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Max had a "Bagnaia-style" weekend. Despite not starting as the favorite, the three-time world champion made a perfect start, making the most of his used tire and positioning on the "dirty" side of the track. This allowed him to immediately pass Norris in turn 1. On the following lap, he caught and overtook Russell, who had made an incredible start to take the lead. From that moment on, thanks also to McLaren's overly conservative strategy, Max was able to manage his tires carefully, which is crucial in Barcelona. Once again, Verstappen proved that even without the best car, he is in a league of his own. What more could he do?

Norris lost another victory, the second in a row, due to an imperfect start that allowed Max to get past. However, the race was far from over: McLaren still had a chance to attack Red Bull, especially after Norris' excellent second stint. The Englishman closed the gap to 4 seconds behind the leader, but inexplicably, the pit crew called him in 3/4 laps after Max, costing him over 8 seconds. A slightly earlier pit stop could have forced Red Bull to react. The undercut in Barcelona was very powerful, almost two seconds: in the worst-case scenario, Norris would have found himself two seconds behind Verstappen with more than 20 laps to go and a faster car. Red Bull would not have been able to delay their final pit stop, considering McLaren's pace and tire management throughout the weekend. At most, they could have matched Max's strategy, pitting at the same time as the Dutchman. This would have put them on equal footing, knowing they had a better car. Instead, they opted for a conservative strategy, aiming for second place. Paradoxically, Red Bull's strategy was more aggressive than McLaren's, once again demonstrating their strength in all areas.

Behind them, Mercedes and Ferrari focused on each other: Russell followed Sainz's strategy, while Leclerc mirrored Hamilton's after starting behind Sainz. Even with Leclerc, they could have taken more risks, but it probably wouldn't have changed much. Ferrari needs to improve, especially in terms of aerodynamic load. It was a bad weekend for Piastri, who was too far from Norris, especially in race pace. The same goes for Perez, who finished 26 seconds behind the Australian! Great performances from Alpine and Hulkenberg. Alonso, however, continues to struggle, blaming the car, but his performances have closed the gap to Stroll instead of increasing it.

© Simone Marchetti


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