Alonso bids for home win as Mercedes bring revised car (Spanish GP preview)

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Fernando Alonso last won his home race four years ago
Fernando Alonso last won his home race four years ago

Spanish F1 fans will have three home drivers to cheer on for the first time ever this weekend.

Fernando Alonso is out to repeat his home victory of 2006 while Jaime Alguersuari and Pedro de la Rosa will be eyeing top ten finishes.

Following a three-week break a raft of technical updates could change the running order this weekend, with Mercedes and especially Michael Schumacher pinning their hopes on a significantly revised W01.


Teams will bring their biggest technical updates of the year so far to Barcelona in a bid to get ahead of their rivals.

Mercedes are introducing a longer version of their W01 in an attempt to improve its weight distribution and use its tyres more effectively.

This is a significant change to the car’s layout which they must have decided upon some time ago. Will it allow Michael Schumacher to get more out of a car which has troubled him so far on his F1 comeback?

Several teams will be testing their versions of McLaren’s F-duct including Ferrari and Sauber, whose designs we’ve seen before. Ferrari will be testing driver-operated F-ducts on both their cars on Friday – but haven’t decided whether they will race them yet.

It remains to been seen whether anyone else can anyone replicate McLaren’s driver-operated device. The restrictions on making changes to the chassis may mean they have to settle for the less satisfactory solution of a wing which stalls itself above certain speeds.

This is also the first race where teams won’t be allowed to use sidepod-mounted mirrors. Red Bull, Ferrari, Williams, Sauber and HRT will all have to have theirs changed this weekend.

Don’t expect them to make a huge difference to their performance, however much some of the teams may grumble about being told to change their designs.

Force India, who have already swapped their outboard mirrors for conventional ones, will run Paul di Resta in first practice on Friday in place of Adrian Sutil.

How will the changes shake-up the running order? We’ll get an idea once the cars hit the track, but we know some teams are planning more radical overhauls than others. Lotus have a significant upgrade for their T127, but Williams are changing little on the FW32.

Others haven’t been able to make all the changes they wanted: Virgin are only bringing one updated VR-01 for Timo Glock – Lucas di Grassi has to stick with the smaller-capacity fuel tank in his car.

Read more: The pecking order as the teams ready their Barcelona performance upgrades


With overtaking extremely difficult at the Circuit de Catalunya, qualifying on Saturday will be a high-pressure affair.

Lewis Hamilton discovered this to his cost in Shanghai: while most drivers beat their Q2 time in Q3 as track conditions improved, he failed to do so and started sixth when third place at minimum looked to be on the cards.

The drivers have soft and hard tyres to choose from this weekend, as they did last year. It would be a surprise to see many drivers in Q3 opting for the hard tyre unless degradation on the soft tyre is very poor on high fuel loads. Even then it would be a brave decision to sacrifice grid position for strategic gain at this circuit.

Keep an eye out for drivers getting stuck in traffic in Q1 as the Circuit de Catalunya is the shortest track visited so far this year. Aside from the main straight, passing places are hard to find.

Read more: Traffic a greater challenge in next races


Amazingly, once again we find ourselves heading towards a Grand Prix weekend with the prospect of rain disrupting the event.

The chance of rain falling on race day was not that high at first, but as the weekend draws nearer forecasters are increasingly predicting wet weather on Sunday.

There is also a good chance of rain during practice on Friday, which could disrupt the work being done by teams to test their new components.

Read more: Low chance of rain in Spain

Drivers to watch

Four driver to keep an eye on this weekend. Name your top picks in the comments.

Michael Schumacher – Yes, I’ve picked him three times out of five now as a ‘driver to watch’ but with good reason. Will the updated W01 allow him to turn his disappointing comeback around?

Sebastien Buemi – His team mate has won a lot of praise while Buemi’s races have often been compromised by other people’s accidents. Will he get a trouble-free race in Barcelona?

Fernando Alonso – Won his home race in 2006 and has the car to win it again for the first time in three years. But he seems to react to the pressure at home – remember his formation lap spin two years ago, and first corner clash with Massa in 2007.

