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5 things we learned from 2023 Spanish Grand Prix

Mercedes-AMG scores a double podium finish

Most of the action in Barcelona occurs at the first corner. PHOTO FROM FORMULA 1

The eighth round of this year’s Formula 1 season is at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. It isn’t known for being an exciting track, but did the new layout change that? Well, here are five things we learned from the 2023 Spanish Grand Prix.

This isn't the first time two Mercedes cars came together in Spain. PHOTO FROM FORMULA 1

1. Qualifying was interesting. Several drivers ruined their qualifying after spinning out to the gravel. For Sergio Perez (Red Bull), this meant starting down in P11. Meanwhile, Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin) incurred floor damage, which hindered his pace. The Spaniard was only able to set a time good for P9, out-qualified by his teammate Lance Stroll in P6.

Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) had a scrappy qualifying ending all the way down in P19. However, his team modified his car after the session, so he had to start from the pit lane. On the other hand, his teammate Carlos Sainz managed to land at the front row behind Max Verstappen (Red Bull).

George Russell (Mercedes-AMG) didn’t do well with the tricky conditions, and he even made contact with his teammate Lewis Hamilton due to miscommunication. Still, that didn’t stop the seven-time world champion from qualifying in P5 while his teammate was in P12.

With a good chunk of the top players out, midfielders were higher on the starting grid, especially Pierre Gasly (Alpine) in P4, and Lando Norris (McLaren) in P3. Too bad the former dropped to P10 after receiving double grid penalties for impeding others.

Do you prefer the new layout? PHOTOS FROM FORMULA 1

2. Barcelona is better without the chicane. The removal of the final chicane significantly changed the track dynamics as drivers got to maintain their momentum and speed going to the main straight. Passing was much easier, and that’s why most of the highlights were overtakes going into Turn 1. This also affected the rate of tire degradation, so there was more variety for tire strategies.

Lando Norris's race was over as soon as it started. PHOTO FROM FORMULA 1

3. Lando Norris went from hero to zero. First-lap contact between Norris and Hamilton ruined the former’s race as he had to pit early to change his front wing. Unable to work his way up the grid, the McLaren driver was left to contend with the backmarkers before finishing in P17. His teammate Oscar Piastri didn’t fare much better, ending the race in P13.

Zhou Guanyu resorted to the escape road after an unsuccessful overtake. PHOTO FROM FORMULA 1

4. Was Yuki Tsunoda’s penalty justified? Toward the end of the race in Lap 56, Zhou Guanyu (Alfa Romeo) was trying to make a move on Tsunoda (AlphaTauri), but backed off at the last minute when the Chinese driver realized he wasn’t going to make it. As a result, the Japanese driver was handed a five-second penalty for supposedly forcing the Alfa Romeo driver off the track.

This was a bit unexpected as the FIA could have asked Tsunoda to give the place, instead of directly issuing a time penalty. Also, if Yuki’s defense was worth punishing, why did Esteban Ocon (Alpine) get away with his sudden jolt against Alonso on Lap 51?

It seems the upgrades of Mercedes paid off. PHOTO FROM FORMULA 1

5. Mercedes-AMG was the real winner. As the event was the Spanish Grand Prix, fans were hoping this was the moment for Sainz and Alonso to shine. But instead, Mercedes-AMG managed to score a double podium with Hamilton in second and Russell in third.

Sainz started in second, yet he couldn’t hold off the two Mercedes-AMG drivers as well as Perez due to lack of pace. Meanwhile, Leclerc tried charging up the field, but wasn’t as successful. The Red Bull driver had to settle for P4, while the Ferrari driver finished outside the points.

Although this is the first time Alonso didn’t end up on the podium this season, he and his teammate were both able to get points for Aston Martin, finishing in P7 and P6, respectively.

The next race will be the 2023 Canadian Grand Prix on June 19 (2am, Philippine time). Will you be staying up to watch it?

Leandro Mangubat

Leandro is our staff writer. Although having a background in mechanical engineering, he enjoys photography and writing more.