Friday, July 19, 2024

2024 Spanish Grand Prix: Verstappen Victorious in Barcelona Edging out Norris

Max Verstappen took his 61st victory of his Formula 1 career during Sunday’s 2024 Spanish Grand Prix, ahead of Lando Norris and Lewis Hamilton, who secured his first podium of the season.

It was a good day for Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon, as they once again scored double points, while it was another tough weekend for Sergio Pérez, who could only muster up an eighth place finish. 

Following an intense qualifying session on Saturday, Norris started from pole position ahead of Championship leader Verstappen. Pérez qualified eighth, but started eleventh due to a three place grid penalty he picked up at the Canadian Grand Prix, while Alex Albon started from the pitlane after qualifying in nineteenth. 

Norris got a poor getaway from the start, attempting to push Verstappen onto the grass going into turn one, this all allowed George Russell, who started in fourth, to go round the outside of the front two and take the lead of the race. 

On Lap 3, Verstappen made a move on Russell to get into the lead going into turn one, giving the Dutchman the race lead. Carlos Sainz Jr also got past Charles Leclerc on this lap too, with Leclerc saying the Spaniard “closed on him” over the team radio. Sainz then reported they made contact. 

Photo: Getty Images/Red Bull Content Pool

The Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber cars were making good progress – Valtteri Bottas getting past Alonso for thirteenth and Zhou Guanyu getting past Yuki Tsunoda for sixteenth on Lap 8.

Zhou and Tsunoda were the first drivers to pit, coming into the box on Lap 10, fitting the medium tyres. It was then the turn of Kevin Magnussen to go into the pits, trying to get an undercut on those ahead.

Pérez and Ocon switched tyres on Lap 14, while there were team orders from Sauber to allow Bottas past Zhou with the former Mercedes driver on soft tyres. Gasly pitted from seventh but it was a slow stop for the Frenchman, meaning he lost a place to his teammate.

Magnussen was given a penalty for a false start on Lap 16. Russell was the first of the leaders to pit, but it was a slow stop, with Sainz early getting past the Briton in the pitlane. 

Hamilton was then the next driver into the pitlane, and it was a much better stop for Mercedes this time, but the seven time world champion came out behind his teammate and Sainz. 

Norris took the race lead for the first time since Lap 1 with Verstappen pitting. The Dutchman’s stop was first sub two second pit of the season, with the Oracle Red Bull Racing mechanics fitting the new compound onto Verstappen’s car in 1.9 seconds.

On Lap 19, Hamilton made a move on Sainz to get up into sixth, going down the inside at Turn 1. Sainz wasn’t happy in the moment, claiming that he was pushed off the circuit and needed the position given back.

Verstappen got past Oscar Piastri on Lap 22, who was yet to pit. Daniel Ricciardo got past his teammate on Lap 23, but it was turning out to be a tough afternoon for Visa Cash App RB, running in seventeenth and eighteenth. 

On the same lap that Ricciardo got past Tsunoda, race leader Norris was into the pits after attempting the overcut on Verstappen as a strategy for the race win. 

Norris made a move on the pit straight to get past Sainz on Lap 27 for fourth, while Leclerc also got past Gasly on the same lap for sixth. Pérez’s poor afternoon got even worse with Piastri getting past him on Lap 28. The Australian was making more moves, getting past Ocon too – the BWT Alpine F1 Team driver was then passed by Pérez.

Drivers at the back were starting to make their second pitstops on Lap 31. Tsunoda and Bottas were the first two to stop, before Magnussen went into the pits after being overtaken by Ricciardo. 

After a few laps of being stuck behind Hamilton, Norris finally made the move to get past the Mercedes on Lap 32. He then set his eyes on Russell, who was running in second at this point of the race. On Lap 35, Norris made a brilliant move round the outside at Turn Three on Russell before they battled for the entirely of Sector One, with both drivers getting past each other at different stages. 

Photo: Getty Images/Red Bull Content Pool

Russell was the first of the leaders to pit for a second time, fitting the hard tyre, followed by Sainz who also fitted the hard tyres. 

