Formula 1 2008: Spanish GP Preview
Going into the Spanish GP weekend, there are several questions since the conclusion of the Bahrain GP.
First, will Felipe Massa continue with his fantastic qualifying so far this year and take the Spanish GP pole position for the second year in a row? His margin over teammate Kimi Raikkonen in qualifying in the Malaysian and Bahrain GP was significant, leading many to believe that Raikkonen is not perfectly satisfied with the car.
Kimi himself said that the setup he had for Bahrain was not ideal and he could not go as fast as he wanted. Rumors in the F1 circle say that Kimi much preferred the pre-Aus GP aero package to the current one, in which he held a noticeable pace advantage over his teammate throughout most of winter testing.
Kimi aims to forget his Spanish GP from last year and extend his championship lead, hopefully with a win.
McLaren are very much hoping they clawed back much needed pace following a rather mediocre performance in Bahrain. Sure, Heikki Kovalainen set the fast lap of the race, but he did it on fresh tires and a fairly light fuel load in the last stint. At most they might have come nearly even with Ferrari in pace following the recent Barcelona test, but it is impossible that they would have overhauled them.
Lewis Hamilton is looking to forget his disastrous Bahrain GP as quickly as possible with a solid finish in Barcelona. Given the speed Ferrari has in pocket, and the fact that BMW surely hasn't slowed their development, it may be very difficult for either McLaren driver to reach the podium.
While it might not happen for this race or the next, McLaren surely will bounce back and give their drivers the opportunity to win again. It is doubtful that Lewis Hamilton will end the season with only one win.
BMW are in far better shape than they expected to be three races into the season. Their goal is to keep the development rate in check with their closest rivals. Failure to stay with Ferrari and McLaren in this respect would dent BMW's great chance to fight for the Constructors Championship.
That said, it's unlikely they will slip behind, given their ability to leap another notch on the ladder between 2007 and 2008. Robert Kubica is itching to translate his wonderful qualifying efforts this season into a win. It's likely he'll do just that somewhere along the line.
As for the rest, it seems that the fight is still close between Williams, Red Bull, and Renault, though Renault seemed to lose ground in Bahrain. The latest developments at the Barcelona test saw a more encouraged Alonso and Renault, so hopefully they'll be back with the other two.
What of the battle of the Sebs? Sebastien Bourdais comprehensively outperformed Sebastien Vettel in Bahrain in every aspect. Will the Frenchman be able to continue matching/beating his teammate for pace?
If he is able to beat Vettel this season, he will likely be promoted to the vacant (at the moment) Red Bull seat for 2009. Spain will see if Bourdais can continue his momentum as he builds experience.
One of the more surprising intra-team battles is between Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil. So far Sutil has looked rather slow and disappointing compared with his battle-hardened, but much older teammate. This just goes to show the fact that Fisi shines in not-so-great cars, as he did with Jordan previously in his career.
Who will win in Barcelona? We will see. Hopefully it won't be a snore-fest like it usually is.
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