Kamui Kobayashi – He and his Sauber team badly need more finishes.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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95 comments on “Alonso bids for home win as Mercedes bring revised car (Spanish GP preview)”

  1. Here’s hoping it’s not another snore-fest…

    1. *prays for rain*

      I really hope the Sauber & their engines can hold out for a whole race distance this weekend!

    2. I am afraid to say unless it rains it almost certainly will be. It is just not a good track for exciting spectator friendly racing. Oh well…maybe it’ll go in the coming years (fingers crossed!)

      1. Schumacher to win

        1. Repeat of 1996 perhaps?

          1. 1996 Monaco or Brazil?

          2. Well, seeing how this is a “Spanish GP preview”, it’s a little bit obvious which Grand Prix I was referring to.

      2. hopefully tyre degredation will be severe enough to mess up things a bit.

        1. Michelin-Indianapolis style! Not gonna happen, slow tracks are just slow boring tracks. I enjoy Monaco, but if it weren’t “Monaco” I’d want that gone too.

  2. I hope for a replay of the first corner from 2007! Forza Felipe!

      1. Why are there so many youtube F1 highlight videos with awful eastern european techno trance crap, can’t they just leave the original sound.

        F1 on youtube is extremely frustrating, if it’s not this crap, it’s just rubbish rfactor simulation videos instead. Infact in general…youtube is just going downhill.

        1. anything official F1 on youtube gets taken down pretty quickly through fear of Bernie and his vultures taking them to court. Sad i know, but the truth i’m afraid.

        2. Just because you don’t like the music it’s crap?

          At least be grateful that someone takes the time to collect all these highlights and turns it into a video.


          1. no kidding. Consider how harsh FOM is going after videos on there I’m glad for any quality videos uploaded no matter what sound there is. Better then camed TV or low res clips. The only video you can find is FOM’s own on their website only which is a shame.
            Look at Nascar and Indycar for example. Indycar has their own Youtube channel, video and audio podcasts. Indycar done it on youtube since 06. There are some 500 video clips with interviews and highlights and other clips from pre, post and during race. Also fans it seems are encouraged to upload videos. But then they don’t get millions and millions for TV rights that they need to protect.
            But it’s sad when broadcasters with rights can’t even post F1 race vids on their own website. For example SpeedTV does a post race analysis. The commentators are talking about the race and different highlights some of that they put into their TV show and some of that only goes on their online post race analysis. But on the online when they talk about a overtake or race incident you can see them looking at a monitor discussing and hear the sound but they are afraid to show the actual clip because that would be violation. Making the online post race mostly useless IMO.
            Improve the show bah. It would be a great things if fans was allowed to share, analyze and post pictures and vids to get more people interested because they run across these videos.

        3. Yes, the SpeedTV post race analysis is useless. It’s like watching three old guys talk about the race. Wait, it is watching three old guys talk about the race. They need Keith to come in and lay out some of those animated charts and graphs and do some meaningful analysis of what happened.

      2. Thanks for posting the link

    1. FelipeBabyStayCool
      5th May 2010, 18:10

      Fernando overtook Felipe fair and square on the outside and reached the corner first. Felipe pushed him (I wouldn’t say he did it on purpose, probably wasn’t able to brake on time) to the dirt outside, to the advantage of Kimi and HAM. Felipe was very lucky that his left wing was undamaged, which would have ruined his race. Also it could have resulted in a major melee, with Kimi and everybody else crashing into them. It turned out perfect for Felipe and I’m happy that he won, but it really wasn’t a good move.

  3. I would look for Lewis: can he finally qualify correctly and win a race this year?

    1. I hope there’s no rain and Lewis wins from pole. Now that would be total bliss for me :)

  4. Though a dry race might be a bit dull, it will at least give us a good idea of what the pecking order is. At the moment I think Red Bull are ahead, with Ferrari not too far behind. McLaren aren’t so handy in the dry as in the wet, I think, and Mercedes are a little behind the top three.

    We will also get to see how far Renault are off the leading four teams, as well as how the midfield is shaping up.

    1. Got to agree on that. I’ve said before I want a boring dry race to see where all the teams really are and the difference all the upgrades will have made.

