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Spanish Grand Prix: Barcelona reveals real F1 rankings

MONTMELO, SPAIN - May 15: Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing celebrates with the team in the pit lane after winning his first F1 race during the Spanish Formula 1 Grand Prix at Circuit de Catalunya on May 15, 2016 in Montmelo, Spain.  (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

MONTMELO, SPAIN - May 15: Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing celebrates with the team in the pit lane after winning his first F1 race during the Spanish Formula 1 Grand Prix at Circuit de Catalunya on May 15, 2016 in Montmelo, Spain.  (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

This weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix is ​​the great equalizer of the season, a circuit familiar to teams and drivers alike, where the real Formula 1 rankings will be revealed towards the end of the weekend.

History shows that Max Verstappen is back in a happy place as Formula 1 kicks off a triple header of big-name European races, starting with the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya this weekend.

Red Bull’s three-time F1 world champion took the first win of his F1 career (pictured above) at the circuit outside Barcelona in 2016, aged just 18, and has triumphed on his last two visits.

The following weekend is Austria and then the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, all circuits that Verstappen won last year as he romped to the most dominant championship of all time.

This year’s race comes after the Dutch driver won a wet Canadian Grand Prix, after three races with different drivers at the top of the podium, and the circuit will suit his car better, with fewer worries about bumps and curbs.

“It has a good mix of high and low speed corners and we have driven it well historically, so hopefully we can maximize the car’s performance this weekend,” said Verstappen, who leads Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc by 56 points after nine races.

“We’re looking to keep the momentum going from Canada, so we’re looking forward to racing this weekend and hopefully having some good weather.”

Verstappen has been leading the F1 world championship for more than two years.

Barcelona F1 Qualifying Verstappen poleBarcelona F1 Qualifying Verstappen pole

The Dutch star started his remarkable run at the top of the points table, taking over P1 in the standings since the 2022 Spanish Grand Prix and staying ahead ever since.

Teammate Sergio Perez needs a strong race after two successive retirements but the Mexican is handed a three-place grid penalty from Montreal, a weekend he called a “disaster” and added: “Sometimes you are forced to reset a bit and that we have done since then. the last race.”

Red Bull is 49 points ahead of Ferrari in the constructors’ standings, with the Italian team trying to recover from the shock of a double retirement in Canada after victory with Leclerc in Monaco.

The race will be Carlos Sainz’s last at home at Ferrari. The Spaniard will leave at the end of the season to make way for seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, and he may have a real chance of winning.

“The Spanish Grand Prix should ensure that we are competitive again, with the same level of performance that we showed throughout the season leading up to the Canadian Grand Prix,” said team principal Fred Vasseur.

Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso, who is preparing for his 21st home race, will also have many fans. The 42-year-old last won a Grand Prix at the circuit with Ferrari in 2013.

Mercedes and McLaren might even have to take a victory on the podium

formula-1-spanish-gp-2023-hamilton russell verstappen gettyformula-1-spanish-gp-2023-hamilton russell verstappen getty

Heading to Barcelona, ​​Mercedes is more positive after George Russell’s pole position and third place in Canada – the team’s first podium of the season.

“There will be new parts in Barcelona. That should help us, so I sincerely hope that we can continue this positive trajectory,” said team boss Toto Wolff, whose drivers finished second and third at the circuit last year.

McLaren has been on the podium in the last five races, with Lando Norris taking one win and three second places, while Oscar Piastri finished second in Monaco.

“The track has its challenges… but I think we are in a good position to maximize our performance and get the most out of the car,” said Norris.

Briton Oliver Bearman, tipped for a race seat next year, will take over Nico Hulkenberg’s car at Haas during Friday’s first training session in Barcelona. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin)

Big question: who will win the 2024 Spanish Grand Prix?

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