The 2022 Spanish Grand Prix produced plenty of drama and was something of a yo-yo race for a number of drivers – including the winner.
Edd Straw delivers his verdict on the performances of all 20 Formula 1 drivers across the grand prix weekend.
After each grand prix, The Race will rate each driver’s weekend with a mark out of 10.
An average mark is 5 out of 10, so that score is indicative of a decent drive given the high standard of drivers in F1.
For a more in-depth explanation, read our outline of the system.
Started: 2nd Finished: 1st
Verstappen did have the pace to be a pole position threat having set the pace on the first Q3 runs, as despite being 0.323s slower than Leclerc’s fastest time the track was improving rapidly. But the failure of the DRS to open at the start of his flying lap on the final run denied him a shot.
Ran second chasing Leclerc before a trip through the Turn 4 gravel when he was caught out by a gust of wind. Then, executed his three-stopper well to come through to win, albeit with the help of Leclerc’s engine failure and Perez’s compliance – and despite a DRS that was only occasionally working.
Verdict: A strong performance despite DRS problems in both qualifying and the race, although the Turn 4 off puts a ceiling on what his rating can be despite the wind’s involvement.
Started: 5th Finished: 2nd
This was Perez’s worst qualifying of the year in terms of position, although his deficit of 0.347s to Verstappen was marginally smaller than the qualifying gap in Bahrain. He struggled with the tyres, and felt skipping FP1 to accommodate Juri Vips was “very costly”.
Ran fourth initially, with Verstappen’s off temporarily promoting him to third. He gained places to passing Russell and Leclerc’s retirement, although did complain that the team order to let Verstappen by was “unfair”.
Verdict: Did the job he’s there to do and executed the race well, but lacked the final edge of pace Verstappen had.
Started: 6th Finished: 5th
By his own admission, Hamilton is still “struggling” with the W13 and that’s what he put the 0.119s gap to Russell down to.
Hamilton did have the edge in the slower corners, but lost out elsewhere – although a set-up difference designed to help the car work over a race stint also made life more difficult.
Hamilton was 54 seconds off the lead having made a first-lap stop after the Turn 4 collision with Magnussen gave him a puncture, and even suggested retiring.
But he showed formidable pace – stronger than Russell – on what thereafter was effectively a two-stopper that suggested he could have taken the fight at least to Perez with a straightforward race. Would have finished fourth but for having to back off later on thanks to a coolant leak, dropping behind Sainz.
Verdict: A strong performance, especially once you factor in the set-up approach that cost him in qualifying but paid off in the race.
Started: 4th Finished: 3rd
Despite complaining of struggles to get the tyres in the right window, Russell put in a strong qualifying performance.
Fastest of all in sector one, but fractionally off Hamilton’s pace in the middle sector, he had the edge over his team-mate and appeared slightly more comfortable with the car – albeit with a set-up that was fractionally more biased towards qualifying.
Jumped Sainz at the start, and survived a wheel rub with Perez at Turn 1, to run third. This became second when Verstappen had his off, but despite his robust defence, it was always unlikely Russell would be able to keep the two Red Bulls behind him.
That added up to third thanks to Leclerc’s retirement, although his set-up made tyre management a big challenge.
Verdict: A strong weekend’s work, distinguishing himself in battle with Verstappen on his way to the best-possible result.
Started: 1st Finished: DNF
A spin at the chicane after carrying in too much speed ruined his first Q3 run. Leclerc said his target was to repeat that lap without the mistake, but did better than that on the improving track to bag his fourth pole position of the season with a brilliant lap.
Led from the start and was seemingly on his way to a comfortable victory when he suffered an engine failure.
Verdict: Did almost everything right – although his Q3 first-run spin is a negative even though the potential cost of the lack of a banker lap was avoided.
Started: 3rd Finished: 4th
Sainz is still not comfortable with the rear-end instability of the Ferrari – an inherent characteristic, not the result of a chassis change for Saturday – and was once again a step behind Leclerc. Much of his deficit was in the middle sector, running from Turn 4 through to the approach to Turn 10, which also ensured he was behind Verstappen.
Had you told Sainz before the race that Leclerc would retire and Verstappen have a costly trip through the gravel trap, he’d have expected to win. But Sainz had his own wind-assisted off at Turn 4, spinning and dropping from fifth to 11th and suffering diffuser damage. He recovered to fifth, repassing the slowing Hamilton late on.
