2021 Spanish GP Preview - Can Max topple Lewis at the top?

This weekend sees a return to the Circuit De Catalunya, for the Spanish GP, a track previously used for pre-season testing, along with being a stalwart of the F1 calendar. 

Since the last trip, the teams took here, there have been some considerable changes to the track,  most noticeably towards the start of sector three, with a more banked left-hander, opposed to the tricky left and long right seen in previous seasons.

Last time out 

Last time out on track we saw Lewis Hamilton take the chequered flag and secure the win from Max Verstappen in the Red Bull. The race was a strategy-dominated affair, with Lance Stroll and Sergio Perez making the most of their original sets of tires, the latter lasting 40+ laps before making his first stop. 

The race would only see one retirement, that of Kimi Raikonnen. The veteran of the sport managed to get caught out when slipstreaming his Alfa Romeo teammate Antonio Giovinazzi. As a result, the Finn lost his front wing, along with a large portion of his downforce, meaning he was stranded in the sandpit at turn one.

The race would be fairly in doubt when it came to Hamilton's dominance, taking control early, despite pressure from both Valtteri Bottas and Verstappen. Behind the top three, Lando Norris and Fernando Alonso were making an abundance of moves to help secure more points for themselves and their teams.

Last trip to Spain

The last time the teams took to the track in Catalunya, it was Hamilton who would take pole position on Saturday and win on Sunday, in a commanding performance. To top the weekend off for Mercedes, Bottas managed to secure the fastest lap of the race for an extra point.

Mercedes-powered cars had a strong showing across the paddock. 4th and 5th were occupied by Stroll and Perez in the then Racing Point cars. Further cementing their nickname of 'The Pink Mercedes'.

There was only the singular retirement from the race itself. Charles Leclerc bowed out of the race on lap 38, following a spin at the final chicane, bought around by an electrical failure in his Ferrari. This would be the start of a downfall in form for the Italian outfit that would span a large chunk of the season.

Track Profile

The Spanish GP has been held at the Circuit de Catalunya since 1991, being an ever-present on the calendar every year since even with the threat of Covid. Before F1 switched to Bahrain for Pre Season testing, it was also where the drivers would get the first chance to thrash their new cars in anger.

The track can be characterized by its long, sloping corners throughout the lap, with turn three being one of the most notable, infamously the scene leading up to the collision between Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton back in 2016, an accident that would allow Verstappen to claim his first win with his first race at Red Bull.

In the past year, there have been small changes to the track. Turn 10 has been made slightly longer, and now acts as more of a banked corner, opposed to previously when it was a sharp left-right motion for the drivers. The lap times will be around the 1:18s in the race, with slightly quicker times in qualifying.

Session Timings

Friday 7th May 2021
Free Practice 1: 10:30am-11:30am BST 
Free Practice 2: 2:00pm-3:00pm BST 

Saturday 8th May 2021
Free Practice 3: 11:00am-12:00pm BST 
Qualifying: 2:00pm-3:00pm BST 

Sunday 9th May 2021
Race: 2:00pm BST

 

 

 

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