The European stretch of the 2019 Formula One season gets underway at this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix (Race: 9:10am ET Sunday).
The Azerbaijan Grand Prix two weeks ago was the case of another race, another one-two for Mercedes. Valtteri Bottas led home teammate Lewis Hamilton from pole position as the team filled the top two steps of the podium for the fourth time in four races.
In doing so, Mercedes became the first team in the history of the sport to begin a season in such dominant fashion. Regardless of which team has the fundamentally quicker package, there can be no arguing that Mercedes execute better than any other. They are already the clear favorites with our top recommended online sportsbooks in both the drivers’ and constructors’ championships.
The Spanish Grand Prix should, though, provide Ferrari’s best chance yet to break the Mercedes hegemony. It was at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya that Ferrari showed such strong pace in pre-season testing. Its layout, with its series of high-energy corners, should also help alleviate the tyre temperature issues they have experienced in recent Grand Prix.
Azerbaijan was a frustrating weekend for Ferrari. They looked to have the necessary pace to out-qualify Mercedes, but Charles Leclerc’s crash made it more difficult for them to orchestrate a tow for Sebastian Vettel, which gave Mercedes the crucial edge on the long final straight. In the race, Vettel finished a fairly distant third, while Leclerc was only able to make it up to fifth, behind the Red Bull of Max Verstappen.
If Ferrari cannot overcome Mercedes in Spain, there isn’t much hope for a competitive championship. Vettel has described it as a “crucial” weekend for the team. As many will do, they will bring a raft of updates to the event as they seek to win a race in which Mercedes have triumphed in four of the last five seasons, including a one-two finish last year.
Ferrari’s issues to date have lengthened the odds on them triumphing on Sunday to a point at which they look tempting. Backing a red car to top the podium therefore seems a solid play.
Sergio Perez again impressed in Azerbaijan by securing a sixth-place finish for Racing Point, ahead of the two McLarens of Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris, his teammate Lance Stroll, and Kimi Raikkonen’s Sauber.
It was the first double points finish of the season for McLaren in the first race in which they were able to get both of their cars over the finish line. The team has showed solid pace and stands fourth in the constructors’ championship. They also seem confident that this year’s concept provides more scope for future development than last year’s iteration.
On the driver front, rookie Norris has stepped straight in and produced some impressive performances, including an excellent sixth in Bahrain. Sainz hasn’t had much luck on his side, but drove a good race in Azerbaijan to take his first points of the season. They will both be looking forward to his weekend’s race. Norris because it is one of the circuits he has driven at before in Formula 2. Sainz because this could very well be his last home Grand Prix, with rumors circulating that Spain will lose its place on the calendar for 2020.
A repeat performance of their double points finish in Azerbaijan could therefore be on the cards.
Haas have highlighted the Spanish Grand Prix as an opportunity to score good points as, like Ferrari, they expect to have far less problems getting sufficient tyre temperature in Spain. After a sixth-place finish for Kevin Magnussen in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, they have failed to add to their points tally.
Haas look to have the largest performance range of any of the teams. In Australia and in qualifying at Bahrain, they were much closer to Red Bull, the third fastest team, than they were to the midfield runners. In China and especially in Azerbaijan, they were towards the back of the midfield. While all of the teams are having more problems finding the ideal operating window with the new thinner tyre treads, it is particularly affecting Haas.
They are, though, confident of being on the pace this weekend, and may even see an opportunity to replicate Magnussen’s excellent sixth-place finish in Spain last year. Only once in the four races this year have the top three teams locked out the top six finishing positions; neither have they done so in any of the last three Spanish Grand Prix.
Magnussen therefore has a decent chance of again finishing in the top six on Sunday.
Our Preview’s F1 Spanish Grand Prix Predictions & Betting Picks Verdict
- Back Ferrari to win the race @ +175 with Intertops on the ‘winning team’ market. It is +165 with Bovada.
- Bet on McLaren to secure a ‘double points’ finish (both cars to finish in top 10) @ best odds of +225 with Intertops. It is +200 with Bovada.
- Back Kevin Magnussen to finish in the top six @ best odds of +800 (8/1) with Bovada. It is +700 with Intertops.