HATTRICK SUNDAY FOR MAX VERSTAPPEN, AS LECLERC RELINQUISH FROM THE SPANISH GRAND PRIX

Max Verstappen gets his third consecutive win at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, going off track in the early stages and having DRS issues. An action-packed Sunday, with Leclerc retiring, Hamilton and Magnussen colliding on the first lap and Russell’s defensive masterclass, made the 2022 Spanish GP all the more worthwhile. A total of 121,700 people who attended the GP, had no idea what was in store for them.

Historically, 90% of the winners of the Spanish GP have come from the front row, with 23 out of the 31 of them from Pole Position. This time around, it had to be the 2nd position and not pole. Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher have 6 wins each here, and Ferrari has a collective win total of 12.

With track temperatures touching as high as 47°C, all racers still stared on Soft Tyres to get a better start. At turn 1, Verstappen attacked Leclerc, who defended his position brilliantly. Perez bashes Sainz at the beginning, and so does Russell; both of them manage to get ahead of Sainz. Come turn 4, Hamilton and Magnussen make contact, and Magnussen goes off track. Hamilton gets hit on his left front tyre, and also, due to the collision, his diffuser gets damaged. Hamilton initially decides to retire the car to avoid further damage to the car but pits for fresher tyres immediately and drops to P19.

Image Credits: f1.com

Some exciting events unfold in the midfield section, where Ocon gains five places by lap 6, and Alonso attacks Vettel on lap 7. At this time, the tailwind at turn 4 increases marginally and affects Sainz, who goes off the track at turn 4 and ends up at P11. At the same time in the front, Perez and Russell have a go at it, spicing things up. Max catches up from behind slowly, and Perez is asked to let Max through as Max had the pace to fight Russell in P2. At this time, Russell’s car starts overheating in lap 12.

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The real battle starts when Max gets close to Russell. Max’s DRS malfunctions, not opening at the main straight when he’s in the attacking range of Russell. Both Max and Russell pit on lap 14 for fresher tyres and continue the battle where they left off. In this midst, Bottas gets into the podium positions at P3. Surprisingly, we see both the Aston Martins in the top 10 amidst all this drama.

Max gets closer to Russell with a DRS malfunction, His flaps didn’t open. On lap 17 on the main straight, his DRS works, and he goes for the overtake. This was a feast to the eyes of all the F1 fans out there, as these two youngsters have not battled this way the whole season. Russell’s defence just gets better every time Max attacks. It gets very intense on lap 24 when this new rivalry between Max and Russell continues for five straight corners. Just when Max gets on the inside line of Russell at turn 1, Russell Blocks and doesn’t allow Max to pass. But Max overtakes him on turn 2. Russell, like a soldier on his feet, fights back and gets the position back by turn 5. This battle just keeps getting better.

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Perez earlier pitted for fresher soft tyres, and on lap 26, he catches up to Max. Just in the next lap, Leclerc’s car slows down due to loss of power, and Leclerc retires. His first DNF of the season. In this midst, Max pits for fresher tyres, and Perez gets behind Russell. Perez overtakes Russell within two laps and is now P1. Even Guanyu Zhos faces a technical issue in his car and retires the car. The midfield battles continue, with our local hero Carlos Sainz pushing through.

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Amidst all this, Lewis Hamilton was the one to watch, slowly gaining positions in the midst of all this drama. He gets into the points. Russell pits on lap 37 for fresher tyres. This puts the bulls in front, and they just charge through.

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We now get to the ending stages of the race. On lap 49, Perez was leading the GP but was asked by his team to let Max through as he again had the pace. Perez feels it’s unfair, but let’s max through. Perez pits for a third time on lap 54, seeing Russell behind by a considerable margin. Perez pits for the fastest lap point. Now, the battle for P4 intensifies on lap 58, with Bottas, Sainz and Hamilton battling it out. Sainz and Hamilton pass Bottas on lap 58. On the next lap, it’s Sainz vs Hamilton for P4. Hamilton sees the opportunity and gets past Sainz on lap 60. Now, it’s RedBulls 1-2 and Mercedes 3-4. Didn’t see this since last season. The crowd is overjoyed with Hamilton’s race and his sheer masterclass to get into the top 5 from P19 at the start. But, on lap 65, Hamilton again faces some issues with his car, probably overheating. Hence, he is told by his team to lift the coast and avoid overheating. Thus, on the last lap, he lets Sainz pass.

Image Credits: marca.com

Max Verstappen crosses the line and wins the Spanish GP, a hattrick of victories for the Dutchman. Sergio Perez finishes P2 and George Russell P3. Carlos Sainz has the best ever finish at his home race, finishing P4 and Lewis Hamilton P5. It was a brilliant drive by Lewis Hamilton, which earned him “Driver of the Day”. A pure masterclass. Had the crash not happened on Lap 1, who knew, Hamilton would’ve won the Spanish GP for a 7th time, being the first driver to do so.

RedBulls get their 1-2 after Imola, and a perfect drive from Mercedes just makes the Spanish GP one to remember. With this, Max Verstappen now leads the World Championship by 6 points to Leclerc, and the RedBulls lead the Constructors Championship by 26 points to Ferrari. Stay tuned with The Sportsway for more updates.

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