      1. Agree completely with the both of you. This may be a good track to get some idea too as the teams know it inside out. I never thoguht I would hope it wouldn’t rain…

        1. hate to say it but I agree here to. But would prefer it to be on a different track but that would mean we wouldn’t know for sure for another couple of races because Monaco is next and well it’s not really a track to show this. One good thing about Barca is that the drives and teams knows the track so well that most of them will get the absolute most out of the car here that is possible which will give a very good picture of pecking order.
          Plus dry means no more luck of the draw in quali and race. Last 3 races been entertaining for sure but very chaotic and order been shaken up so much. I really would like to see a dry race that really show the strength of the car and driver not just who is lucky by getting a good start or put on the right tires at the right time or just getting lucky not being in the crash or not get punted of the track because someone elses error.

    2. no because we can see the pecking order in a dry quali. then the race can be wet as you like!

      1. Before China, Red Bull seemed to have a distinct advantage in qualifying. It looks like McLaren and Mercedes have suddenly closed a big part of that gap. But still, we haven’t really seen if the Red Bull cars can keep up the pace throughout a whole race.

      2. Andrew White
        5th May 2010, 19:09

        I agree with you Sato. People hoping for a dry race will be regretting it a couple of laps in when they know the pecking order, as that’s the order it will stay in for the rest of the race…

  5. i hope for a quiet race without rain, maybe this way Ferrari could have some chances of victory.:D

  6. I fear rain is the only chance for a not processional race. Unfortunately. Sad but true.

    1. But if your favourite driver wins, it doesn’t really matter, does it (not that I know who your favourite driver is)? ;)

      1. It’s Schumi…:-D

  7. The Upgrade Grand Prix adds a bit of interest. Hopefully the F-duct cars, with their higher speeds and lower turbulence, will create some overtaking. I probably said that about KERS last year, though.

    I’ll be keeping an eye on Renault and Lotus, two teams that seem to know exactly where they’re going with their upgrades, right from the pre-season tests. It would be fitting if Lotus have been adding lightness to their cars…

  8. My Top 5 Predictions:
    Red Bull DNF or out of the top 5

    1. If it’s raining heavily Schumacher, Rosberg, or the other Mclaren drivers will win the race.

      1. Schumacher will not win the race no matter what the weather conditions are … i’d put my money on the HRTs over Schumi

        1. He hasn’t performed well so far, but cannot be written off to that extent.

  9. Prisoner Monkeys
    5th May 2010, 10:03

    I’m not expecting Alonso to do much. And I kind of like it that way, sticking it to the Spanish fans.

    1. ha they don’t take losing very well! (sorry any spanish fans here!) Massa ftw! but VET will probably.

    2. Alguersari for the win. Alonso crashing out Hamilton (or other way around) in first corner. Button blows a tire and DNF’s. Massa blows a engine valve. Schum takes out Rosberg while being lapped. Vettel scores 2nd and Webber is victim of Alonso Hamilton clash.
      Virgin runs out of fuel on one car and the other car is taken out by a HRT. Sauber loses another win and takes out FI, one Lotus car plows into the rear end of the stalled Rubens on the starting grid in his Williams. Petrov finds himself in the tire wall for no apparent reason. Kubica takes 3rd, followed by Hulkenberg, Buemi, Lotus and HRT. First point score for 2 new team. WTG!!!
      (Did I miss anyone in my prediction? ;) )
      Remember you read it here first.. LOL

  10. Lewis Hamilton will be my driver to watch. I think he’ll be desperate to get a win on his score card this season now that Button has 2…

  11. I hope for no rain. 3 out of 4 wet races is a bit too much.

    In drivers to watch I would rather consider the 2 Red Bull and 2 Mclaren drivers.

    Since, in a dry rae I expect the strongest 2 teams to dominate (Red Bull and Mclaren of course), a question of seeing who is the quickest among the 2 now.

  12. I’m hoping this is the race and the car that will turn around Schumachers fortunes, not because I support him, but I just don’t want to see him end his career like this.

    Otherwise I expect fireworks again from Alonso (home race) and Hamilton (desperate for a win), but this time for the win, with Alonso edging it. Button in third, and the Red Bulls in the gravel somewhere ;-)

    1. I don’t think that Schumi’s career will end that soon. He is struggling but I think he needs some time to put his things together.
      One thing we all forget is that so far he didn’t put a wheel wrong, I hope thatby the end of the year the story will be different.

