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Preview | Do Ferrari's updates pose a threat to Verstappen and Red Bull?
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Preview | Do Ferrari's updates pose a threat to Verstappen and Red Bull?

18 May - 10:19
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GPblog.com

The Spanish Grand Prix promises to be an important race weekend. The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya has historically been an ideal meeting point for the rest of the Formula 1 championship and with the battle between Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen this is a very opportune moment. With the new regulations, this is also the moment for all new updates, so the order of precedence may also look different from the first five races in 2022. Read all about the upcoming Spanish GP in this preview from GPblog.

Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya

The circuit in Montmeló, Catalonia, has been featured in Formula 1 since 1991. Until then, the Spanish Grand Prix was held at Jerez, and before that circuits such as Jarama, Montjuïc and Pedralbes were in charge. Since 1991, however, Barcelona has held the honour of the Spanish Grand Prix for 31 editions, and for good reason.

The Spanish circuit has no secrets for any team now that testing has been going on there for years. The Formula 1 teams visit it for the winter test and annually for a race, so every stone is already turned in the teams' database. Besides all the data, it is also a very representative circuit for the rest of the season with all kinds of corners.

That the circuit is representative for the rest of the season is also clear from the figures of the 31 editions of the Spanish GP in Barcelona. Nineteen times the man on pole was the eventual world champion, and eighteen times the winner of the race was also the world champion. If we look at the teams, it is even clearer. Twenty-one times the team that would deliver the world champion won, and in no less than 26 of the 31 qualifying, the pole was taken by the team with the eventual world champion. So pay close attention this weekend.

Spanish Grand Prix

Yet it is not always the case that the winner in Spain eventually becomes world champion. This was demonstrated during the 2021 edition when Lewis Hamilton took pole and victory in Barcelona. Throughout the weekend, however, Hamilton and Verstappen were close. The difference in qualifying was only 0.036s. In the race, Verstappen took the lead at the first corner, but Hamilton recaptured that leading position in the final laps due to a different strategy from Mercedes.

The eventual winner of the Spanish GP is therefore not always the eventual world champion, but apart from Pastor Maldonado (2012) and Max Verstappen (2016) it was never a driver who was not competing in the title fight. So the Spanish GP does send a good signal for the rest of the season.

Formula 1 in 2022

In that respect, it will be interesting to see how the proportions are in Spain, compared to what we have seen in the first five races of this season. In those, Ferrari and Red Bull Racing were the dominant teams, with Red Bull taking the upper hand a bit in the final races.

It is therefore expected that those two teams will once again call the shots in Barcelona. The difference between the drivers of the two teams will, as in previous years, be a clear indication of the proportions for the rest of the season. If Charles Leclerc and Verstappen are as close as Hamilton and Verstappen were in 2021, we can expect a great year.

Behind the top two from this year, it will be exciting to see how the updates in Barcelona turn out. Mercedes has so far been in no man's land in third place but hopes to make the jump to this year's top two teams with updates. The reigning world champion among the constructors must bridge a large gap to do so, however.

McLaren, Alpine, Haas and Alfa Romeo have all taken the spot behind Mercedes once, but none of the four has secured a permanent spot as the fourth team on the grid. McLaren potentially has the best papers, but the problems with the brakes are still not completely fixed. Should an update in Barcelona succeed in doing so, the jump could be made.

Weather forecast

The drivers can bring their summer clothes for the upcoming Grand Prix because in Barcelona it will be hot this weekend. On Friday it will be, according to Weather.com 25 degrees maximum and that will increase to 25 and 27 degrees on Saturday and Sunday. It is partly cloudy and the chance of rain is less than ten percent throughout the weekend.

Prediction for the Spanish GP

It will again be between Ferrari and Red Bull Racing in Spain and then it is logical to look at Leclerc and Verstappen. Those two stand out head and shoulders this year and are also expected to call the shots in Barcelona. The question is how Carlos Sainz will fare. It is not yet the season of the Spaniard, but he will certainly want to show himself to his own fans.

In the past two races, Red Bull clearly had the upper hand. In Imola and also in Miami, the RB18 of Verstappen and Perez was unbeatable on the straight and on the soft and medium tyre the wear was less than Ferrari's. In Spain, tyre wear also plays a major role again and that is to the advantage of the Austrians.

However, it remains to be seen what kind of updates all teams come up with and how they work. Ferrari has hardly brought any updates this season (unlike Red Bull), but will come with a large package of updates in Spain. The question is whether this will pay off immediately? Red Bull is also coming with updates and so far every update has seemed to catch on.

Mercedes hopes to make the connection in Barcelona, but if the team is punished for porpoising anywhere, it is in Spain. In addition, the gap between Ferrari and Red Bull is also too big to close with one package. If they can close the gap while the competitors also come up with updates, then they should already be satisfied.

Schedule for the 2022 Spanish Grand Prix [UK time]

Friday

First free practice: 13:00-14:00

Second free practice: 16:00-17:00

Saturday

Third free practice: 12:00-13:00

Qualifying: 15:00-16:00

Sunday

Race: 14:00-16:00

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