Can Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes make it two wins in a row on the final stop of Formula One’s mini-tour of the Iberian Peninsula at this weekend’s 2021 Spanish Grand Prix? (Race: 2pm Sunday; TV: Live on Sky Sports F1).
Hamilton topped the podium in Portugal last weekend with an excellent drive that combined decisive overtaking with impressive tyre management. Title rival Max Verstappen came home second for Red Bull ahead of the second Mercedes of pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas.
The first three races of the season have set the scene for a potentially epic tussle for the championship between Hamilton and Verstappen. They have locked out the top two positions in each of the Grand Prix races to date, with Hamilton winning two to Verstappen’s one, and even at this incredibly early stage, it is difficult to see another driver contending.
Red Bull appeared to come into 2021 with the best package, but Mercedes have taken more points so far and it seems as if the fastest car will vary from race to race in line with track characteristics and how things play out over the course of each weekend in terms of clean runs in qualifying and strategy choices on race day.
Mercedes have dominated the Spanish Grand Prix over the last four years. They’ve taken a clean sweep of pole positions, have locked out the front row of the grid on each of the last three occasions and have taken four consecutive victories, all by Hamilton, including a pair of one-two finishes. No wonder Red Bull have admitted they expect Mercedes to have an edge at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya this weekend.
With that in mind, backing Hamilton to continue his strong start to the season with a third win of the year seems a smart choice.
Sergio Perez qualified and finished fourth for Red Bull in Portugal ahead of the McLaren of Lando Norris, who continued his run of impressive finishes in 2021. Charles Leclerc was sixth for Ferrari, followed by the Alpines of Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso, Daniel Ricciardo’s McLaren and the AlphaTauri of Pierre Gasly.
Carlos Sainz qualified strongly up in fifth for Ferrari but was unable to convert that into points on race day. An unsuccessful attempt to undercut Norris ahead of him left him on a compromised strategy that saw him picked off on dead rubber in the closing laps and end up 11th.
The Spaniard will be keen to get back into the points on home soil this weekend at a track at which he has always gone well. In cars of varying quality, he has finished in the points in Barcelona in each of his six races there since making the step up to F1 in 2015, including a pair of sixth-place finishes for Toro Rosso in 2016 and McLaren last year.
Ferrari have got at least one of the cars into the top six in each of the three races in 2021 to date, and Sainz has a solid chance of keeping that run going on Sunday.
The grid’s other Spaniard will also hope to show well. After a two-year absence, Alonso returns to his home Grand Prix at the wheel of an Alpine car that looked far racier in Portugal that it had in either of the first two races of the year.
He and teammate Ocon had both finished in the points in the changeable conditions at Imola, but in Portugal then genuinely looked to have a car capable of mixing it with McLaren and Ferrari. Ocon qualified up in sixth, and while Alonso had to fight his way up from a more lowly 13th, they ended the race stern to bow.
Alonso has always wrung the most he could possibly get out of his cars in Barcelona, and while a repeat of his previous victories and podium finishes at the circuit is highly unlikely, there is no reason why he and Ocon can’t be in the mix again for a third consecutive double points finish on Sunday. So these are the F1 One Spanish Grand Prix betting tips for this preview: