10 – 12 May 2019
Round Five of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship heads to one of its most regularly visited venues, with teams and drivers assembling at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya,home of the Spanish Grand Prix.
The circuit, in the hills above Barcelona, is a favored F1 testing venue because it challenges every part of car design. The track configuration tests front and rear grip, across long and short corners,with a range of cornering speeds from the very fast Turn Three,all the way through to the low-speed final chicane. It features along straight, rapid changes of direction and requires good braking performance. While resurfacing in 2018 means Catalunya isn’t quite the abrasive track of old, Pirelli will still bring their hardest compounds to Spain to cope with the high-energy demands of the circuit.
Ten weeks on from winter testing, warmer temperatures on the Mediterranean coast will create circuit characteristics quite different to those experienced when teams conducted their pre-season programs at the end of February. The cars also have moved on from their launch specifications and, for many teams, this race is circled as the date at which they bring their first major update of the year. Taken together, these factors suggest the form guide from testing cannot be relied upon to provide a clear indication of pace going into the Spanish Grand Prix.
The championship tables, however, provide a clearer picture.Mercedes duo Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton, with two wins each, have already pulled away from the chasing pack, with Bottas a point clear of his five-time World Champion team-mate. In the Constructors’ Championship, the near-perfect start for Mercedes,missing out only on three of the four points on offer for fastest laps,gives them an enormous advantage over rivals Ferrari and Red Bull Racing – albeit with the caveat that performance gaps on track are much smaller than the points tables would suggest.