In the next few days, nearly everyone’s focus in the F1 world would be on the date June 4, 2023. It’s when round eight of the ongoing Formula 1 World championship would take place at Spain at the famous Barcelona-bound Circuit de Catalunya.
But truth be told, purely from a Ferrari perspective, most of the fans as perhaps also the team would be reminiscent of a certain time period that actually dates back to over a decade in time.
Which is why somewhere it makes sense to imagine that just as important as June 4 will also be May the 12th of 2013.
Many may have forgotten and just how knows how many would not even remember that it was actually back on May 12, 2013 that Ferrari had lost won a Formula 1 Grand Prix at Spain.
One of the fast and thoroughly challenging venues, it was all thanks to the grit and tenacity of Fernando Alonso, then in his fourth season with Ferrari, that the famed horse did really prance at an incredible racing venue.
Despite starting from fifth on the grid, Alonso could combine flair and good hard racing and unwavering focus to throw dust over a competitive grid that had some big names such as Hamilton, Rosberg, Vettel, and Massa.
But then again, so much water has flown down the bridge since then that one can’t help but imagine just how far has the sport changed in the years where Ferrari last weighed in at Spain.
And just to take cognisance of all that, it’s interesting to note that Vettel and Raikkonen, who were both going strong back then, are no longer in Formula 1 having called it a day.
Back in 2013, the sport didn’t even know of an Oscar Piastri, Lando Norris, Yuki Tsunoda, Logan Sargeant or Alex Albon; none of the bright and youngly names of the current grid were even close to making it to the top flight of Motor Racing.
Daniel Ricciardo was anything but a reserve driver for a side and Max Verstappen had not yet arrived.
More interestingly, there was no team called Alpine or Aston Racing back then.
Dramatically so, Carlos Sainz Jr. and Charles Leclerc, the under pressure Ferrari drivers of the current grid were nowhere in the know of just what it means to dominate at Spain, the very venue where a giant of the sport in Schumacher had reigned supreme.
Maybe that’s why the forthcoming Spanish Grand Prix of 2023 will matter ever so much and not only to local hero Sainz, but also to Leclerc for the fabled team would like to hit back form at a venue where it’s been glorious back in time.
The under pressure but the usual sentimental favourites, Ferrari, it ought to be said, would love to find a way to get back to winning ways at a track where only Ford and Mercedes have been the other constructors with more race wins than the Italian giant.
To even cast one’s eye on the most tantalising fact that Ferrari have enjoyed 12 wins in the past here is about as impressive as it is perhaps riddled with a touch of disconsolation.
Much of it is down to the fact the Maranello-based legendary outfit have, quite simply, gone winless at Spain in the last decace.
That Sainz and Leclerc, who’ve collectively only produced a solitary podium this year, will be more aware of this dubious decade-long run also in some ways offers hope.
Hope that despite being a fast-paced track punctuated with plenty of exciting twists and corners, Ferrari would like to weigh in on that corner speed, where it’s given the likes of Mercedes and Aston Martin some fight as seen thus far.
And while the key question will obviously be about how to tackle Max Verstappen, the 2022 Spanish GP winner, the sheer lack of wins and a dry run at Spain in the past will perhaps compel Ferrari to hit it out hard this time around.
While Leclerc (pole sitter at Spain in 2022), who got a P6 at his home track at Monaco just the last weekend will look for a strong grid position for the qualifying at Spain, much of the focus- and understandably so- will rest on Sainz.
The Madrid-born driver has in his past eight drives at his home venue only managed a best-place finish of fourth, which came the last year.
However, Sainz, who began the previous Spanish Grand Prix from P3, would also remember the horrid start he had here, where not long from the start he was overtaken by both Russell and Perez.
He would hope that such a thing doesn’t happen this year and that he can, at the very least, claw his way to a podium finish. For only such a result would provide some consolation to a Ferrari desperately looking to right several woes this season.