Spanish Grand Prix preview
Written by Joselynn Gunardi, Edited by Elisabeth Brown
Following a very energetic weekend at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Formula 1 is set to return back to Barcelona this weekend for the annual Spanish Grand Prix. Over the last 31 years, the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya has been a staple on the Formula 1 race calendar. Known to be one of the busiest tracks in the motor racing world, it is also the seasonal winter home for Formula 1 pre-season testing, making it a track that both engineers and drivers are well versed in, a complete opposite of the Miami International Autodrome.
The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya features 66 laps covering a total distance of 308.424km, including 16 turns and two DRS (Drag Reduction System) detection zones. The combination of high and low-speed corners — famously including two never-ending right-handers on turns three and nine — along with the very unpredictable wind directions on track, will challenge both the mechanical and aerodynamic qualities of Formula 1 cars, pushing the cars to their limits in terms of downforce capabilities.
In last year's race, Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton secured a win following a two stopper, whilst his old teammate Valtteri Bottas took P3 using a three-stop strategy. The high demands of the Barcelona Circuit make it unlikely for a one-stop strategy, despite the newly resurfaced track. Additionally, out of the 31 races that have taken place at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, 21 of them have been won from pole position. All of this proves just how crucial qualifying positions and race strategy will be for Sunday's Grand Prix.
There will be many things to look out for during this weekend's race. The Spanish Grand Prix will be the perfect opportunity to test the effectiveness of the new 2022 technical regulations. Widely known to be a difficult track for overtaking, drivers depend highly on DRS to gain track position. However, with the new regulations, it will be interesting to see how advantageous DRS will be.
Furthermore, many teams, including Mercedes, Ferrari, Alpine, and Red Bull are set to bring new upgrades to their respective cars. The newly resurfaced track will also allow Pirelli to introduce a new set of soft tyres. Additionally, in FP1, reigning Formula E Champion Nyck De Vries will be taking Alex Albons's seat, F2 driver and Red Bull junior Juri Vips will make his F1 debut in Sergio Pérez’s seat and Robert Kubica will complete the session in Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Gyanyu’s seat.