Grand Prix™


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The European triple header kicked off this weekend as Formula 1® returned to sunny Spain at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. The F1 Grand Prix™ wasn’t the only on-track race in Barcelona, with a weekend of support events from Formula 2 and Formula 3, as well as F1 Academy, the all-female series which hasn’t hit the track since the beginning of May in Miami.

Formula 1

The drivers stand for the Spanish and Catalonian National Anthems, with Carlos Sainz and Fernando Alonso at the front of the pack ahead of their home race. British driver Lando Norris starts the Spanish Grand Prix on Pole after an exhilarating Qualifying session, taking Pole from Max Verstappen with a time of 1:11.383, compared to the reigning World Champion’s 1:11.403. After a tough start to Saturday for McLaren, when a fire broke out in their hospitality unit in the paddock, Lando showed that he didn’t let it phase him as he delivered an incredible lap to start at the very front of the pack on Sunday.

The Formation Lap is go, with the papaya livery leading Verstappen in second and Hamilton in third. The home heroes start further down the pack, with Sainz and his Ferrari starting in sixth, while Alonso starts P10 for Aston Martin. The 2023 Spanish Grand Prix saw 107 overtakes, and this year, fans are lining the grandstands and grassy banks to see more on-track action.

The nerves are building as the cars line up in their starting positions on the grid. Norris got a good start with Verstappen shortly behind him, kicking up some dust as he took the inside line, but, from fourth on the grid, Mercedes’ George Russell came flying around the outside of the Red Bull and McLaren on the clean side of the tract. Fast forward to lap three, and Max Verstappen fought back to take the lead of the race, with an advantage of over a second before the end of the lap.

Verstappen’s early trip to the grass at the start of the race was noted by Race Control for Norris forcing him off the track, however the investigation was dismissed and the racing continued. Another incident was noted by the Stewards when Sainz passed Leclerc on the outside of turn one but ended up off the track and stayed ahead; there was no further investigation into Sainz potentially gaining an advantage. There was trouble for Sainz’s fellow Spaniard too, as Bottas passed Alonso for P13 on the main straight, dropping one of two home heroes into P14.

Norris was soon in DRS range of George Russell, while Verstappen raced off into the distance with a lead of over two seconds. In fact, the top six drivers were covered by 5.5 seconds. Alonso wasn’t out of the woods either, with the Haas of Kevin Magnussen less than half a second behind the rear wing of the Aston Martin.

Tsunoda and Zhou were the first to pit, with both drivers changing their softs to the yellow mediums. More and more drivers began diving into the pits, with Ocon and Perez changing their tyres to medium and soft respectively. The pit window opened on lap 15, and Gasly headed into the Alpine garage to change his tyres, but an issue on his rear right tyre left him returning to the race in P13. Russell was soon to follow, receiving a message from his Mercedes team to box; he slammed the brakes on as close to the line as he could, locking up on his entry to his pit box. Another dramatic moment in the pit lane when Russell’s pit crew also had trouble getting his right rear tyre secure. Meanwhile, Magnussen was penalised for a false start and was handed a five second time penalty from Race Control.

A positive in the pit lane for Red Bull, who secured a sub-two second pit stop for Verstappen, changing the Dutchman’s tyres to mediums in 1.9 seconds. He retook the track in P4, behind Norris, Leclerc and Piastri. Hamilton and Sainz went wheel-to-wheel, and Hamilton managed to pass the Spanish driver but not without contact; the Brit took the inside line and tapped the Ferrari before racing into the distance. Hamilton also took the fastest lap of the race so far after passing Sainz for P6. The contact between the pair was noted but shortly dismissed.

Verstappen passed Piastri for P3 while Norris was leading, but Piastri soon headed into the pit lane for some medium tyres, returning to the action just outside of the points behind Hulkenberg. It wasn’t long until Piastri passed Hulkenberg for P10. Also on lap 23, Alonso passed Magnussen for P15, one spot behind his teammate, and Norris headed back into the pit lane. His softs were changed to mediums in 2.4 seconds and he came back into the race in P6. Charles Leclerc inherited the lead of the race from Norris momentarily, but it was quickly passed back to Verstappen as the Ferrari pitted.

Norris took the fastest lap and at the beginning of lap 27 on the main straight, passed Sainz for P4. Further back, Leclerc passed Gasly for P6. Another overtake for the other McLaren too, when Piastri took P9 from Perez into turn one. Norris was lapping faster than Verstappen, with the gap between them at 9.308 seconds on lap 29. Verstappen seemed under threat too, as he radioed to his engineer that his tyres were inconsistent. Norris continued to gain on Hamilton and tried to overtake fellow Brit at turn one, but Hamilton defended by taking the inside line, yet Norris remained close on Hamilton’s tail and remained on the attack. Second time around, on lap 32, and Norris tried again, taking the inside line heading into turn one and flying past the Mercedes.

