Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, 2022

Verstappen wins Spanish GP despite error and DRS fault, with Perez’s help

2022 Spanish Grand Prix summary

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Max Verstappen won the Spanish Grand Prix despite an early trip through the gravel, while Charles Leclerc retired from the lead with a power unit problem.

Leclerc comfortably led the early running before suddenly slowing mid way through the race. Sergio Perez led the race, but Red Bull team orders allowed Verstappen into the lead. Perez finished second, with George Russell completing the podium in third.

At the start of the race, Leclerc moved to the inside to defend from Verstappen’s efforts to take the lead and successfully held his position into turn one. Behind, Russell pulled ahead of Carlos Sainz Jnr to jump to third by the first corner, while Perez followed the Mercedes through to demote Sainz to fifth.

Heading into turn four, Kevin Magnussen tried to pass Lewis Hamilton around the outside of the right hander, but the pair collided at the entry of the turn, sending the Haas bouncing across the gravel and leaving Hamilton with a puncture on his Mercedes. Both drivers recovered to the pits to fix damage and change tyres, but dropped to the rear of the field.

Leclerc led from Verstappen, with Russell, Perez and Sainz chasing behind. On the seventh lap, Sainz lost control of his Ferrari on the way into turn four, skidding into the gravel and plummeting down the order by the time he had recovered back onto the track. Then, just two laps later, Verstappen appeared to make an identical error at the exact same turn, dropping him behind Russell and Perez.

With Verstappen now behind Perez, Red Bull ordered Perez to allow the world champion by, which he duly complied with. Verstappen tried attacking Russell over what was now second place, but despite being within a second of the Mercedes, he appeared to have difficulty getting his DRS to open – a recurrence of the problem that affected him in qualifying.

Mercedes pitted Russell and Red Bull followed suit, pitting Verstappen on the same lap. After the pair switched from used softs to new medium tyres, they both left the pit lane just as close as they had been when the entered it. Over the following laps, Verstappen attempted to slipstream up to the rear of Russell’s car, but was continually hampered by his intermittent DRS working inconsistently between each zone.

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Perez pitted from second and dropped back behind Russell and Verstappen in fourth, but leader Leclerc continued to remain out front on the soft tyres he had started the race on, maintaining a consistent, fast pace. Eventually, Ferrari pitted the leader on lap 21, switching him onto the medium tyres and rejoining with his lead comfortably intact.

Behind, the battle between Russell and Verstappen was intensifying. Verstappen’s DRS activated at the start of lap 24, allowing him to pull alongside the Mercedes through the first three corners. However, Russell repelled the Red Bull with robust defending through turn three, retaining his position.

Suddenly, Leclerc began slowing on the circuit with an apparent power unit problem striking the race leader with little warning. Despite Ferrari’s best efforts, the problem could not be fixed from inside the car. Leclerc was called into the garage and into retirement, his first failure to finish of the season.

The battle between Russell and Verstappen was now for the lead of the race. The fight allowed Perez to catch the pair ahead. He asked Red Bull to move Verstappen out of his way to allow him to attack the Mercedes. While the team did not grant Perez’s request, they instead brought Verstappen in for his second stop, moving him onto the softs. Perez now had a clear run at the now-leading Russell and used DRS to sweep by the Mercedes into the first corner and take first place.

At the halfway point of the race, it appeared that Perez and Russell were now committed to two-stop strategies, with Verstappen going for an aggressive three-stop. To make it work, Verstappen had to pass Valtteri Bottas in fourth and he did so, driving clean around the outside of the Alfa Romeo through the long turn 13.

Perez pulled a gap of around five seconds to the second-placed Russell, who was eventually caught by Verstappen on his soft tyres. Before the Red Bull could overtake him, Mercedes opted to bring Russell in and switch him onto a second set of mediums, rejoining in third place. Perez followed suit soon after, retaining his advantage over Russell, allowing Verstappen into the lead.

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On lap 44, Verstappen pitted for a third time, moving back onto the medium tyres. Crucially, he emerged ahead of Russell in second place, leaving him with only his team mate ahead of him. Within four laps, Verstappen was almost a second behind the leader. Perez was told not to defend from his team mate if he attacked him, with Perez reluctantly accepting. Eventually, however, Red Bull ordered Perez to allow him team mate through into the lead. He complied on the approach to turn three, handing the lead of the race to Verstappen.

Russell and Perez both pitted for a third time onto the soft tyres, retaining their positions. Behind, Bottas was in fourth on a two-stop strategy, while Sainz and Hamilton – who had recovered all the way through the field after his lap one puncture – behind him. Sainz overtook the Alfa Romeo to take fourth into turn one, with Hamilton following him through as they went through turn three. Soon after, Hamilton used DRS to overtake Sainz around the outside of turn one, to cap off a stunning recovery to fourth.

