Barcelona Speed Trap: Who is the fastest of them all?

There’s a widespread view in F1 regarding Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya that says that a car that performs well around the 4.6 km layout usually performs well everywhere.

But a car’s velocity down the track’s main straight is no indication of its overall efficiency, as Nikita Mazepin’s position at the top of the speed trap readings in qualifying aptly demonstrates.

The Haas driver charged down the straight at over 324 km/h – or 6 km/h faster than Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes – but the Russian was over three seconds adrift from the Briton’s pole time.

Speaking of Hamilton, the seven-time world champion made an interesting claim after qualifying.

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He contended that Red Bull had improved its performance on Saturday by using what he called a “bendy” rear wing, or a wing capable of flexing at high speed to reduce drag.

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“The Red Bulls are really fast on the straights,” he told Sky F1. “They have this bendy wing on the back of their car which they put on today and they gained at least three tenths from this wing.

“So they will be quicker down the straights than us and it will be hard to keep them behind, but that doesn’t mean it will be impossible. Timing and rhythm will be everything tomorrow.”

While Hamilton may well be factually right in his claim that Red Bull had bolted on a “bendy” wing, the speed trap readings offer no indication that the RB16B had improved its top speed thanks to the aero element.

Both Max Verstappen, who qualified P2, just 0.036s behind Hamilton, and Sergio Perez were among the field’s laggards on the straight, thus contradiction Hamilton’s view.

Perception and reality don’t always match!

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