Formula 1 returns this weekend after a three week hiatus with the Spanish Grand Prix. Whilst there’s been minimal action on the track (bar three days of testing at Mugello) since the Bahrain Grand Prix; there has been a few things to keep us entertained whilst there was no racing.
One such incident has been the continued battle in the press between Pirelli and Michael Schumacher. Schumacher has complained to the press that the current generation of Pirelli tyres do not allow a driver to push the limits of the car during a race and that this is having an adverse effect on some team’s performances. Schumacher also complained that F1 should not hinge so much on the tyres. Pirelli have of course countered that the current tyre characteristics are that way by request and they will continue to provide the teams with what has been requested.
Just as they’d looked mightily impressive in Bahrain; Lotus claimed the testing headlines last week with Roman Grosjean claiming the fastest time on two of the three days’ testing. With Lotus having also been quick around the Catalunya track they may be one to watch this weekend and throughout the summer as the temperatures rise. Kimi Raikkonen has some excellent form at the Spanish track and may be one to watch for this weekend.
McLaren will likely break many fans hearts this weekend with a change to the higher nose concept that their competitors have used so far this season. This should lead to a visibly different front end on the McLaren. It was used in the last few hours of the Mugello test and seems to have given the team a slight lift after a few difficult races for the Woking squad. The team have suffered a dip in form since dominating the Australian Grand Prix and it’s yet to be seen if that early season form will return. If the car is capable of challenging expect to see Button and Hamilton in the mix. I fancy Button to possibly be the better of the two especially with the circuit’s tendency to be hard on the tyres due to it’s mix of medium and high speed corners.
Mercedes will attempt to return to form following their disappointments in China. I for one expect to see them possibly challenge this weekend if the temperatures stay low. With there odds being 20-1 for Schumacher in places and as high as 18/1 for Rosberg I’d say they probably represent the best value of the weekend for an each way punt. After the disaster they had in qualifying in Bahrain they’ll be looking to set the record straight. Long straights and medium speed corners could see their double DRS coming in very useful in the 1st sector of the track. I definitely see them battling for pole this weekend. Rosberg is as high as 8/1 with Boylesports to claim pole this weekend.
Red Bull were back on top in Bahrain following an excellent drive by Vettel. However you do get the feeling that the car is still lacking the supremacy of it’s predecessor and for that reason I think that they’re beatable. Whilst the Bahrain track is notorious for being difficult to overtake on. With all the changes to the Spanish track over the years there are a lot more opportunities to make a move. Mark Webber will be looking to re-impose himself against Vettel but you have to see the German as their likeliest challenger.
The battle in the midfield should also heat up. After a disappointing weekend for Williams and Sauber in Bahrain. It’ll be intriguing to see if they can challenge the Ferraris again and demote Alonso and Massa to also ran status. Ferrari have rang in the changes and tested a heavily revised car at Mugello. Whilst it’s difficult to gauge where they stand; it would be difficult to believe that they’ll challenge this weekend. The likes of Force India and Toro Rosso will be trying to challenge the current midfield front runners to pick up some much wanted points.
So here we are. 4 races, 4 different winners so far this season. Who says F1 is predictable! The only thing that is predictable this season is that the key words this year are tyre management. Anyone with the ability to maintain their tyres whilst keeping the pace will be in good stead come race day.
Here’s hoping for another new winner and enjoy what should be an excellent race. We’ll try to keep you updated.
Rosberg for Pole e/w @8/1
Schumacher or Rosberg for a podium at 5/1 and 4/1 respectively on Bet Victor.
Lay of the weekend has to be Alonso not to finish in the top 6. Whilst the Spaniard will be looking to do his best on home soil. You have to feel that he’s not going to be capable of doing it in his Ferrari.
Key Stats and Race History:
• Mark Webber has been the pole sitter in the last two races at the track.
• Lewis Hamilton has never won at Barcelona, even in his GP2 days.
• Fernando Alonso has won only once his home race, taking victory from pole position in 2006.
• Barcelona has proved one of the best tracks for Michael Schumacher: seven poles, six wins, 12 podiums, and a 16-2 score in qualifying against his team-mates. He never qualified outside the top-10 here and 20 years ago this was the track in which he recorded his first front row start.
• Red Bull look to continue their recent dominance of qualifying at the track, as it was the benchmark here in the last two seasons, both times scoring pole and the victory. Its qualifying margin is particularly impressive: 0.980s last year and 0.834s two years ago. Don’t expect the same this weekend in this author’s opinion.
• McLaren has won the Spanish Grand Prix eight times, but its last victory came in 2005. Last year it was able to put both cars on the podium.
• Ferrari in comparison has won the Spanish Grand Prix 11 times, its last victory coming via Kimi Raikkonen in 2008.
• Both Saubers finished in the points last year, despite a puncture on the opening lap for Kamui Kobayashi.
• Barcelona has been a cursed track for Toro Rosso: it has finished the race only three times out of 14 and scored only one point, with Jaime Alguersuari two years ago.
The record books show that Michael Schumacher left Barcelona with pole position, fastest lap and race victory in 2001, but what the record books fail to show you is that Mika Hakkinen was leading the race up to the last lap when his McLaren had to retire.
Michael Schumacher took his first win for Ferrari with a stunning wet drive at the circuit in 1996.
A little bit of history:
In 1994 just four weeks after the tragic San Marino Grand Prix at Imola, Damon Hill claimed a much needed win for a Williams team still in shock by the death of team leader Ayrton Senna. Michael Schumacher some how managed to drag his Benetton to an impressive second despite being stuck in fifth gear for a lot of the race.