A track that has it all: very hard on tyres, different logistics
The Spanish Grand Prix is traditionally regarded as the race that kicks off the European part of the season. It’s not strictly true as Sochi, home to the previous round is also in Europe, but the race in Barcelona marks the first appearance of the team “motorhomes.” The logistical aspect and preparation work for this event is also different. Prior to this race, the cars return to the team’s headquarters for the first time since the start of the season. There, they will be prepared and repainted before heading off on Tuesday for the Barcelona-Catalunya Circuit, by road this time. It means that, unlike at the first four rounds, the cars arrive in Spain more or less ready to go. The Montmelo track, to the north east of Barcelona, first hosted a Formula 1 race in 1991. Ever since, it has been the preferred venue for winter testing, because it boasts every type of corner. There are some very fast ones, specifically turns 3 and 9 and in pre-season testing, the new 2017 specification cars proved capable of taking them flat out, thanks to the wider tyres and increased aerodynamic downforce. The final sector features slower corners, including the turn 13 chicane, which was put in a decade ago, where good traction on exit is a requirement. The track layout means overtaking is difficult. On the tyre front, it’s more or less the opposite to Russia, which is why Pirelli has brought its hardest trio of compounds, the Hard, Medium and Soft. Last year, Scuderia Ferrari got both its drivers, Kimi and Seb, onto the podium. During winter testing, the SF 70H went well here, but the F1 teams will encounter very different weather this weekend, with temperatures predicted to be around the 22-23° mark.