This week, Formula 2 returns as the racing circus arrives in Spain for the second round of the 2017 FIA Formula 2 Championship. After a thrilling opening round in Bahrain, the many variables and unknowns created an unpredictable round of racing. It will be interesting to see how the pecking order might change in Barcelona.
|Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya|
|Location||Montmeló, Spain||Circuit Length||4.655 km / 2.892 mi|
|Opened||1991||First GP2/F2 Race||1994|
The Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona is one of the most popular tracks on the calendar and has traditionally hosted testing due to its technically versatile nature and the drivers know it by heart. The 4.6-kilometre track consists of 16 corners, 9 right and 7 left.
There are two DRS zones, the first is on the straight between Turns 9 and 10 with the detection point between Turns 8 and 9, and the second DRS zone is on the main straight with the detection point just before Turn 16 where cars reach a top speed of up to 319 km/h set last year. The GP2/F2 lap record was a 1:27.807 set by eventual champion Pierre Gasly in 2016.
Pirelli expect this to be another tough race on the tyres, which was the source of much excitement in the last round and have thus brought the Hard and Soft compounds to the Spanish event hoping the contrast in compounds would bring similarly close racing.
Charles Leclerc and PREMA looked unbeatable in Bahrain despite losing the Feature Race which he started from pole. An inspired driver in the Sprint Race resulted in a brilliant victory and he will be expected to be doing more of the same in Spain, as will his teammate Antonio Fuoco who starred in qualifying and is expected to come to Spain with something to prove.
Artem Markelov won the opening race of the season and is on a high. The strategic nature of the coming round should suit his tyre management and strategic skills and he will be one to keep an eye for.
Norman Nato has always been quick in Catalunya, winning the opening round in 2016 with a brilliant drive and after setting the fastest time in winter testing he is on the cards to contend for the win as is Alexander Albon. The ART rookie was always there in testing and has the team to help him fight for a first podium in F2.
Campos will make a driver change this weekend as they bring in local talent and former F1 driver Roberto Merhi to driver their #12 car in place of Stefano Coletti.
Charles Leclerc goes to Spain with an 8-point lead over Markelov in the drivers’ standings with 36 points from two races while Oliver Rowland trails them in third place with 20 points.
Russian Time performed brilliantly in the last race with either driver on the podium in both races and come to Spain with 46 points in the bag, also 8 points ahead of PREMA while DAMS sit in third with 28 points. From just one round, seven teams have managed to score points as have half the drivers.
|2017 GP2 Series Race of Spain (12-14 May 2017)|
|Free Practice Session||Fri 12:00-12:45||Qualifying||Fri 15:55-16:25|
|Feature Race (37 laps)||Sat 15:00-16:50||Sprint Race (26 laps)||Sun 10:35-11:30|
Session times quoted in Central European Summer Time (GMT + 02:00)
Images via Red Bull Content Pool