2014 Spanish Grand Prix Preview

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After a three week break, Formula 1 returns to Europe for the Spanish Grand Prix following four flyaway rounds, and there is an air of optimism lingering around the paddock at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

As the first grand prix on European shores in 2014, it marks the first opportunity for the teams to introduce a significant upgrade package for their cars, having got to grips with the new regulations in the previous four races. Therefore, we could yet see another shake-up of the pack, and perhaps even a more serious threat to Mercedes’ dominance in 2014. Or, alternatively, the gap could widen yet further between the Silver Arrows and the chasing pack.

This race is one of the true challenges for teams on the F1 calendar. Although overtaking is limited, the track requires a setup that is balanced between the fast, sweeping corners and the more technical sections of the circuit. It is also one of the toughest circuits on tires, with last year’s race being won by Fernando Alonso on a four stop strategy.

2014 Spanish Grand Prix – Talking Points

Surely Mercedes can’t go even faster?

Well, yes, the team can. And it most probably will. The upgrade package that each team introduces always marks a big step forwards, and given that we’re just four races into a new set of regulations, this ‘step’ could be bigger than normal. Mercedes’ lightening start to the 2014 season doesn’t look like stopping any time soon, and if the development rate is as good now as it was in the lead-up to this year, the gap at the front could get bigger.

Red Bull and Ferrari seek resistance

It’s odd to think that the neutral might be actually cheering on Red Bull and Ferrari – the two dominant forces in F1 since 2000 – this weekend in Spain. If the championship is to realistically stay alive until the end of the season, then both of these teams need to show their true colors this weekend. Red Bull’s phenomenal rate of development could put it in good stead, whilst Ferrari has the backing of the crowd as Fernando Alonso goes in search of a third Spanish GP victory on home soil.

That sinking feeling for McLaren?

After a disastrous 2013 campaign, 2014 had the makings of something a little more promising for McLaren when Kevin Magnussen and Jenson Button reached the podium in Australia. Since then, though, neither has been particularly impressive, and Spain will be an important race to mark a revival. After being the bottom Mercedes-powered team in China, bouncing back in Barcelona is crucial for McLaren.

Some points for Sauber and Lotus, perhaps?

It’s crazy to think that two teams which have regularly finished on the podium over the last two years are now on a par – mathematically – with Caterham and Marussia. Lotus came close in China, only for a gearbox problem to rob Romain Grosjean of some points, but Sauber has never looked capable of finishing in the top ten. Both teams need a change this weekend.

The rain in Spain stays mainly on the plain – or not

That old rhyme doesn’t have much relevance this weekend. We look set to have just our second all-dry race weekend of the season, which should allow the teams to show their true pace. Wet qualifying in Australia, Malaysia and China masked much of their potential, whilst the colder conditions at night in Bahrain also posed a headache. If we are to trust the forecast, we may finally get an idea of the pecking order in Spain.

Track: Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya (4.655km)
Laps: 66
Corners: 16
Lap Record: Kimi Raikkonen 1:21.670 (2008)
Tire Compounds: Medium (Option); Hard (Prime)
2013 Winner: Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
2013 Pole Position: Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) 1:20.718
2013 Fastest Lap: Esteban Gutierrez (Sauber) 1:26.217
DRS Zones: Main straight (T16 to T1); T9 to T10

Click here for the complete TV schedule and details on how to follow the Spanish Grand Prix live with NBC Sports.

Penske, DXC Technology continue on Pagenaud’s IndyCar

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Team Penske and DXC Technology will renew their partnership for the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season. DXC joined Penske in 2017, serving as a primary sponsor for six races on Simon Pagenaud’s No. 1 Team Penske Chevrolet.

In re-upping with Penske, DXC will again adorn Pagenaud’s entry – switching back to the No. 22 in 2018, with teammate Josef Newgarden carrying the champion’s No. 1 – for six races, the first being the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach in April.

“Team Penske is excited to grow the partnership with DXC Technology for 2018,” said team owner Roger Penske via a release. “This is a technology-dependent sport and we were able to integrate DXC into our INDYCAR program this season and we will be ready to take our performance, and hopefully our results, to the next level with them in 2018.”

Pagenaud echoed Penske’s sentiments, adding that team and sponsor share a common philosophy that drives them forward. ““I enjoyed working with DXC Technology and representing their brand this past season. DXC Technology shares a similar philosophy with us at Team Penske, which is to strive for excellence. We are very proud to work together relentlessly toward further limits in our respective industries. We were excited to get a win with them in Sonoma and everyone at Team Penske wants to build on that as we welcome them back for 2018.”

DXC president, chairman, and CEO Mike Lawrie also highlighted Penske’s reputation as a point of interest to continue their partnership.

“Our partnership with Team Penske provides a great opportunity for DXC Technology,” said Lawrie. “Performance and reputation make Team Penske the type of organization with which we want to align. Like us, they strive for excellence in everything they do and work diligently to provide value for both sides of the relationship.”

Photo: IndyCar

The DXC partnership extension is one of several Team Penske has announced in recent weeks, which are as follows on the IndyCar program:

  • REV Group, a leading manufacturer of specialty vehicle brands serving the commercial, fire and emergency and recreational markets, will continue as a full-season associate sponsor on the No. 1 of Josef Newgarden and the No. 3 of Helio Castroneves during the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500 during the month of May.
  • Fitzgerald Glider Kits, North America’s leading truck glider kit assembler, will also continue as an associate sponsor with a presence on Newgarden’s No. 1 Chevrolet throughout next season.
  • Miller Lite, Discount Tire, Alliance Truck Parts, Wurth Group and Auto Club of Southern California and AAA have extended with Team Penske’s NASCAR programs.

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