The Spanish Grand Prix is traditionally considered to be the race where teams bring their first big upgrades of the season, at a track which also has the advantage of being used for the winter testing and as a result is very familiar to Formula 1 teams.
The start of the 2017 F1 season has been positive for Ferrari, with the SF70H car showing many strong points, particularly regarding the setup and tyre management, but also with a significantly stronger engine. For the moment the Maranello team is not expected to bring any major updates to its car, apart from the usual changes strictly related to the track characteristics, as the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is quite different from the track in Sochi. Ferrari had a very strong performance during the preseason testing sessions which took place at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, but now the Maranello team will encounter very different weather conditions and could also face more competitition, as Mercedes and Red Bull seem to plan big upgrades for the first European race of the Formula One season.
Mercedes is reportedly working on reducing its car’s weight, that may have contributed to its early-season balance problems. The revised weight distribution is one of the main targets for the team based in Brackley, which also seems to plan an important upgrade for the power unit.
Even more focus will be on Red Bull, as the Austrian team has announced a major update set to debut this weekend at the Spanish Grand Prix, with chief technical officer Adrian Newey saying that they worked “night and day” to targe a major overhaul in time for the next round. Red Bull entered the 2017 season with expectations of returning to the front of the grid under Formula One’s new aero-led technical regulations, but so far has struggled to match championship leaders Scuderia Ferrari and Mercedes. The first major update should target the chassis and aero package, but given the current Renault power unit, which is not a match for Mercedes and Ferrari, it is hard to believe that Red Bull can make up so much ground and most likely will be able to chip away only a few of the advantage held by its two main rivals.