works for a little before closing again.
Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez are still in the first two positions, the Ferrari driver over 16 seconds ahead of the Red Bull driver, who has not stopped yet. The Mexican driver finally swaps for mediums on lap 18 and emerges fourth. At the same time, Carlos Sainz is trying to move up, going to seventh position after the first pit stops. On lap 19, George Russell is still keeping the Red Bull back, thanks to his solid performance and the progress from Mercedes. With 27 seconds of detachment from George Russell, Charles Leclerc is called into the pits, emerging still first, with a five-second lead. Also Sebastian Vettel pits, after having moved from sixteenth to eighth position. Max Verstappen is still on George Russell’s tail, with DRS still non working: it does not open to give him that extra burst of pace. At the same time, the Red Bull team is trying to make a diagnosis. On lap 24, the Dutch driver almost makes it past at Turn 1, but George Russell is holding firm. The following corners still see the hard battle between the two, though they are close to making contact at Turn 3. Charles Leclerc’s command seems assured until lap 27, when the monegasque driver screams "No!" on the radio as the car goes slow: Ferrari mechanics wait him in the pits but he is forced to retire. The following lap sees Max Verstappen attacking George Russell for the lead, until he is called in the pits for softs.
On lap 31, Sergio Perez manages to overtake the leading Britishman, taking the lead. Max Verstappen emerges fourth and at Turn 12 passes Valtteri Bottas and gets back to the third position. Carlos Sainz pits for mediums, while the Red Bulls seem to run for victory. Geroge Russell pits for medium and emerges third, and one lap later Sergio Perez does the same, emerging ahead of him. Also Max Verstappen is swapped for mediums; he emerges second, with only 5.5 seconds of detachment from the leader. Two laps later, Sergio Perez is ordered to let his team mate pass, but he says that this order is unfair. On lap 49, he complies and Verstappen thanks him before taking the lead. The Red Bull driver wins the Spanish Gran Prix retaking the championship lead. Perez pits again on lap 54, going for softs and taking fastest lap. At the end he takes the second position giving Red Bull their second one-two of the season. Russell completes the podium and Lewis Hamilton takes the 5th position and Driver of The Day: the seven-time champion made an excellent recovery. Sainz ends fourth, after passing Bottas and Hamilton. Valtteri Bottas, who put in place a two-stop strategy, finishes sixth, ahead of Esteban Ocon, seventh for Alpine. Lando Norris, despite suffering from illness, started eleventh but finishes eighth on the same strategy as Esteban Ocon, while Fernando Alonso takes ninth from last on the grid with a similar strategy.
Yuki Tsunoda also used the three-stop strategy and takes the tenth place, keeping Sebastian Vettel out of the points in eleventh position. Daniel Ricciardo misses out on points in twelfth position as he could not keep pace with his team mate, while Mick Schumacher dropped to fourteenth at the end. In fifteenth is Lance Stroll, after taking damage in a duel with 13th-place Pierre Gasly. Nicholas Latifi takes the sixteenth position, while team mate Alex Albon is eighteenth with a five-second track limits penalty adding insult to injury. Between them is Kevin Magnussen. Obviously, Zhou Guanyu and Charles Leclerc did not see the chequered flag. Max Verstappen was second in the early stages of the race, then he finished in the gravel and ran in fourth position. He tried to recover with an intermittently working DRS, but after a pit stop, he came back through the field to take his third win:
"It’s great to finish the race today alongside Checo with a first and second place, it was a difficult beginning but a good end! I went off in turn four, I completely lost the rear and they said on Team radio that it was a big gust of wind. I lost a few positions through that and as soon as I wanted to attack, my DRS stopped working. It was upsetting at the time but then I calmed myself down and focussed on the bigger picture. It was a tough battle with George Russell, especially without the DRS, I didn’t want to take too much of a risk as we were fighting for the lead, I had to be patient. As for the DRS, I’m not sure why there’s an issue, we’ll look into it and at the end of the day nothing was lost. We are on a good trajectory and we can be proud of that as a Team, but as you can see, some things are fragile and we need to keep on working hard, we have to be on top of everything".
