#challenges #Spanish #Grand #Prix
Having tasted American excesses, Formula 1 returns to its European base this weekend in Barcelona. Will F1 2022 make the Spanish Grand Prix less monotonous than usual?
WILL FERRARI RECOVER THE ADVANTAGE?
Ferrari is likely to arrive in Barcelona with some trepidation as Max Verstappen has won the last two Grands Prix in quick succession. If the F1-75 was faster during the first rounds (in any case, more robust), the trend has clearly reversed since two rounds. Faster on the straight and managing its tires better, the RB18 has evolved remarkably since the start of the championship, while the scarlet single-seater has hardly changed since the first tests in Barcelona.
Having dropped 43 points at Imola and Miami, Maranello has scheduled significant development for this weekend. Long-awaited, this should provide the expected gain over time, at a time when the Prancing Horse’s development strategy is being called into question. It is true that Barcelona requires substantial downforce and does not have a long straight, but Ferrari will need a boost to allow Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz to compete with Max Verstappen. For the first time in his career, the Spaniard will have a horse capable of beating him at home. As long as he doesn’t make any more mistakes behind the wheel of a chassis he lacks confidence in.
WILL THE DEVELOPMENTS CHANGE THE GAME?
All teams except Haas will bring changes to Barcelona. First of all, because the circuit is well known by the engineers, who have a reference (the data from the winter tests) to assess the performance of the new parts. Second, because the European location of the Circuit de Catalunya saves the teams a few days of transport while allowing them to bring more parts (transport from the factory to the circuit is done by road and not by plane).
If we have to wait until the beginning of the weekend for details of the new parts (even if Alpine has officially announced that it will introduce a new wing), it is likely that most teams will introduce a new flat bottom. . To gain performance, but also to limit the pumping phenomenon (or “porpoise”) that had surprised engineers during the first laps of the 2022 F1 wheels, Aston Martin should present a “B” version of its car.
Among these teams, Mercedes has not yet managed to make its car competitive. The Miami Grand Prix left the Brackley engineers even more perplexed, the W13 born under an unlucky star sometimes proving competitive (Friday) sometimes slow (Saturday and Sunday). One wonders how such an experienced and titled team (eight world titles in a row) could come to this. A W13 photo retouched on Wednesday at Paul-Ricard.
In Barcelona, the team will be able to face the first version of the W13 (with conventional pontoons and less prone to pumping) and the one that appeared in Bahrain (refined to the extreme). Both specs will run on the same track, allowing the performance of the two machines to be accurately compared. Analyzing the data collected, Mercedes’ think tanks will be faced with a difficult decision: continue with a concept that only seems to work in simulation, or return to a more conventional but less efficient design.
END OF THE BLACK SERIES FOR ALONSO?
In five Grand Prix, Fernando Alonso has only added two points. In his long career, there are only three seasons in which the Spaniard has done less well: in 2001 for his first campaign with Minardi, then in 2015 and 2017 when he drove a Honda-powered McLaren as brittle as iron.
After Australia, the Spaniard had a string of disappointments: retirement due to engine failure in Jeddah, incident in qualifying and then a big graining in Melbourne, retirement after a collision with Schumacher in Imola, too long a pit stop in Miami, where received two penalties.
At 40 years old, Alonso has lost none of his speed, but he is haunted by persistent bad luck that comes at the wrong time. In fact, he must begin negotiations on his future at Enstone. Esteban Ocon, who has registered 22 units, has a contract until the end of 2014, while Oscar Piastri, Alpine’s third driver, is likely to be loaned out next year.
However, like his compatriot Carlos Sainz, Alonso needs to regroup in Catalonia after a difficult start to the season.