Mark Thompson/Getty Images
Ferrari maestro Sebastian Vettel will hope to increase his lead at the head of the 2017 Formula One drivers’ standings on Sunday as he looks to win his first Spanish Grand Prix in six years.
The German driver holds a 13-point cushion over second-placed Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton after the latter finished fourth at the Russian Grand Prix earlier this month.
Reigning Spanish Grand Prix champion Max Verstappen travels to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya with lofty ambitions in sight also, having shocked the masses when he ran to victory in 2016—his only Formula One win to date.
Vettel’s Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen will be another figure to watch out for as he seeks his third Spanish Grand Prix title, while McLaren’s Fernando Alonso also has two Barcelona crowns to his name (2006, 2013).
We provide an in-depth run-down of this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix schedule, complete with all the essential viewing information and a preview of which drivers to watch out for in Barcelona.
Start Time: 1 p.m. BST/8 a.m ET/2 p.m local
TV Info: Sky Sports F1 (U.K.) and NBC Sports (U.S.)
Driver List: visit Formula1.com
|2017 Formula 1 Drivers’ Standings: Top 10|
|5||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||35|
|6||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||22|
|7||Sergio Perez||Force India||22|
|9||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso||11|
|10||Esteban Ocon||Force India||9|
Max Verstappen, Red Bull
Red Bull starlet Verstappen makes his way back to Barcelona on the one-year anniversary of his sole Formula One victory this weekend, and the prodigious teenager can stage another mighty surprise if he can prevail this Sunday.
However, the 19-year-old doesn’t fancy his chances of causing another upset in 2017. When asked by CNN’s The Circuit if he thought Red Bull are jostling with Mercedes and Ferrari for this season’s championship, he replied:
“Not at the moment. Even at this race we will not be in the fight. I need a bit of luck this season. If it’s equal, I don’t need luck to win but, at the moment, when you’re a little bit behind, you do need a bit of luck, like we had last year.”
Nevertheless, Verstappen spoke positively of the improvements made to his RB13 at the end of Friday’s practice session:
Max Verstappen @Max33Verstappen
Feeling positive about the upgraded RB13! More grip 👊🏼 We are always looking for more pace, so we’ll keep pushing #SpanishGP 🇪🇸 https://t.co/Klyv1lmLPk
5/12/2017, 2:19:10 PM
The teenager sits fifth in the standings and is 14 points adrift of fourth-placed Raikkonen, requiring a podium push sooner rather than later if he’s to beat last season’s overall finish of fifth.
Perhaps Spain will work its magic for Verstappen once more as he looks to beat a thriving field of Mercedes and Ferrari powerhouses.
Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari
Dan Istitene/Getty Images
Even a second-placed finish in Russia last time out wasn’t enough to see Vettel lose his place atop the F1 summit, with the German yet to finish outside the top two in any race this season coming to Barcelona.
Early omens weren’t good for Vettel in Spain, however, after he ended Friday’s practice session in fourth place. Following that result, he expressed disappointment with his performance and remarked he didn’t feel in control of his car, per Autosport.com:
“I’m not happy. I’m struggling a bit to find the rhythm, I’m struggling a bit with the conditions, probably more myself than the car. I didn’t get everything together, I wasn’t too happy but I can feel the car is quick so that is good.”
“I’m not worried, I’m just not happy with how the day went. I wasn’t always feeling like I was captain on board. Sometimes somebody else was steering my ship and I hope tomorrow, whoever that was, will disappear.”
Speaking as a press conference earlier this week, Vettel also said mind games don’t have any bearing on his race preparation, which is exactly the kind of mentality that produces a four-time world champion, via Formula One:
Formula 1 @F1
Pressure? Mind games?
Sebastian Vettel reckons he’s immune… 🤔
@ScuderiaFerrari #SpanishGP 🇪🇸 https://t.co/2r8Hc1QItN
5/11/2017, 2:54:13 PM
That being said, it has been six years since Vettel clinched his only Spanish Grand Prix title, and five different champions have risen in the five running of the event since, suggesting this could be anyone’s race to take.
Since that 2011 victory, Vettel has ended sixth, fourth on two occasions and collected back-to-back third-place finishes in Spain over the past two years, indicating an upward trajectory in his bid to return to the top.