The Formula One circus arrives in Europe this week with the Spanish Grand Prix, with the sport looking extremely different to previous years. New teams are at the top of the pile, with the usual leaders falling well behind. One thing is for certain, the new rules and regulations governing Formula One have shaken up the sport and brought in a new era.
Once qualifying in Melbourne was finished and the Brawn GP cars sat on the front row, there was an air of excitement around Albert Park and the whole F1 world, the tide was turning, teams that had previously only dreamt of competing were now not only competing, but leading.
Since then the sport has been through a lot, with court cases and teams frantically trying to make changes to their cars between the spring fly away races. Now that the teams are back in Europe, and with a two week break since Bahrain, the teams have had time to make some drastic changes to their cars, with new aero-packages and modifications. Will this weekend see a turn around in fortunes for the big guns of F1, or have the tables really turned.
The main thing to remember is not that Ferrari, McLaren, Renault, BMW have altered their struggling cars, but that Red Bull, Brawn and Toyota have altered their already high performing cars, with Red Bull still only running an interim package to be further improved before Monaco in another two weeks.
Friday’s practice sessions shouldn’t be taken as gospel, we all know how much things can change between practice and the race, but it would seem from the times that have been posted that not an awful lot has changed. Piquet Jr has improved his times slightly, but has been openly running on very light fuel, as with the BMW cars, who posted some great times in the first session with light loads, but again struggled in the second session, but all in all nothing has changed.
Williams are proving they are the very good in practice, as with every other race so far, with Brawn and Red Bull (despite some problems), showing their cars are still among the, if not are, still the leaders pace wise. We will just have to wait and see what qualifying and the race brings, but I can’t imagine photographs from this weekend’s podium not having a Red Bull or Brawn driver taking centerstage.