2022 Spanish GP Preview and Betting Tips – JP

by | May 19, 2022

2022 Spanish GP Preview and Tips

The 2022 Spanish GP is the traditional start of the European swing of the F1 season and usually when teams have tended to introduce their big midseason upgrades.

The Barcelona circuit is the most used in F1 as it is the usual pre-season test venue. So, the teams have a lot of data which they can measure their upgrades against.

The Circuit de Cataluña gets its fair share of criticism for producing boring races but that is not totally deserved, and it remains a very important race as it sets the tone for the next few months.

The reason why it makes a good test venue is that it is a track which features, fast, medium, and slow corners as well as a long straight. All aspects of a car’s performance can be assessed and to be quick here, you need a car with good all round performance. Weaknesses will be exposed and if you have a good car here, your prospects for the rest of the season are good.

Pecking Order May Change

The fact that there will be a lot of upgrades can mean we get changes in the pecking order, so going in ante post carries more risk than usual. That said, it is unlikely that any of the midfielder are suddenly going to join the big boys in the hunt for a race win.

The circuit features 15 proper corners, five of them long duration, seven slower corners and three medium speed ones. There are two DRS zones but overtaking tends to be limited to the end of the long straight. On the face of it, the track would seem to favour the characteristics of the Ferrari, which is stronger in corners than on straights.

Red Bull’s straight line speed advantage will be useful at the end of the long straight, the only decent overtaking place, but will it be enough to catch up on what they may lose on the rest of the circuit? Of course, Ferrari’s upgrades are likely to be addressing their relative deficit in straight line performance, and Red Bulls, at increasing their cornering performance.

2022 Spanish GP Grid Position Key

Traditionally this is a track where your grid position reflects your finishing position more so than just about anywhere else. Where a driver qualifies tends to be, by and large where he will finish. Places are gained by other cars retiring rather than by on track overtaking. The pole position driver has won in six of the last eight years, Hamilton has won the last five in a row and Mercedes seven of the eight races in the turbo Hybrid Era. The only non-Mercedes winner was Max Verstappen in 2016, when Hamilton and Rosberg crashed on the first lap and both retired.

2022 Spanish GP: Driver Records

This track is what can be called a car track. The machinery is a bigger part of the performance equation than the driver. Looking at a driver’s past form tends to reflect the car he has had at his disposal rather than his skill. However, a driver coming to a track that holds good memories is still a positive.

Barcelona has been a Mercedes stronghold in the turbo Hybrid era, winning seven of the eight races, but that record is likely to be but a distant memory for them this weekend, unless their upgrade tends towards the miraculous. Hamilton’s record of winning six of the last eight is likewise likely to end.

Of the form drivers of 2022, Verstappen won his first F1 race here in 2016 after the two Mercedes drivers crashed out. It was on his Red Bull debut, and it is fair to say that Barcelona holds a special memory for him. Teammate Sergio Perez has a steady record here and has finished fifth for the last two seasons.

Consistent Sainz

For Ferrari, Charles Leclerc has yet finish on the podium and Sainz has a very consistent record, always in the top 9 in the turbo-hybrid era, but never better than sixth. With Mercedes more likely to be behind them for a change, all of the drivers in the big two will be aiming for a top 4 place.

Others who have had good results here are Valtteri Bottas and not just for Mercedes. Vettel did as well as he was able to for Red Bull and Ferrari, but he is handicapped by an uncompetitive car these days.

One driver who has struggled is Alonso, but he has never had a decent car in the modern era. In the main, all the driver’s performances have been determined by the competitiveness of their machinery, rather than their skills or love for the track.

2022 Spanish GP: Manufacturer Form

With manufacturers record being the more important guide here, looking at the Turbo-Hybrid era, Mercedes have scored 280 points, Red Bull 185, and Ferrari 148. Best of the rest was Force India/Aston Martin on a distant 53.

If we compare that past form, with the manufacturer’s form so far in 2022, we have Ferrari on 157, Red Bull 151, and Mercedes 95. Best of the rest being McLaren on 46. The top three teams remain the same with the order changed, and the rest remaining well back.

Barring any upgrades making an unprecedented difference, we should expect another Ferrari vs. Red Bull battle for the win and podium places, and Mercedes looking for any crumbs from the top table, unless they have unlocked the cars potential.

Qualifying

With grid position so important in Barcelona, we should be paying special attention as to who is most likely to start on pole.

Charles Leclerc has been the most consistent qualifier in 2022. He has qualified on pole in three of the five races so far and never worse than second. Verstappen has had one pole but failed to make the front row twice.

With the Red Bull having been running a lower downforce set up this season, it is easier for Verstappen to push a bit too hard and make a mistake, and we have seen him do just that, no more so than last time out in Miami. Perez got the other pole but has failed to make the front row outside of that, while Sainz has made one front row, two second rows but two fifth rows.

