Motorsport Tech Monday – what we learned from the Spanish Grand Prix

The Spanish Grand Prix is often a good gauge of how the Formula One season is likely to unfold as the European leg kicks off in earnest.

And following another dominant 1-2 for Mercedes, the team’s fifth on the bounce, it certainly looks ominous now for the competition going forward.

Here are the key talking points from another incident-packed weekend of Formula One racing.

Mercedes could be invincible in 2019

Of all the circuits on the 2019 calendar, the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya was supposed to be Ferrari’s stronghold, especially after the pace shown during pre-season testing. But this now appears to be a complete red herring, with Mercedes definitely holding something back before dominating the first five rounds of the season. Such has been the nature of the Silver Arrows victories, some experts are even contemplating the impossible – a shut-out in 2019 that would eclipse McLaren’s 15 out of 16 race wins back in 1988 with Senna and Prost at the wheel. It surely couldn’t happen, though. Could It?

Are Ferrari still struggling with team orders?

Following on from the controversy of China, when Charles Leclerc was told to hold station behind teammate Sebastian Vettel despite seemingly having the quicker car, there was more of the same in Barcelona. With Max Verstappen holding onto his third place off the line, the Ferrari drivers battled against one another for the right to press the Dutchman and team orders were again used to let one driver past the other on two separate occasions to pursue the Red Bull. Whether the correct call or not, it’s surely not something the drivers will be happy about having to get used to, and it appears Ferrari are already in two minds about how on earth to close the gap, not only to Mercedes, but the form Verstappen.

Crisis time for Renault?

Already five races into the season and Renault has been beset with a lack of pace and technical issues with both drivers mustering just one sixth place finish each so far. The team appeared in Barcelona with engine upgrades and optimism but were immediately on the back foot after Daniel Ricciardo was slapped with a three-place grid penalty and the pace was never there for either drivers to finish in the points. With so much investment into a large customer team, these are worrying times indeed.

The midfield battle is hotting up

Behind the clear big three teams, the midfield battle behind is hotting up nicely, and there was plenty for neutral fans to get their teeth into, as the Haas drivers fought for supremacy early on before being the sandwich for a McLaren and Toro Rosso filling of Carlos Sainz Jr and Daniil Kvyat by the finish. It looks like being a competitive year in the middle of the pack, even more so if Renault decides to join the battle!

Fraser Masefield

Sports news and features writer, web editor and author.