The silver arrows aim to continue their unchallenged domination of the 2019 F1 season, but team boss Toto Wolff was sceptical heading into the Spanish Grand Prix.
“Our points tally doesn’t reflect the competitive picture,” said Wolff. “The truth is the results are too flattering”, said the team boss as he downplayed Mercedes’ chances in Spain.
Ferrari, however, are in desperate need of a victory to get their torrid start to the season back on track, to prove they can rival Mercedes. Spain will see the introduction of a brand-new power unit for the red cars, ahead of schedule, which is hoped to have improved all-round car performance to have a slight edge over their rivals this weekend.
After another chaotic weekend in Baku last time out, Championship leader, Valtteri Bottas, will look to further cement his place ahead of five-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton, with Charles Leclerc in search of a cleaner weekend after crashing out in qualifying where he was expected to clinch pole.
Further down the grid Sergio Perez will look to maintain his recent pace after an impressive 6th place in the Racing point, just ahead of both McLarens who impressed in 7th and 8th.
It was yet another miserable race for both Renault drivers after Daniel Ricciardo’s messy race ended in a DNF, whilst teammate Nico Hulkenburg barely got to grips with Baku. The Renault team will be desperate to kick-start their season to ensure they don’t slip further behind their rivals, in what is shaping up to be another battle for ‘best of the rest’.
The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is 4.655 km long and is known for testing all areas of a modern F1 car. Across a range of high-to-low cornering speeds, the track is intensely demanding in terms of front and rear grip; this starts from the opening sequence of corners, to the tricky chicane at the end of the lap. The current lap record is 1:18.441, recorded in 2018 by former Red Bull driver Ricciardo.
Two DRS zones will be in use, one before turn nine and the second after turn 16. With overtaking relatively difficult around Spain, pole position will be hugely influential for whoever clinches victory as remarkably, 21 of 28 races have been won from pole.
The forecast ahead of this weekend at the Barcelona Catalunya circuit shows dry conditions throughout practice through to Sunday’s race. The weather is set to be sunny and warm with a light breeze which could increase for Saturday’s qualifying, but it will ease again on Sunday ready for ‘lights out’.
What happened last year?
If the 2018 Spanish Grand Prix is anything to go by, Mercedes will clinch their fifth one-two of the season on Sunday. Last season Hamilton dominated the weekend and put in an assured, controlled drive ensuring his place on the top step of the podium and it put the Brit in good stead to secure his fifth World Championship later that season.
Ferrari, although being the most successful team around this circuit with eight victories, struggled to prove their pace last year with Vettel finishing fourth behind Max Verstappen and current Alfa Romeo driver Kimi Raikkonen not finishing the race with an engine problem.
Though the Red cars will know a win this time out is almost essential in keeping tabs on the front runners.
When can I watch it?
Free practice 1: 10:00 – 11:30
Free practice 2: 14:00 – 15:30
Free practice 3: 11:00 – 12:00
Qualifying: 14:00 – 15:00
All times UK.