Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Sochi Autodrom, 2017

2017 Spanish Grand Prix stats preview

2017 Spanish Grand Prix

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Ten different drivers have won the Spanish Grand Prix in the last ten seasons.

2007Felipe Massa
2008Kimi Raikkonen
2009Jenson Button
2010Mark Webber
2011Sebastian Vettel
2012Pastor Maldonado
2013Fernando Alonso
2014Lewis Hamilton
2015Nico Rosberg
2016Max Verstappen

That’s remarkable in its own right, but even more so considering the Circuit de Catalunya is not the type of circuit which you might expect would produce freak results. Indeed it’s the venue teams understand most intimately, as they do all of their official pre-season testing at the Spanish track.

Nonetheless we could get our eleventh consecutive different winner on Sunday. One of the ways this might happen is if Valtteri Bottas repeats the victory he scored last time out in Russia.

If he can do that, he would also become only the ninth driver in Formula One history to score his first two wins back-to-back. Among the small number of drivers to have achieved this feat is his team mate Lewis Hamilton.

The form book

As noted in the Russian Grand Prix stats preview, Bottas looked like a strong candidate for a good result at Sochi because his prior form there was so strong. His record at the Circuit de Catalunya is good too: He’s never been out-qualified by a team mate at this track in Formula One, and he only finished behind his team mate at his first race here in 2013, after struggling with high tyre degradation.

But the biggest statistical talking point this weekend is going to be lap times. The speed of F1’s new generation of cars will be put to the test as this is the circuit where the target was set for them to be five seconds quicker than their 2015 pole position time.

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Providing it stays dry, Saturday’s qualifying session should provide the most significant indication whether F1 has hit that target. The reference lap time is Nico Rosberg’s 1’24.681 pole position lap for Mercedes. The team has already warned F1 might not hit the 1’19.681 goal this weekend.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Sochi Autodrom, 2017
Red Bull need big gains from their revised RB13
Mercedes has dominated qualifying on its last four visits to the circuit, taking the first two positions on the grid every time. However last weekend’s race was the first in 30 races neither of their cars appeared on the front row.

Red Bull has not been able to contend with the top two teams over the three races so far. Big things are expected from its chassis upgrade this weekend. This is reminiscent of their situation 12 months ago when a power unit upgrade in Spain brought them into contention.

Having lagged 1.5% off the pace over the first four races last year, Red Bull trimmed that deficit to 0.83% in Spain and averaged 0.7% off the pace from that race until the end of the year. That proved quicker enough for them to win two races.

Can they find that big a gain – or more – this time? Red Bull averaged 1.44% off the pace over the first four races this year, almost as far away as they were at this point 12 months ago.

Carlos Sainz Jnr, Toro Rosso, Sochi Autodrom, 2017
Sainz has out-scored Spain’s other F1 driver
Two drivers will be racing in front of their home crowd this weekend. Fernando Alonso has won this race twice already but, barring a shock result, this weekend is likely to go down as the fourth anniversary of his last victory at any circuit.

Partly because of that, Alonso will skip the next race to do the Indianapolis 500. It will therefore be the third year in a row he hasn’t completed a full season of F1, having missed races in Bahrain last year and Australia the year before due to injury.

It’s also partly the reason why Carlos Sainz Jnr has been Spain’s most successful driver since he came into F1 at the beginning of 2015. He’s out-scored Alonso by 75 points to 65 over his 44-race career to date.

Lap times

In order for F1 to beat the ‘five seconds’ target, Rubens Barrichello’s 2009 track record will have to fall.

We should get a good indication whether this is likely to happen from the first practice session. This is a well-used track and the surface tends to remain consistent throughout the weekend, unlike little-used venues like Sochi where track ‘evolution’ is high.

For instance in the last two years the quickest times in first and second practice have been the same to within a tenth of a second. By Q3 lap times have improved in the order of 1.8 to 1.9 seconds. So if someone laps around 1’21.5 on Friday morning, we could see that target lap time achieved.


Source: Mercedes

The Circuit de Catalunya has never been a terrific venue for overtaking but last year’s race was more lively than most.

Race ratings

Here’s how F1 Fanatic readers have rated the Spanish Grand Prix in recent years.

Join in Rate the Race when the chequered flag falls at the end of this year’s race. You will need a (free) F1 Fanatic account to participate:

2017 Spanish Grand Prix

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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27 comments on “2017 Spanish Grand Prix stats preview”

  1. It’s also partly the reason why Carlos Sainz Jnr has been Spain’s most successful F1 driver since he came into F1 at the beginning of 2015. He’s out-scored Alonso by 75 points to 65 over his 44-race career to date.

    This is incredible. Don’t know whether to praise Sainz or rue the luck (or so he says) of Alonso. Gonna go with the former.

    1. @square-route Well, the car is the first and foremost part when it comes to racking up the points. Although it would be interesting to see them in the same team at some point. My guess is Alonso would still have the edge on Sainz, but only because Alonso is that good.