  13. Alonso will win the spanish grand prix if they can match Red Bulls 0.3 second a lap speed increase. Red bull are confident saying that even Mercedes couldn’t make a second improvement of their car.

  14. Just like Jorge Lorenzo at Jerez last week, its gonna be a home win for Fernando!!

    I dont if its either Alonso or Vettel on the top step of the podium.

    1. agree.. this is going to either fernando or sebastian.. and maybe lewis on the third step of the podium

  15. i’m gonna say Rosberg is the guy to watch; if the Merc really does get a good performance boost, we could see his first win :D

  16. Alonso is the driver to watch. I fear Ferrari might have pulled a fast one on the grid with their engine change for “Reliability” apparently.

    Does anyone have an idea about the changes to Ferrari engine? They are changing the engine to fix reliability issues. How come the unit was reliable last year but not this year? Are they going to up the performance of the engine under this pretext?

    1. Oh just noticed another thread for this discussion.

    2. 2009 engine & 2010 engine have different engine specification, both of them were build differently.

      1. Could you provide more details? I thought only the exterior components of the engine can be changed?

    3. Prisoner Monkeys
      5th May 2010, 11:24

      They won’t be able to pull a fast one. They don’t just ask the FIA if they can make changes: they have to detail what they want to change, how they want to change it, and once they have changed it, they have to submit the engines for review to make sure the changes are made the way Ferrari have been said.

    4. Some air is leaking out of the Ferrari engine, last season it could be refilled during the pit-stops but now the pit-stops are much shorter so they can’t do that.

    5. Alonso says the engineers found several reliability issues in the engine and he also claims that it wasn’t “air leaking out of the valves”.

  17. I think it should be a Red Bull victory, then Ferrari and McLaren, could we have the first win for the pole sitter this season?

    Even though the first European race usually brings plenty of upgrades I think I read elsewhere that Williams and Renault don’t have much planned for Barcelona. Apart from Alonso at his home race, the focus will be on Schumacher and the longer wheelbase Mercedes, and if he doesn’t beat Rosberg I expect more people to be saying he has lost it, although I think it is still too early to judge his comeback.

    Unless there is rain I fear it could be a boring race and people will be calling for changes just like after Bahrain. Although a dry race may show the current pecking order of the teams.

  18. I may miss Spanish Grand Prix coverage as the channel which telecast it is out of order for 10 days.Please pray that the problem is fixed before the race begins.

    I think Schumacher or Mercedes will improve that much as expected. The battle between the other three big teams will be the one to watch,if it rains on raceday then we may have a very exciting racing.

    1. join the live blog and usually there will be some video links put up.

      1. Thanks but for me nothing beat like watching it live, I better not watch it than join the live blog & only hear what is happening on track. I will try to download the race later that’s the best I can do from my power.

  19. 1996 again please.

  20. When was the last wet Spanish GP? I can’t think of any off the top of my head, it seems to always be dry and sunny.

    1. The last wet Spanish race was 14 years ago.

  21. A-Safieldin
    5th May 2010, 12:43

    What was the wettest season ever in F1??

    1. Also,

      what is the record for most consecutive wet races (I assume Malaysia to be wet, as rain in qualifying mixed the grid, just like Brazil 2009).

  22. James Bolton
    5th May 2010, 13:32

    I’m going! Very excited!! I’m hoping for rain, but only from about ten minutes before the race begins. Some Spanish sunshine through Saturday and Sunday morning would be perfect.

    I’ll send some pictures to Keith and he can share them with you all (if they’re any good of course!)

    1. Nice one James, are you on Twitter? I;m at the track Thursday and Friday.

      1. James Bolton
        5th May 2010, 18:58

        I am indeed on Twitter, JPBolton. I’m flying on Saturday morning because work wouldn’t give me Friday off. It’s a shame because I’ll miss Friday and Sat practice. I’ll catch qualy and GP2 though.

        Can anyone recommend a good place to watch at Barcelona? Me and the old man have general admission tickets. I’ve used the kangaroo TV’s in the past so being near a big screen isn’t as vital as it used to be.

  23. damonsmedley
    5th May 2010, 13:36

    Is it true that the pole sitter has won the race without fail from 2001?!

