F1 Latest Update: Preview of the race at Circuit de Barcelona

F1 – Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya

About the Circuit:

The Formula One Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is back with the sixth round of the Formula One race that will be held here. The circuit was a project undertaken by the Catalan Government, the Royal Automobile Club of Catalonia and the Montmeló Town Council. The circuit was completed in 1991, and a few weeks later, the very first F1 race was held on this circuit on 29 September 1991. The circuit is located on the outskirts of Barcelona, in Catalunya (an independent state in Spain).

The circuit stages F1 Grand Prix, the MotoGP Grand Prix, the FIA Rallycross World Championship and other important motorsport competitions in its sports calendar, thereby showcasing its own name and that of Montmeló, Barcelona and Catalonia at a worldwide level.

Image Credits planetf1.com

Layout and facilities:

The circuit is 4.665 km (2.905 miles) long. A typical F1 race consists of 66 laps around the circuit, 

the total race distance being 307.104 Km. The average time to one lap usually varies between 1 minute 20 seconds to 1 minute 25 seconds, but it can get faster during Free Practices and Qualifying due to the tuning. The fastest lap record here is held by Valtteri Bottas, which he achieved in 2020, the impressive lap-time being 1.18.183 on Mercedes W11.

The circuit has a total of 16 corners and is a clockwise circuit. The circuit consists of seven left-handed corners and nine right-handed ones. There are two DRS zones, detection zones between turns 8 and 9 and between turns 15 and 16.

The circuit is a multifunctional and polyvalent space prepared to organize races and many other events. The circuit consists of a privileged corner for allowing stage events both inside and outside, a crystal palace for holding meetings, a pit garage building to hold any kind of activity, pit garages for the teams, corporate lounge to enjoy the view of the pit lane and many more such amenities. The seating capacity of the circuit is 1,40,700. Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya also offers a wide range of experiences to enjoy the racetrack, such as the track days, Ferrari driving, guided tours, and BiCircuit bicycle laps, among other available activities in Montmeló.

Interesting Past Battles:

Barcelona has seen many crazy moments in the past, both on and off track. Some have been “shocking”, some have been “feel good”, and some have been “forgotten”. Let’s take a look at a few such moments.

  • Mansell vs Senna: The battle on the main straight between Ayrton Senna and Nigel Mansell in 1991 was one to watch, with Senna getting the slipstream on the main straight from Mansell. He then takes the inside line and beautifully overtakes Mansell at turn 1 on the inside.
Image Credits: motorsportmagazine.com
  • Ruben Barrichello’s Brotherly Pass: In the F1 Spanish GP of 2000, Michael Schumacher and his brother Ralf Schumacher had a battle for P3. The Ferrari of Michael Schumacher is followed by the Williams of Ralf Schumacher. At turn 12, Ralf sees the opportunity and makes a move on Michael. Michael has a slow puncture on his left rear tyre. He struggles to keep the position. When the Schumacher brothers are battling out, Ruben Barichello, who closely follows both of them, see the opportunity and overtakes them from the inside of turn 12 and breezes past both to P3.
Image Credits: planetf1.com
  • Maldonado’s Delight: Pastor Maldonado is one of those racers who is known for his crashes. But surprisingly, in the 2012 Spanish GP, Pastor Maldonado had a feast on the track. Maldonado pulled off the undercut on Alonso, who was the race leader until lap 27. On that lap, Maldonado took the lead and went on to win his maiden F1 Grand Prix victory. That was perhaps the first and only F1 victory of his entire F1 career.
Image Credits: alamy.com
  • Silver Arrows Collide In 2016, the battle between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg kept intensifying in every race for the World Championship, and the Spanish GP was no different. But rather than showing us a pure Mercedes class, the two drivers went on to have a collision on the very first lap. At turn 4, Hamilton tried to get back P1 from Nico Rosberg. Rosberg aggressively blocks Hamilton on the inside, causing Hamilton to go on the grass and sip. He then collides with Rosberg, and both are out of the race. At that very race, F1 witnesses a pure class from the RedBull rookie – Max Verstappen, who goes on to become F1’s youngest ever F1 driver to win a Grand Prix at the age of 18 years and 228 days.
Image Credits: tlbco.com
  • Verstappen vs Hamilton: In 2021, Max Verstappen lunges on Lewis Hamilton on turn one of the very first laps and takes the lead. But, on the 42nd lap, Hamilton pits for fresher tyres and, on lap 60, overtakes Max Verstappen to win the Spanish GP. He extends his lead over his Championship rival by another 6 points after that race. 
Image Credits: rollingwheels.com

