The 2019 Formula 1 World Championship heads into the European leg of the calendar, starting this weekend with round five, the Spanish Grand Prix, which once again takes place at the Circuit de Catalunya just outside of Barcelona.
The 4.6-mile track is one teams and drivers know well, as it's been on the calendar since 1991 and is where the official winter tests take place.
The current layout is a mix of fast and slow corners and Turn 3 is especially demanding, requiring a well balanced car. The final part used to be very quick, but a chicane added several years back now slows things down.
Haas' Romain Grosjean at the 2019 Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix
There are several good overtaking opportunities for drivers, and tire strategy always proves vital. The surface also used to be very rough, but this was renewed only last season so tire wear and degradation shouldn't be too severe. Pirelli has nominated its C1, C2 and C3 compounds for the weekend.
The Spanish race is traditionally where teams first introduce mods to their cars, though there haven't been major announcements yet apart from Haas' Romain Grosjean claiming his car's design is “pretty much brand new.” It may have helped as the Frenchman was fifth fastest during an early practice session on Friday. Mercedes-AMG's Valtteri Bottas was the fastest, followed by Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc.
Going into Saturday's qualifying session and Sunday's race, Bottas leads the 2019 Drivers' Championship with 87 points while fellow Mercedes driver and reigning champion Lewis Hamilton is second with 86 points. Vettel is third with 52 points. In the Constructors' Championship, Mercedes leads with 173 points versus the 99 of Ferrari and 64 of Red Bull. Last year's winner in Spain was Hamilton.