Mercedes doesn’t give in

Mercedes doesn’t give in at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya

First track-activity day at the World Championship circuit, with Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton in command, clocking the fastest times of the day.

Formula 1FORMULA 3

The FORMULA 1 ARAMCO GRAN PREMIO DE ESPAÑA 2021 has started, leaving a certain sense of déjà-vu. The leaders of the first and second free practice sessions were exactly the same as in 2020. Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton marked the reference times during the morning and afternoon sessions respectively.

The first day of track activity at the Circuit served to ratify some certainties and turn them more evident, but also to cast a few doubts and to introduce a few uncertainties in the equation of the Formula 1 World Championship.

The most outstanding evidence? Mercedes is still in the lead. None of their drivers seem to be willing to hand over and they have clocked the best times today. Valtteri Bottas stopped the clocks of FP1 at 1:18.504, followed by the driver who could be the alternative in the German squad, Max Verstappen. The Red Bull driver positioned himself in between the Mercedes cars, 66 thousandths of a second behind Bottas. Hamilton finished third. He improved this position during the second free practices, where he clocked the fastest time (1:18.170), followed by his teammate. Charles Leclerc placed his Ferrari on third position, a fact that turns him into another alternative for the top positions.

Talking about evidences, let’s talk about tyres. The morning session, for example, was marked by the fact that almost all drivers chose the same compound. The premier class drivers went onto the track on hard compounds, although Fernando Alonso decided to use the soft one, with which he managed to clock the second fastest time. A few minutes later, with the other single-seaters all on soft compounds, it became evident that the soft compound is much faster than the remaining compounds brought by Pirelli to Barcelona. Moreover, the high temperatures put the degradation of tyres to the test, a fact that concerns the teams as they have seen considerably worn-out rubbers after just over 15 laps.

The times clocked today were a bit more surprising. Despite this being the début of a faster configuration of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya layout, as Turn 10 was modified early this year, the drivers did not get close to the times clocked at the FORMULA 1 ARAMCO GRAN PREMIO DE ESPAÑA 2020. As a reference, Valtteri Bottas clocked 1.16.785 during FP1, while Lewis Hamilton stopped the clocks at 1:16.883, i.e. almost two seconds faster. This difference is explained by the new configuration of the cars. The so-called ground effect makes them loose a few seconds per lap. This change has the aim of allowing the cars to follow each other more easily, causing a reduction of the aerodynamic load but an increase of the minimum weight.

Another curiosity of the day was seeing Robert Kubica back at the wheel of a F1 machine. The Polish driver took the Alfa Romeo to complete the first free practice session, and had a few frights. To be precise, Kubica went straight at the new Turn 10, causing the first red flag of the day for the great circus.

The local riders had lights and shadows. Carlos Sainz finished sixth and eight fastest, but clocking times that were quite similar to those of his rivals. The equality in the middle of the field is more than evident, and he will have to give it all tomorrow to be able to qualify as much in the front as possible on the track on which he has been able to score the most number of points so far. Fernando Alonso had different results. He fell back to 15th this morning, but finished fifth in the afternoon behind both Mercedes machines, Leclerc’s Ferrari and the Alpine machine of his teammate Esteban Ocon.

Hauger, first poleman of the year in F3

Formula 3 got under way today at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, venue of the opening round of their 2021 season. The younger siblings of the premier class had their first qualifying session, after the free practices in the morning.

The result was the pole position for Dennis Hauger (Prema Racing), who was only six thousandths of a second faster than Jake Doohan (Trident). Hauger’s reference time was 1:32.904, a time that was almost mirrored by the third fastest driver, Victor Martins (MP Motorsport), as well.

Despite them being the most outstanding participants of the day, a new qualifying format pushes them back, far away from the top positions they achieved today. For the first race of the weekend, the top twelve positions will be reversed on the grid, thus placing Jonny Edgar (Carlin Buzz Racing) and Alexander Smolyar (ART Grand Prix) on the front row; Ciao Collet (MP Motorsport) and David Schumacher (Trident) on the second; and Logan Sargeant (Charouz Racing System) and Clément Novalak (Trident) on the third.

Tomorrow, Formula 3 will be facing nothing less than two races. For the second race, the afternoon race, the starting grid will be set-up reversing the twelve top positions of the classification of the first race.

Intensive day for Formula Regional by Alpine

The single-make series had an intensive working day today. The 34 entered participants had to run one free practice session and two timed sessions. Among the contestants there are five local representatives: Brad Benavides, Belén Garcia, David Vidales, Lorenzo Fluxà and Mari Boya.

In the first qualifying session the ART Grand Prix team shielded the top positions taking the first and second place with Gregoire Saucy and Gabriele Mini respectively (1:41.667 and 1:41.802). Rookie driver Mari Boya finished third. Lorenzo Fluxà will take the start of the first race from 12th position, David Vidales from 19th, Brad Benavides from 22th and Belén García from 28th.

In the afternoon session, which served to close the track activity of the day, the pole went again to Gregoire Saucy. This time it was Alex Quinn (Arden Motorsport) who clocked the second fastest time, followed by Gabriele Mini. David Vidales has been the best classified among the Spanish drivers, finishing on eighth position.

A promising sports programme for Saturday

At 10.30 AM Formula 3 will have their first race of the weekend. Then it will be the turn for the Formula 1 Free Practices at noon, followed by the first race of Formula Regional by Alpine, at 13.30 AM. The Formula 1 qualifying practices will start at 3 PM and the Formula 3 machines will close the day with another race at 4.45 PM.

Conscience, commitment and coherence with the environment

The FORMULA 1 ARAMCO GRAN PREMIO DE ESPAÑA 2021 is not only engines. The Circuit is also committed to the philosophy of the 3C management for sustainability, integrating the social, economic and environmental components. And this is done with conscience, commitment and coherence, by means of a wide range of actions.

These include the use of 100% renewable energy, food donations, the use of 0km catering products, waste management, sustainable forestry in the surroundings of the Circuit, and the use of circular economy to fund it by means of other sustainable actions, among many others.

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