After a dramatic Monaco Grand Prix that saw Max Verstappen put in a stunning late wet-weather drive along with supreme tyre management, the season’s first triple-header—which became a double-header due to the Imola race being cancelled—comes to its conclusion in Barcelona, Spain.
With the reigning World Champion beginning to assert dominance, and a veteran looking to end a decade-long wait for his 33rd race victory, there are multiple narratives in play as we head to Spain.
Here are my predictions for the 2023 Spanish Grand Prix.
Mercedes to finally arrive
A slow start to the 2023 season sees Mercedes with only one podium in the opening six races, putting them third in the Constructors’ Standings — a whopping 130 points off the leaders. While Mercedes have no shot at the title this year, they will be looking to finish in the top three in the Constructors’ at the very least.
While they were not even competing for podiums in the opening couple of races, Mercedes have looked better in the last few races, and with upgrades being brought during the Monaco weekend, the Silver Arrows will be hoping they can fight Aston Martin for the second-best-team spot.
While Monaco isn’t the best place to judge the upgrades, moving to a more traditional circuit in Barcelona will help Mercedes get a better idea of their modifications. With Ferrari imploding race after race, either due to driver errors or strategical ones, this is the best time for Mercedes to capitalise on that and build up a big gap between themselves and Ferrari in the Constructors’ and also stay close to Aston Martin.
While Aston Martin have been improving and looking increasingly likely to be able to challenge Red Bull, Mercedes’ upgrades should help them at least fight for podiums. Expect a much stronger showing from the Silver Arrows in Barcelona.
Dark horses: Mercedes
Alpine on the rise
After a slow start to the season, French team Alpine have enjoyed two stellar weekends in Miami and Monaco. While it was a double-points finish in Miami, the team scored their first podium of the season in Monaco through Esteban Ocon’s P3 finish. They would have scored more points, but a strategical error with regards to Pierre Gasly’s pit-stop timing saw him having to pit twice in a short window once the rain came, which meant he could only finish P7 despite running in the podium places at one point.
The Alpine car, the A523, has demonstrated strong race pace throughout the season, and while the team’s Saturdays might not be very productive, they make up for that on Sundays.
Alpine look like a strong midfield team and have built a decent gap between themselves and the other midfield teams like McLaren, Haas, Alfa Romeo and AlphaTauri. After a commendable outing in Monaco, they will be hoping to carry on the good form in Barcelona, and, with their upgrades doing wonders since being introduced in Baku, the French team are the ones to watch out for given their tendency of picking up podiums and a strong haul of points whenever there are incidents around.
Battle of the home heroes
The 2023 Spanish Grand Prix will see two local drivers race in front of the home crowd: Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso are set to feature in Barcelona, though they are coming into the race battling two very different narratives.
Aston Martin have been the second-best team on the grid by a mile, with Alonso leading their charge with five podiums in the opening six races, which sees Aston Martin lie second in the Constructors’ and Alonso third in the Drivers’. Alonso is also looking increasingly likely to overtake Sergio Pérez for the second spot soon.
For Sainz, the season has been very different to Alonso’s. While he seems to have started the season strongly, showing strong pace, his team’s unreliability and strategic mess leave them fourth in the Championship, more than 150 points behind the leaders. Ferrari have scored just one podium this season and seem to be struggling to keep up with Red Bull and Aston Martin. While they have a stronger car than Mercedes, their errors have seen them drop below the Silver Arrows in the table. Add to that a poor weekend in Monaco from Sainz, where he finished P8 due to driver errors, things don’t seem too bright for the scarlet red outfit.
Sainz will be hoping for a better showing in Barcelona, while Alonso will be hoping to secure the much-awaited win #33 in front of his home fans. Either way, the two local boys will be eager to put on a strong show, so keep an eye out for them both this weekend.
Pole prediction: Max Verstappen / Sergio Pérez
Win prediction: Red Bull / Aston Martin
Race details: When and where to watch (India)
- Circuit: Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya
- Venue: Barcelona, Spain
- Practice Session 1 time: 17:00, June 2
- Practice Session 2 time: 20:30, June 2
- Practice Session 3 time: 16:00, June 3
- Qualifying Session time: 19:30, June 3
- Main race time: 18:30, June 4
- Where to watch: F1 TV Pro
All times IST