    1. It was 2000 according to

      Has recent pole sitters and winners list

  24. It’s going to be interesting to see how much drivers in Q3 sacrifice their soft tyres to bid for grid position. Button will probably keep his best, but if he can’t get onto the first two rows, I don’t see him getting onto the podium.

    I wonder though if Button, or any other driver, will go for broke in Q3, pit on something like Lap 10, change tyres, and then banks on Catalunya’s awful overtaking opportunities to keep his place when everyone catches him in the final part of the race.

    Or could we even see a 2-stop strategy from the front-runner(s)? Build a good lead, pit for tyres, reclaim the lead when everyone performs their only stop, and then try to build a big enough lead to pit and come out in front.

    1. I think it will be boring all pitting between 10-15 or maybe up to lap 20 from soft to medium and just getting to the end.
      Will be interesting to see, weather RedBull bloges at least 1 of their pit stops again.

  25. I am highly sceptical that this new Mercedes chassis for Schumacher will be any better, or that it’s what Ross says it is. This is a rebuilt wreck from a testing crash. It’s obviously not a new chassis, because it has not been homologated, and I find it very surprising that a substantial change in wheelbase can be made without altering the tub at the nose—unless its purely made at the back end by altering the drivetrain components and geometry. And, anyway, if seems that lengthening the wheelbase would require new windtunnel analysis to get the aero baselines. To my knowledge Mercedes did not even do a straight-line test over the break.

    1. This is a rebuilt wreck from a testing crash.

      I don’t recall Mercedes having any big crashes in testing. Rosberg had a minor prang at Jerez if I remember correctly.

    2. OK. I was mistaken.

      “It’s not a new chassis per se, it’s a chassis we used in testing,” team boss Ross Brawn told Reuters. “The one he had got damaged during the first few races and we repaired it as best we could at the races. But now we are back at base; we are going to reintroduce the test chassis, and he will be using that in Barcelona.”Read more:

      But this explanation is rather dubious. First, I do not recall Schumacher having a major crash during the away races. Second, even if he did, it’s hard to believe that chassis that was so lousy they left it behind for a 4 race fly-away is suddenly the faster design and only faster for one driver? Especially now that the other teams have beend developing their cars and are fixing to roll out massive upgrades? Further, wheelbase is not like adding a winglet or a vent–this goes the fundamental mechanical and aerodynamic concept of the car.

      Mercedes and Schumacher are grasping at straws. Or they are not being upfront about what they are doing with MSC’s car.

      If that car is in fact faster than Nico’s in Barcelona then I think papa Rosberg should take a good look around that car and see whether it’s a matter of what is being done to Schumacher’s car or what is being not done to his son’s. Anyone who thinks Schumacher cannot and will not demand differential development on his car was not awake during the 2000s. And we know that Nico is not in a position in that team to back-talk Brawn and Schumacher.

      1. Someone claimed that carbon fiber might delaminate if it becomes exposed to water. So perhaps some minor crash damage let some water in and it deteriorated from there.

        Rosberg was complaining about the car too and he claims the new car will benefit him as well. Not sure how he can know that, but maybe from the simulator?

      2. Well.. I hope that the new Chassis they are working on does not have massive upgrades, and instead, is a small improvement on the basic aero/mechanical foundation of the car.

        It would be a tragedy to see Rosberg not getting an updated and quicker chassis, as he is clearly the better driver in the team.
        Unfortunately, Ross Brawn runs the team (a man who was romantically involved with Schumi throughout his career).

        If Schumi suddenly seems to be matching Nico’s pace, its clear that he is upto his internal team politics again. There is no way Schumi could match Nico with the exact same piece of Machinery.

        Schumi should realise that he screwed up by returning to the sport, and should retire as gracefully as possible. He is clearly outclassed by nearly half the drivers on the grid. Critics say he doesn’t have it anymore… I think he NEVER DID.

        1. Rosberg gets the same car though

        2. WOW!
          just shows how much you hate him!
          the next best has won less than half the amount of races he has won. wat ever the reason, no one could reproduce tht kinda performance.
          the stats and facts r staring right into your face my friend!
          i doubt if Schumi ll win any race this season, but you just cant take away his past; and we ll see how many of these “better and faster” drivers will have the guts to race at 41 and stil be in the points consistantly with an entirely new cars, tyres and tracks.

