Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull all in the mix

2018-05-09 06:00

FORMULA 1 heads to Spain’s Circuit de Catalunya this weekend for the fifth round of the 2018 season.

Amid the enthralling on-track action of the season there has been many, significant, developments off it. First, it was recently announced that the aerodynamic rules for 2019 will be modified with the aim of allowing cars to follow each other more easily. This, the FIA hopes, will ultimately aid in overtaking.

The revisions include a wider, simplified front wing and brake duct with no aero winglets and a wider and deeper rear wing that will increase the effectiveness of DRS. These changes are a bit of a quick fix for the 2019 season while the FIA is planning a comprehensive overhaul of the sport’s technical regulations for 2021.

On the face of it, anything that improves the ability to overtake is a positive. However, several teams voted against the 2019 changes and for good reason. The changes proposed by the FIA aren’t trivial and will likely force several teams into completely changing the aerodynamic philosophy of their cars. And a redesigned aero package precipitates a redesign that will likely cost teams a lot of money.

Elsewhere, the authorities of Miami will vote this week on a bid to bring F1 to Florida from 2019. The bid is being backed by Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and with American-owned Liberty Media wanting to expand the sport’s presence in the US, it seems like a no-brainer.

The first images of a possible layout for the Miami street track have been revealed and it features a, first-ever, bridge that runs across the water and back, an idea first touted by Bernie Ecclestone in the 1980s.

With F1’s calendar already bulging with 21 races it remains to be seen how a Miami GP will be slotted in.

Meanwhile, there is a grand prix to be had this weekend around a circuit that teams and drivers know all to well. The Circuit de Catalunya has long been the preseason testing venue of choice meaning that teams arrive at the southern Spain track with a vast amount of data and know-how. Still, the cars tested in late February will be significantly different to what they arrive with this weekend.

It is the traditional trend that the Spanish Grand Prix weekend sees several teams bolt on upgrade packages to their respective cars.

While Lewis Hamilton may have taken victory in a chaotic Azerbaijan Grand Prix, he has been decidedly lacking in his usually near-faultless form. Still, he comes into the weekend with a four-point lead over Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and with the expectation of being near the sharp-end of the grid.

However, what has been most thrilling about F1 in 2018 is that no grand prix weekend has been predictable. Whether it be because of safety cars, pit strategy or outright pace, the potential has been there for at least six drivers to stand on top of the podium.

Your money could be on Mercedes as they traditionally excel in Spain or Ferrari, who have seemingly built a car that can perform well at all circuits, including over one lap.

Or you could put your money on Red Bull. After all, it was here that Max Verstappen won his first race and who would bet against an ultra-confident Daniel Ricciardo?

If nothing else, this is what fans of the sport have wanted, and deserved, for several years – the beautiful unpredictability of Formula 1.

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