Out front, Verstappen told his team he was happy to focus on bringing the car home. He cruised through the remaining laps to take the chequered flag, the race win and the championship lead. Perez took a comfortable second place – along with the fastest lap – while Russell took the final podium place in third.

Despite taking fourth from Sainz, Hamilton was warned that he was at risk of a retirement and needed to conduct major fuel saving in the final laps. He surrendered fourth back to Sainz, but had enough margin to reach the chequered flag in fifth ahead of Valtteri Bottas.

Esteban Ocon finished seventh, with Lando Norris fighting through an illness to claim eighth place. Fernando Alonso took ninth after starting from the back of the grid, with Yuki Tsunoda rounding out the points in tenth.

2022 Spanish Grand Prix reaction

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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57 comments on “Verstappen wins Spanish GP despite error and DRS fault, with Perez’s help”

  1. Looks like all teams have reliability problems. Or was it just this weekend being scorching hot in Barcelona?

    1. @krichelle Possibly the abnormally hot weather.

      1. @jerejj however 34 ambient is not unusual for many GPs

    2. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
      22nd May 2022, 16:21

      I guess, but there’s a big difference between proper problems and annoying little ones.

      The engines of Ferrari actually seem prone to actual issues, whereas the Red Bull-ones are just ‘oopsies’, such as the fuelpump of Verstappen before. Yeah, sure, it causes an DNF but it’s relatively fixable. Leclercs sounded like a turbo and Alfa Romeo has been knocking on Ferrari’s door with major issues too.

      Meanwhile, Mercedes’ engine overheats (as always) and is underpowered.
      Not sure where Renault slots in, but I’d prefer a Honda over any of the others right now.

      1. Funny comment like you, as usual “Mercedes engine underpowered and overheating as usual” when Mercedes were wiping the smile off ur face for the past 8 years. Also if you watched the race you should have noticed that Hamilton was the fastest of all for most of the race.

        1. Maho Pacheco
          22nd May 2022, 17:16

          To win you need strategy + aero + engine + driver. If Mercedes was champion last 8 years or HAM was fastest today it does not change the fact that the engine is right now underpowered and prone to heating.

          1. HAMs engine was not overheating and didnt look underpowered today

          2. oh man, i watch in timeshift. currently lap 65 ;-)

  2. Red Bull gives one of you wings.

    1. Indeed. While it is true that there are reliability concerns still at red Bull, but at least they could have allowed proper racing. Russell was perhaps no longer a threat when the switch was made.

      1. @pinakghosh You actually really expected them to go at it with ‘proper racing?’ With the opportunity they had with CL’s dnf? With Max’s DRS iffy? What if Max’s wing stuck open? No I think realistically any team would have done this and many many have. Ahead of the weekend many thought this was Ferrari’s race to lose, so for it to come out as it did was a bit of a double whammy on RBR’s side.

  3. Mercedes has indeed improved, but one can only wonder what Hamilton might’ve been able to do without K-Mag’s over-optimistic attempt.
    I’m surprised about Albon’s slowness since he got passed by Latifi.
    I thought he’d retire every time he entered the pit lane, although he may still have had an issue.

    1. @jerejj I was surprised the Magnussen incident went unpenalized. He was behind with plenty of track for both, no idea why he turned in so aggressively, ruining both their races. The tactics of a driver finding himself too far up the grid for his actual race level.

      1. Hamilton went unnecessarily wide again and shoved the car into Magnussen as was shown by others.. it’s possible to go around the outside so Kevin was right to try. Nothing punishable from him. But Hamilton wasn’t taking the short way on the inside so they made contact. But since both fell way back… No penalty as both had a role in the contact but you cannot say one or the other was mostly at fault really. Maybe 55/45% Hamilton/Magnussen but quite pointless to punish either one…

        1. Hamilton wasn’t taking the short way on the inside

          He was ahead, he doesn’t have to.

          1. Ahead like 1 meter when they touched. That’s more like side-by-side and both drivers have to be careful. It was the 1st lap and we’ve been told for many years now the rules are much more relaxed for the 1st lap. Also, HAM is not title contender this year, that’s for sure… with or without Mercedes improving, plus they barely touched… so I don’t see any obvious reason to penalize KMAG. Also, at Sky they said HAM understeered (Silverstone 2021 anyone?!). Maybe, don’t know. Anyway, it was an unfortunate small accident for both of them.

          2. In silverstone one meter was considered enough by many

          3. @mg1982 The rules about being ahead or not stipulate on entry, not halfway through the corner.

        2. Once again, placing Hamilton on the slower tire led to that situation where he was having to defend his position from a checky Magnussen. But yeah, in hindsight, Hamilton would have done well to let him go, it would have mean a couple of laps behind Magnussen to retake the position but he would have been up there with a better shout.

