Sunday, 15 May 2011

What can Ferrari and Mercedes achieve in 2011?

Without doubt the two biggest let-downs of the early races have been the Silver Arrows and the Scuderia. But are things about to change come this time next week?

Alonso and Rosberg have been racing each other a little lower down the field than they would have hoped

So why will the Spanish Grand Prix be any different? First of all, Mercedes have been on a upward trend ever since unveiling their car early this year. Such an upturn it has been, that the silver cars lapped the Circuit de Catalunya, home of the Spanish Grand Prix, fastest in pre-season testing. Furthermore, Ross Brawn has said that there will be some important updates ready for the Catalan race; Turkey was all about solving their chronic overheating issues, and Spain will be about doing battle higher up the field. Nico Rosberg, seen by many as the real team leader, has seen some impressive form recently, leading the Chinese Grand Prix at one point. Schumacher has had it a little worse, with a Turkish Grand Prix drive that would have been more suited to a demolition derby. However, paddock insiders say that the Mercedes rear-wing system which opens up on the straights is the best on the grid - and Spain has some very long straights indeed. Look out for them in Qualifying and for some overtaking action in the race.

On the other hand, Ferrari are looking at much more basic problems - Alonso's car ground to a halt with hydraulic issues in practice in Istanbul. Like Eddie Jordan said at the time, the most experienced team in the history of the sport, with over 800 Grands Prix to their name, should be able to create and maintain something as basic as the hydraulics system. But the team say that it was a one off and that they'll be back on the pace in Spain. Indeed, the flashes of pace we've seen from them this year, albeit briefly, were promising. It appears that the old Felipe Massa is back for good, as we've seen from his wheel-to-wheel racing in Oz. It's not like he doesn't like the Spanish track, either; he took pole, the win and fastest lap here in 2007. Alonso, on the other hand, will be desperate to put on a good show for his adoring fans. The circuit is annually decked out in the colours of Alonso's home region on the other side of Spain. The supporters of 'El Nano', as he is known, routinely make the 1000km trip to see their hero race. But will he be able to do good? He'll be homing to step up a place from last year, where he took second after Lewis Hamilton's trip through the gravel.

Only time will tell whether these two teams will be able to do good in Spain - where scorching temperatures are forecast. Will the tyres stand up to the heat? And will we see overtaking at the most notoriously difficult circuit for racing wheel-to-wheel? Let's wait and see.

Image (c) F1Fanatic, Daimler

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