The 2014 FORMULA 1 SPANISH GRAND PRIX
Round 5 of 19
Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona
May 9 - 11
Qualifying • 22:00 Saturday May 10
Race start • 22:00 Sunday May 11
66 x 4.655 km
McLaren & Ferrari: 7 victories each here
M. Schumacher: 7 victories
1:21.670 = 205.191 km/h • K. Raikkonen (Ferrari) 2008
Rosberg (Mercedes) 1:20.718 = 207.611 km/h
1 Alonso (Ferrari) 1:39.16.596 = 185.605 km/h
2 Raikkonen (Lotus F1 Renault)
3 Massa (Ferrari)
1994: early in Barcelona’s tenure, Damon Hill records one of the most emotional wins in Williams’ illustrious history. This week we have all been remembering Ayrton Senna; four weeks after the Brazilian’s death at Imola in a Williams, Hill stepped up to claim the team’s first win of the season and assume the mantle of team leadership – just as his father Graham had done for Lotus in the aftermath of Jim Clark’s death 26 years earlier.
1996: Germany’s new ‘Rainmaster’ is born as Michael Schumacher, struggling in dry qualifying, destroys the field in a rain-lashed race to take his first victory in a scarlet car. His Ferrari finishes 45 seconds ahead of the second car, Jean Alesi’s Benetton-Renault.
2010: in one of F1’s greatest years Mark Webber wins in Barcelona for Red Bull Racing. The Aussie leaps from his car, takes off the familiar yellow-topped helmet and launches it into the main grandstand. Webber has a photo taken from the other end of the helmet’s trajectory – by the Ferrari fan who caught it.
2012: we started with Williams, let’s finish the same way – with the team’s most recent victory, scored by Pastor Maldonado in unlikely circumstances in Barcelona two years ago. Their first GP success for over seven seasons was clouded by an outbreak of fire in the Williams garage that same day – and they haven’t set the world alight since.
Man of the MomentLewis Hamilton: three poles, three wins already in 2014 with his first-ever three-in-a-row spell of success: the 2008 World Champion is right back on top of his game with Mercedes, even though his teammate is still four points ahead of him, and the Briton is planning to use his Silver Arrow to pass another milestone in Spain. “I’ve never won in Barcelona but I’m in a good place right now and I’m hoping that this will be the year,” he says, “although it’s clear who the fans’ favourite will be!”
Flying back from China, you’d be looking for an upgrade: so are all the drivers now that the long-haul start to 2014 is behind them and Barcelona brings the usual raft of changes to all the cars. Watch for dramatic improvement from the likes of Sauber, whose C33 will benefit from a slim-line diet and major changes to front wing, engine cover, side-pods and software. Can teams like Force India, flying high in third at the moment, sustain that form as other teams also play catch-up? F1 folklore has it that a car which works well in Barcelona will work well everywhere…
But the big question is… Who can stop Mercedes? Niki Lauda reckons their start to 2014 – 4 poles, 4 wins, 4 fastest laps, drivers 1-2 in the standings, team almost 100 points clear already – is a more significant achievement in the light of the new-look F1 than Red Bull’s last year, and who would question the three-time World Champion? Ferrari’s James Ellison has said, simply, “It’s difficult to describe just how much there is to learn,” so clearly the Silver Arrows’ creators went to school early and learned their lessons well.
Quote of the week
“It’s a good track to defend on, but one that demands a lot of concentration on the right set-up,” says Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo. “The trade-off is that you need fairly low down-force on the long straight but that compromises the rest of your lap and makes the car difficult to control. Finding the right balance isn’t simple.”
Off the record
It’s impossible to bet against the three-pointed star, so let’s play the law of averages and tip Rosberg for his own first Barcelona victory. But with Renault tipped to be giving them more oomph, let’s also look for a Red Bull driver on the podium.