          1. This season he is lacking the professionalism it seems. He already wanted to quit the race in lap 5 or something. His current mental state is very fragile. Hence the compliments by toto who seemed to forgot George.

          2. @Erikje: we saw the mental state of the wingmans teammate, after his d
            gravel mistake, when he was unable to pass RUS and his DRS didnt work. Anyhow bad luck of others and RBR wingman strat won the race for him.

        3. HAM left far more than a cars width.

        4. ThreePurpleSectors (@)
          22nd May 2022, 23:30

          @w0o0dy, what you and a lot of C level racers don’t understand is overtaking is from corner entry to corner exit. Second, you can’t overtake around the outside on a decreasing radius corner. Sure you have room going in, but what happens mid to corner exit? All you’re doing is going for broke. Let me pass or we make contact. Wheel to wheel contact is fine at entry or exit, but not mid corner. Hamilton can’t react to Mag in that corner. Mag was crowding Ham despite having all the space to the left of him because that is dirty usuably track. There is no grip there. C level racers don’t factor this in and just dive in for a pass. The result is contact that ruins races or they run into the marbles and end up in the gravel and then complain they weren’t left space. THERE WAS NEVER SPACE TO LEAVE YOU!

          1. Quite full of yourself aren’t you?
            Actually corner nr 4 opens up in the second half so when Magnussen put the car 80% alongside he had a good chance to make the turn and go around Hamilton. Too bad Hamilton appears to be incapable of racing clean and fair so the wobble sent him into the Haas and that was that. In the past Lewis mostly got away with these moves without damage. Now he got the puncture for it. Maybe next time he can try and avoid contact.

      2. @david-br
        If anyone was going to get penalised it would have been Lewis as he understeered away from the apex and into Mag. Not his fault though so a racing incident was correct.

      3. ThreePurpleSectors (@)
        22nd May 2022, 23:10

        @david-br, completely agree. These C level racers always going for low percentage moves that will mean nothing in the end even if they pull it off. This was a reducing radius corner and he acted like it was turn 2 in Hungary where you can sling it around the outside if you have a grip advantage. It was the same with drivers like Grosjean. Now he’s in Indycar doing the same thing. Just low racing IQ no matter what car you give these types of drivers.

        1. @threepurplesectors Well exactly. There’s a reason why K-Mag and Grosjean have had the careers they’ve had and it’s nothing to do with raw speed.

    2. ..and LH wanted to retire after lap 1…..what about his life strategie: never give up…..

      1. He wouldnt have said this with the old car.

        This time round he’s only now realising what a best of a car he has under him. Were it not for this weekend’s upgrades he would have been justified to retire the car.

      2. ThreePurpleSectors (@)
        22nd May 2022, 23:13

        Yes because he thought he sustained damage to the floor and was almost a minute behind. But hey don’t let context get in the way of your crusade.

        1. Don’t let being a totally subjective Hamilton fan get in the way of the facts… The remarks from Lewis were unprofessional and types like yourself would have bee all to eager to crucify any (other) driver that said something like that. But as in this case it’s about Saint Hamilton you are defending him. A bit path… really.

    3. They’re still too far from Red Bull. Verstappen was sliding all over the place and still much faster than Russell.

      1. Russell’s setup was not good for the race, Hamilton was a lot quicker on race pace. I think given a better setup Russell could have been within a handful of seconds of Perez at the end, so yes, Red Bull still quickest but only by 2-3 tenths.

  4. Disappointing stuff from Red Bull, Perez was without a doubt the better driver today and verstappen would have still taken the championship lead had he finished 2nd.
    But a suprisiingly lively Barcelona race, really showed how far the cars came

    1. I’m a Checo fan and I think Max had more pace today, but was also on a better tyre strategy when the switch was made. Still… Max made a mistake that cost him places and Checo didn’t. Checo allowed Max by to attack George and the favour was not returned when he caught Max up. They need to be careful about keeping Checo happy if they want that Constructors. He’s doing a good job and team orders don’t really belong at this stage of the season. They need to use common sense.

    2. Perez wasn’t faster but yes Max made a mistake. However… It’s not very likely that Perez will beat Max in the points standing at the end of the year… So why would they not try and get as much points as possible for Max? Although they didn’t try to take fastest lap away from Perez as they knew that would be pushing things too far. They play the odds, and odds are that Max is the best option to keep LeClerc from the title. I’m sure they will find a way to make it up to Perez and he migt even get a win later in the season if Max manages a big enough lead. And there still is the contract extension for Checo. So he really wants to keep the team happy and come back next year with a race winning car instead of risking being out of F1.

      1. Jonathan Parkin
        22nd May 2022, 17:52

        A race winning car is no use to you if you aren’t allowed to win races in it

        1. ding, ding, ding!

