Formula 1 News

Grand Prix of Spain preview

The DRS, KERS and the new Pirelli tires can make a difference in a circuit where big stories are scarce.
Thursday, May 19, 2011

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May 18 (Andrés Rojas).- Formula 1 will definitely step into hotter grounds this weekend with the arrival of the Grand Prix of Spain. Temperatures will rise in general by the almost official arrival of the summer season; so hopefully, we will not see drivers and team members wearing jackets as we have seen several times this year.

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However, the championship is heating up because the amount of action coming will give little time to breathe and regain strength.

Counting on this visit to Barcelona, we will be able to enjoy 7 races in a little over a month and a half. The Grand Prix of Great Britain will be the last before the month-long mandatory break of august.

The truth is that the Circuit de Catalunya is ready to welcome drivers and teams, who have begun to arrive. As usual, the atmosphere that reigns in Spain is of a party, the mere presence of Fernando Alonso makes crowds emerge and gather to follow their hero, who also happens to drive an always eye-catching Ferrari.

In what looks like a repeated script, uncertainty is still in the air, especially after Pirelli announced a new compound will be used. Real predictions will have to wait almost until the Saturday after qualifying.

Of course, we have to put Red Bull at the top end. Either of its two drivers: Mark Webber, who is on the rise, as shown by the results of its four drives with a consecutive 5th, 4th, 3rd, 2nd, and Sebastian Vettel, who every day looks more like he on a league of his own.

It seems that teams have begun to understand the how tires perform and in different circumstances (basically how they degrade). It is striking to see the level of degradation a tyre sustains in a single lap.

The choosing of right strategy in practice, pole, before and during the race has become a key element for winning, step on the podium, points, or whichever comes close to team’s objectives. Vettel would probably have four victories, if it had not been for a strategic "oversight” that left him with no chance to fight Hamilton in China. Anyway, all drivers and outfits play this game under the same conditions, and Hamilton’s victory was a deservedly one.

Many teams plan to continue their improvements. Renault said its new additions could provide gains of up to two seconds per lap; Mercedes promises to reduce the gap between their performance between pole position and race, where the difference in competitiveness is noticeable. A brief look at Rosberg's race in Istanbul Park to notice that there is something need of fixing in this area.

Ferrari finally managed to raise their self-esteem with the great race by Fernando Alonso, who finished 3rd in Turkey. Massa himself looked set for a better end (11th), but one of those pits related delays sent him back. The "house of Maranello" seems to start to show their best side.

McLaren will try to keep moving forward, and hope that Hamilton’s poor luck in Turkey doesn’t not follows him this time. We are also waiting to see Jenson Button take real advantage of his smooth driving so he can become a genuine threat.
Sauber and Toro Rosso, both with upgrades, seemed to be set for a long and relentless battle, while being pursued by Force India and its drivers, Adrian Sutil and the young Paul Di Resta.

The British team of Williams finds itself in a very low point, and if not corrects the course, Team Lotus might just leave them behind. It is incredible to witness how a team that not long ago won races and a little further championships, have lost that level of competitiveness.

The bottom-placed teams of Hispania and Virgin have pledged to bring changes and additions to their cars, mostly with the aim to finish one ahead of another. The truth is that both are well away from Lotus, the other "new team."

Formula 1 has taken a major leap this year with the presence of the KERS, the DRS and the "fragile" Pirelli tyres. We've seen more entertaining races, and much more things happening. In Turkey we counted 82 pit stops, with that number the likelihood of mistakes, changes, and decisions, definitely increases.

In the end, the spectacle improved, and while the puritans of sport attacked the presence of such additions to promote overtaking, the main beneficiaries of these, which also happen subsidize the existence of the sport, are the fans.
It was even said it would be difficult to follow certain races, and that Turkey was an example. Surely a survey would illustrate that 20 overtaking occurrences instead of 5, it is better than to get a bit lost on the order of the race.

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