Sergio Perez had a good start despite the little contact with George Russell, and was the leader of the race for a lot, but then was asked to let his team mate pass. The Mexican driver ended second and took the bonus point for fastest lap:
"It’s a great result, we are leading the Constructors Championship so, although I obviously want to win, I have to be realistic and I am happy with the Team result. My frustration on the radio was in the heat of the moment but I need to speak with the Team to understand a few bits from the race. Sometimes when you are driving you can’t get the full picture, so it is a normal thing to debrief things to understand the race. The Team momentum couldn’t be any better here, it is a great Team and we are very united. It wasn’t about Team orders today, what really changed my race was going onto different tyre strategies and that worked better for Max and, at the end of the day, the Team because we managed to both get past George. I could have won today but making the two-stop work was difficult and it turned out that the three-stop was the better strategy. I think we had a very strong race today, the race pace and management from us was great today and it was important not to make mistakes. Hopefully we continue this momentum on to Monaco and are strong next weekend too".
The Red Bull's Team Principal, Christian Horner, is satisfied about the result of the team:
"It is fantastic for the Team to bring home our second 1-2 finish in three races, which was hugely important for us in the fight for both Championships. Both drivers got great starts and things were settling down quite nicely, but a massive gust of wind sent Max into a slide and that dropped him down to fourth. We already knew he had a DRS issue, so at that point we decided to convert him to a three-stop strategy and give him tyre advantage over Leclerc and Russell - but we were still undecided whether a two or three stop was the better choice at that stage. With Checo on a two-stop strategy it meant both drivers were working as a Team and covering the opposition. To get maximum points today was our aim, it was hugely important for us as a Team and I’m glad we were all able to work together to achieve that".
As for Mercedes, both drivers made good starts. George Russell did everything to keep Max Verstappen behind, but in the end did not have the pace to live with the Red Bulls. Despite this, it is to be said that third and a second podium of the season is a very solid result:
"Today was super tough! I'm just so proud to be standing here on the podium and bring it home for the team. The guys have worked so hard, so this result is for everyone back in Brackley and Brixworth who've worked tirelessly, thank you! I gave it everything I could to hold Max off, they were some enjoyable laps! With the Red Bulls in my mirrors, I was trying to get absolutely everything out of the car to keep them behind. It was very difficult last few laps, a real survival race when we knew we had the gap to manage. Thanks to all the fans out here in Barcelona - they've been amazing all weekend! The support for Formula 1 at the moment is in a great place, so it's great to be here".
Lewis Hamilton was out of position after running side by side with Carlos Sainz, and collided with Kevin Magnussen. He was forced to pit and emerged nineteenth. From there, he climbed back to the points and should have come home fourth; he lost out to Sainz after being asked to lift and coast to cool down a critically overheating car:
"I'm just really grateful that I was able to come back and grateful to the team for keeping their head down and for all the amazing work to get us to this improvement. The car felt great in the race, our pace is closer to the top guys which is amazing. I was just really unfortunate at the start to get the puncture but I didn't give up - that's what we do, right? It's a lot hotter than predicted today and for everyone it's quite tough with these cars. I had to basically drive at half throttle at the end to try and cool the car, with lots of lifting down the straight just to get fresh air into the engine to cool it down. I was so gutted to lose the place to Sainz, especially after coming from where I came from. I mean, I was 30+ seconds behind last place - that's like no man's land. It's a horrible feeling being that far behind, but you just have to keep your head up, keep pushing, keep going and hoping for better. We do still have bouncing but not in the straight line, it's through corners but no way near as bad as we had before. The guys are working really hard and I am sure we can fix that over time. If I didn't have that issue at the beginning, who knows where we'd have been at the end. It's good to know we have similar pace to some of the front runners".
The Mercedes Team Prinicipal, Toto Wolff, says that this weekend was very pleasing and full of positive signs:
"We had a solid race to beat Ferrari, and with Lewis we had probably the fastest race car of all today. We need to just unpick this now, analyse the data, and try to improve step-by-step for a race win. George put up a spectacular defence to Max, the way he positioned the car was spot-on, the kind of racing we love to see and he managed the car well at the end to bring home another podium. For Lewis, misfortune on the opening lap but what a recovery drive from then on, fantastic. As a driver, its always difficult when you are 50 seconds down but we never give up, and his pace at the end was stunning, he could have raced for the win. The weekend was better than expected because I am always pessimistic about things. We've moved clear from the midfield, at least in Barcelona, and caught up half a second to the front runners - we were a second off and now it's half a second. We unlocked the potential of the car by tweaking things on the stops and so today was the most valuable race for us to compare the two cars, across setups and tyres. Our understanding took a big step forward and there's definitely more to come".
