Race Preview: Spanish Grand Prix

Image: Channel 4  F1 / Twitter

This weekend Formula 1 returns to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya for the fifth race of the 2017 season.

After a disappointing fourth place at the Russian Grand Prix two weeks ago, Lewis Hamilton will look to make up ground on Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, who currently leads the World Drivers Championship by 13 points.

The season to date has been an interesting back-and-forth battle between Ferrari and Mercedes, with drivers from both teams winning the first four races of the year.

Last Year

The opening lap of the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix saw one of the season's most controversial moments when Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg collided with each other and crashed out of the race.

With both of the Silver Arrows out of the race there was a rare opportunity for another driver to win the race, and it was young Max Verstappen who took the chequered flag for the first win of his Formula 1 career.

It was an amazing achievement for the 18-year-old Dutchman, who was driving in his very first race for Red Bull Racing after replacing the disgraced Daniil Kvyat a week ealier.

The victory also put 18-year-old Verstappen's name in the record books as youngest driver to win a Formula 1 race, but unless the most unlikely of unfortunate circumstances strike down Ferrari and Mercedes then Verstappen will probably not be the winner of the Spanish Grand Prix this year.

The favourites

This season the battle at the top of the Drivers Championship so far has been between Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, but after winning the Russian Grand Prix has Valtteri Bottas also put himself into the mix?

A quarter of the way through the season Hamilton once again finds himself trailing the championship leader, but the points gap to Vettel is holding steady at a very manageable 13 points.

Unless Red Bull or one of the other trailing teams has made a major advancement since the last race, then once again the race will probably go to either Ferrari or Mercedes.

Despite a double podium finish at the Russian Grand Prix, Ferrari dropped to second in the Constructors Championship and now trail Mercedes by a single point.

Everyone else

At this point in time what happens between Ferrari and Mercedes is all that matters.

The two teams are separated by only a single point in the Constructors Championship, and Red Bull Racing, who currently sit third, are nearly 80 points behind Ferrari.

After a diffcult time at the Russian Grand Prix, many will be watching to see if McLaren-Honda have been able to solve any of the numerous embarrassing problems that have plagued their engines all year long.

Once bright spot for McLaren in recent times has been Fernando Alonso's decision to race in the Indy 500 later this month.

Alonso has already successfully tested at the Indianopolis Speedway, and will take a temporary leave from F1 after the conclusion of the Spanish Grand Prix to complete his preparations for the 500.

What you need to know for Race Day

Image: Pirelli Motorsport / Twitter