We go from a brand-new track at the Miami Grand Prix, to a track which the drivers could probably drive with their eyes shut, as the 2022 Formula 1 season continues at the Circuit de Catalunya for the Spanish Grand Prix.
This race has been dominated by Lewis Hamilton of late, who has greeted the chequered flag the past 5 years as race winner. Of the other active drivers, Max Verstappen has won in Spain (2016) once, Seb Vettel (2011) once, and Fernando Alonso twice. Will Hamilton continue his domination, or will we see a new King crowned in Barcelona.
Miami Grand Prix Review
Ferrari locked out the front row at our first ever visit to the new look Miami Grand Prix, with Max Verstappen lining up third. Verstappen crucially got the jump on Sainz at the start, jumping to second behind Leclerc. It didn’t take Verstappen long to get past his Championship rival, getting by the Monegasque heading into turn 1 on lap 9. From here, Verstappen was able to gradually extend his lead, and by lap 25 led by 4.5 seconds, when Leclerc pitted. By the time Verstappen pitted two laps later, the gap had widened to 7.5 seconds and the race looked over.
The race meandered along until lap 41, when Lando Norris and Pierre Gasly collided, causing a VSC, which led to a full Safety Car. Naturally, this bunched the pack up, giving Leclerc a chance at a sprint with Verstappen towards the end. The race re-started on lap 47, leaving Leclerc 10 laps to try and get past Verstappen.
Leclerc stayed on Vertstappen’s tail, getting plenty of DRS, however, was unable to get past and had to settle for second. Carlos Sainz rounded out the podium in 3rd place. The Mercedes pair of George Russell and Lewis Hamilton finished 5th and 6th respectively, showing they are now comfortably the third best team.
Much like the earlier races, we’re looking at the potential of a two-horse race for the win. Leclerc and Verstappen appear as though they are going to battle it out during most race weekends, pending updates from each team. Mercedes does appear to be distancing itself from the midfield, however they still have some work to do to catch what is a moving target in the top two teams.
Ferrari looked superb at this track in pre-season testing, however the Red Bull has been upgraded substantially since testing. There is plenty of talk that Ferrari will be bringing major upgrades to the 6th round in Spain, and Ferrari need them to pan out to get back into the race with Red Bull.
As mentioned previously, this track has been dominated by Mercedes during the hybrid era and is known for being highly correlated to the best car aerodynamically. This circuit is also traditionally extremely difficult to overtake on and given this looking at the driver to take Pole Position to win the race is a decent shout.
Whilst Red Bull have the momentum, I believe Ferrari will stop the bleeding in Spain. Leclerc has been quickest in qualifying in 3 of the opening 5 rounds, and I believe the Ferrari will be quick here, as they were in pre-season testing. The Red Bull won’t have the advantage here of ease of overtaking, despite the main straight being lengthy. This is because the fast-sweeping final corner makes it difficult for cars to follow closely enough to get by into turn 1. This should aid Leclerc in maintaining a lead from his predicted pole position.
This track is also well known as a ‘Noah’s Arc’ type track, so don’t be surprised to see the teams ‘two by two’ after qualifying, with car performance a huge factor here. I expect Mercedes to be third and McLaren not far behind. Whilst Bottas will more than likely be in and around the points, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him towards the backend of the top 10 with the Alpine cars.
Charles Leclerc (Pole Position) - $2.44 @ Betfair (2u)
Ferrari (Double Podium) - $2.40 @ NEDS (1.5u)
Lando Norris (Top 6) - $2.20 @ NEDS (1.5u)
Fernando Alonso (Top 10) - $1.75 @ NEDS (1.5u)
Daniel Ricciardo (Top 10) - $2.30 @ NEDS (1u)
Seb Vettel (Top 10) - $4.10 @ Betfair (0.5u)
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