The Spanish Grand Prix is typically surrounded by an added element of intrigue and anticipation at the start of Formula 1’s traditional European leg of the season.

Teams usually arrive back in the familiar surroundings of the Barcelona paddock with a host of technical updates aimed at lowering lap times and improving their respective fortunes as the season hits the vital European stretch of the calendar.

Heading into this year’s Spanish Grand Prix, teams up and down the pitlane all have their own reasons for seeking a much-needed performance boost.

Here’s what each F1 team needs to enhance their 2019 prospects in Barcelona…

Williams

Current position: 10th

Points: 0

Williams has endured a torrid 2019 campaign so far and has been lumbered at the very back of the grid at each of the opening four rounds. But is there finally some light beginning to shine at the end of a very long and dark tunnel?

Delays with the build of its FW42 challenger left the team behind schedule and facing both legality and performance issues early on this year. A lack of spare parts also hampered its early hopes, but Williams insists it can now start thinking about developing its car after clearing what deputy team principal Claire Williams has described as a manufacturing “backlog”.

Williams remains some way adrift of the rest of the pack despite some slight gains in China and Baku. After the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, George Russell confirmed the British squad has some “exciting things in the pipeline” and will bring “a few little updates” with it to Barcelona as it bids to start to close the gap. Improvements are desperately needed across the board and in every department.

Toro Rosso

Current position: 9th

Points: 4

It’s been something of an odd start to the season for Toro Rosso. At times it looks to boast the fourth-fastest car on the grid, though Daniil Kvyat and rookie Alexander Albon have so far only managed four points between them, leaving the Faenza squad ninth in the constructors’ championship table.

Both drivers feel the potential is there for better results but that unfortunate circumstances - such as Daniel Ricciardo reversing into Kvyat in a clumsy incident in Baku - have prevented the team from achieving more.

Toro Rosso is convinced it has one of the strongest packages on the grid in the right circumstances and not a huge amount needs to be changed. Of course, improvements can always be made and any gains in aero or engine performance would be appreciated. Toro Rosso has often fallen behind its rivals in terms of in-season development in recent years and it will be keen to avoid a repeat, something that should be aided by its closer technical collaboration to Red Bull.

Haas

Current position: 8th

Points: 8

Much was expected of Haas this season, both from the outside and within. It once again looked to have the fourth-best car during pre-season testing in Barcelona but the team has failed to add to its points tally from the season-opener in Melbourne.

Haas’ main issue appears to be with getting the most out of Pirelli’s 2019 tyres and specifically during the race. The VF-19’s lack of race pace has been apparent in China, Bahrain and Azerbaijan, with the problem stemming from when the tyre begins to grain.

The American outfit has managed to extract plenty of one-lap performance from its car, but in race trim Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean have been seen plummeting down the order after struggling to get the tyres within the optimum working window for prolonged periods.

Haas team principal Guenther Steiner believes Haas is beginning to understand the issue but is still yet to find a cure. Haas says it is "cautiously optimistic" heading to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya - a track it performed well at in pre-season testing - and is bringing a "quite significant upgrade", including a new front wing and floor, as it looks to move itself back into contention.

Renault

Current position: 7th

Points: 12

Like midfield rivals Haas, Renault is also facing great difficulty in getting on top of its tyres. Its 2019 challenger was well off the pace in Baku in what was a concerning performance from the French manufacturer, which had high hopes of closing the gap to F1’s top three teams this season.

So far it has found itself struggling to even establish itself at the top of the midfield order and is subsequently languishing in the lower reaches of the constructors’ championship after four rounds.

Poor reliability has proven to be the Achilles’ Heel for Renault, having suffered numerous issues in the early races, particularly relating to its MGU-K. This is an area the team needs to get on top of fast if it is going to recover from its disappointing start to the season. The team has confirmed it will bring some "reasonable upgrades" to Spain as it seeks to better understand all areas of its tricky R.S.19.

Alfa Romeo

Current position: 6th

Points: 13

Alfa Romeo has enjoyed a strong start to the season and was left to rue penalties for both its drivers which prevented what could have been its first double points finish of the year in Baku.

Antonio Giovinazzi made it into Q3 for the first time in his career but had to serve a grid drop for using too many engine components, while Kimi Raikkonen’s car failed a front wing deflection test, forcing him into a pit lane start from which he recovered to snatch the final point on offer in 10th.

The rebranded squad enjoyed strong development gains throughout 2018 and will be looking to follow up with similar improvements this time around after making a better start to the season. Raikkonen highlighted some tyre-related issues in Baku and admitted the team is yet to maximise its potential in the opening four races, but overall, the C38 appears to be a well-rounded and consistent machine.

Don't expect to see huge changes to Alfa Romeo's design philosophy in Barcelona, but continuing on a solid development path and utilising Raikkonen's vast experience and excellent technical feedback will be key if the team is to build on its early momentum.

 

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