Ferrari Heads To Spanish Grand Prix With Substantial Upgrades

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Can Spanish driver Carlos Sainz take advantage of a home crowd?

The Spanish Grand Prix takes place this weekend, and there are multiple reasons to look forward to it.

First and foremost, it's the perfect opportunity for teams to introduce significant updates to the cars. Why specifically at Barcelona? Because the F1 season kicks off in Spain, where the various teams get to test their vehicles for the first time. The data from those testing days are stored and can easily be compared against the data the teams will inevitably receive during the free practice sessions. It's the perfect occasion to see if you're improving or not.

We think most teams will use the opportunity to try and sort out the ongoing porpoising problem. This phenomenon was first seen during the first practice sessions in Spain in February.

New upgrades also mean an unpredictable outcome, though some teams seem too strong to catch. More on that later.

The Track

The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya dates back to 1991 and quickly became a firm favorite on the racing calendar. It's located in one of the best cities in the world, Barcelona.

Teams will run for 66 laps for a total race distance of 192.5 miles. The current lap record holder is Max Verstappen, with a time of 1:18.149 set in 2021.

The track is mainly mid to high-speed corners, with turns 13 to 15 being the slowest of the lot. This weekend, there are only two DRS detection zones, both located on shorter straights rather than the long straight leading up to turn one.

All eyes will be on turn one during the first lap of the race. The long straight provides plenty of tarmac to get up to speed, and the late brakers will get the upper hand going into turn one.

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The Home Advantage

The drivers will be competing in front of the adoring Spanish crowd this weekend. Both Carlos Sainz and two-time world champion, Fernando Alonso, have the home race advantage. There is no science to prove it, but competing in front of your fellow citizens must give you some psychological boost.

This weekend, Alonso doesn't have a race-winning machine under him, though stranger things have happened. His teammate, Esteban Ocon, won his first Grand Prix in a midfield car last year.

But Carlos Sainz has a constructor's championship-leading car, and all eyes will be on him this weekend. Sainz has struggled to get the most out of his Ferrari, but he's known for his hard work and dedication.

Racing in Barcelona might give the young Spaniard the confidence he needs to win his first Grand Prix in a Ferrari.

Scuderia Ferrari
Scuderia Ferrari

Ferrari VS. Red Bull

If you watched the Miami Grand Prix two weeks ago, you'd know that the Red Bull cars have some serious speed. Their top speed is so much higher than the rest of the pack that it renders DRS irrelevant. Charles Leclerc tried to catch Max Verstappen down the main straight, but the Ferrari didn't have the speed even with the wing fully open.

It might be a different story this weekend, as Ferrari is heading into the race with its first significant upgrade of the season. Given the top speed advantage Red Bull currently has, Ferrari's main focus was likely in that department.

According to Max Verstappen, Red Bull isn't worried. Red Bull is slowly improving with every race instead of making a significant upgrade to its cars. This may be due to budgetary constraints, considering how many engines the team burnt through in the first race.

It's going to be interesting to see which car is the fastest this weekend. The home straight is quite a stretch and the perfect place to catch a slipstream and overtake a rival.

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Ferrari
Red Bull Content Pool

What About Mercedes?

In our last F1 report, a commenter said we should give Mercedes-Benz props for moving out of the midfield and competing with the frontrunners. Sorry, but that's just not true.

While George Russell finished in fifth place with Lewis Hamilton directly behind him, the duo finished 18.582 and 21.368 seconds behind Max Verstappen. That's four seconds ahead of the closest midfield competitor, Valtteri Bottas, in an Alfa Romeo. Bottas is really coming into his own at Alfa Romeo. His current company car is a Stelvio, but we think he'll be upgraded to a Giulia GTam before the season is done.

Looking at the current constructor's championship points, we see the same story. Mercedes is currently in third place, but Ferrari and Red Bull are more than 50 points ahead.

At some point, we have to face the facts, and the truth is this; Mercedes is not competitive this year, and it's going to take a miracle for it to win its ninth constructor's championship in a row. Mercedes seems to be a bit of a headless chicken, though we might see some progress this weekend. As it currently stands, George Russell seems to be the only motivated team member.

Mercedes-Benz AG
Mercedes-Benz AG
Mercedes-Benz AG

The Midfield Battle

The battle in the middle of the pack may be the best part of the 2022 season.

George Russell is currently in the lead with 59 points, ahead of Carlos Sainz in a top-tier car. There's a big gap between him and his seven-time world champion teammate, Lewis Hamilton.

Sir Hamilton is currently on 36 points, closely bunched together with other talented drivers. Lando Norris is just one point behind, while Valtteri Bottas is on 30. Esteban Ocon is currently on 24 points, while fan-favorite K Mag (Kevin Magnussen) is on 15 points.

Mick Schumacher is the only driver left with no points. He got so close in the last race, only to make contact with Sebastian Vettel. Hopefully, Mick can land himself in the top ten and score his first-ever point in F1.

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Haas F1 Team/Facebook
Alfa Romeo/Facebook

Enough With The Stupid Jewelry Battle

The FIA's president, Mohammed Ben Sulayem, basically cleaned house after the controversial final race of the 2021 season that cost the former race director his job. While cleaning up its mess, the FIA made it clear that it would be much stricter with the rules this season.

For some reason, it has latched onto underwear and jewelry. Now, we understand the reasons why. A piece of jewelry can make a burn injury significantly worse. We know this, and the F1 drivers do as well. So why not let them decide if it's worth the risk? Surely the FIA has more important things to worry about than Lewis Hamilton's nipple rings?

Fans tend to support drivers instead of teams, and interfering with a person's unique personality and how they choose to express that personality is a dumb hill to die on.

Just let it go, FIA. Sir Lewis Hamilton has millions of fans. Banning him from a race for wearing jewelry (wherever it may be located) is a fight you can't possibly win without creating even more public outcry.

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