F1 Data Prediction - Who will reign in Spain?

Analysis of data from previous races that present characteristics similar to the race track in Barcelona to explain why Red Bull will be the team to beat.

2023 Spanish Grand Prix


This week the 'need for speed' community set camp in Catalunya, Spain for the 7th Grand Prix of the 2023 Formula 1 championship. The track in Barcelona is familiar to the teams, which have libraries worth data accumulated over the years as it was once a proving ground before a championship started.

This year this friendly track has a twist to its tail, an old configuration of the complex is brought back in the hope of improving the racing on this circuit.

The track returns to an older configuration where turns 13, 14, and 15, consisting of a slow chicane, are blunted out to be a swooping section with two turns leading to the start-finish straight.

This is a circuit that consists of flowing medium, medium-fast, and fast-speed corners,  now with the elimination of the chicane there are no stop-go corners. This configuration rewards the teams with efficient downforce to carry a lot of speed around the corners and also to be quick in the straights.

Based on the characteristics of the track let's examine which team among the top 4 will be the quickest to complete a lap in Spain.


For the comparisons, data with similar variables are selected to make a viable analysis. For instance, the fastest sectors by a team and not individual drivers are considered for the qualifying examination. Lap times are collected for the same tyre compound at identical race periods.

2022 Monaco GP

Although the top 4 of this year were at different levels of performance when it came to qualifying last year, it's worthwhile to look at how they fared in the 2022 Spanish Grand Prix's qualifying session.

The Ferrari at this time of the championship was a qualifying weapon in the hands of Charles Leclerc. He had an advantage of three-tenths over the Red Bull of Max Verstappen. The Mercedes was suffering from a lot of proposing which was reflected on the time sheets. The Aston Martin was nowhere near as competitive as they are this year.

2023 Formula 1 Season

This year Red Bull, up until now, has been the dominating car and the results are there to prove it but the only part of the weekend where they have a bit of competition is in the qualifying session.

Based on the nature of the race track in Barcelona, let's take a look at how the teams have performed in characteristically similar sectors of recently concluded race events.

2023 Bahrain GP

Sector 2 of the Sakhir race track, which starts just before turn 5 and ends after turn 12, has that combination of medium, medium-fast, and fast-speed corners.

Here is a bar chart of how the current teams performed in this section of the race track:

  • Red Bull has an advantage but is closely followed by the Ferrari
  • The Aston Martin was a step behind.
  • Mercedes lost a lot of time in this sector.

The minisector map shows where the Red Bull made up their time:

The map does indicate that Mercedes were faster in a few sections but that would have been a slight advantage and where they were not fast they had a bigger deficit as the sector times indicate.

2023 Miami GP

The race track in Miami shares a few near-identical corners, turns 1, 2, and 3 are very similar to turns 1, 2, and 3 of Barcelona's famous track. Sector 1 in its entirety has a good combination of medium and fast-speed corners.

Here's a bar chart comparing the sector times of the top 4:

  • Again Red Bull was the fastest car in this sector.
  • Ferrari was a step behind, it is to be noted that neither Leclerc nor Max completed their final runs.
  • Alonso was on Ferrari's heels
  • Mercedes had a terrible Saturday and the times are a reflection of it.
The minisector map gives an indication of where each car was faster on this section of the track:


The Formula 1 cars are indeed going to race in an altered layout compared to last year but it is not an unfamiliar layout for the older fans. 95% of the track remains the same and it was Ferrari that took a comfortable pole last year.

This year from the first green light Red Bull has been the team to beat and they have won every race until now but their dominance needs to be clarified on Saturdays.

We should also consider the untested upgrades of all the teams in the paddock, the fruits of their labor will be scrutinized this weekend but that doesn't mean that one of the teams will be able to usurp Red Bull.

For this weekend's qualifying session, Red Bull will still be the team to beat followed closely by Ferrari and then Aston Martin.

Mercedes's car had the most altered look in Monaco with conventional side pods introduced in their design and Red bull inspired front suspension. This puts a question mark on their performance, we cannot be sure how their new approach is going to affect their execution in the race week. It would be a surprise if they make unimaginable strides because they have just entered a conceptual development race in which the Red Bull team has a head start of 28-race weekends.


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