We preview the next instalment of what is proving to be a fascinating Formula 1 season, which is Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix.
Valterri Bottas’ victory in Russia has truly ignited the 2017 F1 season. The Finn produced a fantastic drive which saw him go from third on the starting grid to first on the podium. So with the touchpaper ignited we move onto Barcelona for what should be a thrilling Spanish Grand Prix.
He had the track form but I still didn’t see Valtteri Bottas claiming the win in Sochi, especially after the two Ferrari drivers locked out the front row of the grid. How wrong I was as the latest Mercedes recruit stole the show, passing the chequered flag 0.617 seconds ahead of Sebastian Vettel and some 11 seconds ahead of fellow Finn, Kimi Raikkonen. While Bottas’ brilliant start off the line, where he got the jump on both Vettel and Raikkonen, was key to the Finn securing a maiden career victory, he must also be complemented on the maturity he showed during the race, especially during the later stages where any small slip up would have seen Vettel, who was breathing down Bottas’ neck, claim race honours.
Both myself and Lewis Hamilton were left with egg on our collective faces, with the Brit – who I had tipped to dominate proceedings – failing to improve on his grid position of fourth. It was quite a strange race for the reigning world champion who was subject to a rather poor strategy from his the Mercedes technicians.
The two Red Bull drivers also experienced contrasting fortunes with Daniel Ricciardo being forced to retire and Max Verstappen finishing in fifth.
Russia proved to be an extremely happy hunting ground for Force India with Sergio Perez claiming sixth and Esteban Ocon taking seventh. They were followed across the line by former Force India driver, Nico Hulkenberg. The top ten was rounded out by Felipe Massa (9th) and Carlos Sainz (10th).
Spanish Grand Prix | Sunday 14 May | Circuit de-Barcelona Catalunya | 12:30
To Win Race
Lewis Hamilton 15/10 | Sebastian Vettel 15/10| Valterri Bottas 7/2 | Kimi Raikkonen 12/1 | Max Verstappen 18/1 | Daniel Ricciardo 22/1 | Sergio Perez 500/1 | Felipe Massa 500/1
I’m a big fan of the Circuit de Catalunya, mainly due to its mix of high and low-speed corners which really test the reliability of the faster cars on track. While that first sentence does sound rather exciting, I fear I might be hyping the track up more than I should as it’s the not the most conducive for overtaking. As such, grid position could be a determining factor on Sunday.
The track consists of 66 laps covering a total race distance of 307km. Kimi Raikkonen still holds the fastest lap record with his 1.21.670 assault on the 4.665km lap set during his 2008 victory.
It seems it won’t be so sunny in ‘Sunny Catalunya’ this Sunday with the local weather bureau predicting cloud cover for most of the race weekend. This shouldn’t be an issue, however, as there is no rainfall being forecast.
Pirelli has opted to issue the hard tyre compounds alongside the mediums and softs. It seems a rather strange choice to issue the hards considering that the drivers have struggled to get the softer compounds up to temperature. Anyway, Pirelli do some strange stuff every season, so this move really doesn’t surprise me.
Last year’s race was won by Max Verstappen while Kimi Raikkonen (2nd) and Sebastian Vettel (3rd) rounded out the podium.
Podium Finish – Yes – Max Verstappen 3/1
I can’t believe this is actually available. Yes, Red Bull have struggled to match the pace of both Ferrari and Mercedes, but with the Milton Keynes-based team about to do a massive aero upgrade, Verstappen surely has to be a runner to get on the podium. The young gun won here last year and my money is on him being among the top three come the close of the race.
Fastest Lap: Kimi Raikkonen 11/2
While I won’t be throwing the rent money on this one, I will definitely have a R50 strike on it. The veteran Finn still holds the fastest lap record here and will surely be a threat this Sunday as he’s driving a much-improved Ferrari. He also produced the fastest lap time during the final day of preseason testing at this weekend’s track, which makes this bet seem even shrewder.
To Win Outright & Fastest Qualifier: Lewis Hamilton 15/10 & 1/1
The law of averages is behind my decision here as Hamilton is unlikely to produce three sub-par race weekends in a row. The Brit has a healthy record in Spain, winning the 2014 race and claiming second place finishes in 2013 and 2016. The price is right and I will be having a R100 strike on both of the tipped markets.