Drivers at the back of the pack soon started to pit for the hard tyre; Bottas, Tsunoda and Magnussen were the first three to make the change. Further up the pack, Piastri passed Pierre Gasly in his Alpine for P7.

On lap 35, Norris tried to make another overtake, this time on George Russell for P2; he managed it, but the battle continued as the lap did. Russell retook P2 but Norris snatched it back, and the battle brought brings Lewis Hamilton closer to his teammate. Russell dove into the pit after his battle with Norris for hard tyres, with Sainz not far behind once again, also on the hard tyres. Battles throughout the pack continued, with Ocon moving closer to the points after passing Daniel Ricciardo as his teammate Pierre Gasly secured more points for himself and the team when he took P9.

Norris cleared traffic at the beginning of lap 44 and the gap between himself and Verstappen decreased to 4.281 seconds. Then, Verstappen was called in to pit, with a longer stop this time of 2.8 seconds, as he changed to a new set of soft tyres for the final stint. Norris was left in free air, and he put in the fastest first sector of the Spanish Grand Prix so far; the McLaren driver had six laps in the bank on Verstappen, based on tyre life. All at once on the main straight, Russell passed Piastri and straight after, Hamilton overtook Sainz.

At the end of lap 47, Norris entered the pit lane. Crucially, he had to return to racing ahead of both Mercedes cars. He achieved that, staying ahead of George Russell who was struggling on his hard tyres as Norris exited the pit lane, leaving a straight fight between Norris and Verstappen for the win. While the excitement for the win unfolded, Hulkenberg was handed a five-second time penalty for speeding in the pit lane. On lap 51, Tsunoda was handed a penalty for speeding in the pit lane and as lap 52 began, Hamilton passed his teammate for third.

With 10 laps to go, the gap between Verstappen and Norris stands at just over five seconds. Also, with all 20 cars running in the race, for the second year running, the race was another Spanish Grand Prix without any retirements or yellow flags.

As the last lap came around, it looked like Verstappen was just going to hold on to the race lead and take the top step on the podium. Maybe we were robbed of a better fight between Verstappen and Norris because of Norris’ poor getaway at lights out, but the McLaren driver took the fastest lap of the race at 1:17.115, and an extra championship point, slotting him into P2 in the Drivers’ Championship for the first time in his Formula 1 career. Norris also took 28.3% of the Driver of the Day vote, ahead of the Grand Prix winner.

A strategy-heavy Spanish Grand Prix, and a tight finish at the end, but Verstappen, Norris and Hamilton share the podium in Barcelona in front of thousands of doting fans.

F1 Academy

The first race of F1 Academy’s weekend saw Doriane Pin struggle off the line, while polesitter Abbi Pulling had a comfortable start. Meanwhile, on lap one, Maya Weug and Amna Al Qubaisi beached their cars in the gravel, bringing out the Safety Car until the end of lap six. Pulling restarted the race by pulling off out of turn 12, accumulating a 0.5 second gap when she crossed the line to start lap seven. Battles were ongoing throughout the pack, including between Tina Hausmann and Jessica Edgar, and Carrie Schreiner lost two positions when she was passed by Lola Lovinfosse and Pin. Edgar was under investigation for a false start, for which Race Control gave her a five-second time penalty. A battle for the final points position between Lovinfosse and Pin ensued; Lovinfosse defended when Pin tried to pass for P10 on the main straight, and the pair went side-by-side before Pin made the move. Pin managed to make places up to P8 after a difficult start, while Pulling took a clean sweep: pole position, fastest lap, and a lights to flag victory. Spanish driver Nerea Martí took P2 and American Chloe Chambers was P3.

The second and final F1 Academy race of the weekend saw Pulling on pole again, but she couldn’t compete with Chambers’ pace off the line. Pin had another difficult start, dropping from P3 to P6, while Pulling narrowly avoided the gravel as she bounced over the kerbs at turn nine. Elsewhere, both Bustamante and Edgar were handed a five-second penalty each after a false start for the former and the latter left the track and gained an advantage. By the start of lap four, Chambers had built a one second advantage at the head of the pack. A four-car battle between Pulling, Martì, Hamda Al Qubaisi and Pin saw the drivers separated by less than a second, however Pulling was struggling with oversteer and Martì had severe rear tyre wear. With three laps to go, Chambers had extended her lead to over seven seconds and Edgar lost her chance to take home some points when her tyres reached the end of their life, dropping her down from P9 to the back of the field in only a few corners. Chambers drove her Haas-backed Campos to the line, giving Haas their first F1 Academy victory and Campos a P1 at their home race. Pulling and Hamda Al Qubaisi joined Chambers on the podium.

