Formula 1

PREVIEW: 2021 Spanish Grand Prix: Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya

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Credit: LAT Images

We return to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya for the Spanish Grand Prix. The event usually kicks off the start of the European leg of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship season but due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, two races have already staged in Europe.

This will be the first-time drivers come to Barcelona this year after pre-season testing was moved from the track to Bahrain to coincide with the season opener at the Middle Eastern track.

Fernando Alonso will be making a happy return to his home track. He last raced at the circuit back in 2018 and has previously won here in 2006 and 2013. It’s also a home race for Carlos Sainz Jr. who will be hoping to get his Scuderia Ferrari onto a podium.

What happened at the Portuguese Grand Prix?

Lewis Hamilton was victorious for the second time this year in a well-managed race from the Brit. The first lap brought out a safety car when Kimi Räikkonen crashed into the back of his Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN teammate Antonio Giovinazzi

On the race restart, third placed Max Verstappen got the jump on Hamilton, relegating him down to third. Hamilton wasn’t letting that get the better of him and claimed second back four laps later. Come Lap 20, Hamilton was all over the back of Valtteri Bottas, who was out in front, and claimed the lead at Turn 1. Hamilton wasn’t tested again and brought home his ninety-seventh race win, followed by Verstappen and Bottas respectively.

Sergio Pérez claimed his highest finish since his moved to Red Bull Racing in fourth with Lando Norrisbehind him in fifth, meaning he’s finished every race so far in the top five.

Daniel Ricciardo climbed up to ninth on the grid after a poor qualifying session saw him omitted in Q1 and starting in sixteenth. 

Verstappen claimed the fastest lap, but had it taken away from him after the race for exceeding track limits. Bottas re-inherited the bonus point. 

What happened at the 2020 Spanish Grand Prix?

Hamilton won for the fifth time in his F1 career at the Spanish Grand PrixMercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team had dominated the weekend, claiming their eight straight pole position at the track.

Lance Stroll, who had qualified in fifth, had a flyer of a first lap, over taking Bottas and Pérez to put himself up to third. Come Lap 5, Bottas had started to come into gear and reclaimed third over Stroll is a DRS overtake.

The only casualty of the race was Charles Leclerc. He came into an electrical issue which caused him to spin his Scuderia Ferrari. He pitted and ultimately retired the car.

By the time he crossed the finish line, Hamilton had lapped everyone on the track besides Verstappen and Bottas, who completed the podium in second and third respectively. 

Sebastian Vettel claimed Driver of the Day for putting in a hefty distance of half a race on soft tyres. He qualified in eleventh and finished in seventh due to his heroic tyre management.

The Circuit

The 4.675km track will host 66 laps with a total race distance of 308.424km. The circuit consists of sixteen corners in total. 

For 2021, Turn 10 is getting a new look. Instead of the turn being more of an acute angle, it will instead have more of a wider, rounded corner. Because of this, there is no existing track record. Before Turn 10 was revamped, Bottas held the track record at a time of 1:18.183 in 2020.

Credit: Pirelli Media

Sectors, Corners and DRS Zones

Sector 1 consists of just Turns 1 through to 3, one of the smallest sectors on the F1 calendar. 

Sector 2 contains Turn’s 4 through to 9. It ends with a long straight going into Turn 10.

Off the back of Turn 10, the remainder of Sector 3 has Turn’s 11 through to 16.

At a track which is deemed hard to overtake on, we have two Drag Reduction System zones. The first DRS zone is also the long start finish straight. The second can be found in between Turn’s 9 and 10. Expect to see most of the action here.

Tyre Strategy

For the second race running, Pirelli have nominated the three hardest compounds for the teams to race with. This is due to the demand’s certain areas of the track, like Turn 3 and Turn 9, put on the tyres.

The collection will be the C1 white-striped hards, C2 yellow-striped mediums and C3 red-striped softs.

What should you look out for this year?

Yet again, we saw a battle on track between Hamilton and Verstappen, who are looking to be the two that will compete for the Drivers’ Championship. Bottas hasn’t really challenged so far and finds Norris above him in third.

Expect McLaren F1 Team to have another good race. Despite Ricciardo’s bad qualifying session at Portugal, they still got a good haul of points to keep themselves third in the Constructors’ Championship. They are also the only team this year to have both of their drivers finish in the points at every race.

Ferrari have made a strong comeback, but Sainz Jr. still seems to be struggling on race day. With the Spanish Grand Prix being a home one for him, I’m sure he’ll want to have a cracker of a race.

Williams Racing’s qualifying pace has been exceptional, but they continue to fall down the grid on race day. George Russell has openly complained about the car saying ‘it’s undrivable’ when trying to compete. Less hope they sort that issue out soon.

What’s the schedule?

Friday 7 May

10:30 BST / 11:30 Local Time – Free Practice 1
14:00 BST / 15:00 Local Time – Free Practice 2

Saturday 8 May

11:00 BST / 12:00 Local Time – Free Practice 3
14:00 BST / 15:00 Local Time – Qualifying

Sunday 9 May

14:00 BST / 15:00 Local Time – Race

How can I keep up with the action?

Follow all the action at the Checkered Flag with our extensive coverage, quotes and analysis of every session of the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix. You can watch all the coverage live on Sky Sports F1.

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