Lewis Hamilton and George Russell’s appearance on the podium together for the first time this year is surely a sign that things can only get better for the Brackley Team.
Especially as it didn’t rely on someone else falling off. The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is a definitive track for Formula 1 cars. If you can make it there, then you can make it anywhere…. Sang Frank Sinatra. Good news for Mercedes and almost certainly bad news for Ferrari, especially as their ‘Red Bull’ upgrades seemed to have come from the Dollar shop.
The W14B also brought a new lease of life to Hamilton. His display around a circuit he has won at more than six times was the Lewis of old: Fast, controlled, and extending the life of his tyres whilst maintaining the pace of all comers except, of course, Max Verstappen.
While it’s the seven-time F1 World Champion who seems to have got to grips first with the new car, ahead of his erstwhile teammate – George “the Weatherman” Russell, seemed to be closing the gap during the race with a fine drive from 12th to second. However, with Hamilton now in a car that he feels comfortable with, it is likely Russell will occupy the number two position for the balance of the season.
Did anyone see Checo at the Spanish Grand Prix?
Unfortunately, even the industrial-sized development machine of Mercedes is unlikely to catch the Bulls in 2023—a fact reiterated by Hamilton himself.
The combination of Verstappen’s speed and talent assures that Red Bull will stay ahead and almost certainly get to work early on the RB20 for 2024. However, it was noticeable that for the first time in a while, Team Principal Christian Horner seemed slightly less effusive in Parc Ferme at the end of the Spanish Grand Prix, possibly reflecting on the significant leap forward by Mercedes, and on the fact that with the RB19 there should be at least two sets of Red Bull overalls on the podium!
Norman no mates
The dominance of the RB19 also begs the question that, with no one to play with at the front, will Max become jaded and leave Red Bull sooner rather than later? The testing of the track limits last Sunday was an act of someone bored at the front.
There are many who would happily live with this state of affairs, but I can’t help but feel that the young Dutchman isn’t one of them. He’s combative, and whilst he no doubt enjoys winning and dominating, he needs to have put a fork in it. Easy victories become quickly hollow to such competitors. There may be an opening at Ferrari soon, and for sure there’s a challenge there!
It’s the sound of deflation
If you thought you heard a long drawn-out flatulent noise throughout the Spanish Grand Prix, that would have been Aston Martin’s ruptured green bubble of dreams inexorably losing its air.
The 2023 Spanish Grand Prix was then, a disappointing race for the recently revived Aston Martin Racing. Much was made of the numerological portent attached to Fernando Alonso and the thirty-third running of the Spanish Grand Prix. Unsurprisingly, it all turned out to be a load of old boll8ks.
Even if he’d qualified further up the grid, it was clear AMR’s second-place spot to Red Bull has almost certainly now been usurped by the W14Bs.
Repeat after me, I must manage my tyres…
Lance Stroll qualified well and appeared to make a good start, quickly passing Lewis on Lap 1. Congratulating himself, no doubt, he kept his foot in and even started to pull away.
Unfortunately, whilst doing so, he skanked his tyres. Stroll had forgotten that if you want any life out of them, you need to bring them into the operating window first. After a couple of laps, Hamilton pulled alongside, waved, and then disappeared into the sunset.
It was almost patronizing. Talking of which, Alonso hanging back at the end to protect Lance’s “six” was a bit of a joke as there didn’t seem to be anyone close enough to be a threat (apart from Alonso himself). Having failed to wax lyrical after the Monaco race over his patron’s son, he let little Lance chalk one up against his teammate. Heaven hath no equal Ferdinand.
Let me know when something exciting happens…
The 2023 award for the driver least impressed with himself has to go to Lando Norris. Not since the advent of radio comms have I heard a driver express such an underwhelming reaction to his performance.
His response to nabbing P3 in qualifying was priceless – “Really?… still?” I was actually waiting for him to add, “Are you sure?”.
For such a talented guy who’s been consigned to the back of the grid for so long with a hapless chassis, I would have expected him to be a little more enthusiastic about starting on row two. Sadly, he reacted to it like a man who knew it was just a blip on the performance radar and that the planets would realign to SNAFU.
And they did… better luck next year Lando.
With the Spanish Grand Prix ticked off, we now wait for Canada to see how the F1 tale will evolve although it seems wildfires close to Montreal may have another idea. Could there be another cancellation?