Spanish Grand Prix race preview | In The Pit Lane with Crofty

Sky F1's Crofty brings us the latest exclusive Formula 1 race preview ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona

Spanish Grand Prix

The Spanish Grand Prix is upon us, with the second triple-header of races drawing to a close following a frantic start to the F1 2020 calendar.

Advertisement

Red Bull superstar Max Verstappen capitalised on Mercedes grappling with soaring temperatures last weekend, and the blazing heat of Barcelona in August could be about to throw another curveball race our way.

We chatted exclusively to Sky F1 favourite David Croft once again for our weekly In The Pit Lane feature.

Crofty discusses Verstappen’s chances and Mercedes’ issues in the heat, as well as casting an eye over the track and what it takes to succeed at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

He also analyses Sebastian Vettel’s improvement in practice after being handed a fresh chassis to try and turn Ferrari’s fortunes around.

Check out what the Sky Sports F1 man has to say below.

Max power

DC: It was lovely to see a team take a different approach to strategy, roll the dice early in qualifying, then see their gamble pay off quite handsomely. It will be interesting to see this week if any other team follows that Red Bull example. When you get a two-stop race – which last week was due to high temperatures and soft compounds – it opens it up to more variety. That can only be good for fans watching.

Verstappen drove the race perfectly and in the first couple of laps get ahead of Hulkenberg and not be held up behind him, and then keep the pressure on Mercedes. I really enjoyed watching that race last week because it was a team who thought out of the box and found a way to beat the all-conquering Mercedes. That’s what sport is all about.
I can absolutely see Red Bull in similar temperatures and conditions, on a track that is not as high-speed as Silverstone, making a massive impact.

Mercedes under the weather

DC: It’s roasting here. It’s so, so hot. I’m sure that’s been their conversation since they left Silverstone. How do we combat the high temperatures in Spain? This is a track Mercedes have dominated at in recent years.

They’ve locked out the front row for six of the last seven years. It’s a track they love and a track Lewis Hamilton loves as well having won here for the last three years in a row.

Vettel’s resurgence

DC: Ferrari said not much [when asked how much difference a new chassis would make], but I think it makes a difference to the driver’s confidence when he’s had a run of bad races and can’t explain why he’s feeling the way he feels in the car, and can’t find a way to make it handle better.

To change the chassis at least gets it out of Vettel’s head that it’s the chassis, ‘something is wrong with this car, whatever I do won’t make a difference’. It’s as much for the driver as it is to make a dramatic difference. But if it does, then obviously there was something wrong with that chassis that Ferrari didn’t realise.

Chassis’ should always be the same, but in a sport where a millimetre here or there makes a massive difference to how a car performs, they’ve done the right thing by the driver in clearing that negative out of his mind.

The track

DC: The drivers know it very well, they test here, they’ve raced here quite a bit as well, not just in F1 but the newer drivers will have raced here in a lot of the junior Formula. They’re not unfamiliar with it. The temperatures are different. Normally, the average temperature is 20c, it’s 30c at the moment. The track temperature last year was 42c, we’re not at race time and it’s 47c. A track is a living, breathing thing, always evolving.

Of the 16 corners, they’ll know them well, the fastest way to drive around here, they’ll know qualifying is massively important. 26 of 28 races have been won here from the front row. A lot of medium-speed corners, and high-speed corners test the aero balance of the cars. It’s always a balance, you want the car to go as fast as possible, but not just down the straights, it’s not a drag race. I think it’ll be a really interesting afternoon. The cars are not going to enjoy it with overheating problems a risk for all teams out there.

How to watch the Spanish Grand Prix

The race starts at 2:10pm on Sunday 16th August live on Sky Sports F1.

For full TV details as well as timings of practice, qualifying and the race itself, check out our comprehensive guide to the Spanish Grand Prix.

For the full breakdown of F1 races coming up check out our F1 2020 calendar guide.

Advertisement

If you’re looking for something else to watch check out our TV guide.