Barcelona is the setting for a Spanish Grand Prix that takes place against a backdrop of intrigue. Can Hamilton eat into Rosberg’s commanding lead? Can Ferrari get closer to Mercedes? Perhaps most interesting of all, how will Verstappen fare after his rather abrupt promotion to Red Bull, and how will Kvyat cope after his demotion to Toro Rosso?
(Kvyat has found himself back in the ‘B’ team following a high-profile accident with former Red Bull favourite Vettel)
Opinion is divided on whether Red Bull were too hard on Kvyat. According to Vettel, this was a decision taken prior to Russia, and according to team principal Christian Horner, based on Kvyat’s performance relative to Ricciardo, but to make a decision so early into a season smacks of something else going on.
Will Verstappen Thrive?
Having impressed enough to land a seat with Red Bull, Verstappen will keen to grab it with both hands. He has proven he can be quick and he isn’t intimidated by the big names, so he might well rise to the challenge. Riccardo is going to be a sterner test than Sainz though. The Australian is a race winner whose good nature hides a steely resolve, and he certainly won’t go easy on his new colleague. Verstappen will also have to be aware of how ruthless Red Bull are – what happened to Kvyat could also happen to him.
Hamilton needs Luck
This is crunch time for the Englishman. Yes, we are only at race five, but Hamilton is already more than a win’s worth of points behind a confident Rosberg. If he doesn’t start clawing that gap back, it’s going to be very difficult to catch his teammate. Rosberg has taken good advantage of the circumstances to come his way – Hamilton needs to do likewise.
Reliability has been the main problem for Ferrari this year. Mercedes keep speaking of Ferrari in terms of them being a threat, but that’s not been readily apparent from the racing so far. Can a familiar Spanish circuit be the place they show what they’re truly capable of?
I guess we’ll find out on Sunday.