Let’s be very clear, there are no grounds to oppose either of the Mercedes cars in this weekend’s F1 Grand Prix. The pair, driven by Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, have finished 1-2 in the last three Grand Prix and would have doubtlessly done the same in the opening race of the season if it were not for a mechanical issue on Hamilton’s car.
So the big question is who will finish third? Well, with a third and two fourth placed efforts this year, former World Champion Fernando Alonso actually has the best overall profile beyond the ‘big two’.
Indeed, I am opting for him in the ‘Without Mercedes’ betting market and my decision is backed by more than simple finishing form. Vitally he is over-priced at Ladbrokes 3/1 quote.
And for why… Chief threats in the betting market is the Red Bull duo of Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo. Their results in 2014 reads: 4-5-4-6-3-R-Dq-Ret. One gets the distinct impression their price is based on former glories. The car was, after all, all-conquering, for four seasons.
The bulk of their speed has always come from aerodynamics and so it’s quite remarkable that they have struggled so badly here for the last two years. Spain gave Vettel his worst result last season and 2011 was not much better. Additional salt is rubbed into the wounds with Vettel missing all of the second practice session (and most of the first) on Friday with an electrical issue.
Alonso’s teammate, Kimi Raikkonen, has not come to grips with the new spec 1.6 litre cars in any way and is easily discounted. It’s 14/1 and upwards any driver other than these four.
With the realistic opposition easily discounted Alonso’s abilities can be highlighted… The Spaniard rises to this occasion, his home GP after all, and his record here reads: 1-2-5-2-5-R-3-1-2-4-2. Last season he started this race in fifth yet stood on the podium’s centre/top step after a masterful performance.
Racing on home tarmac always sees the Spaniard display speed and performance above and beyond what is seemingly feasible. That’s underlined by his victory at the Valencia street circuit in the 2012 European Grand Prix. On a track where an F1 car would struggle to find room to overtake a Renault Megane, Alonso converted eleventh on the starting grid into a stunning race win.
Spanish Grand Prix: Fernando Alonso ‘Without the Mercedes’ 3/1 Ladbrokes.