Virtually everything can happen at a Spanish Grand Prix held in Barcelona, though the usual suspects might succeed despite the odd conditions.
The drivers of Formula One jump back into their cars this weekend in Barcelona after a three-week long break. The Spanish Grand Prix marks the start of the European season, which is a stage that usually rearranges the order of the field after the first period of the season. Teams have more knowledge than at the start of the year, and the factories provide freshly developed parts to the cars.
• Hamilton still favourite to win
• Ferrari edges closer
• Barcelona is a tricky venue
As the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is a regular testing venue for teams in Formula One, the engineers and the drivers have considerably more information about the track than at most circuits. However, this usually doesn’t a significant factor when preparing for the weekend, as the circuit with its constantly changing conditions is rather perfect for testing than racing. Lewis Hamilton is favourite to win the race according to online sportsbooks in the EU, but Sebastian Vettel driving the upgraded Ferrari might be able to challenge him.
Ferrari to close the gap
Last year’s champion, Hamilton leads teammate Nico Rosberg by 27 points on the table after winning three from the first four races of the season. Four time world champion Sebastian Vettel, who spends his first year at Ferrari, was the only other driver to claim a victory this year, winning the Malaysian Grand Prix in hot conditions. He is sitting third, just one point behind Rosberg, while the other Ferrari driver, Kimi Raikkonen placed fourth, with 23 points less than his German partner.
Those four could be in contention for this year’s title, and the European season might decide whether Rosberg or Vettel will be his main rival. The former is apparently enjoys the same technology as Hamilton does, however it seems that he might still suffer from the psychological defeat he conceded against his teammate at the end of last year. While Vettel has been flourishing at his new team so far, and the biggest question regarding him is whether Ferrari’s engineers can finally close the gap between them and Mercedes or not.
Ferrari showed potential in the first months of the season after Maurizio Arrivabene took over the team last year, and it seems that technical director James Allison and his crew started in a very good direction when designing this year’s car. As the hot weather favours them, which was obvious in Malaysia, with the necessary developments and a spot on setup, they might get some victories in the summer, making the competition tight and exciting once again.
Another outfit to close the gap is the ever improving McLaren but starting from the back of the grid, they have too much distance to cover before starting to fight for victories. Williams were promising last year but they seem to have stalled this year, and with Red Bull still seeking the way out from the middle of the field, it is no wonder that most players who bet on sports in the EU either go with Mercedes or Ferrari.
A tricky circuit
The Circuit near Barcelona has a bit of everything, a very long straight, some fast corners and slow turns too. That means this is actually a perfect place for testing, but it also poses a big challenge for engineers when it comes to fine tuning the car before the race. The ever changing direction of the wind makes the venue also a tricky one, as it either can completely blow a car’s setup or lead to surprise performances too. Like Pastor Maldonado’s unexpected victory in 2012, this kind of outcome could make considerable money for intuitive punters playing at online sportsbooks.
The wind can be a very serious problem indeed, and it might have played some role in the mysterious accident that Fernando Alonso suffered during offseason testing in Barcelona, gambling news reported. The Spaniard, who joined McLaren after leaving Ferrari last year, missed the first race in Australia because of the concussion he suffered when crashing in turn three. He seems to be okay now, since in the last two races in China and in Bahrain he did better than his teammate, Jenson Button.
Though this venue is not a favourite amongst drivers, Nelson Piquet was so unimpressed by its boring and unchallenging design that he called it once “Micky Mouse circuit”, Barcelona has seen quite a few unforgettable races. With Ferrari emerged as the number one rivals of Mercedes, we might witness a thrilling battle between the red and the silver cars this Sunday.