Latest predictions for the Spanish GP
By: Jeremy Trottier
While the next F1 race is two weeks removed from the Miami Grand Prix, there is still time to talk about how this next race can pan out. Two weeks of travel is most definitely necessary as the drivers and teams go from Miami, Florida to Montmelo (Catalonia), Spain. With 4,685 miles to cover, and a week to prepare, every team will be looking to build off of their success in the southeastern US, or create new successes and forget their failures. In this article, I will be going over the 5 drivers who I predict to round out the top 5 spots in Spain, and why I believe they will finish in that respective spot. So without further ado, let us begin with our predictive winner:
Position #1: Charles Leclerc – Ferrari
After a somewhat disappointing last two races in Imola and the US, Charles Leclerc still holds onto the Drivers Championship by 19 points due to an early season surge. One of the main things worth noting throughout Leclerc’s career is his ability to win through adversity. Most notably, his maiden win in Formula 1, which was the Belgian GP in which he dedicated his win to a good friend of his Anthoine Hubert, who had passed away that Saturday in a crash on the same track. While there is nothing that drastic currently happening, he has accrued a lot of doubt in the media as to whether he can hold off the charging Red Bull and reigning WDC Max Verstappen.
If Ferrari wants to show the world they are ready to compete, this is the time to do it, as they need to be able to take race wins at the end of the day while Max Verstappen is driving. Max winning every race in which he finished this season is a concern, and the Monegasque driver in Leclerc needs to pull this one off to create a larger gap in points. With this being a track relatively favorable to the Ferrari all time (12 wins all time at this track, 3 more than 2nd place Mercedes) they need to take advantage of the slower section 3 at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya and bring home a win.
Position #2: Max Verstappen – Red Bull
Simply put, either of these first two drivers could win the race just as easily as the other. According to betting odds, Verstappen has slight favor at +110 compared to Leclerc at +120, which shows just how narrow this margin is. The next closest driver is Carlos Sainz at +1200 and Sergio Perez at +1600. Verstappen has been absolutely dominant this season, aside from early race troubles in Australia and Bahrain due to reliability issues in the car. This should be a point of concern, even after 2 straight wins, as Verstappen has still failed to finish 2 of his 5 races this season.
Regardless of this however, Verstappen is going to be one of the favorites in every race he is competing in, and the straightaway speed of the Honda engine is extremely hard for Ferrari to match. With this, we should see some dominance in the two DRS straights in Spain, specifically the main straight as it is the length of the whole track. As long as the RB18 and it’s RBPTH001 engine hold up during the race, we should see another tight battle between Verstappen and Leclerc.
Position #3: Sergio Perez – Red Bull
Next up we have the secondary driver at Red Bull, that being Sergio Perez. Perez has had a quietly great season for RB, accruing two podiums (both 2nd place) and 2 4th place finishes. While he also had a DNF on the season, that was due to an engine defect at Bahrain, same as Verstappen. He currently has 66 points, which if you compare that number to last season is a significant improvement as he had 44 through the first 5 races with 0 podiums. This type of consistency warrants recognition, as it shows he has improved as a driver, and as a teammate, giving Red Bull an even better shot at the Constructors Championship in 2022. Perez will gain the same benefits as Verstappen in the power unit department and has some of the more stout defensive capabilities in Formula 1. This combination bodes well for his chances in Spain at another podium on the season.
Position #4: Carlos Sainz Jr. – Ferrari
Rounding out the Red Bull and Ferrari tandems, we have Carlos Sainz, who to say the least has had some struggles in recent races. A podium at Miami was a nice start to getting back on track, but that does not negate the two back to back DNFs at Imola and Australia very early in each race. While he has finished on the podium in every race he has completed this year, it is worth noting that he also has two DNFs under his belt like Verstappen does, as well as a straight line disadvantage that Leclerc shares. It seems like Sainz has had struggles getting the hang of things in the new 2022 Ferrari, but when he does have a good handle over the car, he has been phenomenal this year. Another top 5 would add to this and prove he is back from a short run of races not finished.
Position #5: Valtteri Bottas – Alfa Romeo
A potential surprise entry for some, and not a surprise for others, we have Valtteri Bottas. Bottas has been able to finish in the points in every race he has completed this year, which is all but one (Jeddah due to an engine overheating issue). Bottas has also finished P8 or above in every race this season as well, including one top 5 at Imola. Bringing home points for Alfa Romeo after a relatively poor 2021 campaign is extremely promising, and shows the true driving talent of Bottas. He has always been up there during races this year in the mix for good points, and I fully expect him to be a driver to watch for the upcoming race in Spain.