Action on Sunday:

The main straight will definitely be the highlight of the race, which is the longest straight on the circuit. Most of the battles will be fought here and at turn 1. The more challenging corners on this track are most likely turn 4, turn 5, turn 8, turn 10 and turn 12. Turn 4, turn 5, turn 10 and turn 12 are the slow corners of the track, where tyres will definitely be affected. Turn 8 is a fast corner and makes it tricky to get the right exit there for a DRS grab. Turns 4, 5 and 12 are where the possibility of understeer is the highest as they are long and sharp corners, and the tyres will degrade relatively faster at these parts of the circuit.

Interestingly, the entire final sector is a slow sector here. The track temperature measures at a five-year mean of 41°C. Hence, the soft compound tyres will not do much this weekend. The pit-stop strategies will definitely be built around the Medium and Hard compound tyres. RedBulls have been very fast in the middle sector in all the races so far, and the Ferraris have been faster in the other two sectors overall. It will be worth seeing how both the teams fare in that final sector here with the new regulations.

Upgrades:

Barcelona has traditionally been a venue where significant upgrades are introduced. One of the reasons for this growth was Spain’s proximity to the headquarters of numerous teams, making it easier to commit to sending parts to the track on time. Furthermore, the circuit is one they are very familiar with, having tested there numerous times, providing the teams with a wealth of historical data as well as a clear comparison between their launch-spec cars and the latest modifications.

After rigorous data collection in the last five races, all the teams are expected to bring in significant upgrades to Barcelona. Ferrari and RedBull are definitely the front runners there. 

At Miami, Ferrari’s F1-75 was limited to new front and rear wings, which had a low load arrangement ideal for the high-speed track. The floor design that was briefly glimpsed following the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at the Pirelli test did not feature in any of the free practice sessions. As a result, the final version of this floor is likely to arrive at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, with significant revisions to the side edge profile. According to insiders, it will also include new ‘skids’, which will be placed diagonally adjacent to the Venturi channels to emulate Red Bull’s solution from the start of the season. In addition, the diffuser’s centre part should resemble what Charles Leclerc tested in first practice in Australia, optimizing airflow extraction from underneath the vehicle.      

In Spain, Red Bull will launch a substantial package. This should not only improve the RB18’s aerodynamic performance but also continue the weight-saving strategy begun in Imola, where a lighter floor reduced the car’s weight by four kilogrammes.

McLaren has also given an update on bringing in new parts for their cars this weekend, which will be their first major update this season.

The main straight, part of the track between turns 8 and 9 and the back straight is where we can expect maximum porpoising. Hence, it would be interesting to see what Mercedes came up with as they managed to get a lot of things right on Friday and Saturday at Miami. That’s why Mercedes is such an exciting watch right now. They certainly have a fast car in there somewhere, as Miami’s practise pace demonstrated, despite the team’s own statements. However, they are still unsure how to extract that performance consistently, placing them in a perpetual battle for the best of the rest.

Conclusion:

Barcelona has always been an exciting track to feeling the action, with all the upgrades coming in from most of the teams. With the RedBulls catching up to Ferrari for Constructors Championship and Max Verstappen closing into Leclerc, we will find out if Max Verstappen can pull off another victory here for his first hat trick of victories this season. At the same time, how Charles Leclerc comes back and performs here with the upgrades Ferrari brings to their cars will be worth the watch. This circuit is also home to Carlos Sainz and Fernando Alonso. Carlos is in a race-winning car at his home and has been on the podium this season in every race he has finished. He came close to securing his first-ever pole on three occasions. Hence, his home fans have a lot to look for, and they will indeed be looking forward to Carlos getting his maiden victory coming to Barcelona. Daniel Ricciardo will surely use these updates on the car to replicate his performance of 2021, finishing 6th and ahead of his teammate Lando Norris.

We may not see swaths of overtaking, but if the new rules are operating as intended, drivers will be racing closer together, giving them more opportunities to make a move. Stay Tuned with The Sportsway for more such updates.

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