With Spain, we are, incredibly, already at a quarter-distance. F1 2017 is well underway and patterns are emerging. Ferrari can match Mercedes and no one else can come close to the top two. That might change with Spain.
Why is that? Red Bull are planning to bring a new chassis to Spain, that might get them closer to the front. At the moment they’ve been unable to exert any pressure on Mercedes and Ferrari, but they’ll be hoping their new design will at the very least allow them to get closer. Regardless, this should still be a straight fight between Ferrari and Mercedes. That being the case, are there any potential sparks to be had here? Well, the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is a venue extremely familiar to every Formula 1 team and driver – this is where pre-season testing happens, so in theory there should be no issues with car setups or driver hang-ups.
Last season’s race certainly produced sparks – Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg had a collision on the first lap that ended their races and paved the way for Max Verstappen to claim his first F1 win, on his debut for Red Bull, though that was at least in part due to a strategic error that cost Daniel Ricciardo a win. It seems unlikely that we’ll have a repeat of this sort of event this time around, but what are the points of interest around this track?
It is regarded as a tough venue to overtake. The long dive into turn 1 is immediately followed by a series of corners that are fairly quick, which with the current F1 cars will make it tricky for anyone to get close enough into turn 5 (which isn’t a particularly easy opportunity anyway). Turn 10 might prove a possibility, being a meaty left-hander. Beyond that, it is likely to prove a good examination of how familiar the teams and drivers have become with the 2017 designs.