Leclerc would look to be the more likely pole sitter come Sunday and that is a big advantage for the race. The pole sitter has won three of the five races in 2022, but this track has a very strong record of the pole sitter winning.

Of course, that is all based on past form and this weekend could see the relative form of the teams changed. But the key word there is ‘could’. All teams will be looking to improve, and some have greater scope to do so than others, but if everyone takes a step forward, things remain the same.

2022 Spanish GP: Upgrade News

Obviously, the teams are not going to advertise their upgrades until they must, but it is clear what some teams need and what they will be trying to achieve.

This season, the cost gap is changing the usual way teams, at least the bigger ones, have operated. No longer can teams like Mercedes throw money at upgrades, coming to a race with lots of new parts, binning ones that don’t work so well, and going back and refining the upgrades before going again.

Now, if it doesn’t work, the money is gone and there is only so much more you can do. If there is no, or limited progress, there comes a point where a decision has to be made to just move on to next seasons car. The pressure to get it right has always been there for many teams, but the rich teams could spend their way to a solution. That luxury is no longer there.

Mercedes Most To Gain

Mercedes is the one team who have the most to gain, if they can bring upgrades that unlock the cars obvious performance. They looked to have made real progress in Miami with Russell second fastest in FP1 and fastest in FP2. But then they lost the window, with both cars over 1.5 seconds off the pace in FP3 and Hamilton sixth place in qualifying, nearly 1 second off the pace.

They brought a significant number of new parts to Miami and will have had two weeks to look at the data. It could be that they will now have a better understanding of how to set the car up with the new parts. It looked good for day one, and maybe they can make those new parts work more effectively, across this weekend.

Coming to a track where they have a massive amount of data from past years and this year’s preseason test, they should be able to gauge just where they are and what they need to get on top of their problems. If the upgrades don’t make a real difference here, they are very likely to be adrift for some time to come.

Mercedes did not have the ‘zero side pod’ design in the pre-season test here, so they can compare the two different designs. It could be they discover that the radical side pod redesign was a wrong move.

Ferrari Holding Back

Ferrari have held back on bringing many early season upgrades, they had some at Miami two weeks ago, but they have been holding back until Barcelona before the big upgrades come online. They have taken the time to understand their car, get the most out of it and establish where they need to improve. The car is good and there was never any need to panic.

This weekend should see a decent step forward. Ferrari held a very secret ‘filming day’ at Monza last week. The reason given was they needed new footage of the car without the Kaspersky branding (the Russian Firms logos are no longer on the cars), but the security was extra tight, suggesting that they were running some of the new upgrades, even if only for a very limited number of laps. They will have a new type of paint on the car this weekend, just to save a little bit more weight.

Solid Red Bull

Red Bull have been more active with early season updates, nothing huge but a steady process of modest changes, mostly trying to save weight, and like Ferrari, they have a good car and had no need to panic. They will not be able to carry on developing at their current rate and I don’t expect anything major this weekend for that reason, but a few more weight savers are likely.

Aston Martin will likely see the biggest change. It has long been rumoured that they were never ready for the start of the season and the car we have seen so far was not the one they had hoped to start the season with. This weekend will see what is effectively a B spec car. It is rumoured that they will only have one of the new B spec cars and that it will go to Lance Stroll.

No Updates For Haas

Haas say that they will not be bringing any update and they will hold back on that for five or six races. They have had a good start, overperformed and may have already hit their targets. Haas will be one of the teams for whom hitting the cost cap is an ambition and as others improve, so things may get tougher for them.

Alfa Romeo are bringing a ‘big update’ this weekend. A new floor will be the biggest, but not the only change.

Alpine have said that they will have a new rear wing as part of their updates, which will also see weight saving changes.

Ante Post Selections

Max Verstappen is going for three wins in a row. His Red Bull had enjoyed more updates than his Ferrari rivals and is said to be around 0.2 faster as a result. He has won every race he has finished and there is the rub. The Red Bull is not a very reliable machine. Quick yes, but prone to having problems.

This weekend Ferrari are looking to strike back, and they may well do. Firstly, they will have their first proper upgrade of the season and with their car running competitively since the start of the year, they are looking at positive improvements rather than fixing problems, so they should be faster.

Secondly is the track. Red Bull have been able to capitalise on the fact that their car has better straight-line speed in races where straights are a major feature. That was the case in Miami last time out and in Saudi Arabia. At Imola, the nature of the track, and the conditions, meant that the key part of the lap was the end of the long start-finish straight. That was the only DRS zone and the only good overtaking spot. The Red Bulls extra speed there allowed then to be in control of the key sector.

Ferrari Quicker At Corners

Ferrari have generally been quicker in the corners, and they won in Bahrain which, while having three straights, also had more slow corners in which Ferrari excelled. The Albert Park track just didn’t have enough straights for Red Bull to shine.

