The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is one of the most technical on the calendar, and given that it plays host to one of Formula 1’s most thorough pre-season testing opportunities, the teams and drivers know the track inside out, possessing more data for this race than any other. In a year with so many new regulations, the knowledge gathered from pre-season will be closely compared to any findings from Friday and Saturday, and will go a long way towards deciding crucial development directions for the teams.
There’s a reason that Barcelona is F1’s go-to test track; the 1.3km pit straight is followed by the perfect mix of low-speed and high-speed corners, tight bends and sweeping sections to put the cars and drivers through their paces in the 16-turn layout; the never-ending right-hander at Turn 3 is a great place to sort out cars which are well-balanced from those that aren’t. The heavy braking zone into Turn 10 has been somewhat altered recently, as the apex is now a much wider piece of tarmac allowing cars to enter with a few extra Km/h and potentially overtake with slightly higher frequency, and the slow left-right chicane in sector 3 should bunch up the pack a little before the final stretch and the DRS zone. This circuit is one of few remaining which has gravel traps most of the way around, so there’s not as much room for error as you might imagine. Lucky then, that the drivers spend so much time getting laps in here; even in the simulator it’s the most frequently used test track, according to the drivers!
Traditionally, the Grand Prix winner here comes from the front row, as overtaking isn’t a simple matter with this circuit configuration. Ahead of Sunday’s 66-lap showdown, Ferrari, McLaren and Alfa Romeo have brought a number of aero upgrades, but Aston Martin were the team taking all the headlines with a new sidepod structure strikingly similar to the Red Bull Racing design. The FIA have deemed that it’s an acceptable copy, but not everyone will be happy with their massive design philosophy shift if it catapults one of the slowest cars of 2022 into the points. Early signs looked good, although that optimism was knocked down a peg or two by Saturday’s poor showing for the team in green.
Spanish Grand Prix
For the Spanish Grand Prix, Ferrari have brought upgrades focusing on the car’s floor and wings, and with Charles Leclerc’s stunning final run under immense pressure on Saturday, they’ve confirmed suspicions that they have the pace advantage over one lap. Yet in the paddock, the feeling is that Red Bull still have the edge when it comes to race pace. Whichever is quicker, one thing’s for sure, Leclerc and Verstappen are at the top of their game right now compared to the rest of the pack. Whilst the odds on an outright winner leave little incentive to plump for one, the two will surely have to crash into each other if they’re to miss out on a place on the top two steps of the rostrum. Given that their racing has been very hard but very clean thus far, we’d expect the two title protagonists to make it to the flag line astern barring any reliability nightmares.
Haas were one of few teams that didn’t bring an updated car to Barcelona, instead preferring to focus on extracting more performance from the existing package. They were confident that there was more pace available to be found, and Saturday proved them right, as both cars reached Q3 for the first time since 2019. Mick Schumacher is yet to score a point in his young F1 career, and after missing a good chance to get on the board in Miami last time out, he’ll be looking to move up from his p10 starting position. It won’t be a walk in the park for the two Haas cars, but Magnussen in p8 felt that he could have been even higher up the field, and there’s a good chance that both cars will have the pace to secure points even without retirements from ahead. Whilst midfield rivals Alpha Tauri and McLaren struggled to find their optimum set up after being given new parts to play with, the stability of the Haas team could well pay off for them this Sunday.
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How to watch The Spanish Grand Prix
📅 When is The Spanish Grand Prix? / Sunday, 22nd May 2022 from 2pm
🏟 Where is The Spanish Grand Prix? / Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya Montmelo (Barcelona)
📺 What TV channel is The Spanish Grand Prix on? / Sky Sports F1