The Spanish Grand Prix has for many years marked the beginning of the European phase of the Formula 1 season, and owing to the proximity of the event to the teams’ factories, it also brings with it the first major stage of car development during the F1 season. So what should we expect to see as the teams add their first significant upgrades?
Ferrari: According to Omnicourse, Ferrari will be bringing the largest number of individual upgrades of any team to their SF-15T racecar. These will include a new front wing, rear wing, floor, and diffuser, as well as updated brake ducts and bodywork. Notably absent from that list is the long-rumored short nose that Ferrari has been developing. Technical Director, James Allison has said that the Red Squad are hoping for a 4/10th second per lap improvement from these developments. Canada will see an upgraded power unit that should bring a 15-30 bhp boost.
Red Bull: Sources say that Red Bull Racing will also be bringing a raft of aerodynamic upgrades to Barca, including, but not limited to a new front and rear wing, as well as a “very” short nose that may rival even Lotus’ curt proboscis in its diminutive size. Red Bull and Toro Rosso should also benefit this weekend from Renault using a few of their remaining engine tokens and bringing an upgraded power unit to the race.
Williams: Both Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas have alluded to “upgrades” that will appear on the car over the weekend designed to improve the front and rear downforce issues that have hurt the team’s FW-37 racecar. While no specific details have been forthcoming, be on the lookout for the possibility of the Grove-based squad fitting new front and rear wings to their cars.
McLaren: Another team that is being coy about their plans for Spain. While Honda has stated that there will be no use of any engine development tokens for the Spanish Grand Prix, the Japanese firm is expected to bring engine updates to Barcelona. Eric Boullier has said that their team’s first major car upgrade, which would constitute an entirely reworked rear end to the car, may or may not come in time for Barcelona. One thing that will definitely change this weekend is the McLaren cars’ livery, with the chrome look being dropped for what Ron Dennis called “shades of grey.” Let’s hope there aren’t fifty shades of it, Ron.
Mercedes: Is rumored to be bringing an extensive aero update package to Spain that may include reworked sidepods, as well as yet another iteration of its front and rear wings. Development news is always tightly controlled by the team, so we’ll have to wait and see.
Manor: The struggling team will not be bringing their 2015 to Barcelona. For that, they will have to wait till Spa, but you can expect this weekend to be the last race with Roberto Merhi behind the wheel.
Sauber: At the moment, it seems that the most developments for Sauber will be in the courtroom as opposed to the cars this weekend.
Force India: Have moved their aero development operations to the Toyota wind tunnel in Cologne, and hope to have a B-spec version of their 2015 car ready for Britain. As such, one can expect the changes to the VJM08 to be minor this weekend.
Lotus: Technical Director, Nick Chester has said there is a big upgrade package in store for Barcelona. “We are working on bringing a reasonably significant package in terms of bodywork upgrades…” said Chester in an interview with ESPN. An ultra-short nose that was to be part of the package failed the FIA crash test, however.