Circuit de Catalunya, home of the Formula 1 Spanish Grand PrixEnlarge Photo
Round five of the 2016 Formula One World Championship is the Spanish Grand Prix, which is on this weekend in beautiful Barcelona.
The race is once again taking place at Circuit de Catalunya, a site known well to teams as much of the winter testing is done here. It’s also been home to the Spanish race since 1991, so it’s quite familiar.
The circuit stretches 4.6 miles and is well regarded due to its eclectic mix of corners. It’s one of the reasons testing is done here. Only three of the turns are taken at less than 60 mph so the average speed during a race is quite high. This makes it a challenge for drivers and their cars.
It’s also difficult to overtake here, so it’s important for drivers to get a good start and stay out of trouble, especially on the first lap. After that, it’s a case of getting the strategy right, managing the tire wear and maximizing performance at the right times.
Ferrari at the 2016 Formula One Spanish Grand PrixEnlarge Photo
Grip levels are high thanks to asphalt that is older and more abrasive than on the more modern circuits. For this reason, there is a new tire nomination: hard, medium and soft. The four previous races all had a medium, soft and supersoft selection.
After the initial practice, Ferrari [NYSE:RACE] drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen proved fastest, though they were followed closely by Mercedes AMG’s Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton. Dutch youngster Max Verstappen driving for Red Bull Racing for the first time was also impressive, posting the sixth fastest time after his teammate Daniel Ricciardo in fifth. Things should be very interesting on race day.
Looking at the weather outlook, we’re in for clear conditions throughout the weekend. Sunday’s race should see a mild peak temperature of 68 degrees F (20 degrees C).
Going into the weekend, Rosberg leads the 2016 Drivers’ Championship with 100 points. Hamilton is second with 57 points and Räikkönen third with 43. In the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes sits on 157 points versus the 76 of Ferrari and 57 of Red Bull. Rosberg was last year’s winner of the Spanish Grand Prix.