The trackside engineering director at the Mercedes AMG, Andrew Shovlin, is happy about the improvoments made. He looks at the future:
"There are positives to take from the weekend, not least a fine drive to the podium for George with some brilliant defending against the Red Bulls. Lewis didn't have any luck, Magnussen's move on lap 1 caused a puncture that left him nearly a minute behind the leaders and with a mountain to climb just to make the points. He drove brilliantly and out-performed our expectations to make it back to fourth only for a water leak to force him to concede the place to Sainz in order to make sure we finished. The most encouraging thing is the improvement in pace that we have seen this weekend; a lot of hard work has gone into understanding the issues and bringing parts to the track for this race. We can now see a route to develop our way out of this and back into a position where we can fight for pole and wins. We've got some unusual tracks coming up, starting with Monaco where we need to focus more on low-speed performance but we've got some parts in the pipeline that can hopefully help in that regard. After some tough months in Brackley and Brixworth, it was great to feel like we were racing again, we're determined to be part of the battle for these championships and today has given us belief that we can do just that".
Charles Leclerc looked comfortable through the opening stages, pitting later than his rivals and emerging in the command. But then he suddenly lost power and was forced into a first retirement of the season:
"So far this year, the team has been doing an incredible job in terms of reliability. Of course this one hurts, because we were in front all weekend and worked really well. I know that things like this can happen sometimes and in moments like these, it is important to look at the positives. Our pace was very strong in qualifying and in the race and the feeling in the car was really good. We made progress in terms of tyre management, which is something that has been a weakness in the past few races. So it’s a shame and I’m disappointed that we lost the opportunity to score a lot of points, but the season is still long and we know we have the potential. Next up is my home race in Monaco, so I’m really looking forward to it and I hope that it will be a good one".
Carlos Sainz did not a good start, and dropped a couple of places, before spinning in to the gravel. The Spaniard driver did well to recover back to fourth, losing out to Lewis Hamilton before overtaking the Mercedes with a couple of laps to the end:
"It was a very tough Sunday and very far from what we were hoping for. A gust of wind threw me off in turn 4 and unfortunately, my car was damaged. From then on, it was a big struggle for me, as a lack of downforce meant I was sliding around with the tyres pretty much everywhere. We gave absolutely everything to recover and managed to get back to P4, which is not too bad given the circumstances, but it’s far from ideal. A pity for Charles, as he retired when he was leading, but we will work as a team to come back stronger in Monaco. The biggest positive from today was the amazing crowd in the grandstands supporting us, so I want to really thank every fan out there for their support. On to the next one".
Team Principal Mattia Binotto talks about the car’s problem and Carlos’ performarce. He hopes better things for the future races:
"Clearly, we’re not happy with today’s result. It’s disappointing to have had a problem with the power unit that robbed Charles of what would have been a well-deserved win, especially as the team in Maranello has done an excellent job of developing the power unit this season. Carlos finished fourth, coming back from a difficult situation. Probably, he still does not get quite the feeling he wants from the F1-75 and it’s up to us to help him become completely comfortable with it. He is tenacious, he studies the situation and never gives up and so I am sure that he will soon come to feel really at ease in the car. After a result like this, I think we should look at the positive aspects. I said that after the first six races, we would be able to assess the performance levels and hierarchy among the teams and today, we can say that we have built a good car and we have done a fine job of developing it. The Barcelona track is demanding in many ways and it has usually been something of a bogey circuit for us, but the F1-75 was the quickest car on track yesterday and today, Charles was comfortably in the lead, running at a very good race pace. Now we will find out what the problem was that stopped him. Unfortunately, these things can happen, to us and to the competition, but given how many races are left this season, I’d say we have seen that we can fight for the wins in the upcoming Grands Prix, starting with Monaco, Charles’ home race and luckily, we only have to wait until next Sunday".
