Revamped F1 returns to Europe with no clear favorite

Doug Mendoza
May 11, 2017

Valtteri Bottas seeks to prove his maiden Formula One success at Sochi was no fluke by repeating the feat for champions Mercedes in this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix.

While the Silver Arrows hold a slender one-point lead over Ferrari, they have been far from the dominant force they were across the past three seasons, particularly in race trim.

Vettel fell just short of hunting down Bottas two weeks ago in Russian Federation as the Finn held on for his first career win, while Hamilton had to settle for fourth with pace problems and will now hope to bounce back in Spain.

Vettel, a four-times world champion, is 13 points clear of Mercedes' triple title victor Lewis Hamilton after the German won in Australia and Bahrain.

All the teams know the track well as it is also used for pre-season testing.

"I think we are in a much better position this year, than previous years, but it's still fairly early".

The Ferrari pole ended a run of 18 in a row for Mercedes, who have been on pole in 59 of the last 63 races.

There are suggestions Red Bull's situation has left driver Daniel Ricciardo deeply frustrated and potentially open to a switch to Ferrari for 2018. Plus, obviously, the past year was a little bit up and down, a bit hard but we've looked after ourselves and tried to build the best vehicle we can.

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"We have to wait and see what the updates will bring", Verstappen said. "That would already be a good step forward".

"I hope the upgrade will give us a chance to really fight with Mercedes and Ferrari or at least get us closer", said Ricciardo.

Toto Wolff says that Mercedes are reluctant to issue any "brutal" team orders this year. He says that the team intends on keeping a "keen eye on his progress this year". I think there's no doubt looking at the results now we have that we have the right group of people onboard to be able to build the vehicle you need to win races.

Nico Rosberg, the victor of the first four races in 2016, won the title with Mercedes last season, while Hamilton won the previous two championships.

"We've proven in two of the four races but as you said, it matters what you keep doing, not what you have done".

"We expected Valtteri to develop through every single race and step up his performance and he's shown that", Wolff said.

But the four-times world champion is taking nothing for granted as "we more or less got the maximum" out of the first races. "It's my home race".

Other reports by GizPress

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