We’re four races into the 2019 Formula 1 season, with Mercedes the clear leaders so far, which does not come as a massive surprise to most fans of the sport. They have opened up a 74 point lead at the top of the Constructors’ Championship, while it looks like being another season of fighting between their two drivers for the world title. Though Ferrari are lagging, could we still get a title fight?
This weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona will go a long way towards showing us how this season will pan out. As things stand, Lewis Hamilton trails teammate Valtteri Bottas by a single point, but will the Finn continue that challenge throughout the season? A victory here would mark Bottas out as the potential favourite for the title. However, the reigning champion Hamilton is out to extend a great record at the track.
This race is one of the oldest in Formula 1, having celebrated its centenary back in 2013. The race has been held in Barcelona since 2007, while this race has been consistently part of the F1 calendar since the mid-80s.
|5/21||Spain||Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya||307km / 66 Laps|
|Date||Start Time||Finish Time||Forecast Conditions||TV Coverage|
|Practice 1||Fri 10th May||10:00||11:30||Dry / 21°||–|
|Practice 2||Fri 10th May||14:00||15:30||Dry / 22°||–|
|Practice 3||Sat 11th May||11:00||12:30||Dry / 20°||–|
|Qualifying||Sat 11th May||14:00||15:00||Dry / 19°||Sky F1|
|Race||Sun 12th May||14:10||16:10||Dry / 19°||Sky F1|
Least Season’s Result (2018)
Those hoping for a chance to see a challenge to the Mercedes dominance this weekend won’t have much hope based on last year’s race. It was another Mercedes 1-2 here, with Hamilton beating his teammate to the points. That win left Hamilton in a dominant position in the championship race, as he was 17 points clear of nearest challengers Vettel after that success.
Max Verstappen took up third place in the standings, beating Vettel to a podium place. It wasn’t a good weekend for Ferrari last time out, while they’ve only claimed one win here since 2013. They head into this race chasing a result, but with years of struggles behind them in Barcelona they’re unlikely to spark a turnaround in fortunes with a victory.
|3||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||1||15|
|5||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||6||10|
|9||Sergio Perez||Force India||15||2|
Race News: Bottas on Course
While there was a huge chance for Charles Leclerc last time out, it was Bottas who took the glory in the end. The Finn picked up his second victory of the season, his fourth podium finish of the campaign. While his first season with Mercedes was quite low-key, things are turning around for the driver as he continues to push for the title.
Last season saw Bottas fade into the background, a major change after the fight between Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. However, there seems to be a new internal challenger to Hamilton’s dominance. Bottas seems to have his eyes set on glory this year, while he’s excelling at the wheel of a car which seems streets ahead of the rest. That’s given Bottas a platform to make a challenge, and he’s developed into a serious threat to Hamilton.
Analysis: Hamilton Hunting Hat-trick
The rise of Bottas is certainly giving us a more entertaining campaign, but does he have enough to see off Hamilton over the course of the campaign? The Mercedes duo are likely to contend in this one, especially given their team’s excellent record at this circuit. Four of the previous five races here have seen a Mercedes victory, so this has been a happy hunting ground for them over the years.
Three of those victories have been Hamilton’s, while he’s won here in the previous two seasons. He’s won here on three occasions overall, while Hamilton has still managed to win two of the last three races. After finishing last term with six victories from the last eight races, Hamilton has been far and away the top driver over recent months, so he is a worthy favourite going into this weekend in Barcelona.
Final Verdict: Hamilton To Win
Hamilton knows that a win here would cut away at any momentum being built up by Bottas. That form from his teammate is bound to worry a man who has won all but one of the last five world titles, with his teammate pipping him in 2016. That is bound to live with the reigning champion, so we see him targeting a victory here to establish himself as the clear favourite.
