#27 - F1 2018 GRAN PREMIO DE ESPAÑA EMIRATES
Welcome back to the old continent, the European leg of the 2018 F1 Season will shortly debut. Barcelona means numerous things, the teams Motorhomes are back, everyone is bringing updates and no more early wake up calls to watch F1.
Four race in and one thing is certain, this season has kept us on the edge of our seats. Its been unpredictable from Australia until two weekends ago in the windy city of Baku, there is just so much to talk about that it makes it a headscratcher to chose one topic to begin with.
For example; the Bottas tyre puncturing in the ultimate laps last time out in Baku, Raikkonen missing out on victories because of bad luck, safety car shambling the orders and strategies, Verstappen fighting against his bad luck. Hamilton not winning since almost 5 month, before snatching victory with luck last time out. All these events are just the tip of the iceberg.
I stated it in my first blog of 2018, this season will come down to who is the most consistent in scoring points along the way, that strategy is the key to winning the championship. Hamilton might have won just once, but he is still leading the world championship by a tiny margin (4 points seperate him from Vettel).
Before we go any further, we have breaking news that just emerged (literally when I am posting this blog) about a new race in 2019:
As always there are mixed reaction to this; on one side the F1 world is excited to go to Miami but drivers (Lewis Hamilton) already proposed to redesign the track layout as it looks boring (looks like an elephant face to remain polite). On a personal note, I am excited that F1 is heading to Miami, no matter the track layout.
On the topic of 2019, there will be some changes and sadly these changes will make the cars go slower. Indeed, Ross Brown has introduced an aerodynamics change to the front wing of all F1 cars for next season. These changes will allow closer wheel to wheel racing, reducing the turbulent air that cars faced this season and the past. It is estimated that the cars will loose up to 1.5 seconds in comparison to this years cars.
Curious to know, what you guys think about these changes for 2019 (#projectmp for your thoughts or on the chat). Be prepared for more changes coming for 2019, notably with Red Bull and Honda ;)
Now back to the present, but still with some more news. As I still have two more novelties to talk about before we can discuss this weekend's race. I told you guys that there is so much to discuss!
As your trusted source of information about the F1 world, I have proposed to test out for you readers the two new features proposed by www.f1.com . The first funciton is F1 TV, that will debut for the Spanish GP.
F1 Tv is a new digital experience whose purpose is to bring fans closer to the action. You can watch all the action on your computer, the marketing seems pretty well done, now we need to see the value for money. They propose two packs; one premium called TV Pro (10.99 euros/month or 85.49 euros/ year) and one more or less useless called TV Access (2.99 euros/month or 24.29 euros/year). The later one is just replays, documentaries that you can easily view freely on youtube.
So I focused on the TV Pro subscription; which will give me unlimited team radio access (every team & driver), all F1 actions live in video, every camera angle (incl. on board) and the telemetry data. The same data that you see the F1 journalist and paddock that have access too, I find that pretty cool. Now numerous questions remain, as to whom will be doing the commentary during the F1 action, how good will it be and last but not least, is the price worth the money? Stay tuned, I shall give you my full review in the next blog post.
The second addition to the webiste, which is very anchored in the american sport culture, is the concept of fantasy sport. Basically I created a team of 5 drivers and one team with a budget of 100M dollars. I will be honest with you I am still confused on why I had to choose 5 drivers and only one team. I admit I am a newbie discovering this feature, so bare with me while I go through this fantasy F1 team for the weekend and will come back to you if it's worth it or not. In the meantime, behold the project Mp F1 fantasy team:
Now let us finally discuss about this weekend!
The Grand Prix Weekend
Barcelona has no more secrets for any of the teams, as this is the testing ground for most of the pre and in-season testing. The only variable that has changed since they last tested in late February and early March, is that the apshalt has been changed. Therefore, a lot of rubber will be required to be get some good traction. But a part from this, the weather looks to be fine and unlike pre-season testing no snow is expected to disturb the cars. What will disturb the cars, are the new aero packages that are slowly being unveiled. The big question, is who will have brought the aero that will allow them to have the biggest leap in performance?
This is why for all the aero fanatics out there, this weekend you will be served with some pretty impressive updates. With the most impressive coming from Ferrari (looks like they installed some rocket launchers on their car):
A majority will agree that Ferrari look in very good shape coming into the Spanish GP, best full package all around and a powerful engine. I heard an interesting stat about them today that it's been 14 years that they haven’t lead the constructor championship coming to the European leg of the F1 season. So there is a good chance that this is the Scuderia's year.
Another stat that is worth taking into consideration for this Saturday's qualifying is this quote taken from F1.com "In 2014 Mercedes locked out the front row with no other car within one second of pole. In 2015 this gap dropped to 0.777s, then 0.680s in 2016, before Sebastian Vettel narrowed it to 0.051s last year" so if we look at the trend, this year should be Vettel or Kimi's pole to take. It will be tight come Saturday afternoon. Bear in mind, that Vettel never had any pole on this circuit!
Saturday is equally a very important day as twenty-four of the 27 Grands Prix in Catalunya have been won from the front row (89%), the highest ratio of any circuit on the calendar with at least 10 previous races, such is the difficulty of overtaking at the Spanish venue.
Eitherway, the other teams will need to hope that their new updates will help them close the gap or even overtake Ferrari on all fronts. I am very curious to see what Mercedes and Red Bull will bring out this weekend.
When you look at the race pace of the Red Bull over the last four races, they have the fastest race pace of all teams. This is extraodinary as they have a Renault engine that is known to be down on Horsepower in comparison to the 1'000hp of Ferrari and Mercedes. Therefore, I will be looking out for them to see if this is a turning point in the Season, especially with Max Verstappen (i think his run of bad luck will disappear in Spain). Plus don't forget that Barcelona is a track less dependent on power than other tracks, so its more the aero part that plays a key role. For me they have a shot at the victory if they don't crash into each other.
Mercedes might have the best engine, but aero its still not there. Another issue they have is warming up these Pirelli tyres, they seem to be struggling with that and loose pace when it matters the most. The other problem is that they are forecasting cooler temperatures, which wont help them. We can perhaps rely on stats to say that Barelona has been Mercedes territory for the past years, taking the previous five pole positions, the question is will it remain so in 2018 ?
One last crucial thing to all my European time-zone readers; all European races and Qualifying will start one hour later. No need to rush Brunch anymore, as the race will start at 15:10!
Prophecy for the Spanish Grand Prix
1. Ferrari win, with Kimi.
2. Red Bull very close behind.
3. I predict a top 5 finish for Nico Hulkenberg
4. Whoever is fastest in Sector 3 is a good indicator who will be on Pole in Monaco, right now it seems like Ferrari is dominating this.
Joker of the weekend: Carlos Sainz and Fernando Alonso home-race, expect a very good performance with the home-crowd cheering them.