Spanish Grand Prix preview

After a break following the Bahrain GP, the European stint of the Formula One season kicks off this weekend at the Spanish Grand Prix, read on for my preview to the race.

Rising from its three-week siesta, Formula One is about to fire up again as the teams hit Europe for the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya. A race that has been on the F1 calendar since 1991 and where pole position is vitally important come the race.

Formula One racing in Spain actually started back in 1951 at Pedralbes but was off & on the calendar for many years and at many locations. But since 1991, the Spanish Grand Prix has found its home in Barcelona at the Circuit de Catalunya and the track will host its 25th race this year.

The circuit is 4.655km long and entails 16 corners since its redesign to include a chicane towards the end of the lap to reduce the speed drivers took the final corner. Nevertheless, the race will last for 66 laps but last year’s fastest lap on race day by Sebastian Vettel (1:28.918) was over seven seconds slower than the lap record of 1:21.670 held by Kimi Raikkonen, despite Kimi’s time coming after the tracks redesign.

Circuit de Catalunya track guide - from Formula1.com

For this year’s race, drivers will have the benefit of two DRS zones around the track. Firstly at the back straight leading into turn 10. Here drivers can complete an overtake that may have been in the making since turn 1 after the long turn three would need a considerably faster car than the one in front for an overtake, whilst turn 5 requires a late breaking move but the downhill nature of the corner can lead to locked brakes.

After the drivers move through the DRS zone, they make their way around turn 10 and continue their climb back up the hill before descending once more ahead of the finish line. But if the driver behind remains close through these slow corners, an overtake may be possible or they have the option of remaining tucked behind and utilise the long, DRS aided pit straight.

Bottas and Ricciardo at the 2014 Spanish Grand Prix - copyright Jane drumsara

For this year’s race, Williams and Red Bull will be looking for an improved Grand Prix following the opening four rounds of the season. But back in Bahrain, the two saw slightly better results come their way and a three-week break could have seen more improvements attached to the cars. But the same goes for the championship leading Mercedes team and the closest challengers, Ferrari, who would also have been looking to develop their machines.

Towards the back of the grid, McLaren may be edging further away from Manor-Marussia. But the McLaren car will also look different from in the opening four rounds with a modified grey livery rather than the previous black/silver. Yet now Manor-Marussia have found a base in Silverstone, they also can start developing their 2015 car with the aim of replacing the modified 2014 car currently in use.

Revised McLaren livery - Copyright: McLarenBut regardless of the development either McLaren or Manor-Marussia make, they will still be far behind the Silver Arrows who will be looking to lock out the front row of the grid on Saturday like they have done multiple times over the past year.

Locking out the front row of the grid will also put them in a great position to secure another win, as the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya has one of the highest percentages of wins from pole or second place on the grid compared with other races on the 2015 calendar. In fact, pole position wins here ranks them third with only Singapore and Russia ahead.

To put these races into numbers, 66.67% of the races at the Circuit de Catalunya have been won from pole position, according to the F1StatBlog. While the Singapore GP has been won 71.43% of the time from pole and Sochi, Russia was won from pole in its inaugural GP. But not only are pole position wins strong in Spain, front row winners amount to 91.67% of the Grand Prix’s. Only the USGP at Circuit of the Americas and the Russian Grand Prix have more winners from the front row with both on 100% win rates.

Fernando Alonso - Spanish Grand Prix 2012 - copyright Sara

Going into this weekends race, Lewis Hamilton leads the drivers’ championship from Rosberg and Vettel. But will have his work cut out to move further away from their attack. Rosberg will also be looking to claim his first win of the season, after Hamilton and Vettel swept up the early wins.

For this weekends race, and Fernando Alonso’s home Grand Prix, it will be broadcasted live in the UK exclusively on Sky Sports F1. The BBC will be showing highlight packages for F1 on tv along with radio coverage of some sessions and Sky Sports also have coverage of the GP2 and GP3 championships.

Thursday 7th May – Sky Sports F1

14:00 – Drivers’ Press Conference – Live
17:35 – Drivers’ Press Conference – Replay
20:45 – Paddock Uncut

Friday 8th May – Sky Sports F1

08:45 – Spanish GP Practice One – Live
11:00 – GP2 Practice – Live
12:45 – Spanish GP Practice Two – Live
14:50 – GP2 Qualifying – Live
16:00 – Team Principals’ Press Conference
17:00 – The F1 Show – Live

Saturday 9th May – Sky Sports F1

08:45 – GP3 Qualifying – Live
09:45 – Spanish GP Practice Three – Live
12:00 – Spanish GP Qualifying – Live
14:35 – GP2 Feature Race – Live
16:15 – GP3 Race One – Live
20:30 – Ted’s Qualifying Notebook

Saturday 9th May – BBC

09:55 – Spanish GP – Practice Three (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
12:55 – Spanish GP – Qualifying Updates (BBC Radio 5 Live)
17:10 – Spanish GP – Qualifying Highlights (BBC One)

Sunday 10th May – Sky Sports F1

08:20 – GP3 Race Two – Live
09:30 – GP2 Sprint Race – Live
11:30 – The 2015 Spanish GP – Track Parade – Live
12:00 – The 2015 Spanish GP – Pit Lane – Live
12:30 – The 2015 Spanish GP – Race – Live
15:30 – The 2015 Spanish GP – Paddock Live
18:00 – Spanish Grand Prix highlights
19:00 – Ted’s Notebook

Sunday 10th May – BBC

12:45 – Spanish Grand Prix – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live)
17:05 – Spanish Grand Prix – Race Highlights (BBC One)