Despite still leading both championships, Ferrari are in need of a strong reaction following Max Verstappen’s victories at the past two Grands Prix.
With Red Bull now potentially having the stronger race-day package, this weekend could prove crucial in Ferrari’s title fight.
Following the glitz and glamour of the maiden Miami Grand Prix, Formula 1 now returns to a familiar destination of Barcelona where pre-season testing takes place each year.
It will be fascinating to see how much the cars’ performance has evolved since, February with many teams having introduced various upgrades.
Here is what to watch out for during the 2022 Spanish Grand Prix weekend.
Ferrari have the advantage at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya
Just five races of the 2022 season have been completed, but it’s already clear that Red Bull is considerably quicker than Ferrari on the straights.
Looking at the speed trap data from the Miami Grand Prix, Red Bull had a 10km/h advantage over Ferrari – similar to all of the previous rounds.
However cars are not as reliant on straight line speed at Barcelona – with 16 turns and only one long straight, it shouldn’t be like the recent rounds where Red Bull’s pace in the speed trap paid dividends.
In addition to that, the circuit features a very slow chicane at Turns 14 and 15, further nullifiying the advantage Red Bull might have on the start-finish straight.
However, Red Bull could well have the quicker package overall in Cataluyna anyway – if this proves to to be the case, there really will be some head-scratching at the Scuderia.
F1-75 is easier on the harder tyre compounds, will this come in handy for the Spanish Grand Prix?
With its many turns, mostly mid-to-low speed, the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is well known to be hard on the tyres.
The Spanish GP in recent years has been a two-stop race, so efficient tyre use is crucial for this weekend.
Pirelli will be supplying teams with the C1 compound as hard tyre, C2 for the mediums and C3 for the softs – the hardest compounds for each tyre.
This should come in handy for Ferrari – as pointed out by Mark Hughes, the F1-75 fires up the front rubber more readily than the Red Bull.
With the Ferrari getting its tyres up to a more efficient temperature quicker than the RB18, the two-stop strategy could favour the F1-75.
Considering this, the signs point to a successful weekend for the Scuderia but we’ll just have to wait and see.
Nyck de Vries to test for Williams in FP1 – is this his shot at a Formula 1 seat in 2023?
The 2022 Formula 1 season is only five rounds old, but the driver rumours for 2023 have already begun.
This time, it’s the question of whether Nicholas Latifi who, so far, has had an underwhelming season for Williams, will be kept on board for next year.
On the potential list of replacements is current Formula E champion Nyck de Vries, who will drive alongside Latifi in FP1 this weekend.
Therefore, Williams will be keeping a close eye on the data to see who is the best man to partner Alex Albon in 2023.
With the Thai driver already finishing inside the top 10 twice this season, it’s important for Latifi to kickstart his campaign as soon as possible in order to get some points on the board.
Topsy-turvy McLaren – can they replicate their form from pre-season testing?
The McLaren is one of the most inconsistent cars on the grid.
Following a strong pre-season test at Barcelona, the team followed that up by being a back-marker in Bahrain, before point-scoring results in the next two rounds and then a Lando Norris podium at Imola.
However, another point-less weekend followed in Miami, so it will be interesting to see if this weekend the Woking squad can replicate the strong form it showed at testing, especially with the team bringing upgrades for Barcelona.
This weekend’s track is perhaps where the MCL36 has been at its strongest in 2022, with Norris topping the time sheet and completing the fourth most laps out of anybody on day one of testing.
This was then followed up with a P3 and the second most completed laps by Daniel Ricciardo the next day, before a not as strong final outing.
Nonetheless, the McLaren looked good. This weekend could serve as another indication as to whether or not pre-season testing actually holds any evidence of what might lie ahead for the forthcoming year.
Finally, regardless of the car’s performance this weekend, it is also worth keeping an eye out on Ricciardo and if he can match the pace of his team-mate – are the more tough times ahead for the Australian?
Can the 2022 Formula 1 cars make the Spanish Grand Prix exciting?
The Spanish Grand Prix has traditionally been a tough watch, the circuit layout making overtaking difficult.
However, 2022 could change that.
With the regulation changes placing greater emphasis on ground effect and making overtaking easier, could this finally be the year Barcelona produces an exciting race?
So far this season, the car’s have had positive feedback from drivers with Kevin Magnussen, Esteban Ocon and Carlos Sainz, amongst others, all previously saying overtaking has been much easier in 2022.
However, racing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is another test, providing a much different track to what Formula 1 has had so far this season.
With more lower-speed corners than the likes of Jeddah and Albert Park, it is a circuit that relies heavily on downforce and there are fewer opportunities for passing.
Teams will be looking at that opening chicane following potential DRS down the main straight as the key overtaking spot and the hairpin at Turn 10 could potentially be another area.
If this weekend produces an exciting race then it will be fair to say that the 2022 regulations have truly changed the sport and the quality of racing for the better.