A couple of months back, the Formula One season started in Australia with many experts predicting that Ferrari and Red Bull would finally be able to close the gap on Mercedes this season. After several years of being second best to the Germany constructor and their drivers, both Ferrari and Red Bull had seemed to show in testing ahead of the season, that they could finally match Mercedes for pace.
However, four races in and the season has already taken on an ominous look for those teams hoping to reel in the German team. In the first four races, the same three teams and the same five driver’s have dominated the top five positions in each race, but the main constant has been that it has been Mercedes’ two drivers current World Champion Lewis Hamilton and team mate Valtteri Bottas, that have dominated the races.
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This weekend we head to the fifth and perhaps most important race of the season so far, the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. This is the track where most of the teams will test their cars during the winter and as such, it should be a very familiar one to the drivers. It is also the race where teams tend to introduce any extra technology onto their cars to try and make them faster for the season ahead and Ferrari and Red Bull will certainly be hoping any improvements they make can close the gap on Mercedes.
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Le’s take a look now at how the season has gone so far.
Driver’s Championship – Top 5
- Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) – 87
- Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 86
- Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) – 52
- Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 51
- Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) – 47
With two first places and two second places apiece in the first four races, the Mercedes pair of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton lead the way in the driver’s Championship. Bottas leads by a single point after he recorded the fastest lap in the Australian Grand Prix, a new innovation added for this season. These top five drivers have finished in the top five, albeit in different order, in each of the four races so far this season and they will no doubt be looking to keep that impressive record going in the fifth in Spain this weekend.
For Red Bull and Ferrari, this weekend is about trying to close that gap which, if anything, seems to have grown between the teams since the end of the 2018 season. If they can’t and the Mercedes drivers monopolise the top two spots in the race, then it looks like being a two-horse race for the driver’s Championship with everyone else scrabbling around for the minor points.
Constructor’s Championship – Top 5
- Mercedes – 173
- Ferrari – 99
- Red Bull Racing – 64
- McLaren – 18
- Racing Point BWT Mercedes – 17
Mercedes have already stormed into a 74-point advantage over Ferrari and they are 109 points ahead of Red Bull in third, which just emphasises how dominant they have been this season. Only one team, Williams, is yet to record a point in the constructor’s Championship and outside of the top three, McLaren will be very happy to have bounced back from a miserable few years to be a distant fourth, but still ahead of the other teams competing in the championship.
The Spanish Grand Prix
The Spanish Grand Prix has always been one of the most important ones of the season for teams. Many technical developments that the team didn’t quite have ready for the start of the season, are usually ready to be implemented by the start of the race in Barcelona and these can have quite an impact on the fortunes of the teams.
That impact, however, can be positive, or it can occasionally be a negative.
Teams will keep any improvements they make to their cars a closely guarded secret, but you can be assured that Red Bull and Ferrari will be desperate for any alterations they make will be sufficient enough for them to close the gap on Mercedes. The problem they have is that Mercedes too will have their own developments to incorporate into their own vehicles and the likelihood is that they will also improve the fortunes for both their drivers too.
With the circuit being used extensively for winter testing, it is a track the cars have been round many times and one that the drivers will know very well indeed. This often leads to some exciting races. Lewis Hamilton has a good record in this race, winning three times in 2014, 2017 and 2018 and he will start the race as the 1/2 favourite to earn the victory.
It seems likely that Valtteri Bottas will be his closest challenger once again. The Finn leads the Driver’s Championship by a single point and he has shown himself to be the equal of Hamilton this season in terms of pace and performance. Not something that he has been in the past couple of years since he took over the seat from the retiring Nico Rosberg.
Whether the likes of Ferrari duo Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc, or Red Bull’s Max Verstappen can break into the top two will depend very much on the changes made to their cars and that to the Mercedes. All things being equal however, I’d put my money on the Mercedes duo once again leading the race with these other three drivers chasing them home several seconds later.
Spanish Grand Prix – Winner – Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes – 1/2 at bet365 Sport