Text: Alex Yoong / Photos: | posted May 07, 2010 21:30
2010 Spanish Grand Prix
The fly-away races always throw up some surprises and it's now that we're in Europe that we should see the quickest teams racking up the points.
Barcelona in Catalonia, Spain is a track used by all the teams during preseason testing. The mix of slow and fast corners makes it an excellent test track. The fast corners are also long, which means having an aerodynamically efficient car with a very good aero-balance a key part to getting a good lap time.
It's also very physical, especially on the neck, which all combine to make it one of the most challenging tracks on the calendar for the drivers.
If it rains, expect another cracking grand prix. But if it is dry, we might be in for a rather dull race. Barcelona is not a circuit well known for overtaking and with tyre wear expected to be high, drivers will be cautious not to ruin them with some over ambitious moves early on.
Who will win? Again, not an easy question to answer. All of the teams are bringing big updates to this race with the possible exception of Renault and HRT.
Barcelona has historically been the place to revamp your car as it's the first race of the season with easier access to the teams HQ's (instead of being a continent away).
Most of the updates will be aerodynamic and the top teams have been bullish about their updates. Ferrari even brings their own fully working version of Mclarens F Duct. This is of course the F1, and if you are not moving forward, you are going backwards because the truth is that everyone is pushing for improvement.
The new teams at the back especially look like they have much to gain due to the fact that they are a long way off the established teams. Virgin bring updates for Timo Glock's car but as they are centered around a bigger fuel tank - their developments suggest reliability instead of speed being improved.
For me Lotus stand to make the biggest improvements. From the moment they got their entry, they only had a month to finalize their design before starting production, which meant they had to compromise on a lot of issues.
This race represents the first chance to really look for performance instead of reliability and Technical director Mike Gascoyne believes they could be as much as two seconds a lap quicker.
While this means they might not be higher up on the grid - Lotus are two seconds of the next quickest team - they will be a lot closer to the established teams, which will allow them to actually race instead of being overtaken so easily.
My personal pick is for McLaren to take the fight to Red Bull. They showed last year they are capable of phenomenal development during the season and if they can replicate that form, I expect them to have made better improvements than the other teams.
Qualifying will be key and both McLaren and Ferrari have been working hard to improve in these areas.
Also don't forget Alonso is always a bit special around his home race so don't be surprised if he produces a pole out of nowhere.