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  • Writer's pictureBen Waterworth

Spanish Grand Prix talking points: At least the rest of the field is unpredictable

Updated: Jun 22, 2023

Another race, another Red Bull victory. Not much to talk about right? Of course! There is always plenty to talk about in the world of F1, and I’m back to bring you some of those things and more! So let’s get into it.

Take away Red Bull, and you have one hell of an exciting season

Yeah, Red Bull are doing well. Yeah, Red Bull will win both Championships again this yeah. But can we imagine a world where Red Bull aren’t racing this season and think about how exciting it would be?

After seven rounds of the season, we really don’t know who has the second best car in the field. While it looks most likely to be Aston Martin, a weekend like this will happen where Mercedes will shine above the field.

Then on another (very rare) occasion, Ferrari will show it is the second best. Even the likes of Alpine and McLaren have shown flashes of brilliance to give us some doubt as to who really has the ‘best of the rest’ car.

With all that in mind, how exciting would things be right now without the two Red Bulls in the field?

Red Bull sit 135 points clear of second placed Mercedes currently in the Constructors’ Championship. Within that same amount of points from Mercedes sit five different teams, with only 52 points separating second through to fourth, showcasing just how tight that fight for second is.

Meanwhile in the Drivers’ Championship, Max Verstappen has a 63 point lead over teammate Sergio Perez and a 71 point lead over third placed Fernando Alonso.

Taking a 71-point gap between Alonso and the drivers below him, you would fit in six other drivers, with Alonso separated by only 41 points between him and sixth placed Carlos Sainz, again showcasing a tense battle for the lower places.

It may not be exciting to watch the battle for second or third place in the Championship, but why not look at things slightly differently when the rest of the season is a forgone conclusion moving forward?

Red Bull actually believe they can win every race

I said in my last talking points column that I believed Red Bull could win every race this season. And now it seems that Red Bull as well believe exactly this.

Max Verstappen was quizzed by SkySports during the weekend about this very possibility to which he responded “how it looks at the moment, I think we can”.

Even the team itself seem to be very coy in talking about it, but their attitude to their wins is showing just how much they are expecting it every weekend.

(Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Christian Horner almost sounded bored on the radio when Verstappen crossed the finish line, while Verstappen himself pretty much took it like a casual Sunday drive that was a slight inconvenience to him.

As I keep pointing out, the realistic nature of this is very slim. We have had seven rounds, and there are still 15 to go. We aren’t even halfway through the season yet, and there are bound to be many things that stand in the way for the likelihood of such a historic occasion to occur.

But, with every passing race, it becomes closer to reality. Red Bull now stand firmly in second place when it comes to most races won consecutively from the opening race of the season.

They must reach the magical mark of 12 if they are to beat the 11 that McLaren won from the opening round in 1988.

That race will be Belgium. And if they can remain undefeated by then, I’m sure those questions will keep on coming and the possibility will be something more people will be talking about.

Verstappen’s perfect weekend

The Grand Chelem is a somewhat rare feat in F1 circles, with only 24 drivers being able to achieve it in the history of the sport.

And of those 24, only 12 have done so on multiple occasions. And of those 12, only 10 have done it three or more times. With his performance in Spain, Max Verstappen became one of those 10.

For reference, the Grand Chelem, or as it is also referred to as ‘the Grand Slam’, is when a driver wins a race having lead every lap after starting from pole, as well as setting the fastest lap.

Verstappen’s performance in Barcelona added to his previous two Grand Chalems from the 2022 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix and the 2021 Austrian Grand Prix.

(Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Other current drivers to have achieved this are Charles Leclerc and Fernando Alonso with one each, and Lewis Hamilton who has an incredible six, second all-time behind only Jim Clark who has eight.

It is a prestigious ‘award’ that many drivers hold highly when it comes to their overall achievements, and one that Verstappen no doubt took much pride in when he forced the fastest lap from the hands of his teammate in the dying stages.

The win was also Verstappen’s third in a row, the fifth time in his career he was won a hat-trick of races consecutively.

Oh, and on that note, every time he has done so, he has always won the World Championship. Just keep that in mind for the rest of the season.

The Lance Stroll bashing is old and pointless

Lance Stroll went into this weekend suffering a bit of backlash from the F1 media and fans around his two most recent performances.

While teammate Fernando Alonso secured a third in Miami and second in Monaco, Stroll struggled with a 12th in Miami and retirement in Monaco.

This of course was echoed even louder by the usual critics against the Canadian who see him as nothing more as the team owners son who doesn’t deserve his spot on the grid.

Now I’m not here to deflate those opinions any more than I have in the past, and as an unashamed Stroll fanboy, I’ve grown used to just ignoring such ridiculous claims.

However the fact that many still seem to want to jump down his throat the minute he has a bad race or some unfortunate luck, is just uncalled for.

There is no doubting that Stroll hasn’t achieved the highs of Alonso this year, but the fact that he still is having his second best season in F1 hasn’t even been noted by anyone.

Currently in eighth place in the Championship with 35 points, it is only behind his performance in 2020 when it comes to his start in the opening seven rounds of the season.

And even if you are to compare it to that season, he had only one retirement after seven races in 2020 compared to the two he has had in 2023.

And given that he also had a non-points finish this season versus six points finishes and one retirement in 2020, it means that Stroll has scored only 7 points less in four points scoring finishes than he had with six in 2020.

In Spain he was able to silence those critics with a strong fifth on the grid, as well as vaulting right up into third at the start following an incredible overtake on Lewis Hamilton.

And while the pace of the car fell away and he ultimately dropped to sixth, he still beat Alonso in both the race and qualifying for the first time this season, and showed the skills that many like myself know are there within him.

The fact too that Alonso is defending him and continues to help him out shows exactly what is there and what many are overlooking.

Let’s hope that his home race in just under two weeks’ time, a race that traditionally he does well at, will once again show the true Lance Stroll and just why he deserves his seat in the sport.

Ferrari are in no man’s land

What can you even say about Ferrari right now? Even when they upgrade their car and seem to go against the design they have staunchly stuck by since the new regulations were introduced last year, they seem to simply end up nowhere.

Charles Leclerc was eliminated in Q1 and didn’t even remotely look like scoring points on Sunday, while Carlos Sainz started on the front row, but dropped back to finish fifth in the race.

And while second on the grid sounds great, the gap between Ferrari and the pole was still larger than their previous biggest gap back in Melbourne in qualifying. This is very worrisome for a team that simply just seems stuck in this weird purgatory.

There is still plenty of time this season to be able to make ground to Mercedes and Aston Martin, but given as my previous point made about this season being so tight, they seem to be the weakest of those three at fully adapting to the moving parts around them.

When you have some signs of frustration creeping in from both Leclerc and Sainz, it doesn’t seem to bode too well moving forward.

Here’s hoping that Canada will also serve as a race for the team to show what they are capable of, and get out of this no-man’s land they seem to be stuck in.

This article was originally written for The Roar. You can read the published version here


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