F1 returns to where it did all it’s pre-season learning this weekend, but the true test will be how each team has progressed on and off the track since then. Four races gives them a gost of data to crunch, and in Spain we’ll see the results.
McLaren will be the ones with all eyes on them thanks to the poor performances throughout the opening flyaway races. Their main competition right now is, with no offence, Force India, and if the Silverstone team can muster some new parts of their own, they could leave Barcelona still in front.
Due to the high dependance on aerodynamics the track offers, the “Noah’s Ark” type grid usually makes an appearence. Where the team’s end up in the pecking order will be all down to the “big steps forward” each and every outfit offers. Some might make a massive package updgrade, but end up exactly where they were in Bahrain 3 weeks ago. Everyone will move forward; it’s by how much that will make the real differences.
The team that will be looking to make the most gains will be Williams, revisiting the site of their highest point on-track in 2012. The 2013 car isn’t as fast as they’d hoped, but what would they give to have it all happen again?
Speaking of a two-by-two grid, drivers really have to either have a shocker (odds on it’s Gutierrez) or an absolute blinder (ditto for Bianchi) to not line up next to their teammate.
And on the subject of teammates, Sunday’s race could see more of the same when it comes to intra-team battles. Red Bull have always done well here so the melting pot that is Vettel vs. Webber could come to a head again – and probably with twice the fireworks. The wounds might still be open at McLaren after their Bahrain fisicuffs, despite assurances that it’s all been worked out. If their planned uprage package doesn’t work out, it could get dirty again between Jenson Button and Sergio Perez. Finally, if Felipe Massa has the legs on home hero Fernando Alonso in qualifying again, we’d be very surprised indeed.
And that’s without even touching on Mercedes or Lotus. The German marque will be looking to get over their tyre wear issues without comprimising the single lap pace on Saturdays. Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg are both performing well and could continue that trend this weekend. With Lotus, Kimi will be looking for better qualifying results again. The race performances are there, but they’ll need to be stronger if a World Title challenge is still in the offing.
With the 2013 wildcard Pirelli adjusting the compound of the hard tyre, you almost have to feel like it’s a white flag to the protests of Red Bull, despite the manufacturer claiming that it was the plan all along. This would put the favourites tag squarely at the foot of Sebastian Vettel, but you just never know what may happen on race day. That still keeps us tuning in, thankfully.
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Badger’s Magic Moment
Ayrton Senna beats Nigel Mansell in one of the sport’s closest finishes in 1986.