The first two tests of 2019 see’s the teams return to the Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya. Barcelona has become the regular home of pre-season testing since the circuit opened in 1992. Barcelona was built as part of the development ahead of the 1992 Olympic and Paralympic games.
The 2.8 mile circuit creates a perfect testing ground for the teams and drivers as it has a mixture of long straights and following corners. This has majorly helped Mercedes when it has been the Grand Prix here, winning five out of the six races here since 2014. However, when it has been testing here it has been Ferrari who has been stronger.
Barcelona normally provides teams with the right conditions to go testing, however, testing was limited in the first test because of snow and ice. The track conditions are usually around 15 degrees giving teams enough to work with. These eight days of testing are really important.
The first half of the lap is about speed and downforce with long following corners favouring speed, while the final sector has tight corners and stops and starts. Overall the layout of Barcelona should give teams a good understanding of the cars.
Last year we saw teams gain around three seconds a lap from day one to eight, teams priority is to make sure that the cars are working. Mercedes have been very good throughout the winter tests, they do not go for speed but mileage, while Ferrari goes for speed.
Mercedes we saw in recent years manage about two race distances a day, unlike filming days and other tests teams are allowed to run as much as they want. Mercedes have arguably laid the foundations for the season here, but the thing we all took away from the start it appeared as Ferrari would be a strong challenge.
Another interesting team was Haas, from testing the team emerged as the fourth fastest team. They will be a team you need to watch to see if they have managed to make further inroads into the top three.
Some of the teams have already or will be using a filming day to gain extra mileage, but they do face limited running because of the regulations. We will not really learn anything from these days, but watching the cars on the track will tell us about driveability and handling of the cars.
These test will still see the teams carry on the spin we will see the teams try to make out either they are ahead or on the back foot when it comes to their rivals. Ferrari has become the team to watch in recent years, although the team has been strong in testing and that has carried through into the season they are still yet to win a championship.
Barcelona also marks the beginning of Red Bull’s partnership with Honda. Last year, the Japanese manufacturer showed a huge step forward in terms of reliability and performance. This year, we will be looking to see if the team and Honda are able to make another step forward.
Facts and figures
- The La Sagrada Familia has taken around 200 hundred years to be constructed with modern technology The main feature of this building is its height, which equals 984 meters. However, Gaudí believed that the highest point in the city
- Catalonia has a total population of around 7.5 million people, accounting for over 16% of Spain’s total population. It occupies 6.3% (32,114sq km) of Spain’s territory.
- On the hill to the right of Turn 7 is La Moreneta, an old farmhouse that existed before the circuit was built and now houses its offices.
- Michael Schumacher has the most wins of any driver at the Catalunya circuit, with six, while Ferrari is the team with the most wins eight.
- Montjuïc Street Circuit once hosted the Spanish Grand Prix four times between 1969 and 1975, before being deemed too unsafe for F1 cars to race around. There’s little evidence that the track ever existed, but you can still roughly follow the route of the track.
Driver line up
|Team||Day One||Day Two||Day Three||Day Four|
|Mercedes||Valtteri Bottas (AM)
Lewis Hamilton (PM)
|Ferrari||Sebastian Vettel||Charles Leclerc||Sebastian Vettel||Charles Leclerc|
|Red Bull||Max Verstappen||Pierre Gasly||Max Verstappen||Pierre Gasly|
|Haas||Romain Grosjean||Kevin Magnussen||Romain Grosjean / Pietro Fittipadi||Kevin Magnussen / Pietro Fittipaldi|
|Racing Point||Sergio Perez||Lance Stroll||Sergio Perez||Lance Stroll|
|Toro Rosso||Daniil Kvyat||Alexander Albon||Daniil Kvyat||Alexander Albon|
|Alfa Romeo||Kimi Raikkonen||Antonio Giovinazzi||Kimi Raikkonen||Antonio Giovinazzi|
|McLaren||Carlos Sainz Jr||Lando Norris||Carlos Sainz Jr||Lando Norris|
|Williams||Robert Kubica (am)
George Russell (pm)
|George Russell (am)
Nicholas Latifi (pm)
|Nicholas Latifi (am)
Robert Kubica (pm)
|Robert Kubica (am)
George Russell (pm)
|Team||Day One||Day Two||Day Three||Day Four|
What to watch for?
Testing is always an interesting time, and we need to be cautious not to read to much into the outright pace. For me, I always try to compare the drivers’ first lap and the last lap v mileage to find out the teams progress on a day and then at the end of the test the end of day one v day eight.
Normally we are about a second to a second and a half faster by the end of testing. The problem is that we don’t know full setups and really it is about illegence guessing comparing race and test data from previous years. We will also be watching the cars for handling and driveability, this also gives us an understanding of the cars.
Red Bull and Honda are the other big story, we will want to know if the manufacturer has made another step forward. Last year, Honda became the biggest talking point with the high coming in Bahrain with Pierre Gasly’s fourth place. I believe he will be the teams leader early on, as the experienced Honda driver.
The midfield, despite the tweaks to the regulations I expect that we will see the same closeness between the Haas-Renault-Sauber group. But while the overall question is have they are able to close the gap early on or later in the year
Eyes will be on both McLaren and Williams, both the teams struggled last year and will be hoping that the team can make progress towards the midfield. Robert Kubica is one of the most talked about drivers this year, but I think being out of F1 since the end of 2010 will hurt him a bit.
The interesting thing will be how the teams respond to how things are going, we don’t know everything. Ferrari will be interesting off track, do they tell us what’s going on because last year they hardly spoke to the media. They have I feel been overconfident in testing, does that change?
2017 vs 2018 Race Data
Based on Spanish Grand Prix
A lap of Barcelona L. Hamilton 01:16.173
Lewis Hamilton comes out of Catalunya goes to the outside of the track getting one side of the car onto the kerb before lining up to run along the outside of the track. Carries the speed all the way down to Turn One, breaks at the 100m board. Turns in hitting the apex of One, setting him up for Two where he takes it around the apex setting himself up for the long Turn Three. Goes to the outside, before breaking into the long Repsol corner.
On exit he goes to the outside of the circuit before crossing to lining himself up for Five, round the apex before going to the outside hitting the kerb as he opens up the car. Speeds through Six, before going to inside approaching TV3. Breaks into the corner, speeds on exit and through eight where he goes to the outside. Slows slightly through Nine, runs to the outside.
Build speed before breaking a 100M before La Casa, turns in before hitting the apex and runs to the inside. Breaks slightly through Eleven and goes to the apex for Twelve, before running along the kerb breaks slightly into Europcar weaves his way down to Fourteen. Hits kerb then on the exit of fifteen opens the car up before going back through Catalunya and across the line with a 01:16.173