        2. He will win. But to let him win today didnt make sense looking at the overall picture. Max stint on the red was impressive.

        3. Jonathan Parker You’re allowed to win races in a race winning car when you take said car and win poles and races with it and put yourself in the position of being the go-to guy on the team.

          1. Jonathan Parkin
            22nd May 2022, 19:47

            This is true but Perez isn’t going to be allowed to be the go-to guy. Much for the same reason why Barrichello wasn’t allowed to win in Austria in 2002 despite dominating literally the whole weekend

          2. Jonathan Parkin He’s ‘allowed’ to take his equal opportunity and do better than Max with it. Reality is Max is simply faster and has been showing his stuff for several seasons and is highly paid to be the go-to guy, Checo knows that, but that doesn’t stop him from having everything at his disposal to surprise us all and match or beat Max.

            RB at Austria 02 post-race explained that he was just obeying his contract. There is no such contract for Checo at RBR. But yes all things point to the fact that SP didn’t come out at the start of the season when everything was about as equal as they can get between teammates with the newness of the cars, and match or beat Max and make himself the go-to guy. I simply do not believe they built the car for Max, they just built the best car they could.

            Different for MS/Ferrari with RB actually under contract to be subservient. When you’re doing that then sure by all means you’re going to give the money guy a designer car and tires.

        4. You are allowed to win races if you don’t throw it off the track.

          1. Lol one gust of wind and it’s off with his head.

        5. ThreePurpleSectors (@)
          22nd May 2022, 23:17

          Jonathan gets it. I think Checo is smart and gets it too. He doesn’t want to make the same mistake Ricciardo made. He’s done the math. So too have the Alpha drivers. Last year they were grenading engines whenever they found themselves in front Hamilton to support Max.

  5. Ferrari getting back to 2017-2018 mode with retirements and driver errors. So difficult for us fans tbh. After two lackluster years, we finally have a car that can fight and still we come off worse. Redbull looks mighty now that they have the lead in both championships. Max now also has the best Barrichello-Massa-Bottas version for a teammate.

  6. Another unearned victory for Max. Absolutely shameful, but I’ve come to expect nothing less from that team. Checo Perez the deserved winner.

    1. Bosco Moroz
      22nd May 2022, 21:56

      I disagree completely, Max was on another level, when the team orders came, he had quickly closed checo’s 5+ second lead with over 15 laps to go. Checo couldn’t hold him off and to say otherwise is foolish. Team orders was to prevent a crash, nothing more, Max was going to put a move on him if team didn’t let him by. Now if the same scenario happened inside a couple of laps of finish, I would agree, but with 1/4 of race left, no way. If only Checo were faster, Max wouldn’t have caught him so easily….

  7. I thought that was a decent race, and the best part of it came when Verstappen’s DRS wasn’t working and he couldn’t overtake George Russell. Had his DRS worked that would likely have been over in one lap as he breezed past on the straight, but instead we had multiple laps of Verstappen close behind Russell, as the new cars allow that, but unable to get past. A reminder that races can often be more exciting when it is difficult to overtake than when it is easy. In my opinion, the new cars are good enough and F1 should be looking to get rid of DRS for 2022. It has been a necessary evil for the last decade but now is no longer needed, and F1 would be better without it.

    1. Agree @f1frog. If the cars can follow one another closely enough through that ridiculous last sequence of corners to be within striking distance on the straight, at Barcelona of all places, then it is clear DRS is no longer required.

      I dread to think what Montreal will be like with the new cars, since DRS has always been ludicrously overpowered there even with the old ones.

      1. +1

  8. Driver of the day definitely has to be Hamilton, you wonder what might have been were it not for that lap one incident. Gutted for leclerc, he was given a very straightforward win with Russell keeping Verstappen behind for so long, unfortunately very bad luck for him. Overall, the race was decent.

    1. Jelle van der Meer (@)
      23rd May 2022, 9:58

      No way Hamilton is driver of the day – he again understeered into another driver ruining their race, this has happened too many times now sadly it will keep happening.

      He was ready to throw in the towel after lap 1 despite having a much better car than earlier in the season – such mentality should never be rewarded with driver of the day.

      Also he himself lost count how many times he was warned about track limits another thing that Lewis does far too often.

  9. Once again Charles was very unlucky he was cruising to the end, it is so sad to see him retire from lead. He did everything right, he was the fastest driver all weekend. On the other hand, Sainz is a clown, I would change him with Bottas immediately if he has no special clauses in his contract.

    1. I would change him with Bottas immediately

      Interesting how perceptions change so quickly in this sport :-)

    2. ThreePurpleSectors (@)
      22nd May 2022, 23:35

      I’ve been told you make your own luck around here. Not sure how that’s possible because if you have a hand in it than its not luck.

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