After a mixed opening four races of the 2017 season, Formula One finally comes home to Europe.
Sebastian Vettel enters the European leg on top of the drivers Championship by 13 points from Lewis Hamilton. Could it prove to be an unlucky lead for the German, now that F1 is in its home continent?
Teams tested at Barcelona in pre season so expect an interesting weekend as teams finally measure up their progress since jetting off Down Under.
There are many things to watch out for on what promises to be a competitive weekend.
- Upgrades galore
As is traditional for the start of the European stage, every team will bring bigger upgrades than usual.
Mercedes and Ferrari will certainly have surprises up their sleeve as they look to starve off Red Bull.
Red Bull are set to bring a major upgrade as they look to close the gap to the two front runners.
Failure to get the upgrade delivering quickly could well see the Austrian team fall backwards into the clutches of Force India.
Force India has struggled with the aerodynamics but have managed to produce points scoring finishes in the four races so far. They will be bringing a new floor in order to try and resolve the issues.
Hopefully, they can get everything fine tuned ahead of what could be a strong run of races for them until July.
Toro Rosso has promised plenty of upgrades in Spain, after a troubling Russian Grand Prix. Carlos Sainz J.r and Daniil Kvyat will be hoping for a positive forward here, after a year together as teammates.
Haas, McLaren, Renault, Sauber and Williams haven’t disclosed their upgrade plans but each team need to make strides forward.
Out of those teams, McLaren really need to deliver if Fernando Alonso is to give his home fans something to cheer.
2. Contrasting home expectations
Sainz and Alonso will head into their home race in contrasting spirits.
Sainz will be hoping that the new elements can improve the car’s performance on straights, after it cost them in Sochi.
Toro Rosso are currently locked in a midfield battle and will be looking to push on for fifth place in the Constructors.
Alonso however will be praying for some miracles here.
McLaren won’t have a new engine upgrade till Canada so expect another race of struggles.
With Indycar’s Indianapolis 500 coming up, the Spaniard will be looking to head Stateside with renewed belief in Honda. There is no better place to do this than by delivering a strong performance in front of his home fans.
3. Clearer identification
Barcelona will see the start of clearer driver identification for fans.
New rules will see the driver’s name and number displayed in large sizes on the car. This rule will be in place for the remainder of this season and potentially going forwards in the future.
4. Brakes on for Bulls
Red Bull will be hoping to have solved their brake issues from recent weeks.
Max Verstappen slid out of Bahrain with brake failure whilst Daniel Riccardo overcooked his brakes at Russia.
With Catalunya not being too hard on brakes except at turns 1, 7, 10 and 13, this could well suit the Bulls.