What time is the departure given?
The rain, the only obstacle to Verstappen?
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Given the scenario of the weekend, it is difficult to imagine, apart from a technical problem, any other scenario than a 40th career victory for Max Verstappen in the dry this Sunday. Fortunately for the rivals of last year’s winner, and for the suspense, the weather is uncertain for the race, and this Saturday’s sprint race in F2 showed that Montmelo could be subject to some pretty impressive thunderstorms. The Red Bull driver tamed the drops in Monaco, but his opponents will no doubt need a helping hand from the sky to disrupt him.
Alonso, a resurrection for the 33rd?
Fernando Alonso has not won in Formula 1 for ten years, and it was precisely at Montmelo. Since then, the Spaniard has been looking for his 33rd victory, and, for lovers of numbers, everything pointed to this weekend. The Asturian will participate in his 362nd Grand Prix, which is exactly one third (33.3%) of the 1086 Grand Prix contested in history. And, for the occasion, he recovered box 33 of the Catalan circuit. With his 9th place on the grid, it would take a small miracle… but 33 is a good number to resuscitate.
Who will be the best second?
The Spanish Grand Prix is not always the most spectacular, but it is a well-known thermometer of car performance. Its complete profile has made it the teams’ favorite test circuit for years, and Sunday’s race will give good indications on the evolution of the single-seaters. Behind Red Bulls who appear untouchable, the teams seem to be neck and neck.
In qualifying, only a tenth separated Carlos Sainz (Ferrari, 2nd), from Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes, 4th), with Lando Norris (McLaren, 3rd), and Pierre Gasly (Alpine, originally 4th, 10th after his penalty) in the middle. . If we add Aston Martins handicapped on Saturday by Alonso’s glitch, the fight for the podium promises to be fierce… and rich in information.
Confirmation for Alpine?
In this fight, Alpine has a big shot to play. The Monaco weekend was a bright spot for the residents of Enstone with Esteban Ocon’s superb podium in the rain. In more classic conditions, Pierre Gasly’s fourth time (finally 10th on the grid) and Ocon’s seventh time in qualifying this Saturday confirm the renewed performance of the French team. This is the third time that the two Alpines have been in Q3 in a row. A good race this Sunday could create a real dynamic, and propel the French team towards an important period of the season.
What overtaking in the last sector?
This is the great novelty of this 2023 Spanish Grand Prix. In the last sector, the chicane has been removed, giving way to an impressive double straight before the pit straight which gives pride of place to brave hearts and well screwed supports. If the modification was unanimous with the pilots and left an excellent visual impression, it remains to be seen whether it will increase the possibilities of overtaking on a circuit historically sparse in this area.
« I’ve tried tracking several cars, and it actually seems pretty doable in this spot. I am rather pleasantly surprised by the possibilities of overtaking », mentioned Max Verstappen (Red Bull) on this subject on Friday. What hope for a good show on Sunday?
The front-left tire, the X factor?
Same cause, but different consequence: the modification of the last corner promises difficult tire management this Sunday. In question, a significant overload on the front-left tire on a bend with many curves to the right, including this sequence. « I think the left front will cry the whole race »said Charles Leclerc about it.
Can Leclerc limit the damage?
Leclerc’s nightmarish Saturday may not have finished handicapping him. The Monegasque obviously has a problem with his single-seater at the right rear which caused him instability in left turns, without the change of tires having changed the situation. So much so that Frédéric Vasseur didn’t rule out changing a lot of elements on the car in order to test things.
« It’s not going to change much, whether we take a penalty or not… we’re not going to fight with the medical car. », the Frenchman had fun at the microphone of Canal + after qualifying, while showing confidence in the qualities of the single-seater. Given Sainz’s performance, the Ferrari will be able to come back. But starting from 19th place, or even 20th, how far can Leclerc go?
What strategy for the 66 laps?
Unlike last year, Pirelli brought its hard tires to Barcelona. And these have even undergone a modification that should reduce their performance gap with other rubbers, according to the manufacturer. If Verstappen won with three saves last year, some teams might be tempted to run long stints and save a save that costs Montmelo 22.88 seconds.
Credit: Getty Images
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