Round six of the revised 2020 Formula One calendar takes us this weekend to the popular Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, the current home of the Spanish Grand Prix.
The circuit is one teams and drivers know well, as it's been on the calendar since 1991. It's also where the official winter testing take place.
The current layout boasts a mix of high, medium and low speed corners, with several direction changes, some climbs and drops, and a long straight, thus it provides a real test of a car’s abilities. The final part used to be high speed, but now features a slow chicane leading onto the straight.
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 a couple of seasons ago so tire wear and degradation shouldn't be too severe. However, you can never know be too sure with the latest Pirelli tires, as we've discovered in the past two rounds. The nomination for the weekend are the C1, C2 and C3 compounds, the same as last year.
Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, home of the Formula One Spanish Grand Prix
This year, the race is being held in the height of summer, rather than usual spring date, so air and track temperatures will be much higher. Looking at the weather forecast, we should be in for fine but warm conditions during both Saturday's qualifying session and Sunday's race.
The wind often changes direction during the course of the day here, due to the close proximity of the sea and mountains. This can be tricky to contend with as it upsets car balance considerably. Generally, there is a tailwind on the main straight in the mornings, which produces a headwind into the high-speed corners and provides good car stability. Where it gets tricky is when this headwind turns into a tailwind, typically during the afternoon.
Following an early practice session on Friday, Mercedes-AMG's Valtteri Bottas topped the time sheets, followed closely by teammate Lewis Hamilton. Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen was also close, and with any luck he'll be able to challenge the Mercedes duo once again like he did at last weekend's 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at the United Kingdom's Silverstone Circuit.
Going into the weekend, Hamilton leads the 2020 Drivers' Championship with 107 points. Verstappen is second with 77 points and Bottas is third with 73 points. In the Constructors' Championship, Mercedes leads with 180 points versus the 113 of Red Bull and 55 of Ferrari. Last year's winner in Spain was Hamilton, driving for Mercedes.