Four winners and four losers from the Spanish Grand Prix

May 10, 2010

 

Could 2010 be Mark Webber's year? (seen here with co-author, Richard West)

Winners

Red Bull Racing. The Milton Keynes team who started life in F1 as Stewart Grand Prix and then became Jaguar Racing, have demonstrated their ability, not only to produce a very fast car at the start of the season, but also to make a major development step for the first European Grand Prix, and have effectively left their main rivals – Ferrari and McLaren trailing behind them. Barcelona is a good indicator of car performance and on that basis their rivals will be very concerned as to whether they can break the Red Bull dominance before it is too late.

Mark Webber. Webber has, up till now, been the nearly man, almost there, but never quite making it, often eclipsed by his young German team mate. At Barcelona he dominated both qualifying and the race. Remember last year he was still recovering from a broken leg, perhaps this likeable, forthright Aussie could really take it all the way in 2010.

Michael Schumacher. Schumacher looks to have turned things around at Mercedes GP. He drove a great race in a car which has dropped back from the top three (see losers). His pass on Button, as Jenson came out of the pits, was classic Michael, he saw his chance and went for it, Jenson wasn’t happy, but then who would be?

Virgin Racing. Virgin were actually outqualified by Lotus, and therefore seem to be losing their fastest of the new teams tag, however they did achieve their first finish for both cars, and given that one of them doesn’t have a fuel tank big enough to finish the race on full performance I thought it was worthy of recognition!

Losers

Mercedes. We should not forget that the new Mercedes team are effectively a rebadged Brawn team, who were themselves a rebadged and downsized Honda team. Although Ross Brawn has worked his magic and brought focus and direction to the team, the 2009 Brawn car was so good partly because they halted development of the 2008 car very early in the season. So they have never been able to develop a car during the season at the same rate as McLaren and Ferrari. The fact that their upgrades for Barcelona moved Schumacher ahead of Rosberg will be small comfort as they have effectively fallen back from the big three and face an uphill battle to get close to them during the remainder of the season.

Williams. Williams had brought forward some of the upgrades intended for Monaco to use in Barcelona, unfortunately it seems that they did not deliver and Rubens Barrichello did not make it through to Q2. Although he was able to get 9th place in the race, this still leaves Williams well below Renault and Force India in the midfield pack and only marginally ahead of Toro Rosso. The biggest concern must be the failure of the upgrades implying that they have yet to find the right direction to improve performance on the track.

Nico Rosberg. Nico’s performance in the first four races has undoubtedly silenced many of those who felt he did not have what it takes to be a front runner. However Barcelona could be a watershed in his dominance of the Mercedes team with Michael looking more at home with the car.

F-Ducts. The much publicized F-Duct appears to be doing exactly as Lotus’s Mike Gascoyne predicted and using up a lot of time and money as the teams try to find a solution, with not much to show for it on the track. Ferrari’s system requires the driver to use their left hand to cover a tube in the cockpit, I wonder what other anatomical challenges are being placed on drivers in order to create the F-Duct effect – it’s probably better not to know. Either way the F-Duct cars of McLaren and Ferrari were no match for the Red Bulls whose drivers had the simple task of operating pedals, steering wheel and gear changes. The teams have agreed that the F-Duct will be banned for 2011, so it has to be the final loser from the Barcelona Grand Prix.

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