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Race report
Formula 1 Spanish GP

F1 Spanish GP: Verstappen dominates ahead of Hamilton and Russell

Max Verstappen dominated Formula 1’s 2023 Spanish Grand Prix to win in front of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, who ended Sergio Perez’s recovery drive at fourth place.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

At the start, polesitter Verstappen swung right after leaving the line to cut off the momentum of fellow front row starter Carlos Sainz, but the Ferrari – on soft tyres versus the mediums on the Red Bull – got a slipstream and attacked on the outside line at Turn 1.

Verstappen was therefore forced to run very deep as he defended hard from the inside line, but kept enough of his car on the track to stay within the rules in what was the only moment he was under serious pressure all day.

Sainz had to check up coming through Turn 2, which slowed Hamilton behind – the Mercedes driver having dived past Lando Norris at Turn 1.

Hamilton slowing appeared to catch Norris out and they made contact which broke the McLaren’s wing and meant he needed to pit for repairs at the end of lap one, his race ruined and eventually coming home 17th in an event where no cars failed to finish.

Verstappen scampered clear up front – escaping Sainz’s DRS threat immediately, while Lance Stroll demoted Hamilton to fourth at Turn 5 on the opening tour.

But it soon became clear that Mercedes had the best non-Red Bull pace and he hunted down and repassed the Aston on lap eight with a move on the outside line into Turn 1.

Hamilton then reached Sainz’s rear by lap 15, by which point Verstappen was seven-seconds clear in the lead, and Ferrari stopped the Spaniard at this point to switch softs for mediums.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Mercedes, though, left Hamilton running for nine further laps before he came in to take the mediums too and on lap 28 the Briton used his fresher rubber to claim Sainz’s second place with and easy DRS-assisted move on the run down the main straight.

Perez had briefly run second on his rise from a shock Q2 exit as others pitted ahead – the Mexican driver putting in a series of passes at Turn 1 after not making any progress at the start.

Like Verstappen, he was started on the mediums and the Red Bull pair were serviced with a lap of each other – the 26th and 27th tours once all their rivals on the soft tyres had already come in.

The middle phase of the race became about Russell catching Sainz has Hamilton shot clear of the Ferrari and Perez’s continuing progress through the field.

Russell had survived an investigation into his driving at the opening corners, as he went through the Turn 2 escape road having been briefly going three-wide in the pack after launching past Perez from his 12th place grid spot.

The stewards looked to see if Russell had gained an advantage by leaving the track but determined he had not and so he was free to charge on his starting softs – the red walled rubber holding up much better than expected in cooler, overcast conditions.

Russell made a series of further passes after his lap 25 stop, during which he feared rain was falling at Turn 5 but later diagnosed the issue as sweat making its way onto his visor in the humid conditions.

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14, Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23, Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo C43

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14, Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23, Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo C43

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

By lap 34 Russell was only 1.1s behind Sainz’s third place and with Perez gunning for both from the pack behind, such was his pace.

The next time by, Russell made a neat late Turn 1 dive on Sainz work and he ran clear as Red Bull then worked out to best get Perez close to the podium.

Ferrari stopped Sainz for hards on lap 41, after which Mercedes opted to bring Russell in too and give him softs for a final stint charge – in the anticipation Red Bull would leave Perez out on a one-stopper.

Russell was roaring back to Perez when he was instead pitted for a set of softs having taken hards for his second stint, mirroring Verstappen’s strategy up front – the leader’s advantage by the time his team-mate stopped for a second time up to 16.2s.

Verstappen was brought in for a final time on lap 52 and used these to seal the fastest lap bonus point in addition to his final winning margin of 24.0s, with his only issue in the closing tours being repeated warnings for abusing track limits and was eventually given a black-and-white flag final warning.

Perez used his softs to successfully close in a move ahead of Sainz with an easy move into Turn 1’s inside the lap after his Verstappen’s final stop and the suddenly reversed chase of Russell was established.

But this did not come off as Russell lifted his enough so that the 11s lead he had had over Perez when the Mexican rejoined from his final stop was only down to 3.4s at the flag, with Hamilton cruising home 8.2s behind Hamilton.

Sainz finished fifth ahead of Stroll and Fernando Alonso in the second Aston Martin – Alonso getting close to his team-mate by the flag but assuring Aston he would not pass and he completed the final lap waving to his home crowd.

Esteban Ocon took eighth, with Yuki Tsunoda dropped from finishing ninth on the road to 12th in the final results thanks to a five-second penalty time addition for forcing Zhou Guanyu off at Turn 1 during their late battle.

Zhou therefore rose to ninth post-flag, with Pierre Gasly recovering from a slow second stop to take 10th and stave off the attentions of Charles Leclerc, who could not rise from the pitlane to the points despite making a series of passes at the first corner.

F1 Spanish GP results

Cla Driver Chassis Engine Gap Interval
1 Netherlands Max Verstappen Red Bull Red Bull    
2 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Mercedes 24.090 24.090
3 United Kingdom George Russell Mercedes Mercedes 32.389 8.299
4 Mexico Sergio Perez Red Bull Red Bull 35.812 3.423
5 Spain Carlos Sainz Ferrari Ferrari 45.698 9.886
6 Canada Lance Stroll Aston Martin Mercedes 1'03.320 17.622
7 Spain Fernando Alonso Aston Martin Mercedes 1'04.127 0.807
8 France Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault 1'09.242 5.115
9 China Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo Ferrari 1'11.878 2.636
10 France Pierre Gasly Alpine Renault 1'13.530 1.652
11 Monaco Charles Leclerc Ferrari Ferrari 1'14.419 0.889
12 Japan Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri Red Bull 1'15.416 0.997
13 Australia Oscar Piastri McLaren Mercedes    
14 Netherlands Nyck de Vries AlphaTauri Red Bull    
15 Germany Nico Hulkenberg Haas Ferrari    
16 Thailand Alex Albon Williams Mercedes    
17 United Kingdom Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes    
18 Denmark Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari    
19 Finland Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Ferrari    
20 United States Logan Sargeant Williams Mercedes    

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