Formula 3

Racing in Spain kicked off with the Formula 3 Sprint Race, with polesitter Santiago Ramos leading from the line, with Trident teammate Sami Meguetounif and home favourite Mari Boya behind. Battles were underway in the midfield, with four drivers – Christian Mansell, Gabriele Minì, Luke Browning and Nikola Tsolov – going head-to-head on the main straight, Mansell coming out on top and securing P13. Ramos and Meguetounif went up against one another for first place at the beginning of lap three but the teammates collided at turn one; Ramos suffered a puncture while Meguetounif spun off, ultimately promoting Boya into P1. The young Spanish driver survived the Safety Car restart, after Callum Voisin and Nikita Bedrin collided and stopped on track. On lap 10, Boya was under pressure from Alexander Dunne, with Oliver Goethe close behind the Irishman, and the three drivers separated themselves from the rest of the field. Another Safety Car backed the pack up after Sebastìan Montoya made slight contact with Minì at the exit of turn four; Minì suffered from a puncture, lost control of his car and collided with Montoya. The Safety Car led the field until the last lap, when it was withdrawn, seeing Boya cross the line unchallenged while Dunne became the first Irishman to score a podium in F3. Goethe took the final spot on the podium.

The F3 feature race was the series’ 100th race and saw the first repeat winner of 2024 in British rookie Arvid Lindblad, who overtook polesitter Mansell at turn one on lap five. The Red Bull Junior driver maintained his lead as he raced off into the distance, with a lead of over 1.5 seconds at the halfway point. Come lap 17, the gap between Lindblad and Mansell was over three seconds, and the latter driver was out of DRS range from Luke Browning, who had been trying to snatch P2 from the Australian. Browning’s mission quickly turned to defending from Tsolov and Leonardo Fornaroli, who were battling for the final podium spot. Fornaroli ended up passing Tsolov on lap 22, then had Browning in his mirrors after wheel-to-wheel racing on the final lap as heavy rain descended on the Barcelona circuit. The heavens opening didn’t interrupt Lindblad however, as he stormed to the finish to become F3’s youngest-ever feature race winner.

Formula 2

The Formula 2 Sprint was a comfortable race for Victor Martins, with the French driver leading the race from lights to flag after polesitter Kush Maini experienced wheel spin off the line and dropped to P4 as a result. Maini recovered one spot on lap two with a late dive on Correa in third, as well as his teammate Gabriel Bortoleto, who also passed Juan Manuel Correa. By lap 10, Martins led by a 1.5 second gap to Ritomo Miyata in second, who received two five-second penalties for track limits. Later in the race, Correa was putting pressure on Bortoleto for the final podium place, and a lock-up for the Brazilian driver allowed Correa to pass on the penultimate lap. Martins took his first F2 win since Silverstone in 2023, with Maini in second and Correa in third. However, post-race penalties were handed out to multiple drivers, including Correa, who was back on the podium in F2 after his crash at Spa in 2019.

The F2 feature race was just as exciting as F3, introducing the 10th different race winner in 2024 in Jak Crawford. Estonian driver Paul Aron had the perfect start from pole ahead of Crawford and Franco Colapinto but contact further back between Martins and Hauger saw two early retirements from the race, bringing out the Safety Car, while Hadjar moved from P11 to P5 in an impressive opening half of the first lap. Racing resumed on lap four and Aron maintained his lead, while pushing to clear Crawford from his DRS range. The Virtual Safety Car was deployed for Taylor Barnard’s stationary car at the pit entry and racing resumed from lap 14, however, on lap 18, another VSC was deployed for Barnard’s teammate Joshua Duerksen, who slowed and stopped in the middle sector. With 10 laps to go, Correa pitted from the race lead for softs, filtering back into P9, but he quickly made up places, taking the final podium position on lap 33. Some final lap drama saw the two Invicta teammates, Bortoleto and Maini, collide in the first corner, and the race ended with Crawford in P1, Colapinto in P2 on the F2 feature race podium for the first time, and Correa taking a well-deserved P3. Aron finished in P4 to retain his championship lead.

This continues to be an exciting 2024 FIA FORMULA ONE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP™. Don't miss out on any of the action, all show live from F1 Arcade London and F1 Arcade Birmingham. Get your next watch party tickets now!


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