On Lap 44, Hamilton came into the pits losing track position to his teammate, Russell. Norris was also showing strong pace, closing the gap to Verstappen out front. Verstappen reacted to the times that Norris was putting on the board and boxed on Lap 45, putting a new set of soft compound tyres onto his Red Bull. 

After Verstappen pitted, Norris was told that this was “our chance now” by his pitwall, with plenty of clean air ahead of him. Both Mercedes were making moves on Lap 46, Russell getting up to fourth and Hamilton getting up to sixth. 

Norris then made the decision to pit at the end of Lap 47, fitting the soft compound tyres. Despite a slightly slow stop, Norris managed to get out of the pits ahead of both Mercedes cars, giving him clean air to go and chase after Verstappen.

Tsunoda was having a bad race and it got even worse for the Japanese driver, being given a 5 second penalty for speeding in the pitlane. Hamilton got past Russell for the final spot on the podium on Lap 52, with no team orders involved from the teams. 

Ricciardo made a move on Magnussen for sixteenth on Lap 58, before getting past Bottas on Lap 61 for fifteenth place, with a late breaking move going into Turn 1.

Despite having stronger pace in the first part of the stint, the gap began to stagnate between Verstappen and Norris going onto the final few laps of the grand prix. The Brit did close the gap, but onto the final lap the gap was 2.5 seconds. There was a battle between Russell and Leclerc on the final lap but Russell managed to keep fourth for Mercedes. 

Pérez made a move past Gasly on the final lap of the race for eighth too, ending his run of two raves without points.

Verstappen crossed the line in first to take victory in Formula 1’s 1100th race, ahead of Norris, who wasn’t pleased after the race with his performance. The McLaren driver also secured the fastest lap. 

Hamilton finished on the podium for the first time in 2024, ahead of Russell, who held off Leclerc on the final few laps of the race. Home hero, Sainz came home in sixth, ahead of Piastri and Pérez. It was a double points weekend for a second time in a row for Alpine, with Gasly in ninth and Ocon in tenth. 

Nico Hulkenberg ended eleventh, ahead of Fernando Alonso, Zhou and Lance Stroll. Ricciardo made up a few positions during the final stint, but could only climb to fifteenth, ending a difficult weekend for the RB team with their upgrades struggling to improve their performance.

Bottas and Magnussen finished sixteenth and seventeenth, with Albon, Tsunoda and Logan Sargeant the bottom three.

1 1 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT 66 1:28:20.227 25
2 4 Lando Norris MCLAREN MERCEDES 66 +2.219s 19
3 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 66 +17.790s 15
4 63 George Russell MERCEDES 66 +22.320s 12
5 16 Charles Leclerc FERRARI 66 +22.709s 10
6 55 Carlos Sainz FERRARI 66 +31.028s 8
7 81 Oscar Piastri MCLAREN MERCEDES 66 +33.760s 6
8 11 Sergio Perez RED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT 66 +59.524s 4
9 10 Pierre Gasly ALPINE RENAULT 66 +62.025s 2
10 31 Esteban Ocon ALPINE RENAULT 66 +71.889s 1
11 27 Nico Hulkenberg HAAS FERRARI 66 +79.215s 0
12 14 Fernando Alonso ASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES 65 +1 lap 0
13 24 Zhou Guanyu KICK SAUBER FERRARI 65 +1 lap 0
14 18 Lance Stroll ASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES 65 +1 lap 0
15 3 Daniel Ricciardo RB HONDA RBPT 65 +1 lap 0
16 77 Valtteri Bottas KICK SAUBER FERRARI 65 +1 lap 0
17 20 Kevin Magnussen HAAS FERRARI 65 +1 lap 0
18 23 Alexander Albon WILLIAMS MERCEDES 65 +1 lap 0
19 22 Yuki Tsunoda RB HONDA RBPT 65 +1 lap 0
20 2 Logan Sargeant WILLIAMS MERCEDES 64 +2 laps 0
* Provisional results. Note – Norris scored an additional point for setting the fastest lap of the race.