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F1 2015: Spanish GP Preview – Formula 1 To Raise Its Game In Spain

The three week wait is over and the battle is ready to resume at this weekend’s Spanish GP. The question is which battle; will it be a battle between Mercedes teammates or will Ferrari ascend to true championship contenders?

The Spanish GP doesn’t necessarily have the definitive answer to these questions but it will be more than indicator for the rest of the season. The first European round of a Formula 1 season coincides with the first major upgrade package of the year. It’s the first point in the season where teams can potentially raise their game.

The Lotus F1 team is planning to up the ante by fitting a major upgrade package to its E23 while Ferrari team Principal Maurizio Arrivebene confirms that the Italian team will be arriving for the Spanish GP with its own bits and pieces. “I heard a lot of teams are coming with new things,” he said.”We are now preparing, as all the others are, some solutions for Barcelona. We are doing all of our development step-by-step but I think in Barcelona, we are going to finally take a good package.”

christian-hornerThe three week gap will have helped French manufacturer Renault who has faced serious pressure to produce a better power unit. Since the Bahrain GP Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has made a stop at the Paris factory to urge Renault into speeding up their development plan.  “For Barcelona we will be bringing a few bits and pieces, as will all the teams,” said Horner. “The significant thing for us is what specification of engine will we have in Barcelona, because it’s a bit earlier than Renault had in their plan for the next step.”

One of McLaren’s upgrades for the Spanish GP will include a new livery. Sadly, it’s rumoured to be rather dull shades of grey scheme, yes you read that correctly, as described by the team. The new livery is seen more as a move away from the Silver that characterised their latter partnership with Mercedes.

More significant is the team’s progress on track and Ron Dennis’, still steadfast, prediction that they will be winning races … soon. There is something however that has been troubling about the McLaren Honda partnership. The claims that 2015 is a “development year” are complete rubbish. There can be no such thing at the pinnacle of motorsport and it is embarrassing for a company of Honda’s pedigree to say so. What McLaren could have and should have done is hold off on bolting the Honda to the back of their car until 2016 while the Japanese company offered their “development” unit to a smaller team to iron out the kinks. It would have saved McLaren more than a few awkward teething problems.

McLaren Pit WallMcLaren has definitely made progress, taken huge steps even, since the opening round of the season. Where they were four seconds a lap off the ultimate pace in qualifying its Honda powered car is now less than two seconds off in quali trim. Here’s hoping that their upward trend continues in Barcelona.

Formula 1 has never been an easy sport topredict. It doesn’t solely depend on a driver’s form or ability but a piece of highly engineered, but fallible, machinery. Given this, Mercedes should, and does, start the weekend as favourites for the Spanish GP win. After all, they have the quickest car with the most in-form driver behind the wheel.

But with an aggressive strategy, a few new upgrades to play with, and higher temperatures Ferrari will be a good deal stronger than they have been at any point in the season. Given the volatility of the sport why not flirt with the forecast of a Ferrari victory?

The three week gap has made for a long wait but the first European round of the season at Spain’s circuit de Catalunya, and all it involves, automatically doubles the keenness to see Formula 1 back in action.


About Natalie Le Clue

Natalie Le Clue is an F1 aficionado of the most dedicated vein. And, true to form for any F1-enamoured junkie, she readily admits to crying the first time she saw a F1 car, calling it an ‘overwhelming moment’. Natalie has won the 2010 gSport Woman In Media award, the 2015 Woman In Media Print award, and has been named as one of the Top 100 Most Influential People in South African Sport by the Department of Sport and Recreation. Natalie is currently serving as SAfm's F1 correspondent. Follow Natalie on Twitter @nlc27

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