Motoring Weekly

Spanish spectacle

June 20 - June 26, 2024
Gulf Weekly Spanish spectacle

The echoes of Montreal’s dramatic Grand Prix still linger, as Formula One hurtles towards Europe, with the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya poised to ignite a pivotal chapter in the 2024 season this weekend during the Spanish Grand Prix.

Buckle up for the storylines both on and off the track which are set to sizzle under the Spanish sun.


Raging Red Bulls

Red Bull emerged victorious in Canada, with Max Verstappen extending his championship lead. Yet, a closer look reveals a potential vulnerability. The car that dominated the early races seemed to struggle with the bumpy Montreal track, particularly on the kerbs.

While the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is expected to suit Red Bull’s strengths, the fierce competition from McLaren and Mercedes in Canada suggests a much tighter battle.

If either team can consistently challenge Red Bull, it could completely reshape the championship picture.


Upgrade Frenzy

The Spanish Grand Prix has always been a hotbed for upgrades, and with the cost cap in play, teams are likely to be even more strategic this year.

The circuit’s location, a short flight from most factories, allows for last-minute tweaks.

Additionally, the upcoming triple-header incentivises early upgrades for maximum impact.

A flurry of aerodynamic tweaks and power unit advancements are expected as teams jockey for an edge.

Barcelona itself, with its diverse mix of corners, serves as a perfect test bed for these upgrades, allowing for data-driven analysis of their effectiveness.


Ferrari Stumbling?

After a strong start to the season, Ferrari’s Montreal performance was a major setback. Failing to reach Q3 with either car and suffering double retirements raised serious concerns about their ability to maintain a title fight.

Whether this was a one-off blip caused by the mixed conditions and a power unit issue with Charles Leclerc’s car, or a symptom of a deeper problem, remains to be seen.

Barcelona offers a crucial opportunity for Ferrari to dissect the Canadian debacle, and bounce back and reassert themselves as Red Bull’s main challenger.


Frigidity at Alpine

The simmering tension between Alpine teammates Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly threatens to boil over once again.

After a controversial team order in Montreal, where Ocon was asked to let Gasly pass despite feeling he deserved the position, both drivers remain frustrated.

The situation highlights the delicate balance Alpine needs to maintain.

With two talented drivers vying for similar results, similar internal conflicts could erupt in the future.

Alpine needs to find a way to manage their driver dynamic effectively and unlock the full potential of their duo.

Spotlight for Sainz

This weekend will be a deeply personal affair for Carlos Sainz. While his fellow Spaniard Fernando Alonso’s future is secured at Aston Martin, Sainz remains at a crossroads.

Kick Sauber, poised to become Audi in 2026, and Williams, with hopes pinned on the new regulations, are the frontrunners. Both teams offer opportunities, but the choice is far from straightforward.

While Barcelona could be the stage for a big announcement, Sainz seems determined to prioritise the long-term trajectory of his career over the immediate fanfare of a home race announcement.

The upcoming races in Spain promise a gripping spectacle. The Barcelona heat will not only test the limits of the machinery on track, but also the strategies and decisions made off it.

The answers to these questions will paint a clearer picture of the remaining season, with Barcelona acting as a crucible from which a new championship narrative may emerge.

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