Alonso already warned when he arrived in Barcelona, “there will be weekends to be seventh and eighth, and it could be this one”. The euphoria of the 33rd in the middle of the Spanish GP clouded the reality of a very strong Aston Martin, but with even rivals. And Sainz’s second position on the grid hid the embarrassments of an impotent Ferrari, although Carlos warned before the race: “It will not be easy, we suffer a lot with the pace.” But from the other side, Mercedes swept the teams of the two Spanish drivers (Verstappen’s victory is not news) with the double podium for Hamilton and Russell. Without detracting from the pilots, the rhythm of the W14 was like an airplane: George came back from 12th on the grid without difficulty, without forcing his strategy or suffering in any manoeuvre.
Does this mean that the podium party is over for the AMR23? No. In Canada, in two weeks’ time, Aston Martin has high expectations again with major upgrades. In addition, Mercedes has always had a good ‘feeling’ with the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, even in 2022 they fought for victory with a car that gave many problems, before and after that race. And before that, Hamilton won consecutively between 2017 and 2021. Toto Wolff explains the coincidences: “It is true that the characteristics of the circuit and the weather favored us. Not too cold, not too hot. The car was in a huge work window.” Mercedes is already second in the constructors’ championship (145 points) ahead of Aston Martin (130) and Ferrari (99). All three one world behind Red Bull (273).
But the key to the jump for Mercedes is in the aerodynamic package that they released in Monaco and that eliminates the ‘non-pontoons’ to become another car in the style of the RB19. We went in another direction (with the philosophy of the W14)we changed many parts of the car, It was a risky move and now we have a good racing car. At the start of the season we understood that this was not going forward, we designed and produced the improvements and the team has done this huge job, everyone in and out of the car. But we are 15 seconds behind Max, that is not what we want either”, explains the Austrian. On the other side, in Aston they are still waiting for the great evolutions that are already underway while Ferrari is committed to a car that is a lion on Saturday and a kitten on Sunday.
Hamilton and Wolff meet to discuss the renewal
Hamilton picks up the glove but issues a warning: “With this car we will not reach Red Bull, but we work to improve. They are several tenths ahead, maybe half a second per lap. But we are on the right track and I hope that at the end of the year we can at least fight. My goal is to make sure that next year we have the car to compete against them from day one. They are very far away, Max will continue to win this year, and they will also be able to start development of the 2024 car earlier, that is a danger. So we have to keep working.” Likewise, the renewal of the seven-time champion with Mercedes now seems like a matter of time. “I will meet Toto on Monday”, he said before leaving the circuit. And the Austrian confirmed it: “We need time, sit down, have a coffee. It will be half an hour.” Given the performance of the Ferrari in Montmeló, perhaps the desire to be loved by Maranello has been taken away.