Formula One returned to race action last weekend in Spain after a rare four week break. Despite the long gap, the break was only punctuated by a single test at Barcelona, however it allowed the factories the chance to develop more parts than usual. As a result, every team had developments on their cars in Barcelona - and many of the changes were major.
The Circuit de Catalunya is a good test of the cars in many areas, particularly aerodynamics, as well as braking, traction and cooling. Following changes to the circuit since last year, the track now features a chicane to interrupt the last turn onto the main straight.
This corner used to be the final challenge to the left front tyre, after a lap which already includes several long corners. Now, the cars brake heavily to thread through kerbs before accelerating along the start-finish straight.
With the test preceding the race allowing the teams to run new parts, the teams were able to make revisions based on their experiences with the new tyres over the opening three races. Also, with two of the hottest races out of the way, teams were able to improve aerodynamic efficiency by reducing their cooling outlets and sidepod sizes. Any team with problems in Spain will now be hard-pressed to catch up, considering the run of races prior to the next break in August.