2021 Formula One Spanish Grand Prix preview: Revised track greets drivers

Round four of the 2021 Formula One World Championship 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 has been on the calendar since 1991 and is also the location where winter testing normally takes place, though not this year due to Covid-19 disruptions.

This year, teams and drivers face a slightly revised track. The changes are found at turn 10, a very heavy braking point where drivers often lock up the wheels. The radius has been expanded, allowing for a higher speed through the turn. It also makes the track length about 65 feet longer, resulting in a total length of about 2.9 miles.

The rest of the layout consists of 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. There are several good overtaking opportunities for drivers, and tire strategy always proves vital.

Pirelli has nominated its C1, C2 and C3 compounds for the weekend.

Looking at the weather, we should have fine conditions during Saturday’s qualifying but Sunday’s race might see some rain.

After some early practice on Friday, Mercedes-Benz AMG’s Valtteri Bottas was the fastest, followed closely by Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen and fellow Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton.

Going into the weekend, Hamilton leads the 2021 Drivers’ Championship with 69 points. Verstappen is second with 61 points and McLaren’s Lando Norris is third with 37 points. In the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes leads with 101 points versus the 83 of Red Bull and 53 of McLaren. Last year’s winner in Spain was Hamilton driving for Mercedes.

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