Valtteri Bottas lost out to Mick Schumacher at the start but soon recovered his place. At one point of the race he was third, but went fourth when passed by both Carlos Sainz and Lewis Hamilton, soon complaining about his two-stop strategy. He ended sixth, keeping his record of finishing in the points in every race he ended:
"We got some good points today and we take plenty of positives home. Our pace throughout the race was really strong and it was nice to be in battles with the big teams ahead - it shows how much progress we are doing and how the upgrades we brought here seem to work well. In the end, we chose to be aggressive and take a risk with the strategy, going for a two-stopper when everyone else went for three: it didn’t pay off, as the tyre life of the medium compound was a bit shorter than we anticipated and we struggled at the end, but we still brought home a good result. I’m really looking forward to Monaco now, our car should be pretty good there".
Zhou Guanyu was running down the order when called into the pits to retire the car with reliability issues:
"It’s disappointing to finish the race ahead of time for the second weekend in a row, especially when we were potentially on the way to a good result. We need to further investigate the issue in detail, both to understand exactly what went on and to prevent it from happening again, since it’s hurting us a lot. Until the retirement, I was having a good race, fighting with the midfield guys ahead of me trying to get into the top ten. Let’s hope for a better outcome in Monaco, it will be a very interesting weekend".
The Alfa Romeo Team Principal, Frédéric Vasseur, talks about the performance of the team:
"We experienced another race in which we showed just how quick we can be, and to bring home eight more points, finishing just behind the front runners, is a positive result. We can be pleased about our performance, even more so given that we were not expecting Barcelona to suit us too well, so we can be confident we can be competitive on every race weekend. Valtteri did an excellent race, without putting a wheel wrong and managing his car well. In the end, he was powerless to stop Sainz and Hamilton, on fresher tyres, passing him, but we will take sixth. Unfortunately, we cannot be happy about the technical issue that stopped Zhou. He was doing really well, moving up the places and heading to the top ten, when the car let him down. We need to address these issues and fix them, as we have the potential to be scoring with both cars in every race".
As for Alpine, both cars came home inside the points despite starting twelfth and last. Fernando Alonso was in the back of the field after taking on new power unit components. From there he did a good recovery and is coming home in the points, despite his last slow pit stop:
"It’s great to finish in the points today especially after our bad qualifying yesterday, so I’m very happy with that. The atmosphere was special today and even though we were starting last I feel like we managed to put a show on for the fans. It feels a bit like a victory! Hopefully we can start scoring consecutively in the points from here. I think we still need to improve on Sundays, but we did a good job today and managed it well. In reflection on Miami and Thursday, maybe I see it in a different way now. The Stewards did their job in Miami and perhaps we see things differently from inside the car in the heat of the moment. I am fully supportive of the FIA’s ideas and we want to work with them to improve the show for the fans".
Esteban Ocon was quick all race long and ended ahead of Lando Norris:
"I’m very happy for the team today with a good double result. It’s probably the best result we could have hoped for after yesterday and the team should be very proud for what we achieved today. It was a great first stint with some good overtakes and, overall, I don’t think there is anything we could have done better. It was awesome to see Fernando in the points as well after starting from the back, and to do it here in Barcelona is even better. After a difficult Saturday we proved that the pace is there, and the car is working well so this result definitely feels good. I’ll sleep well tonight".
Laurent Rossi is satisfied about the recovery done by Alpine:
"While the weekend didn’t look promising before the race, we managed to recover with both cars finishing inside the points. To go from twentieth, and last, on the grid with Fernando and twelfth with Esteban to eight points in the bag at the end is certainly satisfying and well deserved. We’ve managed to salvage points after a tough Qualifying, which is important in a close championship fight like we’re in. That said, we need to continue the hard work, in particularly ensuring more performance consistency throughout the whole weekend to better our starting grid positions. We’ve demonstrated today, on a demanding track in tough conditions, that we have what it takes to perform well on Sundays. We now need to ensure we put ourselves in a position where we’re battling for the higher points-scoring places on a more regular basis. In the circumstances, a good job by everyone in the team today and we now look ahead to Monaco next week where we know Saturday performance there often defines the outcome for Sunday’s race".
