Another race, another Mercedes 1-2, and another race where Ferrari need to look deep within themselves, and ask themselves why they can’t live up to the potential that they had shown during pre-season testing? And you sense their championship chances are slipping away heading into Round Five of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya for the 2019 Spanish Grand Prix.
Valtteri Bottas (87 points) leads the championship for Mercedes by a single point over his teammate five-time world champion Lewis Hamilton (86 points) after taking victory in Azerbaijan over Hamilton, with the difference between the two after the opening four rounds being the fastest lap achieved by Bottas in the first race of the season in Australia. However, you sense that there are a number of tracks coming up which have generally suited Hamilton in the past, and it is going to be interesting to see whether Bottas can keep pace with the defending world champion over the coming rounds.
Sebastian Vettel (52 points) has moved up into third in the world championship for Ferrari after finishing in what is now becoming a disappointing third place behind the Mercedes in Baku. Serious questions have got to be asked internally at Ferrari as to where their speed continues to go because other than in Bahrain with Charles Leclerc, they haven’t looked like having race-winning speed.
Max Verstappen (51 points) is an impressive fourth in the championship for Red Bull Racing-Honda after finishing fourth at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, ahead of Leclerc (47 points) in fifth after he came back from his crash in qualifying to finish in fifth and with the fastest lap, and like Vettel, is under pressure to deliver Ferrari their first race victory of the season in Spain this weekend.
Behind the Top 5 in the world championship, Sergio Pérez for Racing Point-BWT Mercedes after finishing an impressive sixth, Pierre Gasly for Red Bull Racing-Honda after retiring with a driveshaft issue, and Kimi Räikkönen for Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari after sneaking into the points in Azerbaijan are tied for sixth in the standings on 13 points, with Lando Norris (12 points) for McLaren-Renault and Kevin Magnussen (eight points) for Haas-Ferrari completing the Top 10 in the standings after the former finished eighth, and the latter finished outside the points in 13th.
Looking at the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes (173 points) lead by 74 points over the underachieving Ferrari (99 points), with Red Bull Racing-Honda (64 points) a further 35 points behind in third. Behind them, it is McLaren-Renault (18 points), followed by Racing Point-BWT Mercedes (17 points), Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari (13 points), Renault (12 points), Haas-Ferrari (eight points), Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (four points), and Williams-Mercedes (zero points).
So, who is going to win the 2019 Spanish Grand Prix?
Mercedes have to be the favourites after four-consecutive 1-2 finishes, and while Ferrari were strong at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya during pre-season testing, they haven’t been able to translate this into consistent race-winning performances, while Red Bull haven’t really looked like challenging for victory at any of the opening four races.
I think Lewis Hamilton is the favourite to win here, and I think he will be followed closely by his teammate Valtteri Bottas in second-place, with Charles Leclerc to come home in third.