Following a three week break the Formula One action returns this weekend. The Spanish Grand Prix will kick off the European season (with a brief visit to North America for the Canadian Grand Prix) with teams set to introduce rafts of upgrades as they return closer to home.
Mercedes have so far demonstrated that they are still the team to beat although they have Ferrari snapping at their heels. Sebastian Vettel won in Malaysia and was on the podium in Australia and China while Kimi Raikkonen led the Ferrari charge in Bahrain, finishing second. It was a nervy race for Mercedes as both Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg limped across the line with brake issues.
Spanish GP Stats
Circuit: Circuit de Catalunya
Number of Laps: 66
Circuit Length: 4.655km
Number of Corners: 16
Lap Record: 1:21.670 Kimi Raikkonen (2008)
Previous Spain winners still on the grid: 7
Most Successful Team: Ferrari (12 wins)
DRS Zones: 2
Pirelli Tyres: Medium and Hard
There are seven former Spanish Grand Prix race winners still on the grid and these are Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa, Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel, Pastor Maldonado and most recently Lewis Hamilton. Raikkonen came close to a win last time out but ran out of laps while Vettel has picked up one victory so far this season. McLaren team-mates Alonso and Button are unlikely to repeat previous Spanish victories however the team will be hopeful they can achieve their first points of the season. Button had a weekend to forget in Bahrain, with technical issues compromising his weekend on Friday and Saturday. His weekend was compounded as he failed to make the grid for the start of the race. Alonso made it into Q2 for the first time this season and was just four seconds off McLaren’s first points of the season. Maldonado has endured a difficult start to his 2015 campaign but Lotus have overall improved since last year and team-mate Romain Grosjean has picked up points. Williams appear to have slipped behind Ferrari in the battle behind Mercedes but Rob Smedley revealed earlier this year that he believed Massa is driving at the best form of his career.
Teams tested at the Circuit de Catalunya during pre-season testing and the race will provide all teams the first opportunity for major upgrades. Due to its regular location as a testing circuit, teams and drivers are very familiar with it. It is a circuit where overtaking is very difficult so qualifying will be more important than it is at some other circuits. It is a mixture of fast, medium and low speed corners with a long pit straight. As well as technical upgrades McLaren will debut their new livery with the chrome being ditched for a “dynamic, predatory, graphite-grey” colour.
There are three Spanish drivers on the grid this year – Alonso, Carlos Sainz and Roberto Merhi. Sainz has performed well so far in his rookie year and is best placed of the three Spaniards to score some points.