The Spanish Grand Prix Preview comes from Guest Blogger Josh.
F1 fans will be hoping for a barnstorming Spanish Grand Prix to launch the season’s European leg – but Circuit de Catalunya isn’t a venue known for producing drama.Qualifying is arguably more important here than at any other track, with the eventual winner almost always coming from the front row.
That was the case last year, when pole-sitter Pastor Maldonado ended the Williams team’s seven-year victory drought by taking a shock win. Meanwhile Lewis Hamilton – who topped qualifying only to be sent to the back when his car ran dry of fuel – could only recover to eighth. Even in the era of DRS and KERS, overtaking is rare at the Spanish circuit.
Maldonado earned his spurs that day, but with this year’s Williams proving a difficult beast to tame a repeat victory is highly unlikely. Championship leader Sebastian Vettel is the clear favourite to add to his already overflowing trophy cabinet following a sublime victory last time out in Bahrain, where the Red Bull star built a commanding early lead and cruised to a comfortable win. There was barely a drop of sweat on the German when he stepped from the car.
So who can topple him? Kimi Räikkönen has triumphed twice before in Spain, claiming the top step for McLaren in 2005 and Ferrari in ‘08. The Finn’s Renault-powered E21 has been gentle on its tyres this season – a crucial attribute in modern day F1 – and if he can qualify among the top-five Kimi is a real threat to take a third Spanish triumph.
After a troubled run to eighth in Bahrain, Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso badly needs a strong result this weekend. Victory on home turf shouldn’t be ruled out: his 2013 Ferrari is a vastly superior machine to last year’s, in which Alonso finished second to Maldonado, and the Spaniard always gets a lift from his adoring home crowd.
And then there’s Mark Webber. The Aussie has been on the end of some dreadful luck this season, from his wheel making an early escape in China to the infamous ‘Multi 21′ fallout with team-mate Vettel in Malaysia.
But having won this race in 2010 he knows how to get the job done and has the car to do it – all he needs now is some luck. Meanwhile Romain Grosjean (Lotus) and the Mercedes pairing of Hamilton and Nico Rosberg could feature in the podiumscrap, though none look likely to challenge for victory.
It says a lot about their current struggles that McLaren’s drivers have been relegated to a brief mention at the end of this preview. Sergio Perez showed Jenson Button the way home in Bahrain, and the spirited Mexican will be keen to teach his veteran team-mate a few more lessons in Spain. But victory? Not a chance.
So another Vettel win looks to be on the cards, but don’t rule his rivals out. Alonso and Räikkönen have taken a win apiece this season and will be keen to erode the German’s advantage atop the standings in Spain.
I’d like to thank Josh for this insightful preview into the Spanish Grand Prix: Josh writes about all things sport over at Aford Awards, a UK sports trophy supplier. You can find him on Twitter and Google+