The F1 World Championship blasts back into action this week with the fifth round of the 2014 season at the popular Circuit de Catalunya in Spain.
The Spanish Grand Prix is the traditional starting point for the European leg of the season and, having dominantly won the opening four races of the year, the Brackley-based Mercedes team will again be looking to increase their already-commanding lead at the top of the overall standings.
Nico Rosberg won the Australian Grand Prix for Mercedes but since then he has had to play second fiddle to team-mate Lewis Hamilton.
Hamilton has looked in sublime form this season and in Malaysia, Bahrain and China he produced a masterclass to drive away from Rosberg and the rest of the opposition to rack up a hat-trick of wins.
Despite that, though, Rosberg retains an overall lead at the top of the Drivers’ Championship ahead of Sunday’s race.
Hamilton said: “I am just thinking one race at a time. It would be very easy to get carried away when people keep talking about the championship, but the season is still early and we have many races left.
“Everyone at Mercedes is working so hard all the time to give Nico and I the best cars possible. So far this year the cars have been superb, great to drive, and after a short break I am looking forward to getting back into my office for the Spanish Grand Prix.”
Mercedes have so far left other teams in their wake, with reigning world champions, Red Bull, struggling, but many teams have used the short break to further develop their cars and systems as they look to improve their form.
One team looking to maintain their early season performance is Silverstone-based Sahara Force India.
Nico Hulkenberg currently sits fourth in the standing after scoring points in each of the opening four events.
The German said: “We have enjoyed a solid start to the year and now the aim is for me to take the next step and finish on the podium. The Force India-Mercedes combination is working well, and I hope for a good race this weekend.”
His team-mate, Sergio Perez, has already finished on the podium this season – third place under the floodlights of Bahrain – and he added: “I feel so happy here in the Force India team. Everyone is great to work with and that gives me great confidence. Our package is good and it would be great to score good points this week.”
The Bicester-based Toro Rosso pairing of Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniil Kvyat will also be in action this weekend.
Kvyat said: “The Circuit de Catalunya is a track I know well from racing in GP3 so I see the European leg of the season being strong for me. I hope I can continue my good run of results as I have scored points in three races so far this year.”