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Imola test paves way for Verstappen's Barcelona challenge

Imola test paves way for Verstappen's Barcelona challenge
© Reuters
Max Verstappen made a swift visit to Imola to gear up for the imminent Spanish GP this weekend.

Max Verstappen made a swift visit to Imola to gear up for the imminent Spanish GP this weekend.

Red Bull engaged their triple world champion and the leader of the 2024 championship in a secretive test session in a 2022 car, as reported by Italy's Autosprint.

"At the end of the session," the article detailed, "the Dutch champion left by helicopter to go and catch his plane to Barcelona."

Red Bull's F1 advisor Dr. Helmut Marko acknowledged that the team faces challenges with the accuracy between simulator and actual track data, making this session particularly timely.

Red Bull's sister team is also on its way to Barcelona with substantial upgrades to their car. Meanwhile, Auto Motor und Sport reports that Mercedes is set to reveal a new floor this weekend.

In anticipation of the Spanish GP, Ferrari has accelerated an upgrade previously planned. Moreover, McLaren's boss Andrea Stella stated that they have "a few new things" packed for the triple-header in Barcelona, Austria, and Silverstone.

Little is disclosed about Red Bull's upgrade strategies for Barcelona; however, former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher suggests that the reigning world champions will likely dominate this type of circuit.

"The best car will win in Barcelona," he told Sky Deutschland. "Ferrari will have problems with tyre wear so I think Verstappen will have a significant advantage."

Schumacher remarked that McLaren could surprisingly succeed due to their "all-rounded" 2024 car, but he sees a strong showing from Mercedes in Spain as "not likely."

"We have the best package with the best driver," Marko told the Osterreich newspaper. "Whether we have the best chassis remains to be seen. Last year, Mercedes was strong in Barcelona, but that was just a flash in the pan. If we are ahead, then hopefully we will also be strong in Austria and then a week later in Silverstone too.

"These three races will say a lot about the true balance of power," he added. "That is why our people are working to the limit these days."

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