Spanish Grand Prix – Preview
The Story so Far…
After 4 races, Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) leads the ‘Driver Standings’ by 4pts over rival Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari).
Vettel had won the opening two races with his team mate Raikkonen finishing on the podium three times with only a freak accident in Bahrain preventing him from making it four. But while Ferrari have been looking strong, Mercedes have really struggled for pace and Hamilton’s sole victory (in Baku) was rather fortuitous after his team mate Valtteri Bottas suffered a puncture when certain to win.
The best of the rest are Red Bull (powered by Renault) and whilst they have the potential to win races, as proven when the Australian Ricciardo won in China, in fighting could unravel their season. Their young and exciting Dutch driver Max Verstappen has already been involved in a few on track scraps this season but none more dramatic than in Baku. The Red Bull team have always allowed their drivers to race so long as they keep it clean, unfortunately this was not the case in Azerbaijan when Ricciardo ended up driving into the back of his team mate.
What Next in Spain?
The Spanish Grand Prix represents the first race in Europe after the long haul races of Australia, Bahrain, China and Azerbaijan. It is familiar to all teams as pre-season testing takes place there and it is also the venue where you will see the most aerodynamic or engine upgrades applied to the cars because of it logistic availability.
In previous seasons, these upgrades have allowed Mercedes to move ahead of the field but this year could be different and it remains to be seen if Ferrari can develop their package at the same pace as Mercedes.
Mercedes have already announced that there will be a significant upgrade to the aero package in Spain with Mclaren and Renault also announcing that their cars will receive upgrades.
With Mercedes and Ferrari seemingly leading the way, it will be interesting to see what the other teams do to close the gap.
Who to Watch
The obvious would be to say Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel but it will also be interesting to see what happens at Red Bull. Both drivers are feisty and both want to beat the other, so it could be another interesting battle between Ricciardo and Verstappen at Red Bull.
The Finnish drivers Bottas and Raikkonen both look strong points finishers and there could be an argument for Mclaren’s Fernando Alonso after a good race in Baku despite suffering a double puncture on the opening lap. The Mclaren has been slow in qualifying but has shown good race pace and if the upgrades work well, could show improvement now they are powered by Renault.
Mclaren claimed last year that they had been held back by their Honda engine which prompted them to sever ties and team up with Renault, so this race is significant in that they beat the now Honda powered Torro Rosso and justify that decision.
Force India and Haas have proven that they can mix it up, so don’t be surprised to see them qualify well.