All eyes will be on the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya this weekend as Formula One heads back to Europe.
While the packed grandstands will be keeping tabs on the progress of their two home heroes, there are plenty of other aspects worth having an eye on in Spain’s second city.
The Spanish Grand Prix traditionally sees teams up and down the paddock bring a host of upgrades to their respective cars, and there’s good reason for that.
Two months have passed since the season opener in Bahrain, which has given designers plenty of time to assess how they can extract even more time from their machines that we mustn't forget, were all-new beasts for 2022.
Thanks to its proximity to each team's factory, new parts can be flown out at the very last minute, giving those in the machine shop the maximum amount of time to put these new parts together.
Pushing the limits
After a run of street-style tracks, either side of a trip to the old-school Imola circuit, the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya allows a little more room for experimentation, thus giving drivers the chance to push the limits.
With the sheer amount of testing run at this venue, not just in Formula One but in the junior series too, drivers arguably know this track better than any other, giving them the prior knowledge of sections where extra time could be extracted.
Alex Albon knows that the familiar surroundings should work in his favour, saying: “It’s a good track and one that every driver has done countless laps around, more so than any other circuit.
“That familiarity will work in my favour this weekend and help me get up to speed more quickly after sitting out FP1 whilst Nyck [de Vries] is in the car.”
Nyck de Vries
The reigning FIA Formula E World Champion will be taking Alex’s seat in FP1 as the team opt to use their first of two mandated young driver sessions this season.
It will be the 27-year-old racer’s first participation in an F1 weekend and he will aid the team in our weekend preparation, offering a fresh opinion on the FW44’s strengths and weaknesses.
Earlier this week, the Dutchman visited our Grove headquarters for some final preparations before flying out to Spain.
February vs May
Almost three months have passed since the Pre-Season Track Session took place around this 4.675km venue and these new F1 cars have already evolved so much since then.
This weekend provides the chance for us to learn just how much has changed since then, something that our very own Nicholas Latifi will be keeping an eye on.
“I think we all feel that we’ve gained a much better understanding of the car and evolved it well, so it will be positive to have that reference point of how far we’ve come.”
As ever, be sure to monitor our digital channels throughout the weekend to keep up to date with our progress and enjoy behind-the-scenes coverage.
From FP1 onwards, you can follow our live blog here
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