Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez cruised to their second 1-2 finish of the 2022 Formula 1 Season, only after Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari suffered a power failure on Lap 27. Meanwhile, Mercedes seem to have solved their porpoising problems, moving closer to the top of the grid.
The Story of the Race
The pattern continues: in 2022, when Max Verstappen finishes a race, he wins the race. Verstappen continues to demonstrate the incredible skill and driving form shown throughout the 2021 season through the first six races of the 2022 season. The Spanish Grand Prix was Verstappen’s fourth victory of the 2022 season and 14th since the beginning of 2021.
Charles Leclerc was set to win the Spanish Grand Prix from lights out. The Spanish Grand Prix looked like the next chapter in the Leclerc/Verstappen battle for the win. That was until Leclerc was forced to retire from the race because of MGU-H and turbocharger failures on Lap 27.
The two Red Bulls took advantage of Leclerc’s power failure, utilizing their stronger race pace and strategy options to finish 1-2. Sergio Perez finished second behind Verstappen, scoring the fastest lap of the race on Lap 55. Despite being in contention for a win, Perez was issued team orders twice to let Verstappen through. Ultimately, Perez lacked the race pace and needed the same strategy as Verstappen to truly be competitive.
Rounding out the top 5, Mercedes’ George Russel and Lewis Hamilton finished third and fifth, respectively, while Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz finished fourth, splitting the Mercedes.
Turn 4 was the sight of action early in the race. Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Hass’ Kevin Magnussen went wheel to wheel on Lap 1, with both drivers needing to Leclerc’s Ferarri teammate Carlos Sainz got caught out by a gusty crosswind, spinning at turn 4 on Lap 7, compromising his race. Verstappen suffered a similar issue a few laps later.
Mercedes Inches Closer to the Front
Mercedes appear to have solved their porpoising issues, bringing them closer to the battle and the front between Red Bull and Ferrari. With the porpoising problem solved, Mercedes can now focus on maximizing performance. Formula 1 might soon have a three-team battle at the top of the grid.
Mercedes’ Russel finished third on the grid and third on the road on merit. More impressive, however, was Hamilton’s drive to fifth place. After a front left tire puncture — suffered in a collision with Haas’ Magnussen on Lap 1 — Hamilton suggested saving the engine and retiring from the race.
As a result, Hamilton drove through the field with excellent race pace to fourth position. However, a late-race water pump leak left Hamilton limping to the finish, ultimately overtaken by Sainz for fourth.
Reliability can win or lose championships. This year, Red Bull has suffered reliability issues while Ferrari had their first reliability setback in Barcelona. Considering the story so far and the schedule to come, reliability will be the story and a significant determining factor in the 2022 Formula 1 season.
An excellent launch car, good reliability, and excellent driving helped Ferrari and Charles Leclerc open a sizeable lead over Red Bull in the constructors and Drivers championships. Ferrari now finds itself behind Red Bull in both championships because of driver errors from Sainz and Leclerc and Leclerc’s Spanish Grand Prix DNF.
Being with the Ferrari F1 team comes with intense pressure. The pressure on Ferrari will only increase as the season progresses, Red Bull remains the best race car on the grid, and the silver arrows edge closer from behind.
Formula 1 moves from the Circuit de Catalunya/Barcelona to the “crown jewel” on the Calendar: the legendary Monaco Grand Prix. Due to the circuit’s completely unique design, the teams will bring their maximum downforce “Monaco” aerodynamic packages. The Monaco Grand Prix takes place May 27-29, 2022.
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