After the inaugural race in Miami had mixed reviews but was definitely a spectacle. We move to the familiarity of Barcelona which is expected to be a real test of the new regulation, with teams bringing upgrades.
A Rollercoaster Championship Battle
In Miami, Ferrari managed to lock out the front row in qualifying after Verstappen had an error in the final runs of Q3. However, Verstappen showed his pace at the beginning of the race, creating a lead which the Ferrari’s couldn’t keep up with. This means that he keeps his form of winning every race he finishes.
Charles Leclerc has pushed him hard and still leads the championship by winning the races Verstappen didn’t finish and picking up podiums in all but 1 race. Leclerc will be looking to bring back the initial pace from testing in Barcelona, where they were clearly ahead of the rest.
For Carlos Sainz he will want to capitalise on the race winning car he has found himself in for his home race. The last time a Spanish driver won the Spanish Grand Prix was in 2013 where Fernando Alonso put his Ferrari on the top step after an epic start. Sainz will want to give the Spanish fans something to shout about again.
Upgrades in Spain
Barcelona is the race which teams traditionally bring upgrades to. It is the start of a European run which, now due to the budget cap, parts are easily transported to the track at lower cost. It also comes as teams are now more on top of the regulations and developing their cars.
Particularly for Mercedes, previous upgrades brought to Miami appeared to show more of the potential of the car, but also displayed a very small window in which the car can run at optimum performance. But, with more upgrades due in Spain, they might be able to extract the speed required to bring them back to the top.
The New Regulations put to the Test
The aim of the new regulations was to allow the drivers to get closer together without the cars losing downforce. So far we have had exciting racing, and, with the exception of possibly Miami, the regulations appeared to have worked.
However, Barcelona is notoriously difficult to overtake at, often dreaded by fans as a more boring race on the calendar. This will test if the regulation changes have actually created closer racing at this style of track.
We saw an improved race in Imola but it still had mixed reviews. Miami seemed to suggest that it doesn’t matter what the regulations are, a street track is always difficult to overtake at. Therefore, the feeling is mostly of cautious optimism as we look to Spain.
Last year the race was strategically exciting, keep fans on the edge in what was a very unusual season. Any repeats of this would make for a great race.
Watch Qualifying on Saturday at 3pm BST and the Race on Sunday at 4pm BST.