Updated: Jul 4, 2022
Welcome back, gear-heads! The chequered flag is out and it’s official here in Cataluña; what a
race just filled with drama! The Spanish Gran Prix started off on Friday with 2 practice sessions
with a few surprises in that the test drivers for several teams as the new rules for the season
states. Like previous weekends, teams flatter to deceive. Typically, it all comes out in the wash on
Saturday for qualifying. Surprisingly Haas making into Q3 several times this year is starting to feel normal father than abnormal from years previous. But it was the normal cast of characters that fill out the starting grid: P1 for Charles, P2 for Max and P3 for Sainz. The pressure is on the for the Spanish drivers would they stand up to the heat?
There isn’t much more you can wax lyrical about when it comes to how good this team is looking in 2022. Today did come with its’ ups and downs that could have turned this into a nightmare rather than a dream. Two massive events that arose coming from the world champion.
First, a mistake on lap 9 at turn 4 saw Max exit the circuit and with all the luck managed to rescue the race.
Second the mechanical malfunction of the DRS system prolonged the battle with Russell. And
what a battle for few laps it was, but I don’t think it would have been if Max had his DRS.
The comedy was the radio calls back and forth between Max and the Christian Horner, team principal for Red Bull. Some interesting calls on pitting arrange the team to get Max in front of Checo and my feeling is that Checo was reluctant to say the very least. As a team, this was a masterclass as they took a P1 and P2 finish. More to come on this with my final thoughts; could this be the start of the demise of the team?
This has been a race weekend where we are confirmed that Russell is right where he’s supposed to be in the pantheon of racers on the grid currently. I feel it’s only a matter of time before he’s competing consistently for race wins not just podiums.
From the start Russell came off the line well getting in front of Sainz and made his way in front of Checo as well. He capitalized on the mistakes from Max and later on with LeClerc’s Ferrari retiring; right place, right time. The moment where I think George announced himself in the upper tier of racers is the battle around lap 15 with Max.
Like I mentioned earlier, the DRS system failure would have made it much easier for Max to
overtake but Russell defended masterfully and left everyone certain of his talent. This performance here gave hope to the team who has been struggling when it comes to the lofty
standards Mercedes had set previous.
New rules when it comes to how much you can spend to fix construction issues that most teams have been dealing with. It was reported that this is the race where Mercedes were bringing upgrades to their livery. Although I couldn’t tell much of a
difference between last weeks to this ones, it’s another podium at P3 for the Briton who is quietly bossing this year and keeping the Silver Arrow in contention.
This was the race that saw a lot of redemption and it needs recognition. The first driver to highlight is Carlos Sainz. He spun out on lap 7 after a terrible start to the race where he conceded a few positions to; it was shaping up to be a miserable afternoon for his home turf. The determination of the Spaniard throughout was laudable. This ended up being the best chance for Ferrari to score points and they did well to him; un saludo Carlos for P4. ¡Vamos!
The next driver is Lewis Hamilton. His collision with Kevin Magnussen on the first lap caused a puncture on his front left tyre that cause an early pit and he was basically out of the running. Apparently Hamilton didn’t get the message and drove like someone owed him money. Almost up to P4 with a few laps to there was an apparent mechanical issue where his principal communicated he’d risk a DNF if he pushed the car further. This resulted in Carlos snatching P4 but the Briton salvaged the day
And there you have for the winners now on to the losers of the weekend.
Such a promise in qualifying to only land both Kevin and Mick out of the points. From the start of the season I picked these guys to struggle because of past seasons and the shakeup in teammates that saw the Russian Nikita Mazepin lose his seat to Magnussen days after testing as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. All that being said against all odds from the start of the season Haas had been a surprise package with the Ferrari power unit that other teams had been succeeding in.
Then Barcelona happened and both drivers under performed. Magnussen hits Hamilton on the
first lap, both saying that the other were responsible as the FIA didn’t take further action but it was Magnussen who escaped any real damage and saw Hamilton pit immediately after.
Schumacher did very little of note as well so much so that I can’t really tell you anything that he did positively on the track. Kevin started off in P8 only to finish in P17 a loss of 9 positions and Mick starting off in P10 dropping to P14 conceding 4 positions. Gunther must have been furious!
It was all smooth sailing for Charles LeClerc, first in points for the championship and starting on
pole coming in on Sunday in Barcelona. Then lap 27 happened. It’s on this lap his car lost power
and it’s DNF for the Monegasque. Such a pity because for years now it’s the driver who starts on
pole in qualifying who takes home P1 but some mechanical failure cause LeClerc to retire the car and ultimately the lead was lost as well to Max in the championship and RedBull in the
The other DNF was the Chinese drive Zhou Guanyu in the Alfa Romeo. He was forced to retire just couple laps after the leader LeClerc. It was looking like points were on the cards for the Alfa Romeo number 2 rookie but a second successive DNF has got to be deflating, especially when you witness your teammate in the same car get such good consecutive results.
They have to figure something out in the paddock if this team are going to make it towards the best of the rest group.
And that’s that gear-heads!!! What a weekend in my adopted home country. The attendance was
incredible and I heard somewhere that extra stands had to be built in order to accommodate
spectators looking to experience a live formula 1 event.
My final thoughts rest on Red Bull and the potential conflict between Max and Sergio. I feel there’s a lot of drama building from this performance in that Checo was the stronger driver on the day and he made his feelings known. I can’t help escaping this idea that we are witnessing a similar situation to Bottas and Hamilton, now they were arguably the most successful pairing in Formula 1 and are the benchmark for teams to achieve but it hasn’t been replicated as it’s incredibly hard to concede when all you want to do is win. Without a doubt in my mind, it would be hard to accept knowing your team prefers another driver over you when you are driving as well as Checo had been over the past few weeks. It’s a potentially nothing or it could be the unravelling of the strongest team in the field by some margin.
On to Ferrari, this almost ended in tragedy but from what the paddock was saying that the power
unit failure wasn’t due to a design flaw. Upgrades are going to be needed to be done to help with the challenge from Red Bull as well as making sure that both drivers finish on podiums if we are to see a champion wearing red.
As for Alfa Romeo over performing has seemed to be a theme with a lot of the other Ferrari power unit cars but it’s this team who are having many DNFs that have to be solved ASAP.
So many story lines evolving and taking shape and it’s this reason why I can’t get enough of this
sport. Okay now it’s on the next stop the tour, the iconic Monaco Grand Prix. Until then gear
heads, ¡hasta la proxima!