Daniel Ricciardo started in a higher position than his team mate but did not manage to extract much pace from his tyres in the first stint. In the end, he came home out of the points:
"It wasn’t a good race today. I’d love to find something positive, but it was just a struggle from the start. I was slow, and I simply had a lot less grip than everyone else around me. With the three stops, we had four chances on different sets of tyres, but we didn’t have the pace on any of them. I’m not really sure why, to be honest, so we’ll try to have a look and understand it. Hopefully, we can get on top of it as the upgrades we brought were good. We’ve got a short turnaround for Monaco and then we’ll go again and hope for a better one in a week".
Lando Norris came home eighth despite suffering from illness:
"Today was tough. I was feeling really unwell before the race as I'm suffering with tonsillitis, and that, in combination with the high temperatures, made this one of the hardest races I’ve ever done. I've been a bit on the backfoot this weekend as most of my energy has been spent fighting off this illness. I've had to miss a lot of engineering sessions, which has compromised my weekend, and I definitely wasn't as prepared for the Grand Prix as I could have been. With that in mind, I'm really pleased to have come out of the race with decent points for the team. The team have been working really hard to bring performance to the car, so I'm glad we could take something from the weekend. We’ll look at the data over the next few days, see if there’s any additional performance we can extract from the car and make sure we’re ready to go for Monaco".
Andreas Seidl thanks the team fort he great job done in the recent weeks and looks at the coming races:
"It was a long and challenging Spanish Grand Prix under very hot conditions. Lando together with the team maximised everything we had in our hands today and finished in P8. On Daniel’s side unfortunately, after getting into Q3 yesterday, we were struggling a lot with the rear of the car whenever we tried to push more, and went backwards in the race finishing in P12. We have some homework to do over the next couple of days to understand why. The entire team here at the track and back home did a great job in the recent weeks and days to bring all the upgrades to the car this weekend and race it on both cars. This allowed us to make a step forward in terms of performance and it worked as expected but we still have a lot of work to do in understanding and optimising it in the weeks ahead. We are up against strong competition and must keep working hard to improve the car further to stay in the battle for P4 in the constructor championship. Lando did not feel well all weekend but showed great fighting spirit battling it through and bringing home some points for the team. We wish him a speedy recovery now in the next few days and will hopefully have him back at full energy in Monaco in a couple of days. My thanks to the whole team here at the track and back at the factory, together with our colleagues at Mercedes HPP for their efforts over the weekend and for their incredible work to bring the upgrade. We keep pushing ahead and go to Monaco".
Pierre Gasly was always outside the points and was awarded a five-second time penalty after tipping Lance Stroll into a spin late on when the Aston Martin was trying to sweep around his outside:
"I’m extremely disappointed with today, it’s very frustrating. I had a small touch early on that damaged the car and from then on, I had no pace, we were losing downforce and sliding everywhere. I take responsibility for the accident with Stroll, I was pushing it to the limit, so I want to apologise to Lance for that. We tried everything we could from then on, but at the end of the day there wasn’t much we could do".
Yuki Tsunoda put in place some overtakes to get into the points area:
"That was a super tough race, it was so hot in the car today and then we were in a constant battle to make it into the points, so the pressure was there. I’m quite happy with my performance today and where we finished in the race, we haven’t been comfortable in the car the whole weekend, so to be fighting for points was a good step forward. However, I think we’ve still got a lot of work to do to be able to be higher up the midfield".
The AlphaTauri Technical Director, Jody Egginton, explains the difficulties encountered by the team:
"Today's race has been tough, but with both drivers battling hard we managed to come away with a point. Pierre picked up front wing damage early on, which made the car a bit trickier to drive and cost him some time. Yuki had a cleaner start and was in a battle with the McLarens and Alonso early on in the race, fighting for points. With the hot conditions moving the race to a three stop for the majority, track position was key, and Yuki's final stop was timed to prevent Vettel, who was one of the two stoppers, getting ahead when we stopped and this worked out well. Then it was a case of getting past Schumacher and trying to get back on terms with Alonso, who had got ahead earlier in the race. We have a lot to understand from this event, as we have not been able to get the car working as we want, but we have a few ideas already and the expectation is that we will bounce back in the next events".