Hamilton’s recent record here makes him a worthy favourite for maximum points, while he’s been in impressive form so far. Despite being the strongest driver in the field with the best car, he’s priced at 11/8 to win this race. Given Mercedes’ fantastic season so far, we do expect their two drivers to make another strong push in Barcelona. That makes Bottas and Hamilton look like excellent value to both finish in the top three at 4/6. That price seems pretty generous after four straight 1-2 finishes in the 2019 campaign.
About the Spanish Grand Prix
The Spanish Grand Prix was first held in 1913 and made it’s debut as an official championship race in 1965. The host track has been at a number of different places over the years, including that of Lasarte, Pedralbes, Jarama and Jerez, to name but a few.
But, since 1991 it’s been held at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya and now is the spiritual home of formula 1 racing within the country. It’s now very much a staple of the European swing in the F2 calendar and one that the majority of the drivers love to visit for both the track and the culture that’s on offer.
The 4.6km track is a mix of high and low speed corners, plus an abrasive surface, which means that tyre wear is high and very demanding on the cars. Built as part of the development program for the 1992 Olympics, the circuit rewards well-balanced set ups, with the best passing opportunity coming from the run down to turn 1. It also has three DRS zones, which is the most of any circuit on the calendar.
Drivers are familiar with the layout, due to the extensive testing done here in preseason, but the track is still a big challenge. Whilst many people argue that drivers know it too well, the intricate nature of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya still makes for exciting races.
The run down to turn 1 sees a big elevation change and the cars drop from around 300kmph down to just 120kmph at the entry phase. The downhill layout of the track in this section means that it’s often hard to nail your breaking zone, which as a result, makes it a popular passing point.
Turn 2 is just a positioner to make sure that the driver gets the best line possible for the high speed turn 3. Any driver that gets close to flat through turn 3 gets a badge of honour for bravery, given the limited grip and extreme G Force that comes into play.
Turn 4 is very similar to turn 3 and the drivers are carrying a lot of speed into the corner and also out of the corner as well. As a result, the physical challenges of the racetrack really start to take their toll on the driver and they are tested as much as this track than any other throughout the course of the season.
Turn 5 is a long hairpin and the full focus of the driver is required to try and position the car in order to get the best drive out of the corner. The apex is actually quite small considering the size of the corner, so several lines can be taken here.
As a driver, they are always looking for little reference points on the racetrack to give you cues on when to brake and also when it turns into the corners, with Spain having a plentiful amount throughout the track.
Turn 9 is one of the biggest corners on the racetrack. Cars are carrying speeds of over 240kmph here and using as much as the kerb as they are allowed before running down the back straight and into turn 10.
Turn 10 is a tight corner and is the start of the more intricate final section. It’s actually quite a frustrating part of the track for drivers as speeds are so slow that downforce is massively reduced. This means that the cars are going to start sliding around the track a lot more than in the early and middle stages of the track.
The penultimate turn is the “S” bends and the kerbs here have actually been increased in size to try and deter drivers from cutting so much of it off. Again, speed is built up through the last turn and then fly out of the corner in an almost slingshot action back along the pit straight and over the start/finish line.
Whilst the origins of the Spanish Grand Prix date back to as late as 1913, the current circuit has only been in operation since 1991. The construction of the track was to coincide with the 1992 Olympic games that were being hosted in Barcelona that year. The circuit was actually used for the start/finish line in the cycling events and is one of only a handful of tracks to have formed an association with the Olympics.
1991 – SENNA V MANSELL
The 1991 Spanish Grand Prix was one of the most competitive at the Barcelona based track. It included some of the greats of motor racing such as Mansell, Prost, Senna, Schumacher, Brundle, Alesi and Patrese. But, it was the duel between that of Nigel Mansell and Ayrton Senna that really got the crowd excited.
It was Mansell who set about chasing down Senna for second place at the time on an incredibly slippery track. They pair went wheel to wheel, with just millimetres in it heading down the entire pit straight, in what was one of the most iconic scenes in F1 history. Mansell came out on top, breaking a little later than Senna and ended up going on to win the race, beating Alain Prost into second place.