Lewis Hamilton won in Azerbaijan two weeks ago to end Mercedes' winless streak this season, but the team expects the battle with Ferrari and Red Bull to be as tight as ever at the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona. Red Bull and Ferrari blamed Bottas for the crash, with a young Kimi fan overcome with tears in the crowd at the Finn's retirement.
"If we're in front, we can win because our race pace is good".
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has always allowed his drivers to race but he will know this can not continue.
The race saw the underdogs managing to score some points like Charles Leclerc for Sauber - the first points in an extremely long time. Raikkonen, Verstappen and Bottas all got involved with each other while Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso had their own separate accident.
Ferrari have not had four successive poles since 2007 and Vettel has yet to be on pole in Barcelona.
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Hamilton has 63 victories from 212 races and is second in the all-time list behind seven-times world champion Michael Schumacher (91).
Since returning to McLaren in 2015, Alonso hasn't scored a single point on Spanish soil. Mercedes as a team have locked out the front row in four of the last five years.
Wear and degradation rates will need to be re-assessed.
The Ferraris have been blisteringly fast this season, and even with Mercedes infamous party mode, Hamilton and Bottas have for the most part been unable to pull it all together and take pole from Vettel since the first round in Australia. The new surface may have evolved as well.
The Circuit de Catalunya has undergone a complete resurfacing since previous year and this, together with possible higher than usual temperatures, may make tyre-wear an important factor in the outcome.
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Barcelona, a known quantity to all the teams given its unofficial status as the sport's winter residence but also a track which provides a tough all-round test of an F1 auto, is generally considered to provide a barometer for what the rest of the season may hold.
Barcelona contains a good all-round mix of corners and loadings that emphasise every aspect of a car's performance - a reason why it is a popular testing venue.
Hamilton dominated the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, but a computer software glitch cost him victory and he has struggled since.
"At the moment I am punching below my weight and that is not sufficient enough to win a world championship". If you think he can bounce back from his Azerbaijan heartbreak he is paying 15/2.
Mercedes has taken three of the last four races in Spain, but Red Bull won with Max Verstappen in 2016 and Ferrari with Fernando Alonso in 2013.
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