• Matthieu Piekarski

#8 Barcelona Preview

Hola a todos! Amazing weather here in Barcelona, as I speak (Thursday) it’s bright and sunny with temperatures of 25°C. It’s so bright that even Fernando had to wear his sunglasses during the Driver Press conference (officially he has an eye infection). The good news is that the weather is going to be glorious throughout this weekend with tomorrow highs of 28°. That means one thing, the tyres are going to suffer! Bring on the European leg of the championship!

To begin let’s talk about what has been going in the media during the mini-break:

Starting with the back of the grid with Manor F1, numerous indications are suggesting that this will be the last race of the season for Roberto Mehri. With Giedo van der Garde (GVDG) possibly replacing him and bringing along the millions Manor F1 desperately need to improve and more importantly survive. In my honest opinion, after the legal clash between GVDG and Sauber I think it isn’t the right career move for him. As much as I understand F1 is the pinnacle of motorsport and it’s the dream of every racing driver to drive in this championship, I ‘am very skeptical that by paying to drive for Manor F1 it won’t re-launch his F1 career. There are numerous opportunities in DTM or WEC, where there he would start of from a clean slate and prove his skills. I have nothing against GVDG, for me he is a great driver, on and off the track, always available for the media with a friendly smile, not arrogant at all. Either way, until there is no confirmation, all of this is just speculation.

It may be sunny in Barcelona, but in the Sauber garage it is very cloudy. There are reports that Sauber may face once again legal dispute in Spain, as Turun Sanomat & Adrian Sutil are planning to take legal action against the Hinwil (Switzerland) based team as both had a similar valid contract as GVDG to drive for them in 2015. Will it have the same impact as in Australia, where Ericson & Nasr didn’t take part in FP1? Will we viewers be once again witnessing the live drama of F1 behind the scene? Get your popcorn out and let the show begin.

Onto Lotus and surprise, surprise we shall talk once again about Pastor Maldonado. The Venezuelan is sponsored by PDVSA (state-owned oil & natural gas Company) who pays Lotus the equivalent of €27M/season. Apparently, Pastor refuses to sit out of practice for Joylon Palmer this weekend for FP1 by “making it clear to the team that his agreement gives him the right to drive in each session at every GP”. Parallel to this story, Lotus warned him that his F1 seat is not guaranteed in the future if he doesn’t start delivering results in terms of scoring points the weekends. I’m convinced that by the end of the weekend we will have more Pastor related news, stay tuned!

McLaren, is coming to Spain with considerable upgrades with notably an engine boost in the range of 15 to 20 hp, but the most visible change will be its new livery. What a visual impact it is, in my opinion it is the most bad-ass looking F1 car of the whole grid!

Force India proposed a very interesting idea during the mini-break, which I am convinced could be a good recipe to spice up the show. They wish to introduce a “free choice” for Pirelli tyres, meaning that 4 weeks before the Race each team individually would select its two option tyres for the weekend between the four different compounds available (excluding the Inter &Rain tyres). The team tyre selection would be secret until Thursday before the race. I think that’s a great idea. Hope this idea will find its way for 2016 at the earliest.

Finally, as expected more rumors of Lewis joining Ferrari in 2016 replacing Kimi. Then we heard that Bottas has secured an F1 seat for 2017. Rather than pursue the speculation, let’s just enjoy this weekend with a glass of Sangria!

Things to watch out this weekend in Spain:

  • Expect numerous different and exciting tyre strategies to either win or score points

  • In 2014, Nico and Lewis were both on different tyre strategies to battle victory.

  • • Will McLaren with their new updates and livery score their first point of the season?

  • Other teams will bring numerous updates, changing order for certain constructors except for Force India (won’t receive significant upgrades until Austria).

  • • Average speed of 194 km/h isn’t the fastest circuit of the season, only 60% of the time the driver is on full throttle.

  • • High tyre wear with high temperatures, abrasive surface and the famous Turn 3 corner being the most difficult corner as it puts heavy load on the left front tyre.

  • • Qualifying in pole is key, 75% out of the last 24 total races here in Spain ended up winning the GP.

  • • 17 of the 24 last pole sitter at this GP ended up winning the World Championship. Last year it was Lewis Hamilton that won in Spain, we all know what happened next.

  • • Rosberg is celebrating his 100th GP with Mercedes.

My prediction for this weekend; without a surprise it will be a Mercedes weekend, with Mercedes AMG F1 locking the front row in Qualifying and at the end of the GP.

Bet Quotes for Winner of the Spanish GP: 1. Lewis Hamilton with 1.30 2. Nico Rosberg 3.00 3. Sebastian Vettel 5.00 4. Kimi Raikkonen 7.00

Tenga un buen fin de semana y buen Gran Premio de Catalunya!

Don’t forget to follow me throughout the weekend on my Twitter: @m_piekarski

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