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Preview Spanish Grand Prix Its All About The Tires

Formula 1 goes west for this weekend, west to the beautiful, historic, city of Barcelona in Spain. Ferrari will come to this weekend with question marks over the team structure, Red Bull with some catch up to perform, and Mercedes on a high after another win from Baku a fortnight ago.

This weekend also will see teams race at the Formula 1 Emirates Gran Premio De Espana with updates to engines and chassis’. Haas, for example, are saying that they have brought the more dramatic improvements. Boss Guenther Steiner describes the update as “significant”. Lead driver Romain Grosjean goes further, saying the Haas is “pretty much a brand new car”. The package includes a new floor, front wing, bargeboard arrangement and mirrors.

Ferrari will bring an updated power unit, and there’s some aero changes as well. A revised front wing, revised endplates, and a new cover for the power unit which is said to include a longer tail. Lead driver Sebastian Vettel says: “Every year is different, but the spirit is good and the team is in good shape. We are looking forward to coming here and are confident about the parts that we bring here.” Mercedes are said to have changed their bargeboard, and have a new design for their front wing and mirrors. Racing Point and McLaren are also mooted to have some minor aero changes but a few teams, such as Alfa Romeo will dip out on engine updates.

One driver looking forward to this weekend must be Daniel Ricciardo. Barcelona is one of the category’s main test tracks, and Ricciardo, like many, has driven thousands of laps around the 4.6km Barcelona-Catalunya circuit. After his uncharacteristic hiccup at Baka, reversing from an escape lane into another driver, the struggling Australian will be hope that the wider circuit will be kinder to him. There’s certainly some possibility of that, as Renault announced during the week that their cars will also run this weekend with new power units, the thorn in the side of the French team so far this year in terms of reliability.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton has brought a different point of view to this weekend. Although aware that he and co-driver Valtteri Bottas are leading the championship, Hamilton points out the unknown factor so far this season. The rubber. “Ultimately, the truth is, there’s probably no team that truly understands the tires.” said Hamilton. “We’re all trying to learn them and understand them. Throughout each race, you learn them a bit more. We all have a different process in how we manage them, and how we get them to try and operate in the best window.” All of the teams have reported that they’re struggling to understand the natures of the 2019 spec tires, with different operating temperatures needed to get them to perform at their best.


The track itself is highly regarded by the teams and drivers. Consisting of 16 turns, a free-flowing design with one huge main straight and a technically challenging final suite of corners, it’s a high speed track. Ricciardo holds the fastest lap here, with a 1:18.441. Having hosted the the F1 GP since 1991, it quickly established itself in the calendar as a track the drivers enjoyed immensely.

Free practice gets underway at 11:00 local time on Friday May 10, with qualifying kicking off at 15:00 on Saturday. Race time sees the cars fire off from the start line at around 15:10 local on Sunday, May 12.

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David Conole

Dave Conole is the former long-term circuit commentator for Sydney Motorsport Park, has worked trackside at the Australian F1 Grand Prix in Melbourne and is self-employed as an automotive content producer.

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