Verdict: Still struggling with the car and a clear step behind Leclerc.
Started: 9th Finished: 12th
“To get to Q3 was solid, but we’re chasing a bit of lap time” was Ricciardo’s summary, and it was a fair one. While he did outqualify Norris, Ricciardo was three-tenths slower than the Q2 lap his team-mate had deleted, indicating he’s still struggling. Ricciardo also failed to improve on his Q2 time in Q3 having opted to use his one set of fresh softs in the first part of the session.
Held eighth early on but was soon shuffled backwards. Complained of a baffling lack of grip throughout the race that meant his pace was poor and admitted he’s hoping some car problem will be found to explain it.
Verdict: Performed decently in qualifying but was painfully slow in the race compared to Norris.
Started: 11th Finished: 8th
Despite not being “at his peak”, as he put it, thanks to illness, Norris was the quicker of the two McLaren drivers.
He drifted beyond track limits at Turn 12 on his final Q2 lap, initially feeling the penalty was harsh but revised his position when he saw the replay from the trackside camera. That led to his time being deleted and elimination in Q2.
Despite it being revealed he was suffering from tonsillitis afterwards, Norris put in a good race performance to finish eighth. He was significantly quicker than Ricciardo, even though there’s the suspicion he could have been even stronger were he in peak condition.
Verdict: Overcame illness to escape Barcelona with a good result, and was again the stronger McLaren driver.
Started: 12th Finished: 7th
Breezed through Q1 on one set of tyres, but a moment on his first Q2 run, then struggles with overheating rears on his second meant he was eliminated. While Alonso reckoned 12th was about the limit for the Alpine, Ocon felt that without the out-lap delta forcing him to overwork the tyres, more was possible – although so did many drivers.
Ocon admitted to being a little surprised by how easily he made up ground in the first stint. He jumped to ninth on the first lap, then passed Ricciardo, Schumacher and the spinning Sainz in quick succession.
That put him sixth, although Sainz overtook him in the second stint. Hamilton inevitably jumped him, but Leclerc’s retirement meant this added up to seventh for Ocon. He chased down the fundamentally quicker Alfa of Bottas late on thanks to a tyre advantage but was still 15s off at the finish.
Verdict: A good weekend’s work for Ocon, who achieved the best-possible result.
Started: 20th Finished: 9th
Having been given the hurry-up from the pitwall earlier on his outlap, Alonso ended up battling through traffic at the end of his prep lap and compromising his push lap. This was unnecessary, as it turned out, given he started his flier with 10 seconds to go, and he had to abort his lap.
A strategic power unit change meant Alonso started from the back but the team was always confident he had the pace to get into the points. He did just that, climbing to 12th before the first pitstops and finishing ninth on a three-stop strategy. A slow right-front tyre change at his final pitstop meant he had to pass the struggling Schumacher early in that final stint but that didn’t compromise his result.
Verdict: Unfortunately in qualifying but excellent in the race.
Started: 14th Finished: 13th
An exhaust problem wiped out Gasly’s FP3 and described the qualifying set-up as a “gamble” given that eliminated the chance to try various ideas after a difficult Friday. He complained about a lack of grip and sliding that resulted in him qualifying just over two-tenths off Tsunoda.
Picked up a little damage from light contact with Ocon at the first corner, which stymied his ambition to make up places early on. As a result, he was condemned to an afternoon deep in the midfield, never climbing higher than 12th and losing a place at the chequered flag to a five-second penalty issued for tipping Stroll into a spin at Turn 1.
Verdict: Never really on top of the car and was behind his team-mate throughout qualifying and the race.
Started: 13th Finished: 10th
Tsunoda struggled from the start of practice, so was content even to make it to Q2 – let alone be ahead of team-mate Gasly. Much of his advantage came from his exit out of Turn 3 and the speed he carried through Turn 4.
Struggled with tyre deg in the race but didn’t put a foot wrong, running 11th early on and breaking into the points when Sainz spun.
Sainz and Hamilton inevitably got past him. But Leclerc’s retirement meant he was on target for 10th for much of the race, claiming the position definitively when he repassed two-stopping Schumacher in the final stint
Verdict: A dogged and determined weekend’s work yielded a deserved point.
Started: 16th Finished: 11th
Vettel was audibly shocked to be eliminated in Q1 having failed to better his FP2 pace. Like his team-mate, he struggled with oversteer amid the high track temperatures and didn’t find the car well-balanced in qualifying.
