Formula 1 returns to Spain this weekend and Lewis Hamilton will be hoping the change of scenery prompts a change of fortune as he looks to get back on track following recent struggles.
After the opening four races of 2017, Grand Prix racing returns to its traditional European roots, with the exception of Canada in June, until September with this weekend’s race taking place at the popular Circuit de Catalunya..
The track, located close to the city of Barcelona, is one of the venues used as a pre-season test circuit, so all of the teams already have experience and data of their 2017 specification cars on the track.
Fresh from winning the Russian Grand Prix at the Sochi Autodrom two weeks ago, his first F1 victory, Valtteri Bottas is in understandably bullish mood ahead of this week.
He said: “It was great to finally get my F1 victory career up and running. It seemed like I had to wait a long time! Winning for Mercedes in Russia was an amazing experience and I now am very keen to maintain my form.”
While Bottas was successful in Sochi, his Mercedes team-mate, three-time world champion Hamilton, found the going tough and could only finish down in fourth.
“I am not sure why I was unable to challenge,” revealed the Briton. “I just didn’t have the car to do it, but I know the guys at the factory have been working 24/7 since then to try and overcome an potential future issues. I would like to get back to normal this weekend.”
While Mercedes have been the team to beat in the championship for the last three years, so far in 2017 it’s the Italian Scuderia Ferrari who are leading the way having won two of the first four races.
Current leader in the overall standings, Sebastian Vettel, won the Spanish Grand Prix in 2011 when driving for Red Bull, and the team last tasted victory in Barcelona during 2013 thanks to Fernando Alonso at his home track.
Hopes in the Ferrari camp are high for this race. Marc Gene, the former Buckingham University student, who is the team’s test and reserve driver and brand ambassador, said: “We are all keeping our fingers crossed for another good week for the team. We seem to be in a good position right now and the car appears to be working well at each race.
“This is a big weekend as it marks the start of the next chapter in the season and always provides us with an entertaining race.”
Silverstone-based Sahara Force India have enjoyed a strong start to the season, with Sergio Perez and F1 rookie Esteban Ocon both scoring points in all races so far.
It’s been a mixed start to 2017 for part Bicester-based Scuderia Toro Rosso. Carlos Sainz is ninth in the standings, mainly due to a good result in China, while his team-mate, Daniil Kvyat, sits 14th.
Sunday’s race starts at 1pm.