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Formula One

2018 Spanish Grand Prix Preview

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Momentum? There has been no clear momentum towards any driver or team thus far but you should expect the unexpected.

Needs A Good Run? After their crash at Baku, Daniel Ricciardo and especially Max Verstappen need to finish and not hit one another again.

In Our Last Episode? A surprise win for reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton in Azerbaijan.

Sentimental Favorite?  Now that the series is coming home to Europe, where just about all F1 people live, this is easier. In Spain, the favorites are Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz. Simple, except for all that Catalan independence stuff.

Challenges? How to strike that balance between technical excellence so valued in the series and the mayhem that race fans often look for.

Quotes:

“Finishing on the podium in Baku felt amazing. After a few tough races we finally got a result we deserved. It reminded me of 2016, when we had a difficult start to the season and then we had the podium in Monaco. We were quick in Baku right from the start and we knew there was the chance to score a great result. I’m so proud of my team and the way we did it. Even when we had to pit on lap one, we didn’t stop fighting or stop believing. Barcelona was our best result as a team last year so you never know what can happen this year. It’s a track we know really well because of testing, but of course the car has changed a lot since the pre-season and it will be interesting to feel the difference the upgrades have made. Unlike in Baku, overtaking is quite difficult at Barcelona so we will need to be perfect in qualifying. It’s great to be back racing in Europe and Barcelona is the perfect place to start this part of the championship. I really enjoy the city of Barcelona and my trainer Xavi is Catalan, so it’s a special race for him.” Sergio Perez, Force India driver

“Everybody has done a lot of laps in Barcelona but I’m looking forward to seeing how the cars progress this year. We have many updates coming, hopefully they will be positive and we can be even closer to the front, but of course everybody else will also bring new parts. It could be quite a defining moment for the season and I’m interested to see how everyone will perform. I believe our car is very fast, we still need a bit more top speed but hopefully that will come. I am of course also looking forward to the weekend as I have good memories from my first F1 win there and I will be happy to start the European season and have the comforts of the Energy Station.” Max Verstappen. Red Bull driver

“It’s the most special Grand Prix of the year for me and it feels so different to any other race. Wherever I go throughout the weekend, there’s always people cheering, it’s a real privilege to experience. It’s a busier weekend than normal, but I enjoy that, and I realise I’m very fortunate!” Carlos Sainz Renault driver

“I feel like I’m having a good season, so far. I’m really enjoying my time with Haas. I feel that we’re benefiting from the experience that we’ve gained together over the last year-and-a-half. The new surface [in Barcelona] was very smooth. The effect on the tires was that they were difficult to get up to temperature. Also, degradation was very low, which is why Pirelli introduced a modification to the tyres for this race. They’re trying to get more degradation and easier warm up on the tyres. [Returning to Barcelona] does give you a good idea where you stand since winter testing. In our case, we haven’t really introduced that many parts since winter testing. We had some in Australia and, of course, we can reassess that, but I think in terms of numbers and the car, we feel confident that we got the improvements we expected so far.” Kevin Magnussen Haas driver

“Barcelona is probably the track on the calendar that every single driver knows better than any other, which also makes it extremely challenging when it comes to trying to get any advantage over your team-mate or the others drivers and teams. But that’s all part of the challenge here. It’s not just the actual testing that means we all know it well, because, from my time working in simulators for various teams, I know that the Catalunya track is used a lot in the sim. It’s an enjoyable track to drive and offers a bit of everything. It is also tough physically, especially with the long right hand corners in particular putting a strain on the neck muscles. Qualifying is very important at this track, because overtaking is not so easy. So far this year, I’ve been relatively happy with my qualifying performance, especially compared to last year, when I had not yet developed an understanding of how to get the most out of the tyres. Now, I feel like I’m understanding the car and tyres more and more and that’s given me a lot more confidence going into qualifying sessions. It’s one of the most fun parts of the weekend because all the fuel load comes off, the rubber goes down and that’s when these cars really come alive. They’re literally the quickest cars on earth and qualifying really highlights that. It’s not often that you don’t have a smile on your face with the amount of grip that we have and the lap times we’re doing.Tyre management will be very important at this track because, even on a qualifying lap, you have to keep the rears alive for that last sector where you need the traction. You can easily destroy the rear tyres through that first part with all the high-speed corners but it’s one of the challenges of getting the most out of the qualifying lap.” Brendon Hartley, Toro Rosso driver

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularOpenWheel.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Lisa Davidson

Lisa Davidson is a graduate of the University of Arizona and spent her corporate career as a Controller. She is a lifelong writer who has been covering open wheel racing since 2000 and is the author of historical articles and co-author of one book She and her husband, photographer Jeff Davidson, have two daughters and make their home in Murrieta, CA.

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