Take a look for yourselves: How the teams have developed their cars for the Spanish GP
Checking out who's changed what and why in Barcelona this week
By Sky Sports Online with plenty of help from Ted Kravitz!. Last Updated: 11/05/13 4:27pm
If it aint broke, don't fix it? Not quite. The oldest truism in the F1 book is that standing still amounts to going backwards and so, despite their lead of both World Championships, Red Bull have run a series of tweaks to the RB9 during the weekend.
A "shrink-wrapped" engine cover was the first new element to catch Ted Kravitz's eagle eye on Friday, while both cars carried different configurations of the rear-wing endplate - and, as pictured above, a rather garish sensor was added to assess the worth of changes made to the diffuser.
And perhaps Red Bull are trying out their own version of Lotus's passive DRS? That appeared a possibility during final practice on Saturday morning - albeit with the beam wing being stalled and not the main rear wing.
There were a number of pronounced alterations on Ferrari's F138 at Barcelona, including new sidepod winglets, an updated front wing plus more sculpted undercut sidepods. The changes were only bolted on to Felipe Massa's car on Friday morning as Fernando Alonso's unaltered model provided a baseline comparison.
It's a troublesome weekend for McLaren, who desperately need to improve their MP4-28. But, owing to the complexity of the problems they have, they cannot simply throw parts at it. Their long-awaited new front-wing was kept in a box at the back of the team's garage for all-but the final ten minutes of P2 before a concerted attempt to fit new parts for Saturday - more new front wings were flown in overnight - were thwarted because the FIA could not not get them through scrutineering.
McLaren have been keen to stress during their media briefings that there's far more to a F1 car than meets the eye and they spent Friday running tests on new, unspecified 'background' components while revised brake ducts, tweaks to the bargeboard winglets, tighter rear bodywork and a 'monkey seat' all featured. However, McLaren's midfield ranking in the timesheets, and Button's subdued demeanour, indicates that a catalyst for revival has still yet to be uncovered.
They might have lost their Technical Director during the week but there's been no let-up from the Lotus team. Although the E21 isn't carrying any fundamental changes in Spain, it has been bolstered by new detailing to its front-wing endplate, modifications to the diffuser, remodelled sidepod winglets and bargeboards, a different upper rear-wing and modified brake ducts.
Both drivers ran with new front and rear wing specifications on Friday, although Romain Grosjean also ran the older front-wing unit to provide a comparison of performance. Lotus's subsequent report that 'the latest front and rear wings work well' suggest they are here to stay.
Lewis Hamilton quelled any expectations of dramatic revision to the W04 on Thursday night when he remarked upon how Mercedes' small-but-steady policy of bringing upgrades to every race differed to McLaren's long-term habit of keeping their powder dry through the flyaways before producing a substantial upgrade for the start of the European leg.
Nevertheless, there are a series of changes - albeit small measures - on the W04 this weekend with the car rearmed with a revised suspension layout and new rear brake ducts.
Very visible changes at Sauber with a revised rear-wing bolted to the C32 - see above for a comparison between the old and the new - on Friday. According to Nico Hulkenberg, the the new wing is "an improvement. However, if it's enough of an improvement to catch up to our competition I can't say yet." A new nosecone has also been fitted.
Meanwhile, Ted spied what he suspected what might have been a return of the passive DRS device which the team ran at Barcelona during pre-season testing. Keep your eyes peeled, folks.
At this stage, details about changes to Force India's VJM06 remain sketchy, although the team themselves did tweet during P1 that "there are some small aero refinements towards the rear, as well as some mechanical developments". Technical Director Andrew Green refused to elaborate when pressed later on Friday but added that their upgrade package is "not as big as it has been, but it's still significant". More snooping is required.
As pictured above, the Toro Rosso is armed with a new exhaust and new rear wing this weekend, while, less obviously!, both cars have also been fitted with a new floor. The alterations seem to be doing the trick, too with the Toro Rossos rivalling the McLarens for outright lap time.
Like McLaren, last year's Spanish GP winners Williams are looking to take a major step forward after a difficult start to the year. The FW35's main problem has been its Coanda-style exhausts and now features a floor change that aids air flow to the car's rear. Also, there's a new front wing featuring revised end plates, strakes above the sidepods as well as tweaks to the rear wing. "We've made small improvements," reported Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams on Friday, "but everyone else has brought upgrades too."
Even before the first of the two Barcelona tests this winter, Caterham had identified the return to Catalonia for this week's Spanish GP as the time to unleash their full 2013 package. "It's easier to list what's old on the car," says Ted but here goes: the most striking feature of the 'new' CT03 is a new, flattened-out nose, bolstered by new bargeboards, and a redesigned front wing with curved endplates. So far, the results are more pleasing from an aesthetic perspective rather than in the timesheets, but there's no doubt it's a step forward on both counts.
Marussia have fallen into Caterham's clutches of late but will hope to reassert themselves with what Chief Race Engineer Dave Greenwood calls a "reasonably comprehensive" package - the MR02 featuring a new front wing, floor and front suspension parts. Whether the changes will be sufficient to rebuff Caterham's advances remains to be seen, however.
More to follow over the weekend...