  2. Only way for red bull to win is if both ferraris and mercs don’t finish.

    1. @socksolid 2016 proved crazy things can happen. ;-) And let’s not forget the facts that Keith mentioned: Red Bull had roughly the same deficit in 2016 prior to the Spanish GP, but were able to score lots of podiums (and 2 wins) onwards.

      1. Apart from monaco the red bulls could not even get close to the mercs :). Unless something serious happens to both ferraris AND ferraris (spin, reliability issues, penalties…) there just isn’t no realistic chance for the red bull to challenge either one. I’d love to be wrong and have the red bulls in the mix (6 cars fighting for the wins!) but the pace difference is just too much.

      2. But the one who won the GP did not had the revised engine ( RIC had)

  3. 10 different winners in the last 10 Spanish GPs is pretty cool

    1. Fukobayashi (@)
      9th May 2017, 13:57

      Yeh agreed. It makes me think of Bottas as the favourite for this weekend.

      1. Don’t rule out Ricciardo, keep in mind the gains RBR made last year and the fact both Mercedes cars crashed into each other. ;-)

  4. odd that 2009 has the track record

    1. Aditya (@adityafakhri)
      9th May 2017, 15:56

      I can’t remember when the newest layout including the twists in last sector first introduced, but if it were 2009 then it makes sense.

      1. We have the current layout since 2007, @adityafakhri.

  5. If we get a 11th different winner here, I’ll go with Bottas, and maybe a less likely Ricciardo. But if we get a repeat winner, Kimi has to win to spice up the championship a bit.

  6. montey carlo (@roundtheoutside)
    9th May 2017, 16:06

    im going for a lewis win. seb has always struggled in barca but for lewis its not his strongest nor his weakest tracks. i dont think lewis will be slow 2 races in a row, when was the last time that happened lol? if i was betting i would bet on kimi cuz he is the underdog and has a decent enough record compared to team mated at this track.

    in a way im happy that vettel got pole at russia. it proved what i have been saying since melbourne, neither the merc or ferrari have clear strenghs over the other and that merc dont have a qualli advantage, its down to drivers. lewis laps have been smoother than sebs. watch the aus and china q3 laps and u see seb makes critical mistakes costing him a shot at pole, its been down to driver and strategy. russia isnt exactly warm yet vettel had good pace enough to beat his team mate and 1 merc, which goes against the notion that merc would favor cold tracks. races this year were won on strategy, not one having better tyres than the other. in aus merc should have opened more of a gap by piting a lap later so that max wouldnt be lewis’s road block. i dont buy the idea that ferraris handle dirty air better, its just that lewis has been more vocal, vettel so far has just got on with it and it paid off.

    1. i dont think lewis will be slow 2 races in a row, when was the last time that happened lol?

      IIRC he lost 7 races in a row to Rosberg from the end of 2015 through to the beginning for 2016.

      1. That’s not because he was slow.

        1. Yes (@come-on-kubica)
          14th May 2017, 2:37

          Well he didn’t win the race, hence he was slower??

  7. Ten different drivers have won the Spanish Grand Prix in the last ten seasons.

    I really loved this stat, so I did a little bit of research.

    Consecutive different winners:
    14 German GP (1972-1985)
    11 Belgian GP (1976-1986)
    11 Mexican GP [1964-1989 (7+4)]
    9 British GP (1973-1981)

    Still running:
    10 Spanish GP (2007-2016)
    5 Belgian GP (2012-2016)

    Let’s hope that either Ricciardo or Bottas make it eleven for the Spanish GP!

    1. Interesting list. Actually, had Nigel Mansell not won the 1992 Mexican grand prix, Mexican grand prix would have had different winners all the way from 1964 to 2016!!

      1. You forgot Alain Prost (1990)!

  8. Cameron (@villeneuve79)
    9th May 2017, 19:35

    I’m trying to think of all the drivers who won their first 2 races consecutively. So far I’ve got:

    Alberto Ascari
    Peter Collins
    Nigel Mansell
    Damon Hill
    Mika Häkkinen
    Lewis Hamilton

    Are there any others?

    1. Double checking now but J Villneuve?

    2. @villeneuve79 Just two more: Rene Arnoux and Bruce McLaren.

      1. Cameron (@villeneuve79)
        9th May 2017, 22:29

        Thanks I knew I must have forgotten some, the gap between Collins and Mansell seemed too big

  9. Yeah I still don’t get this laptime point. Mercedes said we would reach it at Barca and indeed in testing we already have. I don’t see how poll will be slower than the five second goal?

  10. I wonder how much the available tyre choices will play a part in the outcome of the race? As Ricciardo put it, the “Hard” tyres this season are very hard and I cannot see any team opting for it in favour of the medium option. Unless of course they want to do a single stop race with a very long second stint on the hard rubber.

Comments are closed.