Formula 1: Spanish Grand Prix Preview

Four flyaway races done and Formula One is onto Spain. As the drivers jump into their cars on Friday, a clear picture has been portrayed for the rest of the season ahead. The reigning champion Lewis Hamilton currently leads the driver’s standings by 27 points from teammate Nico Rosberg with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel a point further back.

Mercedes look in good shape once again. The 2015 chassis has started all four races on pole, with Lewis Hamilton converting 3 of those into victories and both driver’s have finished on the podium at all four races leaving them clear at the top of the constructors standings. The outstanding performances of the team last season have made teams play catch up through the winter to try and compete, and now there has arisen a challenger to Mercedes crown – Ferrari.

The release of Spaniard Fernando Alonso and the signing of four time world champion Sebastian Vettel was a statement of intent for the Italian Horse outfit. Already the German has settled into his new seat, he followed up a podium finish in his maiden race for the team with a win in Malaysia by completely outsmarting and stunning favorites Mercedes. The Silver Arrows were waiting for the first team to challenge them on a level basis, and most expected that team to be Williams after the threat that was posed by the team in 2014. However it is Ferrari who have appeared as the best with podium finishes in all three races with Kimi Raikkonen making a welcome return to the podium with a superb performance in Bahrain.

Ferrari's German driver Sebastian Vettel

Williams needed to step it up another gear in 2015 to match results from 2014, but the team doesn’t seem to have quite the package of Ferrari or that of Mercedes. That being said the team do look to be better than the other teams with consistent finishes behind the top two teams in the opening four races.

Mclaren and Red Bull have both had shaky starts to the season, with the Renault not producing an engine required to challenge that of the Mercedes powered cars, and the Mclaren-Honda package seemingly even worse with both Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button struggling to finish anywhere near the top ten. Although an improved performance in the car aided Alonso to finish 12th in the latest race at Bahrain.

Lotus, Sauber and Toro Rosso are right in the mix to battle with the likes of Mclaren and Red Bull and they have proven this by beating them in a number of races this season.

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The field certainly seems to be taking shape with the teams roughly where you would expect them to be at this moment in time considering changes made in the sport and results off the back of last season, but Spain and the European races offer a completely different challenge for the teams. With classic circuits and cooler temperatures it could certainly prove to be a different outcome than the first four races for some driver’s. Mercedes have found that Ferrari are a team that can be managed, mostly likely by holding them up through Rosberg and letting Hamilton drive off into the sunset and to claim victory. The ‘European season’ as it is known in this sport should be kind to the Silver Arrows, as the cooler temperatures should allow the team to look after their tyres better than in the sweltering heat of Malaysia.

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The Spanish Grand Prix is a difficult circuit to overtake so if Lewis Hamilton is to gain his fifth successive pole position, the drivers behind may need to think about overtaking early on, preferably at the start. The race may see normal business resumed at the front  but it will definitely be a battle behind the front runners.

My race prediction: 1 – Hamilton, 2 – Rosberg, 3 – Raikkonen. I also predict that Mclaren will finally get the car into the points this weekend with Spaniard Fernando Alonso.

My championship prediction: 1 – Hamilton, 2 – Vettel, 3 – Rosberg.

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