          1. consistantly with entirely new cars, tyres and tracks.

            sorry, there was a typo! :)

          2. Stop living in the past my friend, and just take a look at the present. There is more talent on the grid today than there has ever been before. Schumacher should have rested on his laurels (stats and facts) instead of returning to formula 1. For him to think that he is in the same league as Alonso, Hamilton, Vettel, Kubica and Rosberg, is just stupid.
            Formula 1 is not like tennis, or any other individual sport, where a competitor’s performance is dependent entirely on his own talent. There are a number of favourable factors that have gone into Schumacher’s stats and facts.
            The only way Schumi can prove himself is by beating any the current talent without making any further excuses, and i honestly do not see that happenning. He was lucky to not have come up against any of these drivers earlier on in his career. Instead of thanking his lucky stars, he decided to make a comeback… what a DUMBASS.

        3. “Critics say he doesn’t have it anymore… I think he NEVER DID.”

          You obvoiusly slept through 1992-2006…

          1. Wasn’t sleeping. Unfortunately no car/driver combination in the past ‘had it’ either.

            P.S. With the focus on ‘car’ in the car/driver combination

          2. Well Schumacher did win races when he didn’t have the best car, and it’s easy to claim that the opposition was poor, but you can only beat what is put in front of you, which is what Schumacher did so consistently.

            Oh, and Schumacher did win races when he didn’t have the best car, like trumping the Williams team in 1995, and his wins throughout 1996-99 were against arguably faster Williams/Mclaren cars.

    3. Schumacher did go to Rockingham to drive the car:

      Sounds like it was a promotional event rather than a proper test, but still.

      1. So a promotional shake down! At least he did get in the car before the race with 100 km it is not a very short experience, even if driven in relatively low speed.

  26. Keith, an update fron yesterday. I wanted to say if when you go to Amalfi you are only 30 min from Autodromo Vallelunga Pietro Taruffi or about 1.5 hours to the historic Nardo track if you want the shortest marrige ever.

  27. personly i am a very big hamilton fan and i would love to see him win this weekend and i think he will win his 2nd wold championship this year but dispite this i dont think he will win the race this weekend i think he will win mabey in one or two races time, but getting back to this race i think
    alonso 1st
    hamilton 2nd
    vettel 3rd

    tbh i think all this stuff about mercades making big upgrades this weekend is rubish they will still be down of the pace if anything they might be 4th and 5th but i have to say rosberg is doing very well in the car givin it isnt the best one out there and i think we should watch out for him.

  28. Well my prediction is..

    1) Alonso
    2) Vettel
    3) Hamilton
    4) Webber
    5) Rosberg
    6) Massa
    7) Button
    8) Kubica
    9) Schumacher
    10) Alguesari

    Vettel is gonna take pole though… but going to lose it to Fernando in the first couple of corners.

    I might be completely off with this.. but if I’m not.. then I guess you will just forget about this post anyway.


    1. Make sure you enter the predictions competition…

    2. haha lol, i take it u like kubica then :) lol, well i think u have got it just right with your predictions

  29. Marc Pearson
    5th May 2010, 19:20

    would anyone else like to michael fastest on saturday?

    1. I would love Schumi to be on top, but i doubt that.
      how is it possible to bring a new chassis(although old) without enough crash testing and other testings.
      longer wheelbase? in such limited time? how can they manage that?
      they r either raking a huge gamble or brawn n co. are geniuses.
      we ll c how it works out, but i seriously dont think it ll make much of a diff.
      my guess is, it ll put him lower down the order still or a DNF coz of lack or reliability.

  30. Ferrari is the team to watch out.They claim to have solved the reliability they’ve got the the stalling device “f-duct”.plus they got some new aerodynamic updates all in all i expect them to be around half a second faster in barca which might just might just give them the top spot in pure pace ahead of the red bulls who themselves hav claimed to gain .3 secs.

  31. If it rains I’ll be very happy but otherwise I hope its a decent weekend alround…

  32. Keith, are you going to be at Barcelona for the entire weekend?

    Just saw your tweet, so wanted to know.

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