Spanish Grand Prix Preview: Hamilton and Vettel Go Head-to-Head Again7 min read
Once again Azerbaijan provided a breath-taking spectacle in a drama filled race. The Spanish Grand Prix has some way to go to match epic back-to-back races that preceded it. 17 different drivers have racked up wins in the 27 races staged at the Circuit de Catalunya since it became the home of the Spanish Grand Prix back in 1991.
The Circuit de Catalunya has played host to some remarkable races itself in recent years. 2016’s race saw Max Verstappen become F1’s youngest-ever winner in his first race for Red Bull and, back in 2012, Pastor Maldonado broke the home crowd’s hearts as he completed an outstanding victory ahead of local favourite Fernando Alonso.
Hamilton and Vettel to go head-to-head again in Spain
Last year’s Spanish Grand Prix saw Lewis Hamilton prevail after a thrilling race-long between the chief title protagonists. This year, however, Sebastian Vettel finds himself in a better position, with arguably the fastest car on the grid. Can the German claim his first win in Barcelona since 2011?
Setbacks the previous two races have seen Vettel fall behind Hamilton in the drivers’ standings, but he has won two of the four races so far this season. These setbacks, alongside Hamilton’s fortuitous win in Azerbaijan, see Lewis 4 points clear in the Drivers’ Championship. Hamilton, however, is no longer the clear favourite in the race to become a five-time World Champion. Both Vettel and Hamilton are joint-favourites to be crowned champion, in a very delicately poised championship race.
The Spanish Grand Prix brings upgrades
The Spanish Grand Prix is traditionally the first opportunity for the teams to introduce major revisions to their cars. McLaren is set to receive of a major aero upgrade in Barcelona. Racing director, Eric Boullier, stated McLaren would unveil its “real” 2018 car in Barcelona, so I’m hoping for big things from the Woking based team. However, there will be updates up and down the pitlane, so any gains may well be canceled out.
What about this year’s on-track action?
Lewis Hamilton showed the potential speeds possible at the Circuit de Catalunya during pre-season testing. The Brit was just 0.2 seconds off his 2017 pole position time, despite the temperatures far lower than expected this weekend.
With Mercedes posting the fastest laps during testing, they’ll be hopeful of truly getting their season back on track in Spain.
Generally, I like to get my weekend off to a flying start with some speculative bets in free practice. But this weekend I’ll let the dust settle on Friday until I take a stab at anything. This will give time to see the upgrades on all the cars but is truly due to one statistic only. Free Practice 3 has been topped by just one team so far this season, Ferrari. If the Maranello marque is there or thereabout after the first two free practice sessions, I’ll be taking a small punt on either Ferrari to top the timings once again in FP3, just to wet my whistle. We’ll have to wait until the prices become available, generally Friday evening, but I’d be looking for prices on either driver around the 3/1 or higher mark, due to the inherent unpredictability of free practices.
Back either, or both, of the Ferraris to be fastest (if 3/1 or higher). If backing both, I’d advise dutching your bet – adjusting your stake so that your pay-out is the same irrelevant of which Ferrari ends up quickest.
Ferraris outstanding pace in FP3 this season is the reason they have been qualifying so well. They’ve been using FP3 well to get the one-lap pace out of their cars. Their trick has been that they’ve been able to switch on their Pirellis quicker than the Mercedes and, therefore, extract a bit more pace out of the car.
The Brackley based Mercedes team will have been working hard to remedy this situation with their Spanish Grand Prix upgrade package. It is also worth noting that, the FIA has banned teams topping up oil during qualifying. This has come after allegations that the Ferrari, which smokes excessively, may be gaining extra performance due to trickery in the area of oil consumption.
I’m happy to see Lewis Hamilton is not favourite to start from pole, this makes my selection a simple one… Lewis it is!
Back Lewis Hamilton to be fastest qualifier at
The Spanish Grand Prix is less dependent on power and so offers Red Bull a chance at redemption after an Awful weekend in Baku. Red Bull are determined not to enforce team orders, but the drivers need to play a lot smarter at the Circuit de Catalunya. They must avoid another nightmare scenario in Barcelona.
Three out of the last four races have seen a Red Bull on the podium and, in current form, you’ve got to feel that Daniel Ricciardo is the more likely of the Red Bull pairing to make it four from five.
Also, three of the last four Spanish Grand Prix have been won from pole, meaning I’ve got a couple of fancies for the race. Since I feel that Lewis Hamilton will re-find his true form in Barcelona during qualifying, I must feel that last year’s winner will triumph again in 2018.
Back Daniel Ricciardo to finish on the podium at
Back Lewis Hamilton to win the Spanish Grand Prix at