After a one-week break 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 at the Catalunya circuit back in February for the first round of testing. With that benchmark, familiarity with the track, and its proximity to most teams' home operations in Europe, at least half the grid is expected to bring major updates this weekend.
The Miami GP was filled with hype and spectacle but delivered the TV ratings that ESPN and those backing 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 second all-time behind a 2002 tape-delayed Monaco GP on ABC).
On Wednesday, F1 announced that they would not be replacing the canceled Sochi GP event in Russia, leaving the 2022 season with a well-balanced 22 race schedule. As the series shifts gears to Spain, it’ll 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 restrictions, can Ferrari land a meaningful upgrade to put them back at the top of the podium or will Red Bull and Max Verstappen continue their recent domination?
Where Things Stand
Max Verstappen (85) maintained his record of winning every race he has finished and in doing so has cut Charles Leclerc’s (104) lead to just 19 points. A further 19 points back finds Red Bull’s other driver Sergio Perez (66) followed closely by George Russell (59) and Carlos Sainz (53). Lewis Hamilton currently sits 6th with 36 points.
In the Constructor standings, Ferrari’s early lead is nearly gone thanks to Red Bull's control at the last two circuits and Sainz’s unfortunate run of results prior to Miami. Ferrari has 157 compared to Red Bull’s 151, both well ahead of the 8-time reigning Constructor Champions Mercedes who are back in a distant third at the moment with 95 points.
Built ahead of the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, the Catalunya circuit has been home to the Spanish Grand Prix since the 1991 season. It’s the eighth location to hold the Spanish GP and was 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 turns. With high, medium, and low-speed corners, plus two long straights, the Barcelona circuit delivers quite the challenge but also offers a bit of everything for the various team setups. Formula 1 visited the track earlier this year for the first on-track tests of the new vehicle regulations which will give everyone a clear idea of their development progress. Expect temperatures in the 80s this weekend, which should provide a fair amount of tire degradation. Pirelli is expected to bring their three hardest tire compounds in an attempt to balance this effect.
How To Watch
- Practice 1 - Friday 5/20 - 7:55 am - ESPN2/ESPN Deportes/WatchESPN
- Practice 2 - Friday 5/20 - 10:55 am - ESPNU/ESPN Deportes/WatchESPN
- Spanish GP Preview Show: Friday 5/20 - 2:00 pm - ESPN3/WatchESPN
- Practice 3 - Saturday 5/21 - 6:55 am - ESPNU/ESPN Deportes/WatchESPN
- Qualifying - Saturday 5/21 - 9:55 am - ESPN2/ESPN Deportes/WatchESPN
- Grand Prix Sunday (Pre-race Show) - Sunday 5/22 - 7:30 am - ESPN2/ESPN Deportes/WatchESPN
- Grand Prix Race - Sunday 5/22 - 8:55 am - ESPN2/ESPN Deportes/WatchESPN
For those without cable looking to watch the Spanish Grand Prix weekend, you can subscribe to F1TV directly to catch every race, qualifying, and practice session throughout the 2022 season.
DraftKings Sportsbook is offering odds on the race. Thanks to his second straight win, and third so far this season, Max Verstappen enters 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 is at +1400 to pick up his first-ever F1 victory at his home track. Sergio Perez (+1600) and both of the Mercedes drivers (+3500) round out the top six. The Cinderella story of Fernando Alonso picking up his first F1 win since 2013 sits at +25,000
What to Watch For:
- Upgrades! Ferrari is expected to bring several upgrades, including a new floor to improve their porpoising issue. Red Bull is reportedly bringing a lighter car, while Alpine, Aston Martin, and Alfa Romeo are all planning multiple upgrades to their 2022 design which could lead to a shuffle in the midfield.
- If the Ferrari upgrades can push them back in front of the Red Bull package, might Sunday bring the first-ever F1 win for Carlos Sainz? In front of huge home support and looking to erase misfortunes earlier this season, could Sainz pull off an upset and make this a three-way battle for the driver’s title?
- Will Red Bull’s reliability issues arise again? In Miami, Verstappen had issues limiting his practice time on Friday, while Perez saw an energy issue mid-race impact his ability to challenge Sainz for the podium.
- George Russell has been the only driver to finish in the top five at each race this season. His consistency has been a bright spot for Mercedes who still struggled to keep up with the top two teams in Miami. If notably slower than the February test, might Mercedes revert back to their no-sidepod design?
- McLaren would love to rediscover their day one testing pace from Barcelona back in February. The first look at the new 2022 cars saw Lando Norris top the charts by more than half a second over the Ferraris and over a full second ahead of both Mercedes and Red Bulls. That proved a false start for McLaren after finishing 14th and 15th to start the season in Bahrain. Can a return to the Catalunya circuit help them return to podium contention?
Before you leave make sure to check out this week’s Grill the Grid where the F1 drivers attempt to sort the field by height in two minutes.
It's called Grill the Grid, not Roast the Grid @LandoNorris is a lot taller than his friends think!#F1 pic.twitter.com/cF0XTIIHm9— Formula 1 (@F1) May 14, 2022