Formula One Power Rankings 2023 - Spanish Grand Prix

Carlos Sainz and Fernando Alonso's home race didn't go to plan with both drivers failing to earn a spot on the podium.

Mercedes returned to the podium at the Spanish Grand Prix, meanwhile, Max Verstappen had an all-time dominant weekend creating a wider gap between himself and the rest of the grid.

Last week's rankings are in brackets.

1. Red Bull Racing (1)

It's becoming all too common in 2023, Max Verstappen blitzes the competition and finishes feeling as relaxed as ever but at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya it was a next-level dominant display by the Dutchman in the RB19. Leading every session of practice, qualifying four-tenths ahead of the rest of the pack and putting such a distance on the closest driver in the race that he was able to pit twice and still lead every lap, throwing in the fastest lap for good measure.

The only minor flaw in the two-time World Champion's weekend was a risk of a five-second penalty, which wouldn't have affected his finishing position, following being shown black and white flags after violating track limits.

The same couldn't be said for teammate Sergio Perez who had a tougher time in Barcelona failing to make it into Q3 for the second weekend in a row to start in P11. Perez did take advantage in the race however, with Red Bull running on the superior medium-hard-soft, two-stop strategy. Perez's final stint on the softs wasn't enough for a podium, settling for fourth, but he was able to put on a sizable gap between himself and Sainz.

2. Mercedes (2)

The Mercedes garage would have breathed a sigh of relief when it became apparent that its Monaco result was not a fluke, and that the major overhaul of the W14 car concept was the right call. The significant improvement was felt throughout the weekend, with both Hamilton and Russell topping the standings at numerous points during the Free Practice sessions.

A minor miscommunication near the end of Q2 led to a minor clash between the teammates, in which Hamilton suffered some front-wing damage. Russell was unable to get out of Q2, while Hamilton seemed slightly off-kilter in Q3, but ultimately started the race in fourth after Gasly was served two grid penalties.

Come race day, the team did not put a foot wrong, with Russell managing to climb up the grid with enough pace to keep Perez behind in the final stint and Hamilton holding his ground at the front. A second and third-place finish for Hamilton and Russell respectively pushes Mercedes ahead of Aston Martin in the Constructor's Championship.

3. Aston Martin (3)

All weekend there were whispers about whether Fernando Alonso would take home win 33, with Aston Martin looking like the second fastest car heading into the weekend, it being Alonso's home race, all mystical signs seem to be pointing in his and Aston Martin's favour. However, signs and numerology don't help you beat Max Verstappen in a Red Bull.

Ultimately the weekend was something of a grind for Alonso performing well in the free practice sessions finishing inside the top six in all three and dominating his teammate Lance Stroll in the early part of the weekend. Come qualifying the Spaniard was just off the pace, qualifying in ninth, half a second down on his teammate and only boosted to eighth by Gasly's penalty.

On race day it was a team effort from both with Stoll consistently holding position inside the top 10 while Alonso had to make his way through the pack in the back end of the race, passing Tsunoda and Zhou followed by a skirmish with Ocon that nearly saw Alonso squeezed off the track. Ultimately the pair finished in sixth and seventh with Alonso giving Stroll the top place for the team for the weekend and the pair using DRS to create a wider gap between the Astons and those behind.

4. Alpine (4)

Alpine has certainly proven that their shaky start to the season was not representative of the pace and performance they knew they had. Back-to-back double points finish for the team proves that they have what it takes to fight for better results moving forward.

Pierre Gasly's strong performance in qualifying was curtailed after he was served two three-place grid penalties for impeding Sainz and Verstappen, dropping him from P4 down to P10. A bad start dropped him down to P14 early in the race, however, he was able to make up those lost places and benefited from Tsunoda's five-second penalty to finish back in P10.

Teammate Esteban Ocon looked promising during the free practice sessions, even clocking in a P3 finish in FP1. Starting the race in sixth, he focused primarily on defence but was unable to make significant ground, revealing the limitations of the A523's race pace. Ocon and Gasly also both suffered from slow pit stops, which is something the team will need to work on if they hope to capitalise on any more podium chances later in the season.

5. Alfa Romeo(6)

This season hasn't played into Alfa Romeo's favour often this season however the Spanish Grand Prix was finally an opportunity for the team that had tumbled down the ranks into backmarker contention to get an opportunity to shine.

Valtteri Bottas was the top performer of the pair in the practice sessions, picking up a P8 and P9 in the final two sessions, however qualifying did not play into the 10-time race winner's favour, sustaining damage to the floor of the car after a brief trip into the gravel trap at turn 12 resulting in a brief red flag of the session, and qualifying in 16th. Zhou Guanyu on the other hand put in a solid performance in qualifying, earning a P13 start.

On Sunday Zhou only improved, making the most out of the chaos of a multi-stop strategy race, the Chinese driver got off to a brilliant start jumping Gasly and Perez in the opening corners, and overtaking Piastri before the end of the first lap to start the second in P9. The later stages of Zhou's race was filled with a tight contest between himself and Tsunoda, with a move into turn one from Tsunoda resulting in a five second penalty for the Japanese driver helping Zhou earn two points.

