Formula 1 Spain 2019: Don’t make it a (red) comeback!

Phew, that was bitter. The whole of Barcelona still feels like they’re nursing a hangover after their FC’s Champions League out. A 4-0 hiding in Liverpool after a 3-0 win at home. What a comeback for the “Reds” in the semi-finals. Congratulations! Fortunately, the Catalans can now distract themselves with an exciting Formula 1 weekend. And we should be warned for the Formula 1 Spain 2019 that even clear favourites can quickly be pushed to the side-lines.

Four races, four double wins – the 2019 Formula 1 season couldn’t have started better for Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport. 173 points in the Constructors’ Championship are a remarkable result, which is above all proof of the fantastic work of each individual team member. But these kind of successes can promote listlessness, reduce ambition and encourage carelessness. That’s why the football match on Tuesday evening should be a motivation for us to concentrate on the upcoming races in Europe and Canada.

Ferrari likes Spain

Especially here in Spain on the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, so popular for test drives, the Ferraris were really fast in winter: In 1:16.221 min., Sebastian Vettel chased his car around the 16 curves of the 4,655-kilometre track. Lewis and Valtteri weren’t far behind, and last year’s one-two victory also shows that the two of them are quite comfortable on the track.

But still: Our performance has fluctuated over the first four races. We had the fastest car in Australia and China, but in Bahrain we won only thanks to our reliability. With a view to pure speed, we were at a disadvantage. And although our race space in Azerbaijan looked good, we were never able to get a really comfortable advantage over our opponents. So in our position, there’s no room for complacency, because we know that it’s not an accurate reflection of the true balance of power from the season so far.

Formula 1 in Spain 2019: an integral part of the racing calendar

But back to Barcelona: The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya (formerly Circuit de Catalunya) was built as part of the development programme for the 1992 Olympic Games. It was completed in time for the Spanish Grand Prix, in 1991 and has been part of the Formula 1 calendar ever since – both as a race track and as a popular test track. This is because the track profile has a good mixture of different characteristics. These include slow, medium and fast corners, as well as two straights with speeds in excess of 300 km/h.

Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya: the constructors’ race

This course makes the circuit a good reference as the teams learn how their car behaves in many different situations, how well the balance is and how the car handles the tyres. As the drivers have all completed countless laps of testing on the circuit, the Spanish Grand Prix is considered the constructors’ race. This will finally show which teams were best able to make use of the aerodynamic rule changes before the season. The larger front and rear wings should make overtaking easier, especially on track profiles like the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

Formel 1 - Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, Großer Preis von Spanien 2018. Lewis Hamilton Formula One - Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, Spanish GP 2018. Lewis Hamilton

So far, the hoped-for effects have been limited. It will be interesting to see if the drivers have better luck on the weekend accelerating after the treacherous Turn 16 on the home straight, from the air turbulence (wake) of the person in front. Ferrari has already announced that it will refine its aerodynamics before the race in Barcelona, and that it will be using the new engine development stage, which is actually scheduled for June. Let’s see if Lewis and Valtteri can prevent a comeback of the Reds in their silver arrows.

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Bradley Lord is Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Communications Director. At the age of four he joined his first Formula 1 race. Since then he's a big fan of motor sports in all it's facets.