The Circuit de Cataluña only has two straights, one long one which should suit Red Bull, but the other is relatively short and their advantage there would be small. In the many slow and medium speed corners, the Ferrari should be quicker. There are just the two DRS zones here, compared to the three in Miami, so the Red Bull will not have quite the same chance to make up any time lost to Ferrari in the corners.

With Leclerc being the better qualifier on this track position sensitive track it looks promising for his chances. He will still be vulnerable at the end of the start finish straight but if he is able to open up a big enough gap in the bulk of the lap, that might be enough, but it will be close.

More Downforce

The Ferrari has so far run with more downforce than the Red Bull, which explains its better cornering performance, but slower straight-line performance. This could be another advantage here. The Barcelona track can be hard on tyres and if Red Bull continue to run a lower downforce set up, it may cost them in terms of tyre deg.

It can be temperature specific, but if their car starts to slide a little, that can start the degradation, whilst Ferrari would avoid it. The same thing happened here last year with Red Bull forced to make two stops, compared to Mercedes one and it was Hamilton who prevailed.

That said, Ferrari have been suffering more with graining in the race and we will just have to wait and see who wins the tyre wars this weekend.

2022 Spanish GP: Qualifying

Ferrari and Charles Leclerc are top of the qualifying table and the Ferrari does seem to be a better car over a flying lap, the Red Bull better on long runs. With a substantial upgrade coming online, they should be showing improved pace.

2022 Spanish GP Tip: 2 points Charles Leclerc to be the fastest qualifier @ 2.25 with Skybet

Usually, a pole position in Barcelona means the race win will follow, but Leclerc is just 2.40 to do so. This year’s new car regulations are designed to allow cars to follow the car in front more closely and this is the acid test. Traditionally, Barcelona sees the cars just circulating round, unable to pass, hence the grid position determining the finishing position. This year, if the regulations work, the car behind should be able to at least get closer.

If Leclerc does have the lead and Verstappen is able to follow more closely, perhaps the Red Bulls end of straight pace will once again come into play. Red Bull have also been better on the medium tyre since they have put upgrades on their car and so far, the story has been that Ferrari have good qualifying pace, but Red bull better race pace. For that reason, I will leave it at having a qualifying bet for now.

Side Markets

With many of the teams brining upgrades this weekend we may see a bit of a shake up in the very competitive midfield. Mercedes is on top of that midfield, and they could make a decent step forward based on what we saw in free practice in Miami. George Russell is the only driver to have finished every race so far in the top 5. Yes, he was a little lucky with the safety car in Miami, but he ran his race in the hope that that was exactly what would happen, and he was right.

It could be that the top 6 will be comprised of Red Bull, Ferrari, and Mercedes but if anyone can crash the top 6, Norris and Bottas make the most appeal. The layout of the track should suit the qualities of the McLaren and they did go well here in pre-season. Norris has qualified in the top 4 twice this season and converted both into top 6 finishes. On this track a good qualifying session should be reflected in a good finishing position.

McLaren Could Go Well

Bottas’ chances are harder to say. His car was very unreliable in the pre-season, but his qualifying has been consistently impressive, which should serve him well. We don’t know how much the upgrades will help him, but he should be there abouts. Bottas is in with a shout, but the Alfa may be better suited to a slower track, and I’ll side with Norris. The problem is that Norris is just 2.20 to finish in the top 6. There isn’t a lot of value there, especially if Mercedes get a better grip on their package this weekend.

If the McLaren does go well here, as it did pre-season, and they have been improving here in recent years, then both drivers should be in the hunt for points. It is a ‘car’ track after all, and they are the fourth best in 2022. Ricciardo hasn’t had a great season, but he hasn’t forgotten how to drive. On a track he knows well and on one which looks like suiting his car, points should be on the menu.

2022 Spanish GP Tip: 2 points McLaren to have a double points finish @ 2.75 with Ladbrokes

The final ante post bet is a bit of an obscure one. Fastest Pit Stop. Red Bull are the 1.57 favourite to do so, and they have had two of the three fastest stops this season. However, so have McLaren. Norris had the fastest stop in Saudi Arabia and in Imola. He had the second fastest in Melbourne and teammate Ricciardo third fastest in Saudi, and fifth fastest in Melbourne.

Clearly the boys and girls at McLaren are well drilled and arguably the best in the pit lane so far in 2022. It isn’t just a random bet. The teams work really hard on getting the stops absolutely spot on. A race can be won and lost in the pits, and it is very much an element of the team’s performance. They can spend millions on a new front wing to save a tenth, but a slick stop can do that for effectively nothing.

2022 Spanish GP Tip: 1 point McLaren to have the Fastest Pit Stop @ 7.00 with Ladbrokes

-JamesPunt

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