Spanish Grand Prix – Formula One Preview
The Season So Far
Mercedes scored another one-two in China to increase their dominance, as Lewis Hamilton closed the gap on Drivers Championship leader Nico Rosberg to just four points,
with the rest nowhere. The Spanish Grand Prix marks the European leg of the season and after a three-week hiatus, many of the teams will be introducing significant upgrades as they attempt to close the gap on Mercedes.
The Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona is a track that the drivers are familiar with as a lot of winter testing is carried out there. Most of the circuit is taken at high speed but the hairpin turns and chicanes at the end of the lap put a lot of pressure on braking. Preserving tyres through the quicker sections is important, and grid position is crucial: eleven of the last twelve races in Barcelona have been won from pole.
In The Pits
Teams employing the Mercedes engine have enjoyed a clear advantage over the first four races of the season, but not all of them have been able to capitalise. McClaren started strongly with Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen making the podium in Australia but their performances have deteriorated. Both cars retired in Bahrain and neither made the top ten in China, and with any edge that the Mercedes engine might have given them being eroded all the time, neither driver appeals in Spain.
Although the other team have spent the last three weeks working furiously to close the performance gap on the runaway leaders, we can be sure that Mercedes have also been working hard to maintain their edge. Given their dominance so far, it makes sense to have at least one of the Mercedes drivers on your side, and once again, with Hamilton available at prohibitively short odds, the value lies with his team-mate. Rosberg qualified in pole position in this race last year and is a good bet at 9/4.
Red Bull have been having tremendous problems with performance and reliability, this season, but their car is still widely regarded as the best in terms of aerodynamics and if they can continue to close the power gap with Mercedes, there is still hope for them. Straight line speed is not as crucial in Barcelona as it was in China and I think it’s worth having something on defending champion Sebastian Vettel at 16/1.
It’s also worth sticking with Force India. They’ve had an excellent start to the season, with Sergio Perez and Niko Hulkenburg managing seven top ten finishes between them, and the team currently lies third in the Constructors’ Championship. The Barcelona circuit will arguably suit their car better than China did, and I think both drivers have an outside chance of pulling off a surprise, but at bigger odds of 150/1, Perez is preferred to his team-mate.