Carlos Sainz adds thrills to the SpanishGP

Carlos Sainz adds thrills to the FORMULA 1 AWS FORMULA 1 GRAND PRIX OF SPAIN

The Spaniard will start tomorrow's race from second, alongside poleman Max Verstappen. Fernando Alonso finished ninth due to damage to his Aston Martin.

Formula 1

The FORMULA 1 AWS GRAN PREMIO DE ESPAÑA 2023 surprised today as never before, offering an unconventional layout for tomorrow. In this scheme there are some more logical variants, such as Max Verstappen’s new pole position; and some more unexpected ones, such as the elimination of Charles Leclerc in Q1 and Checo Pérez in Q2. There are also lights and shadows for the home fans, with second place for Carlos Sainz and ninth place for Fernando Alonso. Today, a total of 100,080 people were present at the world championship track.

Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, despite being a well-known track for all the participants of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship, made things difficult for all of them today. The main cause was the rain and the uncertainty, and perhaps even concern about the state of the asphalt. A condition that was practically unseen in Barcelona, a venue usually blessed with sunshine and high temperatures.

Despite this different scenario, the F1 grid went into Q1 on dry tyres, despite the water on the tarmac. This caused a few scares for drivers such as Yuki Tsunoda, Nyck de Vries and Fernando Alonso himself. In particular, it was the area of the Stadium that saw the most run-offs. Alonso’s shock caused damage to the Aston Martin’s flat bottom, inevitably affecting his subsequent performance.

In the first qualifying phase, another surprise was Charles Leclerc, who was eliminated along with Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo), Kevin Magnussen, Alexander Albon (Williams Racing) and Logan Sargeant (Williams Racing). Leclerc was also the second to be eliminated and will start tomorrow’s Spanish Grand Prix from the penultimate position on the grid. A surprising Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time of 1:12.937, being the only driver to see that second.

Q2 was not without adrenaline either, as the track was improving by leaps and bounds. Checo Perez, on his second attempt at a fast lap, went wide and dropped out of the top 10 for the start. His 11th position was followed by George Russell (Mercedes), Gunyu Zhoy (Alfa Romeo), Nyck de Vries (AlphaTauri) and Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri). In addition to Perez’s surprise, Hamilton-Russell team-mates brushed their cars on the Circuit straight while both were setting their times. Mercedes’ radio communications hinted at the possibility that it may have been caused by not seeing each other. Verstappen was already showing his best time of 1:12.760.

In Q3, the grid was finally decided. Max Verstappen took his first pole position at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, setting a benchmark time of 1:12.272. The closest to him was Carlos Sainz. The Ferrari driver set a lap of 1:12.734, which helped him to secure the front row of the grid for tomorrow. A surprised Lando Norris put the McLaren just a few thousandths of a second behind the Spaniard, despite having experienced one of the worst Friday practice sessions ever.

Fernando Alonso, while his rivals were testing with a first attempt, stayed inside his garage for his technical team to repair the damage to the Aston Martin’s flat-bottom. Despite his efforts, the Spaniard had only one lap, which was enough to finish ninth. Pierre Gasly (Alpine) was fourth today, although he could be penalised by race direction for hindering Carlos Sainz’s lap. Lewis Hamilton will be fifth, with Lance Stroll on the same grid line as him. Esteban Ocon (Alpine) and Nico Hulkenberg (Haas) will be Alonso’s rivals ahead of him, in seventh and eighth respectively.

After qualifying, both Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz were asked about their preferences for tomorrow’s race. The Aston Martin driver has announced that he prefers the appearance of rain, in order to have more chances; while the Ferrari driver wants a dry track. We will have to wait until tomorrow to see which wishes come true. Fans can breathe easy because Sainz could be in with a chance of victory and Alonso will have a new flat-bottom to get back to his usual competitive Aston Martin.

 Rain dismantles any theory for F2

The intermediate category of the World Motor Racing Championship was the most surprised by the rain today. With the start of the race already underway behind the Safety Car, F2 experienced 26 laps of real excitement. Although Amaury Cordeel (Invicta Virtuosi Racing) maintained his lead at the green lights, Frederik Vesti (Prema Racing) overtook him on the second lap and held the lead until the end.

