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Verstappen anniversary gift? - Five things to expect from the Spanish GP

Verstappen anniversary gift? - Five things to expect from the Spanish GP

F1 News

Verstappen anniversary gift? - Five things to expect from the Spanish GP

Verstappen anniversary gift? - Five things to expect from the Spanish GP

F1 returns to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya for the Spanish Grand Prix this weekend and round four of the 2021 championship.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton stretched his advantage over Red Bull rival Max Verstappen to eight points courtesy of his second victory of the season in Portugal on Sunday as the pair continue their battle for supremacy.

Lando Norris' impressive form with McLaren continued to ensure he remains in third in the standings but as F1 arrives at familiar territory, what should we expect during the weekend?

Verstappen anniversary to provide spark for counterattack

Sunday's race will be just six days shy of the fifth anniversary of Verstappen's maiden race with Red Bull.

After remarkably being promoted four races into the season in place of Daniil Kvyat in 2016, Verstappen went on to take a sublime victory in Spain to prove his team right for making the change.

With the Dutchman in top form and taking the battle to Hamilton, happy memories of returning to the venue of his first win should provide the confidence boost needed to even the score between the duo at two wins apiece.

Alonso and Sainz to shine on home soil

F1's resident Spaniards head to home soil with mixed results to begin the season.

Fernando Alonso impressed in qualifying in Bahrain before retiring ahead of a poor Imola weekend. The two-time champion did show form during the race in Portugal which points to form returning should he piece all aspects together across a weekend.

Carlos Sainz's start to life at Ferrari has been a similar tale of ups and downs, no less than last time out where he qualified fifth in a stunning qualifying before plummeting to 11th in the second half of the race.

With both drivers coming to grips with new machinery, round four and a return to a track layout that has been driven countless times should see the best finally shown by both.

F1 pecking order to be firmly established

If there is one circuit on the calendar each and every driver and team could complete a race weekend blindfolded then it would be the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

As a regular test venue and calendar stalwart since the 1990s, the amount of data teams will be able to draw upon as they search for the optimum set-up ahead of race day is unfathomable.

With a mix of slow-speed, medium-speed and high-speed corners as well as a long straight making up one of only a handful of overtaking opportunities, teams will be presented with an all-round test of car performance.

As such, do not expect the same struggles as in Portimão or Imola but rather a smooth weekend for most if not all teams and drivers, with the running order of the midfield likely to be set in stone by Sunday evening.

Schumacher to join the battle at the back

Arguably the standout performer in Portugal was Mick Schumacher after hauling a tricky Haas around to finish ahead of Nicholas Latifi's Williams.

Schumacher's American team has downplayed its own chances all season whilst the German has continuously and optimistically suggested a Q2 spot could be possible at some stage during the campaign.

Having never raced at Portimão and with only limited experience at Imola, Barcelona could be a platform for Schumacher to progress closer to the battle just ahead of Haas.

Turn 10 changes and less overtaking

One thing you may notice during live broadcasts this weekend is the reprofiling to the turn 10 hairpin.

The radius has been softened to a more gradual curve, much how it used to be before the hairpin was tightened ahead of the 2004 running.

Whilst this has been done for safety reasons, the heavy braking zone at the end of the short DRS straight has been decreased and overtaking will no doubt be at an even higher premium.

With turn one being the only bona fide passing spot on the track, with another two potential action zones for the brave-hearted, qualifying will be vital come race day.

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