Winners and Spinners - Catalunya Practice and Qualifying
Yes, yes, yes. I know I'm late with this. Anyhow, who do we think did best in the early part of the race weekend? And who needs to have tried harder?
Looking strong, will they keep it up in the race though?
Ferrari - The team in red looked strong through FP1 and 2. FP1 especially running fast on the mediums against the rest of the pack of softs. They followed through with a strong qualifying to prove that their work wasn't a flash in the pan. Charles had looked up against it with Sainz putting in a series of faster laps throughout the earlier parts of the weekend but Charles came back through and put in a competitive P4 on the grid. Sainz was looking hot for a P5 but ended up being pipped to it by Ocon.
Alonso heading out onto track for a strong qualifying.
Alpine - How much more is Alpine going to develop over the season? There cannot be much left in that chassis? They looked fast in FP2 on a series of longer runs, which I'm calling a positive sign for the race if they chose to pull longer stints on the durable tyres Pirelli have bought with them for a low deg course. We are still seeing Esteban Ocon outpacing Alonso with a P5 in qualifying seemingly coming out of nowhere? But this is a show of his stunning raw pace, and if the wet weather forecasts are to ring true, then maybe we'll see another potent drive from the young Frenchman.
Man's fast. And that Alfa looks quick too.
Giovinazzi - Antonio Giovinazzi knows his time in F1 is limited. The big seats at Ferrari are basically booked out for the foreseeable future, his only chance at remaining in the sport is to get noticed by another team and have something lined up for when his contract expires. He's consistently outpaced Kimi through the weekend and managed to out-qualify him at all but one of the races this season, inching his way closer to a Q3 appearance. He seems to be coming into a strong form for the rest of the season and if the team's long stint pace can be resolved we might see a blinding performance from the Italian. My theory at the moment is that the Alfa Romeo is a slippery car with a very low drag approach, which explains Kimi's purple first sector that seemed indomitable, the fast sweeping turns of the early section of Catalunya favouring the C41's set up.
Impressive stuff, it really is. Image Credit - Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team
Lewis Hamilton - 100 poles. Simply incredible and another point to the case that he won't stop and his form hasn't tailed off.
To quote Charles Leclerc "he will never learn".
Mazepin - Another weekend of spinning and being outclassed by his teammate in all the sessions. He was released late into FP2 and in front of Kimi in the pit lane, while this isn't directly his fault, it's not a good sign of things to come. He would go on the block Lando Norris in as the McLaren driver during the first qualifying session, earning the Haas driver three-place grid penalty and a penalty point. A grid penalty to the guy in 20th. Ah yes, that'll impact his race. Much like the 5-second penalty, he was handed in Portugal. When running half a minute behind P19. Any bets on him being lapped by the entire grid this weekend? It's a slightly shorter, quicker circuit than Portimão, so it's not out of the realms of possibility.
Back in the driver's seat.
Robert Kubica - Dropping it at turn 10 and getting beached in FP1. I expected better from a driver who has such raw talent in the 00s. Possibly had these days? But it is nice to see him on track. And that turn 10 had just been resurfaced, so wasn't exceptionally grippy.
Catalunya track designers - I want this to bite me in the ass when the new spec cars arrive and can follow through sweepers. This seems to be the design language that's coming through in all the new F1 tracks (Miami and Saudi Arabia especially). Maybe the new cars will handle the chicane nicely too? Surely an entirely revised line through the final few corners would pay dividends? If it could exaggerate the speeds into turn one, making it more of a dramatic braking zone, reducing the reliance on DRS passes, it would likely provide better racing. Last year in Spain I think there were only four non-DRS passes on track. Four. (I am willing to stand corrected here if someone knows the actual stats). Time will tell, and I want this to age badly. Equally, someone forgot to glue down that camera properly and it worked its way loose and resulted in the puncture on Kimi Räikkönen's Alfa Romeo.
A regular feature in the "could do better" pile, the second Red Bull seat.
Sergio Perez - I'm putting him here, but I've put him here before and said cutting things, and I always follow it up with "ah well, we'll give him time to settle in" and four races is still a little early to judge. So we'll see. Give him time.
In what has been a tough weekend, in FP3 less than a second separated Verstappen at the top of the timing sheets and Esteban Ocon in 13th. Dividing up the grid is proving to be a tricky task, especially as Aston Martin has found some of their missing pace, closing up the midfield. I shan't delve too deeply into this as I'm late getting this out courtesy of pulling extra shifts at work. So instead I'll open this to the floor, who do you think looks to have put in the work on Friday and Saturday? What are your predictions for the race?
Another Q2 appearance, but that's becoming a hotly fought territory, will George be able to keep getting that Williams in there?