With the chicane removed from the final sector, the Catalunya circuit in Barcelona is massively improved. The overall pace of the cars picks up, there’s more overtaking, and the circuit provides a lot more entertainment whether it’s in Qualifying or in the race.
However, removing the chicane couldn’t stop Max Verstappen from dominating the race weekend in Barcelona. The Dutchman pulled off yet another masterclass with a Grand Slam (pole position, victory, and fastest lap) — the third one in his career. That’s the first Grand Slam since Charles Leclerc in Australia 2022. Verstappen ended every single session in P1 in a display of absolute dominance.
The Mercedes duo put themselves on the podium after a fantastic Grand Prix. Aston Martin and Ferrari seemed to take several steps backwards. Let’s unpack the race weekend and see where things stand before the F1 circus heads to Canada!
Perez Needs to Step Up
With Max taking his 40th career victory, it’s clear that Sergio Perez needs to step it up if he wants to keep his championship hopes alive this season.
At the moment, Checo is the only driver that can realistically challenge Verstappen for the title. However, despite having equal machinery, Verstappen is making the most out of the car that he has underneath him.
In Monaco we saw Verstappen pull off one of the most incredible Qualifying laps in Formula 1 history while Sergio Perez crashed out, ruining his chances of scoring points in the race. In Spain, Checo once again faltered, qualifying in 11th place on a circuit where his teammate maximized the pace of the Red Bull once again.
Checo needs to minimize his mistakes and start challenging for wins again if he wants to keep up with his teammate. At the start of the season he was matching Max, taking victories and finishing on the podium when he wasn’t winning. He needs a return to form in Canada, or his season will be ending early.
Meanwhile, Verstappen hasn’t finished lower than second in any race so far this season. It’s this consistency that could give him the championship later on in the year.
Mercedes Make Real Progress
In Monaco, Mercedes brought a major upgrade — they added sidepods to their car. The “zeropod” concept started in 2022, and Mercedes believed in the concept for a long time.
But in Monaco they finally moved on and added sidepods to their car. Following some positive feedback from Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, the Silver Arrows stuck with the brand new concept going into the Spanish Grand Prix.
Although Qualifying didn’t look very positive — with Russell qualifying in 12th, the race proved to be a massive leap forward. Hamilton finished in second and Russell in third giving Mercedes a brilliant double podium — their first since Brazil 2022.
With that, it’s fair to say that the “zeropod” concept is officially dead. Mercedes have taken massive strides forward on the grid, and you can certainly expect them to be fast in Montreal too!
The Mercedes duo are now in 4th and 5th in the standings, still chasing down Fernando Alonso. But, with a brand new car underneath them, they might be fighting back throughout the rest of the season.
Formula 1 heads over to Canada next to race on the amazing Circuit de Gilles Villenueve. The Wall of Champions waits for any driver that tries to push the limits just a little bit too far — it’s always incredible to watch!
The 4.3 kilometer long circuit has provided us with some great racing in the past, including the longest ever Grand Prix in 2011.
Lewis Hamilton will be excited heading to the Montreal circuit, as he's been very successful here in the past. He’s currently tied with Michael Schumacher for the most wins in Canada (7). With Mercedes' rise in form, can Hamilton break the record? Will Verstappen continue to dominate, or can Checo fight back against his teammate?