Formula 1: Dominant Max Verstappen secures fifth victory of the season in Spain, Charles Leclerc outside the points

Charles Leclerc at the Spanish Grand Prix

Max Verstappen and Red Bull continued their scintillating form at the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday, whilst Ferrari struggled to match the pace of the frontrunners. 

Saturday’s qualifying threw up a few surprises, unpleasant surprises for Charles Leclerc fans. The Monégasque struggled on a rapidly evolving Catalunya Circuit and was knocked out in the first round of qualifying since the Monaco Grand Prix in 2019. The issues didn’t stop there for Leclerc, as Ferrari made the decision to change components of his car, resulting in him starting from the pitlane.

George Russell and Sergio Perez also struggled for pace and both failed to make it into Q3 as Max Verstappen took pole ahead of Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris.

Mercedes refind form in Spain

Verstappen, despite coming under considerable pressure from home favourite Sainz at turn one, held first position and wasn’t troubled from then onwards. He led a flawless race to the chequered flag. The only threat was the dark clouds that loomed over the circuit throughout but did not produce any rain, unlike in last weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix.

There was more movement and excitement further back the field. Norris couldn’t convert his qualifying performance, colliding with Lewis Hamilton at turn one and being forced to pit for a new front wing.

Hamilton came out of that incident unscathed and showed good pace, overtaking Sainz after the first round of pitstops on his way to a second-place finish.

From 12th on the grid, Russell slalomed his way through the field to a place on the podium, ahead of Perez, who fought his way into fourth. The upgrades brought to the Mercedes have propelled them up the grid, and in Spain, they were uncontestably the second quickest car.

“We have incredible inconsistency.”

However, it is a more sombre story for Ferrari, who struggled for pace. Sainz, who started second on the grid, could only finish fifth in the race. Leclerc, who began from the back of the grid, endured a difficult race, and despite fighting his way to 11th, finished the weekend without adding to his points tally.

As has been the case in recent races, Leclerc was once again left bemoaning the inconsistent performance of his Ferrari. “We have incredible inconsistency. We put two sets of the same compound obtaining opposite behaviours. With the first hard we were nowhere, with the second we did well. [It’s] a problem we’ve had for a long time,” he said.

There is a fortnight until the next race of the season, which will take place in Canada. It is unlikely that anyone will be able to match the pace of the Red Bulls, who have now won all seven of this year’s races.


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Photo from Scuderia Ferrari Press Office