While the top teams have come to Barcelona with big car upgrades, the biggest factor could in fact be the hard compounds supplied by F1’s official tyre supplier.
“In the winter tests we used the ultra-softs here, so I think the tyres we are going to use this weekend are much too hard,” said Sauber driver Pascal Wehrlein.
Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton agrees: “They are very, very hard tyres. It’s going to be interesting this weekend to see how they work.”
For the Mercedes versus Ferrari battle, however, Pirelli’s hard tyres could actually work in Hamilton’s favour.
Former F1 driver Marc Surer said: “The Ferrari is gentler on the tyres, so they would have had a greater advantage here with softer compounds.
“With these harder selections from Pirelli, it could help Mercedes,” he told the German broadcaster Sky.