Round five of the 2015 Formula 1 season sees the first European race of the year at the Circuit de Catalunya, with the Spanish track hosting its twenty-fifth race, having debuted back in 1991 when Nigel Mansell took the chequered flag.
The 4.655KM, sixteen-turn track last year saw Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS dominate, with Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg finishing almost nose-to-tail almost fifty seconds clear of the rest of the field.
Mercedes will once again be the team to beat this year, with Hamilton having won three out of four races so far, and will be odds-on favourite to make it four wins out of five in 2015 and two consecutive Spanish Grand Prix victories.
Team-mate Rosberg has finished on the podium in every race so far, but is still looking for his first 2015 victory, and will need to break that duck sooner rather than later if he wants to make a genuine championship challenge this year.
Scuderia Ferrari are once again set to be the German team’s closest challengers, with Kimi Raikkonen eager to continue his good form that took him to his first podium finish of the year last time out in Bahrain. The Finn has a good record in Spain, having won the event twice back in 2005 for McLaren and in 2008 during his first spell with Ferrari.
Sebastian Vettel will want to put his error-strewn race in the desert behind him and return to the kind of form that took him to three podium finishes in the first three races, including his first Ferrari victory in Malaysia. The German finished down in fifth in Bahrain, but is a former Spanish Grand Prix winner, having won back in 2011 whilst driving for Red Bull Racing.
Williams Martini Racing are looking to get closer to the two teams ahead of them in the championship, having dropped back to a firm third so far this year after being Mercedes’ closest challengers at the back end of 2014. Both Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa are still looking for their first podium finishes this year, and will be hard pressed to do so this weekend if Mercedes and Ferrari are on the top of their games.
Renault is bringing an upgraded power unit to Spain, which should hopefully benefit Infiniti Red Bull Racing. Daniel Ricciardo is already on his fourth and final engine for 2015, and will take a penalty if he takes a fifth, but the Australian has finished every race so far this year inside the points.
Team-mate Daniil Kvyat will be hoping for a clean weekend in Spain, with the Russian suffering problems in pretty much every weekend of the season so far. Everyone knows Kvyat is quick; he just needs the car to be 100% for him to show it.
The other Renault-powered team, Scuderia Toro Rosso, will also be hopeful of a reliable weekend, with Max Verstappen having retired from three out of the four races so far due to mechanical issues. He and Spanish team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr will both be eager to prove themselves this weekend on a track both have prior experience on, something that hasn’t happened so far this year in the previous four events.
The Lotus F1 Team have had a recent turn of form, with Romain Grosjean taking two consecutive seventh places in China and Bahrain, but team-mate Pastor Maldonado continues to have the majority of the bad luck within the team, and is still seeking his first points of 2015. Maldonado has happy memories of the Circuit de Catalunya, having taken his maiden F1 victory there back in 2012 whilst driving for Williams, and although a win is unlikely, the Venezuelan will be eager to score points for only the second time in his Lotus career.
The Sauber F1 Team have had a hit or miss season so far in 2015, with both Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson having scored points twice. To be fair to Ericsson, he should have scored points last time out in Bahrain had it not been for an unfortunate lengthy pit stop due to a wheel nut issue, but both he and Nasr will be eager to return to the points this weekend in Spain.
Sahara Force India broke into the top ten for the first time since Australia last time out in Bahrain as both Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez continue to get on top of their VJM08’s that was introduced late in pre-season testing. The pace is coming, and if they can continue their upward swing, regular points could come their way, starting this weekend in Spain.
Another team showing an upturn on form is McLaren-Honda, but both Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button are still to score their first points after a troubled start to the season. In a new-liveried MP4/30 for Spain, the team are hopeful of moving closer to that elusive first points, and with the full support of the Spanish crowd, it may just push Alonso into the top ten.
The Manor F1 Team continue to race on their own at the back, but have made steady progress so far this season, with both Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi now qualifying well-within the 107% time that they were struggling to get within in the early rounds. Merhi is the third Spaniard racing in his home Grand Prix this weekend, and will be looking to get on terms with his team-mate who has dominated him over the past couple of races.
2014 Spanish Grand Prix Podium
|3||3||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||Red Bull-Renault||+49.014s|
2015 Spanish Grand Prix Race Victory Odds
|Lewis Hamilton||1/2||Kimi Raikkonen||8/1|
|Nico Rosberg||3/1||Valtteri Bottas||66/1|
|Sebastian Vettel||7/1||Felipe Massa||80/1|
|All odds courtesy of Ladbrokes and are correct as of 06 May 2015. Odds may change before event. Other drivers quotes available.|