Max Verstappen, fastest on the Circuit

Max Verstappen, fastest on the Circuit

An impressive Fernando Alonso set the second best time on the first day of the Spanish Grand Prix, which was also marked by the first contact with the new configuration of the track.

Formula 1

Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya has already started to deliver surprises and thrills. The world championship track, official venue of the FORMULA 1 AWS GRAN PREMIO DE ESPAÑA 2023, was visited by a total of 58,421 attendees during the first day of on-track activity, a day dedicated especially to the various tests of the single-seaters and to the adaptation to the new configuration of the track.

The Catalan track once again proved its versatility and, as the calendar of all the Grand Circus teams shows, the Barcelona event is an ideal occasion to introduce and test some improvements once the first part of the season is over. A track that, for the first time in many years, has changed its configuration for the Formula 1 World Championship. Specifically, it was in 2007 when a chicane was introduced in the last sector, a point that has now returned to its origins.

For this very reason, the focus has been on the new layout, which has been reduced from 4,675 to 4,657 metres, and from 16 turns to 14. This explains the remarkable improvement in lap times, which were led today by reigning champion Max Verstappen. The Dutchman led both Free Practice 1 and Free Practice 2, proving once again that Red Bull is a step ahead of the rest. The World Championship leader clocked 1:13.907 in the afternoon which, compared to Leclerc’s pole time last year (1:18.750), suggests a much quicker and more exciting Grand Prix.

After a first day of running, the opinion was unanimous. The F1 grid passed this final section of the track with flying colours, and although it proved to be a challenge for many of the drivers and their cars, they all applauded the improvement. Max Verstappen and the new track were not the only protagonists of the day, but also the ground effect – caused by the rebound of the so-called porpoising – made its appearance once again.

Just this morning, the cars were testing new parts and set-ups for the weekend, with qualifying clearly unrepresentative. With the exception of Max Verstappen and Checo Pérez, in first and second place, the rest of the positions were somewhat surprising. Esteban Ocon (Alpine) was third and Nyck de Vries (AlphaTauri) fourth, with Pierre Gasly (Alpine) fifth. In this session, many drivers also told their teams that it was difficult to control the car due to the dreaded bounce from the ground effect. Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc were among the most affected with the Ferrari.

In the afternoon, things settled down a bit, with qualifying a little more true to form, or at least closer to what has been seen so far this year. Behind Max Verstappen, local hero Fernando Alonso found his position. That second place was not far behind Verstappen’s first, with just over a tenth of a second separating them (1:14.077). Nico Hülkenberg managed to put the Haas in third position with a 1:14.177.

Checo Pérez was fourth, followed by Esteban Ocon and Charles Leclerc. This could confirm Alpine’s step forward or, at the very least, the motivational boost after a podium finish in the last race. Ferrari, however, cannot say the same. Despite announcing that they were bringing a package of improvements to the Circuit, today they didn’t quite find the best feeling on the asphalt. Both Sainz, who is chasing Leclerc in the timesheets in seventh, and the Monegasque will have to quantify this improvement in qualifying tomorrow.

Fans, however, have nothing to worry about, as Carlos Sainz is an expert at setting a great one-lap time, as he has already demonstrated on other occasions at the Circuit. George Russell and Valtteri Bottas were other fastest drivers of the day, joining Mercedes and Alfa Romeo in the fight between the teams in the middle of the grid.

Tomorrow, the premier class will complete Free Practice 3 at 12.30 p.m., before qualifying at 4.00 p.m. Before that, both F2 and F3 will run the first races of the weekend at the Circuit.

Oliver Bearman sets the pace in F2

Oliver Bearman (Prema Racing) today became the first driver of the season to repeat pole position in the FIA Formula 2 World Championship. After five different leading drivers in the five events held so far this year, Bearman was the only one able to put his name in the top position of the standings again. He did so by stopping the clock at 1:23.546.

In the intermediate category of the World Championship, there was a very evenly matched battle between the teams, with the same number of teams in the top seven positions. After Prema Racing, Rodin Carlin set the second fastest lap with his driver Enzo Fittipaldi, less than a tenth of a second off the pace (1:23.623). The grandson of two-time World Champion Emerson Fittipaldi lived up to his surname, as did Jack Doohan, the son of the five-time 500cc Motorcycling World Champion. Doohan and Invicta Virtuosi Racing were third today.

Ayumu Iwasa (DAMS) and Theo Pourchaire (ART Grand Prix) were fourth and fifth respectively, with Dennis Hauger (MP Motorsport), Victor Martins (ART Grand Prix) and Frederik Vesti (Prema Racing) taking the top eight positions, which will be reversed tomorrow for the first race at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in the intermediate category.

Pepe Martí takes his first F3 pole position at the Circuit

Pepe Martí and Campos Racing secured their first F3 goal at the Barcelona circuit. The Catalan driver took his first pole position in the world championship category and he did it at home, with a devastating pace. Martí’s authority has been more than evident, as the local driver is coming from a podium finish in Monaco. Both he and the Spanish team are beginning to reap the rewards of hard work in the class and have put themselves in the betting for the weekend.

Today’s results will form the starting grid for Sunday’s race, the biggest points race of the weekend. Tomorrow, however, the grid will be made by inverting the first 12 positions, so Martí will start twelfth. The time set by the Spaniard was a 1:27.587. Despite the equality in the championship, Martí has been able to take almost three tenths of a second advantage over his immediate pursuer, Taylor Barnard (Jenzer Motorsport).

Franco Colapinto (MP Motorsport) was the third in discord, practically matching Barnard’s lap time. Dino Beganovic (Prema Racing) and Paul Aron (Prema Racing) were the last competitors to see the same second as poleman Pepe Martí. With today’s results, Mari Boya (MP Motorsport) will start fifth tomorrow. The other local representative was eighth fastest thanks to his 1:28.082. Main beneficiaries were Zak O’Sullivan (Prema Racing) and Luke Browning (Hitech Pulse-Eight), who will head tomorrow’s front row of the grid with the 12th and 11th fastest times respectively.

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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