Jak Crawford, who started second, saw his race end when he collided with Vesti. The broken steering forced him to stop in his pit box. This altercation left Victor Martins (ART Grand Prix) in the fight with Cordeel and Vesti for the podium. However, Cordeel was punished by the rain on lap 12, running wide. With the track progressively drying out and the wet tyres degrading, by lap 18 the race would take another change of direction.

Some drivers decided to go in for a tyre change, and shortly after were caught on television losing control of their cars. This was the case of Juan Manuel Correa (Van Amersfoort Racing), who brought out the Safety Car again. In the end, a three-lap shootout was all that was left for the drivers to see the chequered flag. With Vesti first, a superb Theo Pourchaire (ART Grand Prix) moved up from ninth to second, with Martins alongside him on the podium.

O’Sullivan keeps pole position in F3

Zak O’Sullivan (Prema Racing) headed into the first race of the weekend from the front of the grid thanks to reverse qualifying. Although he set the 12th fastest time yesterday, today he had the tough task of leading the field in the sprint race, which awards fewer points than tomorrow’s race. The Englishman did not hesitate to take his chance and, despite pressure from second-placed Luke Browning (Hitech Pulse-Eight), he was able to hold on to the lead until the end. Leonardo Fornaroli (Trident) was third.

In addition to this leading group, some drivers who usually finish in the points, such as Sebastián Montoya (Hitech Pulse-Eight), Christian Mansell (Campos Racing) or Dino Beganovic (Prema Racing), were in the lead for completely different reasons. All of them suffered various mishaps such as collisions with rivals, run-offs of their own, etc. Within the space of just one lap, these altercations led to the second deployment of the Safety Car. When the Safety Car came into the pit lane, a three-lap sprint race again caused a lot of changes.

Mari Boya (MP Motorsport), who started fifth, was able to see the chequered flag from seventh place. The other home representative, yesterday’s poleman, was able to make up positions on the reverse grid, which put him in 12th place. Pepe Martí (Campos Racing) finished eighth, scoring valuable points in his fight for the top 3 of the championship. Tomorrow he will start the feature race from the front row.

An event packed with activities

There will be a Fan Zone, located behind the Main Grandstand, with proposals and activities for all tastes. In addition, the Fan Forum will be held there, a series of interviews with drivers of all categories throughout the weekend. The guests and complete programme can be checked at the Circuit website. There will also be other areas of attraction such as the Green Zone and the Kids Zone (area of the Crater Forest), the Pelouse Jove (at Turn 4) or the Food Fest (old heliport area). At the end of the event and after the F1 race, it will be possible to access the track thanks to the Open Track (through different open accesses in the public areas).

Access to the Circuit

All the gates of the Circuit will open from 7 a.m. During the weekend. All box offices except box office 5 will be open as well, with the same opening hours as the gates. It is recommended to arrive at the facilities by public transport in order to avoid crowds of vehicles.

It should be reminded that parking tickets must be exchanged for a sticker and that only users who have previously purchased their ticket at the Circuit website will be able to access with a private vehicle. Also, the car parks are dynamic, there is no parking allocated according to entrance or Grandstand/Pelouse area, but they will be filled according to the capacity in real time and volume of cars. All gates can be used to access any point of the Circuit.

A sustainable management of the Grand Prix

The Circuit will promote a wide range of actions within the framework of its 3C management philosophy (conscience, commitment and coherence) in sustainability, integrating the social, economic and environmental aspects. Under the slogan “Driving for a better future”, it works to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals of the UNEP Agenda 2030. These include the use of 100% renewable energy, the donation of food, the use of 0 km gastronomic products, waste management, sustainable forestry care of the Circuit environment or the use of circular economy to fund it with other sustainable actions.

Last tickets on sale

To attend the FORMULA 1 AWS GRAN PREMIO DE ESPAÑA 2023, the last tickets are still available at the Circuit’s website. With General Admission and Pelouse Jove sold out, as well as the three-day tickets for many grandstands, the Circuit has some limited visibility tickets available, which have a 20% discount, as well as some others in the new grandstands T1 and S. For more exclusive experiences, some hospitality tickets are also available.

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