Franz Tost, AlphaTauri's Team Principal, talks about the strategies put into place:
"First of all, big congratulations to Oracle Red Bull Racing for this fantastic 1-2, which has helped Max in the close battle for the Championship. From our side, the weekend was quite difficult and we struggled with the car. We suffered with the rear, especially with the tyres overheating, therefore we couldn’t show a good performance yesterday in Qualifying. Because of this, today in the race we started only from P13 and 14. Fortunately, both drivers had a good start and came back in the first lap with Yuki in 11th and Pierre in 12th. The race pace at the beginning was reasonable on the Softs, but after a few laps we decided to go for a three-stop strategy, so we called Yuki in to change to the Mediums. On this compound he struggled a little bit to warm up the tyres, which meant he lost a few seconds to Alonso. Then we changed back to the Softs to end the race. We scored one point and I think that’s the most we could get out of this weekend after a difficult Qualifying session. As for Pierre, he was struggling with the car, suffering from an unstable rear, and was not able to fight for points this race. From the first laps onwards, he had damage on the front wing, which of course had a negative impact on the performance of the car. We need to go away and analyse everything, to bring the car back to the level of performance we had in the past, trying to understand why we lose performance in hot conditions, also because we will have other races with very high temperatures - like Budapest for example. Now we go to Monaco, where we normally perform well, so I hope this will be the case again this year".
Vettel, despite running in the points for much of the race, ended in eleventh position:
"Today was all about managing the tyres and the grip - it was very slippery out there. Everyone’s tyres were falling to pieces and lots of drivers pitted fairly early, so we tried something different by opting for a two-stopper. In the end, I do not think it really made too much of a difference. Ultimately, we just lacked a bit too much pace to really be able to attack the points-scoring positions. But we tried something - P11 is not much of a reward, but we had a decent race. We knew this new package was not going to be a massive step straight away, but we believe it is a better direction for the future. We are making progress and going forwards, and that is what really matters".
Lance Stroll was tipped into a spin by Pierre Gasly when he was about to overtake him, and lost time as a result:
"It was a difficult race, though it was largely ended by the contact with Pierre when I overtook him going through Turn One. We had to pit and check over the car, so that cost us up to 30 seconds. The positive is that the car did feel better than it did in qualifying, which is important considering we are running a new package. We need to go away and review the whole weekend, look at what we have learned, and then apply it for Monaco. I am very excited for the next race - it is such a special Grand Prix and I cannot wait to get started".
Mike Krack talks about the strategies and the improvement they made, even if the did notcame home with points:
"From our starting positions of P16 for Sebastian and P17 for Lance, scoring points today was always going to be a challenge. Nonetheless, both our drivers executed well their different tyre strategies - a Soft-Soft-Medium two-stopper for Sebastian and a Soft-Soft-Medium-Soft three-stopper for Lance - and the result was a P11 finish for Sebastian, whom we successfully managed to keep out of traffic wherever possible, and a P15 finish for Lance. Had Lance not lost quite a bit of time on lap 28 as a result of contact with [Pierre] Gasly, which not only tipped him into a spin but also necessitated an earlier second pit stop than we had been planning for him, he would have finished a few places farther up. He was not therefore able to convert his good race pace into a points result today, but it indicated the promising performance potential of our updated car. Finally, I want to pay tribute to the great work done by the team to get two updated cars ready for this event; we are all looking forward to working hard to achieve better results with them at Monaco next weekend and in the races to come".
Mick Schumacher, after the good start, could not extract much race pace from his car and started to drop backwards:
"It’s quite unfortunate. Obviously, we knew it was going to be tight with the two-stop and it didn’t quite pay off to stay out so it’s something to learn, something to understand and move on from here. It was a great Saturday, and we had a very clean Friday too which is very beneficial. We had a good start, a good first lap and that’s all you want from today. Maybe the pace just wasn’t there today but hopefully it will next week, so we’ll keep pushing".
On the other hand, Kevin Magnussen did not have a good start; he tangled with Lewis Hamilton, and finished in the gravel, so was forced to pit at the end of the first lap. He returned in last, and from there struggled to make headway:
"I was on the outside and got hit in Turn 4, had a puncture straight away and that was basically the end of the race. I think we were on a tough strategy because of the first lap incident but when the tires were sort of new, the car was good. On to the next one".
