Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018

Rising threat of rain could create drama in Spain

2018 Spanish Grand Prix pre-race analysis

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Pirelli expected their tyre choices for the Spanish Grand Prix weekend would produce a different kind of race at a circuit which isn’t known for close action.

However the biggest development of the weekend so far from a strategy point of view has been the poor performance of the super-soft tyres. So much so that only one driver among the top ten for Sunday’s race will start on them: Fernando Alonso.

This is a blow to Pirelli’s hope of enlivening the race by encouraging more drivers to use two-stop strategies. For any drivers starting on super-softs – which may turn out to be only Alonso – the quickest strategy would be to run two stints on soft tyres.

But for those starting on softs, because they have to use another tyre compound and won’t want to fit the super-softs, a single-stop to switch to mediums is the way to go. The only remaining question for the front runners will be how early they dare to pit.

So on the face of it a fairly straightforward race is in prospect. But the weather may yet force the teams to throw their strategy plans out of the window.

Since early in the week teams have expected rain from Saturday night into into Sunday, but it was previously expected to stop several hours before the race. Now some forecasts indicate a strong possibility it will continue until later in the day.

Rain began to fall at the track late on Saturday. Will it turn out to be the story of Sunday?

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Qualifying times in full

DriverCarQ1

Q2 (vs Q1)

Q3 (vs Q2)
1Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’17.6331’17.166 (-0.467)1’16.173 (-0.993)
2Valtteri BottasMercedes1’17.6741’17.111 (-0.563)1’16.213 (-0.898)
3Sebastian VettelFerrari1’17.0311’16.802 (-0.229)1’16.305 (-0.497)
4Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’17.4831’17.071 (-0.412)1’16.612 (-0.459)
5Max VerstappenRed Bull1’17.4111’17.266 (-0.145)1’16.816 (-0.450)
6Daniel RicciardoRed Bull1’17.6231’17.638 (+0.015)1’16.818 (-0.820)
7Kevin MagnussenHaas1’18.1691’17.618 (-0.551)1’17.676 (+0.058)
8Fernando AlonsoMcLaren1’18.2761’18.100 (-0.176)1’17.721 (-0.379)
9Carlos Sainz JnrRenault1’18.4801’17.803 (-0.677)1’17.790 (-0.013)
10Romain GrosjeanHaas1’18.3051’17.699 (-0.606)1’17.835 (+0.136)
11Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren1’18.8851’18.323 (-0.562)
12Pierre GaslyToro Rosso1’18.5501’18.463 (-0.087)
13Esteban OconForce India1’18.8131’18.696 (-0.117)
14Charles LeclercSauber1’18.6611’18.910 (+0.249)
15Sergio PerezForce India1’18.7401’19.098 (+0.358)
16Nico HulkenbergRenault1’18.923
17Marcus EricssonSauber1’19.493
18Sergey SirotkinWilliams1’19.695
19Lance StrollWilliams1’20.225
20Brendon HartleyToro Rosso

Sector times

DriverSector 1Sector 2Sector 3
Lewis Hamilton21.525 (1)28.316 (1)26.326 (5)
Valtteri Bottas21.528 (2)28.366 (2)26.319 (4)
Sebastian Vettel21.551 (3)28.555 (3)26.199 (2)
Kimi Raikkonen21.697 (4)28.561 (4)26.340 (6)
Max Verstappen21.900 (8)28.609 (5)26.307 (3)
Daniel Ricciardo21.819 (5)28.687 (6)26.159 (1)
Kevin Magnussen21.842 (6)28.894 (7)26.771 (9)
Fernando Alonso22.048 (12)28.913 (8)26.689 (8)
Carlos Sainz Jnr21.990 (9)29.074 (10)26.681 (7)
Romain Grosjean21.867 (7)29.011 (9)26.810 (10)
Stoffel Vandoorne22.196 (16)29.199 (11)26.858 (12)
Pierre Gasly22.119 (14)29.289 (12)26.843 (11)
Esteban Ocon22.025 (10)29.560 (15)27.028 (14)
Charles Leclerc22.078 (13)29.358 (13)27.157 (16)
Sergio Perez22.027 (11)29.564 (16)27.106 (15)
Nico Hulkenberg22.412 (19)29.544 (14)26.967 (13)
Marcus Ericsson22.279 (18)29.750 (17)27.360 (17)
Sergey Sirotkin22.190 (15)29.779 (18)27.544 (18)
Lance Stroll22.219 (17)30.066 (19)27.576 (19)
Brendon Hartley

