Spanish GP: Who has upgraded what on their F1 cars?
Explaining which team has introduced what as the F1 grid give their cars early-season makeovers at the Spanish GP...
Last Updated: 11/05/19 6:53pm
The Big Three
Championship leaders Mercedes remain the team everyone has to catch and the world champions revealed a package of aerodynamic upgrades designed to aid performance at the downforce-dependent Circuit de Catalunya.
"They have got a new front wing here this weekend and it's on both cars," explained Sky Sports F1's Karun Chandhok. "It's somewhat Red Bull-inspired on the inside of the flap.
"There's also an extra turning vane on the bargeboard."
Valtteri Bottas, who set the Friday pace ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton, gave the latest package on the W10 a ringing endorsement: "The car felt really good today, completely different to how it was in winter testing, and it seems like our cornering performance has improved."
Ferrari, desperate to kick start their title challenge, introduced a second successive package of changes after the SF90 was fitted with a revised floor concept in Baku a fortnight ago.
While some of the latest tweaks are on the chassis, it's the team's early engine upgrade which has made headlines in Barcelona. The new power units ran for the first time in Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc's cars on Friday morning.
But both drivers agreed after Friday's running that the revised SF90 wasn't yet handling to their liking.
"Engine wise we are happy. Car-wise we put everything on the car we expected to put on the car," admitted Vettel to Sky F1. "Feeling-wise it's a different story and it's a fair picture that we haven't been the quickest today."
Leclerc added: "At the moment the balance is a bit out of the perfect balance, but this is things that can be fixed and also normal when you are putting new parts on the car."
Red Bull had described their Spanish GP revisions as "fairly subtle", but the wider context is that the team are hoping to close the gap to Mercedes and Ferrari.
"They are all now going for that tapered edge on the outer edge of like Ferrari, except Red Bull," said Chandhok of the RB15's front wing. "They have still gone for that big flap on the outer edge which is reminiscent of what they've had the last few years but are the only team there now."
A deficit of 0.7 seconds on Friday did not point to drastic immediate improvement, but Max Verstappen said: "I have a good feeling about the upgrades, which work for sure."
Having not scored points since Australia, Haas' Barcelona upgrade is one of the biggest and most noticeable on the grid as they bid to recover lost ground.
"They have gone aggressive on the fences on the front end of floor and the whole bargeboard area. They also have a front wing update," confirmed Chandhok.
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"It's only on Romain Grosjean's car at the moment, they are trying to correlate between the two cars. They have one guy, Kevin Magnussen, trying to understand the tyres with the old package and the other guy, Grosjean, assessing the upgrade package."
The Circuit de Catalunya has been kind to the team in the past, but the results from Friday were nonetheless very encouraging with the tea, at the head of the midfield. Grosjean, with the new package, was sixth and two tenths faster than Magnussen.
McLaren, whose encouraging start to the new season means they currently occupy fourth place in the Constructors' Championship, described their updates as "small" in detail, but it was still a comprehensive package.
Debuting a new front wing, the MCL34 was painted with aerodynamic flow-vis paint during several runs in Practice One as the team tried to understand the air flow over the front of the car. There were also changes to the rear wing, bargeboards and shark-fin engine cover.
Carlos Sainz finished in the top 10, but cautioned: "We have a long night ahead of us trying to understand what our new package is doing. Why our race pace is looking good and why our short run pace maybe not looking as good."
Meanwhile, McLaren's engine supplier Renault are introducing a fresh engine onto their cars this weekend. The upgrade, which ran initially in Daniel Ricciardo RS19 in opening practice, is being billed as delivering both performance and reliability improvements.
But Ricciardo is uncertain about the team's general competitveness so far at Barcelona after both he and Nico Hulkenberg slipped out of the top 10 in Practice Two.
"Out of the box it felt quite good and our reference was here in February and I felt like we made some good progress," Ricciardo told Sky F1. "The initial feeling was positive but then we couldn't really progress it too much from there. I still want to say I'm optimistic we're not 15th or whatever we are, but we still have to figure out the one-run performance."
Watch the Spanish GP live only on Sky Sports F1 this weekend. Sunday's race starts at 2.10pm. Sky Sports is the home of live and exclusive F1. Find out more here to watch the 2019 season live