The 49th Spanish GP takes place this Sunday at the Barcelona-Catalunya Circuit, well known to all the drivers who rack up big mileage here during pre-season testing.

The track is a mix of fast and slow corners and Turn 3 is especially demanding, requiring a well-balanced car. The final part used to be very quick, but for several years now it features a slow chicane which leads onto the start-finish straight.

Win number 50 with Niki. The Spanish GP has had several homes since it was first held in 1951. Ferrari has won this race 12 times, the first victory dating back to 1954 at Pedralbes courtesy of Mike Hawthorn.

The race was back on the calendar in 1968 at Jarama, on the outskirts of Madrid and it was here in 1974 that Ferrari won, with Niki Lauda at the wheel of a 312 B3-74, making it a hat-trick, with the victory, pole position and fastest race lap.

Gilles’ train set. The last time the Spanish GP was held in Jarama was 1981, when Gilles Villeneuve produced one of the most special drives of his career. In the 126 CK, the Canadian drove an incredible race, keeping a train of cars behind him that were quicker in the corners, but down the straights when the Ferrari engine was able to keep the 27 car out of reach.

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Motorsport-Magazin revealed the first onboard video footage of the 5.56-km circuit which is a combination of street and classic circuit.

Reportedly, drivers and teams can expect to find a whole series of fresh challenges at Hanoi’s street circuit next year with 22 turns, the third-longest passage on the calendar taken at full-throttle (1.5 km), a top speed of around 335 km/h and an estimated lap time of 1:36.2 minutes.

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verstappen vettel

Fourth place in the Chinese Grand Prix is more than Max Verstappen expected, but the Red Bull driver laments the lack of race pace in the RB15 package which he is hoping improves as the season progresses.

Expectations were high in Australia when the Dutchman nabbed a podium but since then the true pecking order has emerged and with the Honda ‘party mode’ fully dialled-up in qualifying was half a second down on Valtteri Bottas’ pole-position winning time.

A day later in the race, the deficit was pretty much the same as the #33 Red Bull crossed the 56 lap race 27 seconds down on race winner Lewis Hamilton, again about half a second shy of the benchmark pace.

Reflecting on his performance in Shanghai, Verstappen wrote on his website, “We did have another good result points-wise, but during the race, there was not much action. To say frustrating is a bit extreme, but at this moment we lack race pace so then you need to make sure that you extract as many points as possible.”

“The season is still long and we have to hope that, at a certain point, when the upgrades come, we will be able to slot right back in.”

Last year Verstappen clattered into the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel …

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For most Formula 1 fans, Lewis Hamilton’s 75th Formula 1 victory at the sport’s 1000th race looked like a breeze, but not so according to the five-time World Champion who even had to change his driving style to tame his all-conquering Mercedes.

And while the Silver Arrows have scored a one-two in the first three races, Hamilton does not believe they are the dominant team at the moment.

Speaking after winning the Chinese Grand Prix on Sunday, Hamilton said, “Through the weekend, the car’s really not liked how I drive at this track. I was always really quick here and my aggressive driving style worked really well, and then I used that in the last two years and the tyres would not allow it and the car would not allow it and I seemed to have lost a lot of performance.”

“I really had to be quite dynamic to change my natural driving style, shift it to a different way. I only really got there at the end of qualifying, and then in the race….

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Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton may have taken the 1000th championship race in Formula 1 history, but all eyes were once again on Ferrari after a dismal showing in Shanghai.

Say what you will about Ferrari so far this season, credit where it’s due: they really know how to hog the headlines.

Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes were utterly dominant on Sunday, and yet the biggest story by far is the hullabaloo surrounding Ferrari’s ill-fated decision to swap Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel.

Maybe the Scuderia have been misinformed that this year’s championships will be decided not on amount of points, but column inches. More likely though, this was the case of a team that once again found itself slightly wide of the mark, and in so doing has further opened itself to external scrutiny and internal discontent.

At least in a vacuum, the swap itself can’t be considered that controversial – all F1 teams (and Ferrari in particular) will swap cars when the occasion calls for it – but this being Ferrari, and it backfiring so considerably has only served to highlight both their ongoing struggles with consistent pace and driver politics.

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todt bottasMercedes report from qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix, Round 3 of the 2019 Formula 1 World Championship, at Shanghai International Circuit.

Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport lock out the front row for the 1000th Grand Prix

  • Valtteri claimed his seventh Formula One pole position – his first of the 2019 season and first in China
  • Lewis will start the 1000th Formula One race from P2 on the grid, completing the front-row lockout for Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport
  • Both drivers will start tomorrow’s Grand Prix on the Medium tyres

Valtteri Bottas: “It feels good to be on pole. I think it’s going to be a very close race tomorrow, so it’s a good thing to start from the front. It’s been a strong weekend for us so far and it was nice to continue that way in the first session that counted.”

“Because in the end when you go into Qualifying it doesn’t matter if you’ve had a good weekend up to that point; the only thing that counts is if you can deliver a good lap. I’m happy I was able to do that today. I think we were still a little bit behind on the straights compared to Ferrari, but we were stronger in the corners and ultimately gained more than we lost to them on the straights.”

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Max Verstappen was furious after he was thwarted during his last flying lap effort during the final stages of qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix.

As cars streamed around for their final Q3 hot lap, the Dutchman toed-the-line as the cars circulated behind one another on the back end of the circuit at which point the Red Bull driver was overtaken by the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel and a host of other cars.

Verstappen was unable to cross the line to start his final run before the clock ran down, which prompted a frustrated outburst over the radio from the 21-year-old Dutchman as it meant he will start the race from fifth on the grid when he believed he had a good shot at third place.

Speaking to Ziggo Sport immediately after the afternoon session in Shanghai, Verstappen fumed, “It’s an unwritten rule that you follow one another but that doesn’t matter… from now on I’m going to fuck them up in qualifying too.”

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Mercedes have a new front wing for the W10 made for the Chinese Grand Prix weekend, but reports suggest that the FIA took a look at it and deemed it illegal as they had done with the creations presented to scrutineers by Red Bull and Williams.

Auto Motor und Sport’ Michael Schmid reports that Mercedes will have to change their latest front wing because the new version for Shanghai does not comply with F1 regulations, as the end-plate is cut out too far when the rules state

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Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas topped the timing screens at the end of the first day of free practice of the Chinese Grand Prix weekend, Round 3 of the 2019 Formula 1 World Championship, at Shanghai International Circuit.

Bottas set a best lap of 1:33.330 which was enough to keep him top of the timing screens at the end of FP2, a couple of hundredths faster than Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen third quickest, two tenths down on the top time and suggesting a threeway team battle for top honours on Sunday.

It was not all good news for Verstappen as late in the session he reported that “something is not right” while suggesting over the radio a problem with his clutch.

Lewis Hamilton survived a spin to set the fourth fastest time, seven-tenths down on his teammate at the top of the timesheets. However, it should be noted the reigning F1 World Champion was baulked during his hot lap when Romain Grosjean’s Haas parted company with its front wing.

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Amid ongoing debate about the Formula 1 versus Formula E, Venturi team owner Susie Wolff believes the two single-seater series can exist side-by-side as the ethos of each series is vastly different as are the budgets.

It would be fair to assume that the wife of Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff will know a thing or two about where the marque is going with their motorsport programme, while her own experience as an owner offers an interesting insight into the great debate.

In her column for the Financial Times, Wolff wrote, “Since arriving in Formula E last year, one of the questions I’m most frequently asked is: Will Formula E ever replace Formula One? The short answer, in my view, is no. More to the point, nor should it: the two series are so very different.”

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