Speed trap

PosDriverCarEngineSpeed (kph/mph)Gap
1Sergio PerezForce IndiaMercedes326.0 (202.6)
2Esteban OconForce IndiaMercedes324.7 (201.8)-1.3
3Sebastian VettelFerrariFerrari323.5 (201.0)-2.5
4Lewis HamiltonMercedesMercedes322.5 (200.4)-3.5
5Valtteri BottasMercedesMercedes322.3 (200.3)-3.7
6Sergey SirotkinWilliamsMercedes322.0 (200.1)-4.0
7Romain GrosjeanHaasFerrari321.9 (200.0)-4.1
8Pierre GaslyToro RossoHonda321.1 (199.5)-4.9
9Kevin MagnussenHaasFerrari321.0 (199.5)-5.0
10Marcus EricssonSauberFerrari320.6 (199.2)-5.4
11Charles LeclercSauberFerrari320.1 (198.9)-5.9
12Kimi RaikkonenFerrariFerrari319.3 (198.4)-6.7
13Lance StrollWilliamsMercedes318.5 (197.9)-7.5
14Max VerstappenRed BullTAG Heuer318.2 (197.7)-7.8
15Daniel RicciardoRed BullTAG Heuer318.0 (197.6)-8.0
16Carlos Sainz JnrRenaultRenault314.6 (195.5)-11.4
17Fernando AlonsoMcLarenRenault313.8 (195.0)-12.2
18Stoffel VandoorneMcLarenRenault312.3 (194.1)-13.7
19Nico HulkenbergRenaultRenault309.8 (192.5)-16.2

Over to you

Will Ferrari or Red Bull take the fight to Mercedes? And who will emerge as best of the rest? Have your say in the comments.

Share your views on the Spanish Grand Prix in the comments.

2018 Spanish Grand Prix

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Author information

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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15 comments on “Rising threat of rain could create drama in Spain”

  1. Clever title ;)
    Was 1996 the last wet race here?

    1. That was my first thought…..

      The question is…..was the track built on a plain?

        1. @fullcoursecaution: Good one! Too bad it fell flat despite the attempts rain a little humour in Spain

    2. It was. Interestingly, three of first six races were wet on the circuit – then none in 21 years.

  2. Who wants to bet that Kimi will be used a blockade to Mercedes like in China?

    1. Who wants to bet that mercedes will sacrifice bottas for the 5th time since becoming a merc driver.

    2. @krichelle
      You mean like Bottas was used as a roadblock last year?

      Hamilton fans are outraged by the slightest hint of favouritism by Ferrari while turning a blind eye to all the help Hamilton gets.

      Hamilton would not have won either Monaco 2016 nor Spain 2017 if not for team orders.

    3. You mean like Bottas was used as a roadblock last year?

      Hamilton would not have won either Monaco 2016 nor Spain 2017 if not for team orders.

    4. No betting for me, but would be a smart move to do so. He has like -10000 chances to win the champ, like 0 chances to be even a title contender, so better help his team and team-mate win the WDC… might pour with some extra cash at the end of the year and/or might keep his seat for 2019. He has a new engine, still didn’t help him against VET. I’ve been waiting for quite some years for that performance to remember us of pre-2010 RAI, but did not happen. Might have been/be the car too, but mostly was/it’s just him, no doubt now. Almost sure won’t happen at all anymore.

  3. Between the Williams being in the state they are, the track catching quite a few out in terms of unforced errors with the wind or the surface, drivers being just as racey as they have been this season, and the threat of rain: I’d be betting on a safety car or two in terms of strategy and an exciting race with opportunities.

    Here’s to hoping anyway! Looking forward to it.

  4. I pray VES or MAG don’t take out half the field at the start.

  5. ”Will Ferrari or Red Bull take the fight to Mercedes?” – Yes.
    ”And who will emerge as best of the rest?” – Mclaren.

  6. Vettel fan 17 (@)
    13th May 2018, 9:03

    Please rain

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