After a week-long hiatus following the inaugural Miami Grand Prix, Formula 1 turns its attention to Barcelona for the Spanish Grand Prix. The new era of technical regulations made its on-track debut in February at the Catalunya Circuit for the first round of testing. With that benchmark, familiarity with the track and its proximity to the home operations of most teams in Europe, it’s expected that at least half of the grid will bring important updates this weekend.
The Miami GP was packed with hype and spectacle but delivered the TV ratings that ESPN and those supporting the American market were hoping for. With an average viewership of 2.6 million, the 2022 Miami GP became the highest-rated live F1 race in US television history (and the second-best-ever behind a 2002 Monaco GP delayed on ABC).
On Wednesday, F1 announced they would not replace the canceled Sochi GP event in Russia, leaving the 2022 season with a balanced 22-race schedule. As the series moves to Spain it will be a packed weekend in Barcelona with Formula 2, Formula 3 and the W Series all running in support of F1. In this new era of cost restraints, can Ferrari land a significant upgrade to take them back to the top of the podium, or will Red Bull and Max Verstappen continue their recent dominance?
where things are
Max Verstappen (85) held his record of winning every race he finished, reducing Charles Leclerc’s (104) lead to just 19 points. Red Bull’s second driver Sergio Perez (66) is another 19 points behind, closely followed by George Russell (59) and Carlos Sainz (53). Lewis Hamilton currently sits in 6th place with 36 points.
In the Constructors Championship, Ferrari’s early lead is almost gone thanks to Red Bull’s control over the last two legs and Sainz’s unlucky run before Miami. Ferrari have 157 compared to Red Bull’s 151, both well ahead of eight-time reigning constructors’ champions Mercedes, who currently sit a distant third on 95 points.
The Catalunya circuit was built ahead of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and has hosted the Spanish Grand Prix since the 1991 season. It is the eighth venue for the Spanish Grand Prix and has been dominated by Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes in the last generation of F1 regulations. Hamilton has won at the track a total of six times, including the last five in a row.
There are two DRS zones, including a long front stretch, and 16 corners. With high, medium and slow corners as well as two long straights, the Barcelona circuit offers quite a challenge but also offers a little bit of everything for the different team setups. Formula 1 visited the track earlier this year for the first on-track tests of the new car regulations, which will give everyone a clear idea of their development progress. Expect temperatures in the 80s this weekend which should cause quite a bit of tire degradation. Pirelli is expected to bring in its three hardest tire compounds to offset this effect.
how to see
- practice 1 – Friday, 20.5. – 7:55 am – ESPN2/ESPN Deportes/WatchESPN
- practice 2 – Friday, 20.5. – 10:55 am – ESPNU/ESPN Deportes/WatchESPN
- Spanish GP Preview Show: Friday, 20.05. – 2:00 p.m. – ESPN3/WatchESPN
- exercise 3 – Saturday 21.5. – 6:55 a.m. – ESPNU/ESPN Deportes/WatchESPN
- qualification – Saturday 21.5. – 9:55 am – ESPN2/ESPN Deportes/WatchESPN
- Grand Prix Sunday (Pre-Race Show) – Sunday, 22.5. – 7:30 a.m. – ESPN2/ESPN Deportes/WatchESPN
- Grand Prix race – Sunday, 22.5. – 8:55 am – ESPN2/ESPN Deportes/WatchESPN
For those who don’t have cable and want to watch the Spanish Grand Prix weekend, you can subscribe directly to F1TV to follow every race, qualifying and practice session throughout the 2022 season.
DraftKings Sportsbook offers odds for the race. Thanks to his second win in a row and third this season, Max Verstappen goes into the Spanish Grand Prix as the clear favorite at -105. Charles Leclerc remains his closest competitor (+135), followed by his Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz, who at +1400 takes his first-ever F1 win at his home circuit. Sergio Perez (+1600) and the two Mercedes drivers (+3500) complete the top six. The Cinderella story of Fernando Alonso taking his first F1 win since 2013 is +25,000
What to look out for:
- upgrades! Ferrari is expected to bring several upgrades including a new floor to improve the porpoise problem. Red Bull is reportedly bringing a lighter car, while Alpine, Aston Martin and Alfa Romeo are all planning several upgrades to their design for 2022, which could result in a shift in the mid-table.
- If the Ferrari upgrades can push them back ahead of the Red Bull package, could Sunday bring Carlos Sainz’s first-ever F1 win? Ahead of the big home support and attempt to stamp out the misfortune earlier this season, could Sainz create an upset and turn this into a three-way battle for the Drivers’ Championship?
- Will Red Bull’s reliability issues return? In Miami, Verstappen struggled to limit his practice time on Friday, while Perez saw a mid-race energy issue hamper his ability to challenge Sainz for the podium.
- George Russell was the only driver to finish in the top five in every race this season. His consistency was a bright spot for Mercedes, who were still struggling to keep up with the top two teams in Miami. If Mercedes is significantly slower than the February test, could it be Mercedes returning to its no-sidepod design?
- McLaren would love to rediscover the pace of testing from day one in Barcelona in February. On a first look at the new cars for 2022, Lando Norris topped the charts by more than half a second over the Ferraris and over a full second ahead of Mercedes and Red Bulls. That was a false start for McLaren after finishing 14th and 15th to start the season in Bahrain. Can a return to the Catalonia circuit help them get back on the podium?
Before you go, check out this week’s Grill the Grid as the F1 drivers attempt to sort the grid by height in two minutes.