F1 2021 Spanish Grand Prix Preview: Can Verstappen fight back in Spain?

Despite last weekend’s Portuguese Grand Prix not being the best race, there’s a lot to look forward to coming into Spain. Just eight points separate Sir Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen at the top of the Formula 1 driver’s championship.

With rain forecast this weekend, we could have another unpredictable race at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya like we saw at Imola three weeks ago. We’ve got everything you need to know ahead of the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix right here!

Track Guide

This is the first race since the Turn 10 redesign in Barcelona. Image: Racingcircuits.info

The Circuit de Catalunya was first used for the 1991 Spanish Grand Prix, making this year the 30th anniversary of Montmelo circuit. Constructed for the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, the track has also served as a popular testing venue.

Normally, the teams rock up with hundreds, if not thousands of laps under their belts here, but Bahrain hosted this year’s testing. There’s only one real passing opportunity in Barcelona, as Turn 1 follows a long DRS straight.

Turn 10 has been reprofiled and is now a more flowing entry from the previous straight. That means we can expect faster lap times, but passing will be more difficult.

Last time out

Lewis Hamilton claimed his second win in as many races in Portugal. Image: PlanetF1

Last week showed us exactly why Sir Lewis Hamilton is a seven-time Formula 1 world champion. Despite losing pole position to teammate Valtteri Bottas and falling behind Verstappen at the restart, he recovered to take his 97th victory in the sport.

Verstappen made a late stop and attempted to take the fastest lap bonus point, but fell foul of track limits. The Dutchman would finish second, with Bottas taking the fastest lap and completing the podium in third. Sergio Perez fell behind Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris in the early stages, but climbed to fourth by the finish.

Norris again impressed as he remains third in the driver’s championship thanks to a fifth place finish. Charles Leclerc was a respectable sixth for Ferrari with Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso coming home seventh and eighth, respectively, for Alpine.

Daniel Ricciardo finished ninth after failing to get out of Q1, while Pierre Gasly rounded out the top ten positions.

Can Verstappen make up lost ground?

Sir Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have been the standout performers in 2021 so far. Image: Motor Sport Magazine

For the first time since 2018, we have a real title battle between two different teams. Red Bull have begun 2021 with arguably the fastest car on the grid, but Hamilton and Mercedes have had the better of the results.

Mercedes had a better package in Portimao, but cold and windy conditions may have had a hand in that.

In more standard weather, Red Bull could well have the advantage. Furthermore, if it rains, we all know how good Verstappen is. However, we also know how good Hamilton is, so which way the advantage will swing is anybody’s guess.

Whatever the weather is on Sunday, Saturday’s qualifying will be extremely important. With only Turn 1 left as a proper passing spot, track position is paramount.

Hamilton could claim his 100th pole position in F1 this weekend, a record no driver is within 30 of his tally. To put that into more perspective, only five constructors (Ferrari, McLaren, Williams, Mercedes and Lotus) have more poles than Sir Lewis.

Session times

Practice 1: 7 May               10:30-11:30 (5:30-6:30 AM EST)

Practice 2: 7 May               14:00-15:00 (9:00-10:00 AM EST)

Practice 3: 8 May               11:00-12:00 (6:00-7:00 AM EST)

Qualifying: 8 May               14:00-15:00 (9:00-10:00 AM EST)

Race: 9 May              14:00-16:00 (9:00-11:00 EST)

All times are in British Standard Time (BST), unless stated otherwise.

Grid Talk Podcast

The Grid Talk crew previewed the 2021 Spanish GP in their latest podcast. George Howson hosted Jack Watson, Louis Edwards, and Coops ran through all of the news ahead of this weekend’s race. Both video and audio versions of the show are linked below:

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