It’s race week yet again as the Formula One circus rolls into Spain for part two of the first double-header of the season, and round four of the 2021 Formula One season!
Written by Aiden Hover, Edited by Sam Stewart
The historic 4.655km Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is a favourite amongst the drivers due to its mix of high and low-speed corners, offering a wide set of challenges to truly test every aspect of both driver and car. With a tricky opening section of the track helped by a long sweeping turn 3 as well as a clunky, difficult to perfect final chicane, the 16 corner track will be sure to test the driver’s limits as they chase down Sir Lewis Hamilton’s 2020 pole time of a 1:15.584. Whilst not particularly a fan favourite, blamed mainly on the consistent testing that takes place at the track, the 66 laps set to take place this Sunday will begin to create a clearer picture regarding the true pecking order of this year’s grid as each aspect of the teams are tested.
Since its first race in 1991, the Catalonia based circuit has played host to some of Formula One’s most famous moments. From Mika Hakkinen’s heart break in 2001 when he was forced to retire from the lead of the race on the final lap due to an engine blowout, to Pastor Maldonado’s delight as he won his only Formula One race in 2012 – holding off the much faster Ferrari of Fernando Alonso. Think back to 2018 when we saw opening lap carnage as Romain Grosjean spun in turn 3, creating a thick smoke screen and collecting several other cars in the process. One of the most famous and controversial events in Formula One history took place at this venue in 2016, when the two championship contenders, and Mercedes teammates, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, took each other out on the opening lap and in the process gifted Max Verstappen his first Formula One victory at the young age of 18.
With a storied past as strong as the Spanish Grand Prix’s, what can fans look forward to this year? Whilst it may not end up being the greatest of races, fans can still expect a tight battle between the championship leaders as Lewis Hamilton looks to cement his narrow lead over Dutchman Max Verstappen. Lewis’ teammate will be looking to make amends for a disappointing Portuguese Grand Prix where Valtteri Bottas seemingly squandered a race winning chance from pole position. Sergio Perez will also be looking to close the gap to his teammate this time out.
Last weekend saw Lando Norris continue his streak of being the best of the rest as he once again achieved the maximum out of his car and will be hoping for more of the same this weekend. Daniel Ricciardo, despite driving a stunning race in Portugal, will be looking to swiftly move on following a tumultuous qualifying session in which he was eliminated in Q1. McLaren’s main rivals, Ferrari, will be hoping to maintain their pace more consistently throughout the weekend as the team’s two drivers failed to capitalise on a good qualifying session in Portugal, with both being disappointed with their results.
Alpine look to be strong moving into Spain as they achieved yet another double points finish with both Ocon and Alonso performing several incredible overtakes last time out. AlphaTauri meanwhile look to have slipped back to behind the French outfit, but will be looking to change that this weekend following a hard race in Portimão along with Aston Martin. The Silverstone-based team endured a double non-points result despite a Q3 showing from Sebastian Vettel and will be looking for more this Sunday.
Alfa Romeo, as per usual this season, seem to be on the fringe of points paying positions with Antonio Giovinazzi driving an anonymous, but solid race yet again to achieve P12 – something he will want to emulate in Spain. His teammate, however, has much to prove in 2021 following a rookie error in Portugal.
At the back of the grid, we expect to see Williams and Haas yet again. George Russell, despite achieving his best qualifying position ever for Williams, fell back quickly during the race as he seemed to struggle for pace everywhere and will be hoping to fix these issues for the Spanish Grand Prix. Mick Schumacher drove a great race for Haas, treating fans to a surprisingly enthralling battle with Nicholas Latifi for 17th place. Both the German and the Canadian will be looking to fight for higher positions in Spain. Nikita Mazepin, however, finished near as makes no difference to a minute behind his teammate. As well as this, he received a penalty for blocking race leader at the time, Sergio Perez. He will also be looking to improve moving forwards.
Lights out this Sunday will be at 14:00 BST as the field of 20 cars embark on 66, hopefully thrilling, tours of the historic Spanish circuit. Be sure not to miss it!