The Spanish Grand Prix is the first Grand Prix opening the long European part of the season. Barcelona has always been a testing and helping to improve the cars stage. The teams bring a large number of updates here. The most anticipated of course were the updates of the leaders Mercedes and Ferrari. But if Mercedes easily shows the fourth double in the season, then updates of Ferrari attract much more attention, because in Barcelona their package may bring them first victory in the season. Moreover, another factor plays in their favor is the track itself. In February during F1 testing Ferrari drivers were the best at Barcelona-Catalunya during all two test sessions.
So, some new elements, mostly aerodynamics, were already presented in Baku. But actually there weren't many. For the Spanish weekend, the team has prepared more serious, promising developments that should contribute to a great leap in the development of all areas of the car and of course lead Scuderia to the long-awaited victories.
The main update for both Ferrari cars is a new internal combustion engine. Ferrari is the first of the teams, who is beginning to use the second engine in season (except Daniel Ricciardo from Renault). As for possible penalty in the future, team’s principal Mattia Binotto says that despite the early introduction of the second power unit, they aren’t planning to use four PU for this season. Also this decision was planned in advance, few weeks before the Grand Prix.
Another one big package is aerodynamics elements. New Ferrari's shark fin is clipped in front part. Probably, new specification is used to slow down the drag, and also has a positive impact on the work of rear wing, which has also been slightly modified.
According to many rumors, the team printed the pistons for the new engine, that already used in Barcelona, on 3D printer. Till this moment Ferrari used as a material aluminum, but now they make pistons of steel, which can withstand heavy loads, and thus allows for longer using of aggressive mode of the engine.
On paper updates brought by Ferrari to Barcelona look really promising, but the most important thing is how they look in reality, on the track. On Friday Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc have showed, frankly, not the most impressive results:
FP1 – Vettel is 2nd, Leclerc is 3rd
FP2 – Leclerc is 3rd, Vettel is 4th
According to information of AMuS, Ferrari wins half a second on straights, match in fast turns and lose almost twice as much time that win on straights, in medium and slow turns relative to Mercedes.
Also there is information that on Friday evening, at 10 pm new bonnets and other components arrived in Ferrari boxes, so it seems the team is trying everything to improve the work, even despite the racing weekend has already started.
Well, if on Friday teams test their own programs, and there is an exchange of results between teams, then on Sunday, specially in qualifying, drivers show the real potential of their cars.
In the final free practice Ferrari’s results looked more promising:
FP3 – Leclerc is 2nd, Vettel is 3rd
However, the joy of the team and its fans ended there:
Quali – Vettel is 3rd, Leclerc is 5th
According to Sebastian Vettel, Sector 3 as the Achilles' heel for them or even worse, while Bottas and Hamilton are fully satisfied with the car there.
So, with these results it seems tomorrow race will be a triumph of Mercedes again.
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