The next circuit on the F1 calendar is Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya, making it the 22nd time the city will have hosted the GP. The teams should know this circuit inside out as they have been racing there since 1991 and have also used the venue for tests. However, this is still a hugely challenging circuit with its own idiosyncrasies which have been known to throw drivers in the past.
The track surface tends to be quite rough and will take its toll on the tyres. Those drivers who have been struggling with tyre wear this season – in particular Michael Schumacher, who has the highest tyre usage so far – may find this a challenging track. Despite having won the race 6 times in previous years, Schumacher of Mercedes struggled this season and has publicly criticised Pirelli for producing what he deems to be mediocre tyres.
The upside for Mercedes is that the relatively temperate conditions in Spain (by comparison to Bahrain) will perhaps serve Schumacher’s team-mate Nico Roseberg in good stead, seeing as he flourished in the cooler temperatures of Shanghai earlier this year to win from pole. The same is likely to ring true for Team Maclaren who had seen their consistent form over the first three races blighted by the unforgiving Bahraini heat in the fourth.
The Catalunya circuit is also famous for its unpredictable winds. Their strength and direction is hugely changeable, and given the emphasis on aerodynamics in modern racing, finding an optimal setup for this will prove difficult. The aerodynamic drag generated by these winds means that drivers tend to understeer or oversteer as the conditions change, which makes for some unexpected performances.
The abrasive track and erratic winds, combined with the enigmatic Pirelli tyres should make for a very watchable Spanish Grand Prix. Keep your eye on the ever changing forecast for Barcelona in the run up to the race weekend here. Just don’t ask me to pick the winner.