The Haas F1 team principal, Guenther Steiner described the hard race they had:
"The day didn’t go as planned. There were a few things, first of all the interaction between Kevin and [Lewis] Hamilton in Turn 4 which put him out of the race really. With him we just tried to do things on a strategy that if something strange happened, we could maybe do something, but it didn’t work. With Mick it was a tough race, it was a very good start, and it all went well, but after six laps we lost a few positions, and then it just went away from us. Not as planned but onwards and upwards".
The Williams team were struggling for pace, with Alex Albon coming home last:
"It was a tough day out there; I picked up damage to the floor after my first stop which heavily impacted the car’s performance. There was a lot of tyre degradation and I really struggled with speed, especially into a couple of the corners. It’s unfortunate as it meant we didn’t really stand a chance today, but that’s racing sometimes and we’ll go again next week in Monaco".
Nicholas Latifi had an entertaining battle with Magnussen and came home ahead of the Haas driver and of his team mate too:
"We struggled on track today with overall pace, but it was also tough on tyre degradation and physically due to the extreme heat. That being said, I’m happy with the way that we managed the tyres and it’s nice to have an aggressive strategy that allowed us to push and race a bit more. I enjoyed chasing down Kevin Magnussen at the end, especially as the Haas is a car that’s much faster than us on paper, and although we weren’t fighting for points, it’s still something to be pleased with".
Dave Robson says that the team could not make as much progress during the Grand Prix as they hoped:
"It was blisteringly hot today, which pushed everything to the limit. We had prepared the cars for these conditions, but even so, we couldn’t make as much progress during the Grand Prix as we had hoped. Managing tyre pace and degradation was very challenging, but nonetheless, Nicholas was able to put together a strong race and manage his tyres well enough to catch Magnussen near the end of the race and claim sixteenth place. Alex had a strong start and opening stint and although he wasn’t able to make much progress initially, he was able to stay with the pack and give us an opportunity to make progress with strategy. Unfortunately, immediately after his first pitstop he suffered significant damage to the floor, which cost him a lot of aero load. This effect on pace and degradation was stark and ruined Alex’s race before it had really begun. The layout of the Barcelona circuit, the very high track temperatures and the damage to Alex’s car has tested the FW44 to new limits and has given us some good data to highlight where we need to focus our car development efforts. However, our immediate focus turns to Monaco, which will present a whole new set of challenges for the 2022 cars, but which should also give us an opportunity for a much better weekend".
Mario Isola, Pirelli Motorsport Director, describes the Spanish Grand Prix as one of the biggest tests that our new 18-inch tyres have faced all year, because of the high track temperatures:
"We can say now that they coped with the challenge very well, and what makes their performance even more impressive is that the drivers concentrated on just the softer tyres nominated here. In particular, the soft tyre was a revelation, with nearly all the drivers choosing it for the start and many of them running the soft for the bulk of the race. There was a wide variety of strategies seen throughout the field, with drivers willing to push the limits and target three stops, adding to the spectacle of an extremely hard-fought race: also because these cars make it easier to overtake. Congratulations to Red Bull for a decisive one-two; now we move on to a very different challenge in Monaco next weekend".
Now it is Max Verstappen who leads the Championship over Charles Leclerc, and Red Bull over Ferrari. Next stop is one of Formula One's most storied venues, the Principality of Monaco, which will host the Grand Prix on May 27-29, 2022. After such a disappointing race for Scuderia Ferrari, the next Grand Prix becomes really important for the Maranello team to seek quick redemption. The improvements to the car, thanks to the new floor, were noticeable. Unfortunately, the turbo on the power unit of the Monegasque driver's car broke down, and not for reasons related to the reliability of the specific component. On the other hand, Sergio Perez is visibly displeased with the fact that he was forced to slow down to facilitate the comeback of his teammate, Max Verstappen, who also won in Barcelona, overtaking Charles Leclerc in the standings. Meanwhile, Mercedes seems to have finally found the right way to remedy the porpoising problems that had limited the car's capabilities until this Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton was voted Driver of The Day, precisely as a result of the incredible comeback he managed to execute. And that is no small feat. The championship will still be very long, so we'll see what's in store.