Vettel was one of the few that committed to, and stayed with, a two-stop strategy and briefly got himself as high as sixth when others headed to the pits for the first time.
The strategy worked fine but the car simply didn’t have the pace to do better than 11th at the finish.
Verdict: A good weekend’s work in a car that’s not yet in the sweet spot.
Started: 17th Finished: 15th
Stroll seemed to find it more difficult to tune into the new Aston Martin than Vettel, even on Friday. The upshot was he qualified almost half-a-second slower.
Climbed to 14th on the opening lap, but unlike his team-mate he was on a three-stopper. He was already destined for a finish outside the points when Gasly tipped him into a spin at Turn 1, meaning a slightly worse finish than he would have had – but not by much.
Verdict: Struggled more with the new-spec Aston Martin than Vettel did, although at times his race pace was strong.
Started: 19th Finished: 16th
In his customary position at the back in qualifying, but given how poor the Williams was at Barcelona – particularly in the high-speed corners – there’s no disgrace in that. But he was 0.270s off Albon and he’d had what he described as his worst Friday in F1.
Given the pace of the car, Latifi didn’t have much to fight for. But he did win the intra-team battle, passing the struggling Albon to do so. He then chased down the two-stopping Magnussen to pass him late on, adding up to 16th.
Verdict: After a so-so qualifying, had a reasonable race – although his team-mate’s floor damage means that was not a clear comparison.
Started: 18th Finished: 18th
Set his quickest Q1 time on the first run before a messy second run with traffic a problem preventing him from improving. But given the lack of pace of the car, the Williams didn’t appear to have Q2 pace.
After his short first stint, Albon’s race fell apart with floor damage – thanks to clipping the marker cone inside the Turn 14 apex – costing him significant performance in the fast corners and giving him big tyre degradation problems. The result was finishing a distant last.
Verdict: Was the quicker Williams driver, until the floor damage ruined his race.
Started: 15th Finished: DNF
Took a conservative approach in Q1, with the team deciding to use three sets of softs to make Q2. That left him with no fresh sets for Q2 and left him with no little chance of doing better than 15th.
Had a poor launch and briefly dropped to last before climbing to 17th by the end of the first lap. He then picked off Albon and Stroll before his first stop and was up to 12th in the middle stint when he retired with an engine problem.
Verdict: Still has work to do to get near Bottas’s pace, but was putting together a solid race after the bad start when he retired.
Started: 7th Finished: 6th
Despite losing FP2 to an engine problem, Bottas was on strong form in qualifying – ending up seventh fastest in Q3. But he was among the drivers some rivals questioned about not respecting the delta time on the out-lap, a move conferring a two-to-three tenths advantage on a push lap by keeping the tyre temperatures under control.
Held seventh at the start, then picked up two more positions after passing Schumacher and Sainz’s spin. That meant he was up to fourth when Leclerc retired, but his two-stop strategy didn’t work as well as hoped and a chance was missed to convert to a three-stopped that could have yielded fourth.
Verdict: Another strong weekend’s work from Bottas.
Started: 8th Finished: 17th
Magnussen was quick all weekend and breezed through to Q3, although the failure of the DRS to deploy meant he wasn’t able to challenge for a top-six slot that he felt was possible. Even so, he was comfortably quicker than Schumacher.
Made a good start, but his attempt to go around the outside of Hamilton at Turn 4 proved disastrous for his race. Not only did it send him into the gravel, but also gave him a puncture.
From there, it was effectively race over despite showing some strong pace, although he’d ultimately slump to the penultimate finishing position.
Verdict: His pace was excellent, but it’s a shame it was ruined by a legitimate, but rash, move on the first lap that ruined his race – and rating.
Started: 10th Finished: 14th
Reached Q3 for the first time in his F1 career, which is a significant milestone. But he was fortunate, relying on Norris’s lap time deletion to get through and giving away six-tenths to team-mate Magnussen. But considering FP3 was ruined by a brake-by-wire failure that cooked the rear brakes, it was a solid effort.
Had a great first lap to run sixth but was soon shuffled back down to eighth. Unfortunately, his two-stop strategy meant he was pushed out of the points-paying positions entirely during his long and difficult final stint, coming home in 12th.
Verdict: Qualifying pace still lacking but was stronger in the race, albeit his pace and strategy weren’t strong enough for points.