Verstappen cruises to victory in F1 Spanish GP as Mercedes scores double podium

Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen scored his fifth win of 2023 with a convincing victory at the F1 Spanish Grand Prix Sunday, as Mercedes scored the team’s first double podium finish since Brazil last year with Lewis Hamilton second ahead of George Russell.

“It’s a big pleasure to drive with a car like this,” said Verstappen. “A win here, it’s incredible. It was a strong weekend from myself, from the team. Hopefully we can keep this up.”

At lights out it was Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, starting from the front row beside polesitter Verstappen who made the best start. On Soft tires he drew alongside the Dutchman who started on Mediums, as the pair powered towards Turn 1. The Red Bull driver held firm, however, and moved ahead as they went towards the second corner.

Behind them Hamilton passed P3 starter Lando Norris into Turn 1 and the McLaren driver then clipped the back of the Mercedes as they went into Turn 2. Norris was forced back to the pits at the end of the opening lap for a new front wing and dropped to last place.

There were good starts too for soft tire starters George Russell and Zhou Guanyu who jumped ahead of the second Red Bull of Sergio Pérez who like his team-mate also started on medium tires. Pérez dropped to P12, but soon began moving forward and at the start of lap 2 he powered past McLaren’s Oscar Piastri and then got by AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda Haas’ Nico Hülkenberg to claim P9 before inheriting P8 when Zhou pitted to shed his starting soft tires.

At the front, Verstappen was already carving out a solid gap to the rest of the field and on lap 11 he was 5.2 seconds clear of Sainz, with Hamilton a further 1.6s back. Lance Stroll was fourth for Aston Martin ahead of the Alpine of Esteban Ocon, while Russell was sixth. In seventh and just half a second ahead of Pérez was the second Aston Martin of Fernando Alonso.

At the end of lap 13, Ocon pitted from fifth place to switch from Soft to Medium tires and the Frenchman was followed to the pits soon after by Stroll. Sainz then made his first stop of the race at the end of lap 15 and after taking on Medium tires he rejoined in eighth place. At the end of lap 19, Alonso dived into the pits. The flurry of stops vaulted Pérez to fourth, 7.5s behind Russell.

Hamilton pitted for medium tires on lap 24 and he rejoined in P5, behind Sainz. Russell made the same move at the end of the following tour and Pérez rose to second place, 28 seconds behind his teammate.

Verstappen made his first stop on lap 27 and in a 2.2s halt the race leader moved to hard compound Pirellis before rejoining six seconds ahead of his team-mate who pitted at the end of the next lap. The Mexican’s 2.2s switch saw him emerge in ninth place, behind Alonso.

At the front, Verstappen was now 12 seconds clear of Hamilton, with Sainz third ahead of Russell. Stroll had climbed back to fifth place ahead of Ocon, while AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda, who had made an early stop for hard tires, held seventh and Pérez sat in P8 after getting past Alonso under DRS at the start of lap 31.

The Mexican Red Bull driver then began an inexorable march through the order and he climbed back to fourth place with 25 laps remaining. Russell then pitted for a second time on lap 46 and after moving to soft tires the Mercedes driver dropped to fourth, 13.4s behind Pérez. He quickly began to close on the Red Bull and on lap 51 Pérez’ team pitted him for a second time. The Mexican bolted on a set of softs in a 2.2 stop and rejoined the action in fifth place, 2.4s behind Sainz.

Hamilton, too, pitted on lap 51 and that gave Red Bull the freedom to move Verstappen to set of soft tires without significant time penalty. He emerged in the lead and soon after Pérez powered past Sainz. The Mexican closed to within four seconds of the Mercedes driver in the end had to settle for fourth place.

Ahead Verstappen was in total control and after 66 almost perfect laps the Dutchman crossed the line some 24 seconds ahead of Hamilton and 32 ahead of third-placed Russell to take his fifth win of the season, the 40th of his career and his third grand slam after perfect weekends in Austria in 2021 and in Imola last year.

Victory in Spain extends Verstappen’s championship lead and he now has 170 points, 53 ahead of Checo who has 117. Red Bull also grew its Constructors’ Championship lead and with 287 points it is now 135 ahead of Mercedes who have moved into second place ahead of Aston Martin.


Pos No Driver Car Laps Time/Retired PTS
1 1 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing Honda RBPT 66 1:27:57.940 26
2 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 66 +24.090s 18
3 63 George Russell Mercedes 66 +32.389s 15
4 11 Sergio Perez Red Bull Racing Honda RBPT 66 +35.812s 12
5 55 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 66 +45.698s 10
6 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes 66 +63.320s 8
7 14 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes 66 +64.127s 6
8 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault 66 +69.242s 4
9 24 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo Ferrari 66 +71.878s 2
10 10 Pierre Gasly Alpine Renault 66 +73.530s 1
11 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 66 +74.419s 0
12 22 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri Honda RBPT 66 +75.416s 0
13 81 Oscar Piastri McLaren Mercedes 65 +1 lap 0
14 21 Nyck De Vries AlphaTauri Honda RBPT 65 +1 lap 0
15 27 Nico Hulkenberg Haas Ferrari 65 +1 lap 0
16 23 Alexander Albon Williams Mercedes 65 +1 lap 0
17 4 Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes 65 +1 lap 0
18 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 65 +1 lap 0
19 77 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Ferrari 65 +1 lap 0
20 2 Logan Sargeant Williams Mercedes 65 +1 lap 0

* Provisional results. Note – Verstappen scored an additional point for setting the fastest lap of the race. Tsunoda received a five-second time penalty for forcing another driver off the track.

Greg Engle