One thing must be admitted: this Formula 1 knows how to learn. He knows how to change. With the new technical regulation, he has finally brought cars to the track that can be drivable even in the slipstream, with attacks now more possible than before, and we have already written this many times. But that they would also invent a occult directora plot writer capable of surpassing that same Netflix that with its ‘almost true’ has captivated that young, non-purist audience, which today determines the new growing success of the GPs, well, who would have imagined this?
It is a provocation, of course. But how to justify what we saw on the track until Saturday in Barcelona if not thinking of a fiction, and also of the most exciting ones? Let’s start from the beginning. In Montmelò, a real circuit, with curves from side G to handfuls and consequent severe difficulties in managing the tires, suddenly Mercedes reappeared. The same Mercedes that since the advent of the hybrid era (2014) had practically monopolized the Spanish GP scene, leaving some windows open at Red Bull and practically canceling the Ferrari that always came home from Barcelona with its ears down. This year, especially on Friday, it seems to have returned to that recent past: Silver Stars again stars, not yet at the acute level but with a notable recovery of the gap that massacred them from Bahrain to Miami. And qualifying also showed that disadvantage was greatly reduced, giving an F1 shaken by a three-team fight that hasn’t been seen since time immemorial.
Chapter two: the Ferrari. A new aerodynamic version which, it was said, had the task of giving a little more speed on the straight, because in the corners the Reds were already super-competitive from the start of the season. But if on the fast lap Leclerc and Sainz were very fast from the first session on Friday, here they struggled on prolonged runs, treating the tires worse than the Red Bull drivers and thereby making them fear a lot in terms of the race. Behind the Ferraris, Verstappen built his weekend one brick at a time, refining his Red Bull to near perfect just on the eve of qualifying.
Chapter three: an almost cinematic qualification. After keeping all this content warm, the hidden media has invented an hour for the grid in which the Reds even dared to spare a set of soft tires during Q2. Successful move, because Leclerc managed to overcome the cut (albeit behind Sainz), showing a coldness, he and the red wall, like real poker players. But at the first attack on the real pole, during Q3, what is Leclerc up to you? He goes like the wind in the central sector of the circuit and he dives like a fighter on the final corners that at that stage saw him faster than everyone else. But when he reached the chicane before the last corner he exaggerates and crashes into a textbook spin: aborted lap, return to the pits and zero time, just as Verstappen plants a respectable pole. We are back on track for the second attack and the Ferrari driver from Monte Carlo does not seem to have even a memory of the mistake he made just before. He repeats everything perfect: trajectories to the centimeter, record split times and a monstrous pole just as the Red Bull of what would have been his only real rival, Verstappen, starts sobbing on the track and Max cannot improve himself.
Pole Leclerc, then. The fourth of the six seasons so far is proof of a Red that has nothing to learn on a single lap. Charles is also the first driver to hit two poles in a row in 2022, giving the Cavallino its first pole in Spain 14 years after a Raikkonen-Massa front row now covered in cobwebs. And, not negligible factor, four tenths faster than his teammate Sainz, who despite the fact of playing at home, complete with a stand in his name and stellar cheering, is no better than the second row. At a certain point the F1 director also broadcasts a window that tells how Carlitos is the only one of the Ferrari and Red Bull drivers, in this first quarter of the season, not to have signed a pole yet. And this will also start to make him gnaw a little.
Ferrari-Red Bull-Mercedes joined with their six drivers in the first three rows of Sunday’s grid; three other Ferrari engines in the remaining top ten positions at the start, with a Bottas that at the wheel of the small Alfa Romeo allows himself to get only 96 thousandths from his ex-partner Hamilton, once again crashed on a par by Mercedes by the young and no longer surprising George Russell. It’s still: an almost African heat which could make everything very difficult in the race, especially the optimal management of the tires. Is all this enough to make us think of a Spanish GP that seems to have been written by a very, very good scriptwriter?
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