The new F1 season has been full of shocks and surprises but Ralph Ellis says this week's race gives Lewis Hamilton the chance to establish some order...
"If there’s one circuit where Hamilton should be able to bring a bit of order to proceedings then it is Barcelona. It’s arguably his most consistent track, and backing him to be the race winner at his current price of [2.98] looks a bit of value."
If I was Lewis Hamilton there would be just one thing I'd want from this week's Spanish Grand Prix - and that's for it to be a bit boring.
Here we are, about to start the fifth race of the F1 season, and can anybody really claim they know who's got the fastest car or who should be the title favourite?
It seems every Grand Prix so far has been decided by a safety car mistake, a blunder in the pits, an error on a computer screen, or in the case of Azerbaijan what appeared to be a muck-up by the track crew who didn't clear debris properly and left Valtteri Bottas to get a puncture when he should have had a chequered flag.
It's been exciting, for sure (as well as flipping annoying when like me you'd backed Sebastian Vettel in Baku and he had the race in his pocket only for the safety car to mess it up).
But if you are trying to work out whether supporting Hamilton at [2.08] to win his fifth Drivers title is good value it means you are still largely guessing.
Hamilton's most consistent track
Wind the clock back to early March when the teams were last in Barcelona for pre-season testing and Hamilton was as short as [1.3] to retain his crown. His car was significantly quicker around the track and it seemed Mercedes were due to continue their domination of the V6 turbo hybrid era that began in 2014.
But since then Vettel has taken three straight poles, Daniel Ricciardo won a race in China for Red Bull, and Hamilton may have a four point lead in the title race but he needed a huge slice of luck to get there.
Even Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff admits the boffins in his garage don't quite understand what has been happening. "We have to see where our pace has gone since pre-season, or if the changes have been circuit specific," he says.
That seems pessimistic, though, because if there's one circuit where Hamilton should be able to bring a bit of order to proceedings then it is Barcelona. It's arguably his most consistent track, and backing him to be the race winner at his current price of [2.98] looks a bit of value.
New track surface suits Mercedes
The new surface, laid before testing began, seemed to suit the Mercedes cars in pre-season and while temperatures will be warmer than they were in March it isn't going to be frazzling. The expectation is around 20 degrees.
Lewis won there from pole position last year and in 2014, and has been on the front row of the grid every year since his last season with McLaren in 2012 (even then he won qualifying but was knocked back because of a fuel penalty). Mercedes as a team have locked out the front row in four of the last five years.
It's a track where qualifying fast will matter. Some 24 of the last 27 races run on the Circuit de Catalunya have been won from the front row, the highest percentage of any of the sport's traditional tracks.
So for Lewis the plan is simple. Get in front, stay there, and then hope for a weekend at last without daft errors or silly safety cars. Surely he must be due one by now?