It’s a real blow for Charles Leclerc. Under temperatures exceeding 35 degrees in the air and 45 degrees on the track, the Scuderia driver, dominating since the start of the weekend, went it alone in the lead of the GP shortly before halfway, far ahead his pursuers, the Briton George Russell (Mercedes) and Verstappen, then in the fight for second place, when the Monegasque had to give up because of an engine problem. A real stroke of luck for the Batavian who was then 19 units behind Leclerc, before the 6th round of the season.

The victory of the reigning world champion, who started in second position, did not seem to have been taken for granted since he first got a good scare on the first laps of the track: he made a mistake on the ninth lap, he fell to fourth place behind teammate Sergio Perez and Russell, and a long way behind rival Leclerc. To make matters worse, once the priority was left by Perez in his fight for second place against Russell, Verstappen indicated that, as in qualifying, he had problems with his DRS the flap mounted on the rear wing which opens to gaining top speed failing to overtake his opponent for about twenty laps. “I was on the pace and trying to pass but my DRS wasn’t always working which made it difficult,” Verstappen said at the finish. “It was a rough start, but the ending is good!” »

After Leclerc’s retirement, the Dutchman, helped by a new set of tires and the pit stop of his opponent of the day, managed to take the reins of the race, supported throughout by the politeness of his teammate Perez, obliged to let him pass in the race, according to the instructions of the team. “It was close and I’m happy for the team, but we have to talk later,” said the Mexican. On the Barcelona-Catalonia circuit in Montmelo, Verstappen won the 24th success of his career and the fourth this season, after the GPs of Saudi Arabia, Emilia-Romagna in Italy and Miami. It was also on this same circuit that he won his first victory in the premier class, becoming the youngest winner of an F1 GP, and that since the creation of the World Championship in 1950. Spanish, he is ahead of his Mexican teammate Sergio Perez, second, and Russell. Verstappen now has 110 points overall, compared to 104 for Leclerc and 85 for Perez.

The Spaniard Carlos Sainz, who started third ahead of Perez and Russell, but got off to a bad start, still grabbed fourth place and saved the day at Ferrari, which lost the championship lead to Red Bull in the process. Starting in 5th place on the grid, Briton Lewis Hamilton suffered a collision with the Haas of Dane Kevin Magnussen (starting 8th) at the start of the race, an incident which led him to return to the pits. He still signs 5th place … and the return of the Mercedes in the race? The reigning world champion team, in difficulty since the start of the season, took advantage of the Catalan circuit, which drivers and teams know by heart after around thirty GPs since 1991 and winter testing every year between 2014 and 2020 then in 2022, to make a lot of improvements to its single-seaters which seem to be bearing fruit. “I believe we have finally solved our problems,” Russell said. “The car behaved well in the race, our pace is closer to that of the best, which is incredible,” said his teammate, seven-time world champion in the category.

The Finn Valtteri Bottas signed a good sixth place behind the leading men at the wheel of his Alfa Romeo, followed by the Alpine of Frenchman Esteban Ocon, who started 12th on the grid. His teammate Fernando Alonso, who started from the back of the grid after an engine change, secured 9th place. The other Frenchman in the event, Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri), “disappointed” and “frustrated” at the end of the race, finished 13th.