A fight for the 2022 Formula One championship title that was deemed to be a two-way fight might not be what it seems. In the first 5 races of the 2022 F1 season, we saw a tough battle between Ferrari and Red Bull, where consecutive eight time constructors’ championship winner Mercedes’ glory seemed to fizzle out.
However, Mercedes have now made sure to recoup and not let their dominance in specifically the Spanish Grand Prix perish. The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is known for being one of the most favourable tracks for Mercedes.
7-time F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton has made it a point to win at Barcelona every season since the 2017 season of F1 following reigning F1 world champion Max Verstappen’s maiden F1 win in the same circuit in the 2016 Spanish GP.
How did a two-way battle between Ferrari and Red Bull turn into a three-way battle?
In a climactic Barcelona qualifying session, Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc spun on his first lap of Q3, but quickly recovered to knock an incredible 1:18.750 and claiming pole position, eventually slashing Red Bull’s Max Verstappen by three-tenths of a second. British former racing driver Martin Brundle even went on to hail that particular lap as a “champion’s lap”. Barcelona will serve as Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz’s home GP. Sainz wasn’t far too behind Leclerc, with the Spaniard finishing at P3 with visible improvement.
The qualifying session seemed to be giving Verstappen quite the trouble on his end despite claiming P2. After the qualifying session was over, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner confirmed that Verstappen not being able to open DRS on his end cost him his speed. This is the fourth time this season that Leclerc and Verstappen have a front row lockdown, making the title fight between them even more exciting to look forward to. Verstappen’s reliable teammate Sergio Perez lost the chance of finishing at P4 to Mercedes’ newly recruited driver George Russell.
However, the most significant part of the Spanish GP as of yet has been Mercedes’ W13’s impeccable speed in the practice sessions and the qualifying race. George Russell finished at P4 in qualifying with Lewis Hamilton finishing at P6. It was a bit disappointing for Mercedes given the empowering speed they had throughout these sessions. Nevertheless, the biggest takeaway for Mercedes has been the fact that they’ve finally somewhat solved the porpoising issues with the W13 that has plagued them this season ever since the pre-season testing at Barcelona. This has been Mercedes’ best finish yet this season which makes this three-way battle now even more entertaining to look at.