F1 Spanish Grand Prix
Sunday May 22, 14:00
Sky Sports F1
Amid the glitz and glamour, celebrity-laden paddocks and an unforgettable Martin Brundle grid-walk in Miami last time out, Max Verstappen maintained his impressive record so far this season of winning every race that he's finished.
Despite Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz joining him on the podium, the Dutchman continues to close the gap on the former in the championship battle, while Red Bull now sit just six points adrift of the Scuderia in the Constructors standings.
The momentum is certainly with Red Bull, and as they've continued to make steady improvements to the RB18, they've set an ominous standard while still exploring new opportunities to get quicker.
That in turn puts the pressure on Ferrari to respond, but with their solid pre-season testing in Barcelona in mind and their first significant upgrade package of the season incoming, they will be looking to swing the momentum back in their favour in this unpredictable campaign.
Ferrari and Red Bull to continue to lead the field
With consecutive wins behind him, it's difficult to look past Verstappen at this stage as the defending champion is enjoying doing the hunting and his overtaking of Leclerc is often a thing of real beauty. He's a 2.111/10 favourite to win the Spanish Grand Prix.
However, the fact remains that track characteristics are playing a significant factor, and if we look at the number of medium and high-speed corners in Barcelona, the expectation is that it will suit Ferrari more.
The Scuderia believed their rivals had a 0.2s per lap advantage over the F1-75 in Miami, but as they prepare to introduce their own upgrades combined with budget limitations on how much Red Bull can develop their car, they'll be hoping to wipe that out and bridge the gap that is seemingly forming, starting this weekend.
Verstappen hasn't won here since his first run at the Spanish Grand Prix in 2016, while Ferrari haven't had a winner in this race since 2013.
Back that barren run to end for one of them this year, but given the unpredictability of this season thus far, the pre-qualifying specials offer smarter value with a Verstappen and Leclerc podium finish and Sainz and Perez top six finish available at 3.7511/4.
Sainz looking to impress on home turf
This is of course Sainz's home GP on Spanish soil, and with the Ferrari driver getting on the podium in every race he has finished this season coupled with the hope that he has seen his share of bad luck come and go now, he's a good option to finish in the top three.
With Leclerc producing the results he has, combined with Sainz's misfortune in not finishing races, the Spaniard is steadily heading toward a No.2 driver role. A strong showing here will not only further boost his own confidence, but it may well give Ferrari something to think about moving forward.
To extract a bit more value, another special that stands out is a Sainz podium finish, Perez top six finish and Lewis Hamilton to finish in the points at 3.39/4.
While it feels as though this has been said every race week so far, this is a big weekend for Mercedes in their quest to put their problems behind them and really put together a package that can make a dent on the new hierarchy forming at the front of the grid.
They've done well to this point to tick over and put points on the board, and while Hamilton will be desperate for bigger successes, he will certainly feel that a points finish should be well within their reach this weekend.
Pole position key in Barcelona
Hamilton has won the last five editions of the Spanish GP, and for four of those he started on pole. Historically, Barcelona has been a difficult track to overtake on given all the data that teams have from pre-season testing to produce optimal performance as well as the need for a significant pace advantage to make an overtake attempt on high-speed corners.
While the new regulations will help drivers stick with the man in front for longer, getting pole position here could be pivotal and the race winner to come from the front of the grid is available at 1.9110/11.