Spanish GP 2023: Max Verstappen blitzes to victory; Mercedes get both cars on podium

Verstappen dominated the race from start to finish, claiming his fifth victory of the 2023 season and his third victory at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

Max Verstappen in a file photo. (image: twitter)
By Nilavro Ghosh | Jun 5, 2023 | 3 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen won the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday, beating Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, with teammate Sergio Perez finishing fourth. Verstappen dominated the race from start to finish, claiming his fifth victory of the 2023 season and his third victory at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, while increasing his championship lead. Mercedes took a double podium after Hamilton survived a first-lap collision with McLaren’s Lando Norris and overcame an early battle with Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, and Russell worked his way up from 12th on the grid with a series of overtakes.

Massive recovery for Perez

Perez finished fourth after starting 11th, just missing out on the final podium spot to Russell after a charging final stint, with Sainz rounding out the top five after dropping away from the sharp end as the race progressed. Fernando Alonso was unable to add another podium to his, and Aston Martin’s, tally with a quiet run to seventh on home soil, but the green machines bagged a solid haul of points thanks to teammate Lance Stroll’s sixth place.

“It was quite hard to pass actually. Once I was behind Fernando [Alonso], I really had to do his pace, so that meant it was a little bit trickier,” Checo said after the race. “It is what it is. I think if we wanted to finish higher, we needed a much better qualifying, so I’m looking forward to Montreal now.”

Leclerc out of points despite Tsunoda penalty

Esteban Ocon had to settle for eighth place this time out after his podium heroics in Monaco, while Yuki Tsunoda’s five-second time penalty for forcing Zhou Guanyu off the track meant the Alfa Romeo driver and the other Alpine of Pierre Gasly rounded out the points. Tsunoda’s sanction earned Charles Leclerc a spot as well, but he was unable to secure a point after wholesale changes to his Ferrari after qualifying – and his first Q1 exit since the 2019 Monaco Grand Prix – saw him start from the pit lane.

Tsunoda took over ahead of McLaren’s Oscar Piastri and AlphaTauri teammate Nyck de Vries, who were the first to lap Verstappen, followed by Haas’ Nico Hulkenberg and the lead Williams’ Alex Albon.

Disaster for Lando and McLaren

After colliding with Hamilton at the start, Norris was forced to pit for a new front wing and finished 17th, with the other Haas, Alfa Romeo, and Williams machines of Kevin Magnussen, Valtteri Bottas, and Logan Sargeant bringing up the rear. Verstappen’s victory keeps Red Bull’s unbeaten start to the season intact, with the reigning double world champion – who also earned the fastest lap bonus – moving 53 points ahead of nearest rival Perez in the drivers’ standings.

“Just as expected,” said Norris, when asked how his race went. “We knew we were going to be slow and it was difficult to get in the points. Our target was to try and get into the points today, whether that was ninth or 10th or something. Obviously Lap 1 cost us everything but, at the same time, we would have been unlikely to finish in the top 10 today. I guess everyone’s expectations were too high after yesterday.”