Meanwhile, it was a race Bottas will not look fondly upon with the damaged floor hampering his performance for a P19 finish

6. Ferrari (5)

While most teams saw at least a modicum of improvement from their upgrade packages, Ferrari merely found a new package of problems. It was not a good sign in Free Practice One and Two when Charles' Leclerc, in the yet-to-be-upgraded car, finished in front of Carlos Sainz who was driving in the upgraded SF23.

From there, the weekend only went from bad to worse. Leclerc never seemed comfortable with his newly upgraded car all weekend, reporting issues with his rear tyres during Qualifying. A last-minute switch to a new set of soft tyres did not solve the problem, with Leclerc unable to make it out of Q1 and ultimately starting the race in the pitlane. During the race, he found himself victim to the car's inconsistent performance on its tyres as he battled his way through the grid, ultimately unable to overtake Gasly to finish out of the points in eleventh.

Sainz had hopes for a strong weekend at his home race, taking advantage of the surprising eliminations in Q1 and Q2 to put in a strong lap time that had him starting the race in the front row. Despite his valiant attempts at defending, the car proved no match to the pace of the Mercedes drivers or Perez who overtook him easily and the Spanish driver subsequently fell back to P5.

7. Alpha Tauri (8)

Having brought in an upgrades package in Monaco, Alpha Tauri continued to see performance improvements in Spain, especially from rookie Nyck de Vries who has struggled throughout the 2023 season. Setting into the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya the Dutchman managed to extract a solid performance out of the car in FP1 earning P4, five tenths up on his teammate Yuki Tsunoda.

However order was quickly restored with Tsunoda outperforming de Vries in the next two practice sessions while the car slid back down the rankings into the mid teens. Despite a few scares in qualifying, with de Vries struggling with a wet spot on the track, both cars survived a brutal Q1 however didn't have the soft tyres available to have a fair shot at making it into Q3 with de Vries outqualifying Tsunoda.

On race day it was the Japanese driver that had the pace with Tsunoda fighting for a spot in the points with Zhou and Gasly, however, a tough five-second penalty for forcing the Alfa Romeo driver off the track saw Tsunoda's P9 finish converted into a P12 after the five seconds was added on. Meanwhile, de Vries' race was largely occupied with battles with the Haas' of Hulkenberg and Magnussen and the McLaren of Piastri, however, the Dutchman managed to put up a fight against Leclerc in the underperforming Ferrari for a few laps but wasn't able to hold him off forever.

8. McLaren (7)

It seems that McLaren has resigned to the fact that their car is simply not competitive enough. Even the promising potential of both Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri making it into Q3 during Qualifying, with Norris's remarkable P3 result, was enough to push the team to greater heights.

During the race, Norris was unable to hold onto his second-row start for long as he came into contact with Hamilton and was forced to prematurely pit for a new front wing, dropping to the back of the pack. From there he struggled to regain positions and finished the race in P17.

Piastri, who started the race in P9 after Gasly's grid penalties, lost out to Zhou and Russell in the opening lap. Subsequent valiant attempts to defend against the likes of Perez, Tsunoda and Gasly proved unsuccessful as he lacked the pace to put up a fight, dropping down to P13.

9. Haas (10)

The lone American team on the grid appears to have fallen into a pattern in 2023, showing signs of promise in qualifying, including a top-three finish for Nico Hulkenberg in FP1, followed by a middling qualifying.

This week it was Hulkenberg on top in qualifying with Kevin Magnussen exiting in Q1 six-tenths down on his teammate. The German extended his performance all the way into Q3, the team's fourth Q3 appearance for the year, to start in P7 following the Gasly penalty.

On Sunday however, it was another struggle to come anywhere near the points with Magnussen running on the three-stop strategy featuring a clean double stack on the final stop. Ultimately despite both driver's best efforts the car lacked the pace in Barcelona and put them a beat behind both Alpha Tauri and Alfa Romeo.

10. Williams (9)

There was nothing egregiously out of the ordinary for Williams this weekend, taking advantage of the familiarity of Barcelona to evaluate their car and make minor tweaks throughout the weekend with hopes of extracting a bit more performance. It was just unfortunate for them that many of the other teams found surprising pockets of performance, whether it was during Qualifying or the Race.

Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant remained solidly at the bottom of the standings throughout all three practice sessions. Sargeant did some damage to the floor of his car when he beached it ten minutes into FP3, with the repairs cutting into his Qualifying session. Albon started the race in P18, due to Leclerc's mechanical issues that had both him and Sargeant starting in the pit lane.

During the race, a clean start and a solid pit strategy from Albon allow him to gain a few places to finish in P16. Sargeant was able to make up a few positions during the race, benefiting from Norris' early pit for a wing replacement in the second lap, he was ultimately overtaken later on and finished in P20 for the third race in a row.