Spanish Grand Prix 2022: Will Carlos Sainz be able to take his first ever race win at his home GP?

Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc resume their rivalry in Spain this weekend with Carlos Sainz aiming for his first ever Grand Prix win.

After the buzz and excitement of the Miami Grand Prix, Formula 1 returns to what may very well feel like a subdued Spanish race this weekend.

Max Verstappen carried on his impressive winning streak while Charles Leclerc’s second place finish means he still remains ahead in the Drivers’ Championship race.

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz secured another podium finish but with Barcelona looming, the Spaniard will hope his home crowd can help him on his way to his first ever race win.

While there may not be quite the same hype - much of which seemed wholly unnecessary - as in Miami, let’s not forget that the Barcelona circuit still has much to offer. Pre-season testing takes place on the Catalonian track and consequently drivers are much more familiar with it.

There may not be artificial water, or hundreds of celebrities swarming around, but the Spanish Grand Prix is still set to be a race full of great intensity and excitemnt.

With a few days to go, here are some of the biggest talking points ahead of the Barcelona Grand Prix:

Nyck de Vries makes his FP1 Debut

The Formula 2 and Formula E Champion Nyck de Vries will be making his FP1 debut this weekend in Barcelona.

De Vries won his Formula 2 title in 2019 and immediately went on to win his Formula E title despite it being his rookie season.

Nyck de Vries, right, with Mercedes Principal Toto WolffNyck de Vries, right, with Mercedes Principal Toto Wolff
Nyck de Vries, right, with Mercedes Principal Toto Wolff

The Dutchman had also been in contention to take the second Alfa Romeo seat ahead of Guanyu Zhou but his contract with Mercedes will have seen him hold out hope of a seat with Williams.

Williams have a team obligation to run a rookie F1 driver in their car in two sessions this season but for de Vries, this opportunity could highlight a chance of proving his worth over current Williams’ driver Nicholas Latifi.

Latifi is yet to score any points this season for his team and is currently 21st in the drivers standings.

With his career potentially on the line, Latifi will need to prove he is a far more capable driver than de Vries if he is to secure a spot on the grid next season.

Will the Spanish reign in Spain?

Unsurprisingly, the Spanish Grand Prix is a firm favourite for Carlos Sainz and Fernando Alonso.

This is Sainz’s second season with Ferrari but the improvements and upgrades Ferrari have introduced this season mean it will be the 27-year-old’s first home Grand Prix in a race-winning car.

He has come second to Leclerc throughout this season but will be desperate to prove he too can win races - what better opportunity to do so than on home turf?

For Alonso, too, a boost from his home crowd can hopefully see the two-time World Champion compete for points - a feat he has struggled with so far this season.

Alonso has been slowly slipping down the grid but the Spanish Grand Prix should offer a fine chance for the former world champ to bounce back to form.

Lewis Hamilton v George Russell

Mercedes have not been where they have wanted to this season. They have gone from a world championship winning team to coming 14th in races.

Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton is yet to win a race this season and his teammate, George Russell, has been outperforming him on nearly every circuit.

As the season progresses, Hamilton will wonder what more Mercedes can do for him and they may come to a point where team principal Toto Wolff focuses on his younger competitor if he is the one to continue bringing in the points.

Hamilton is the most successful driver in the Spanish Grand Prix and it could be a perfect weekend for him to quell any doubts, but if Mercedes cannot improve their car, then the seven-time world champion may find himself slipping away.

Upgrades in action

The dirty air has long been a contributing factor to a lack of consistent excitement in the Spanish Grand Prix.

It makes it hugely challenging for drivers to follow their rivals closely and take advantage of the overtaking points throughout the track.

However, the new upgrades in the cars have been designed in order to help minimise the amount of dirty air that rivals must wade through.

The past few weeks have seen races in new circuits and on the streets, but this will be the first race since Bahrain to take place at a conventional permanent circuit and will therefore give fans the scope to examine how the 2022 changes have affected race days, and how the upgrades franchises have been adding in the past couple of months have impacted their ability on track.

Spanish Grand Prix

Race weekend begins on Friday 20 May 2022 and will conclude with the race on Sunday 22 May at 2pm BST.

Sky Sports Formula 1 will have all the live coverage from the weekend.