Fri, May 11, 8:53am by Staff Writer
Daniel Ricciardo is equal second favourite to win the Spanish Grand Prix this weekend as Red Bull looks to put his embarrassing, race ending crash with Max Verstappen behind it.
Ricciardo and teammate Max Verstappen were forced to apologise to Red Bull staff after their collision in Baku caused a dramatic end to the Azerbaijan GP.
Lewis Hamilton was the main beneficiary of the Red Bull mishap, making the most of the chaos to win Mercedes’ first race of the season.
The victory propelled Hamilton past Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel to the top of the drivers’ standings and the defending champions is justifiably optimistic of his chances at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
Mercedes has had more than its share of success at Barcelona in recent years three wins from the last four races and five straight pole positions.
Vettel, meanwhile, is just four points behind Hamilton on the ladder with a car that has earned him two wins from four races this season and three podium finishes.
Vettel and Hamilton share Sportsbet’s favouritism for the Spanish GP on $2.50 each, with Ricciardo and Verstappen joining Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas as second favourites at $10.
Vettel’s Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen is on $12, despite finishing third at the season-opening Australian GP.
Hamilton is looking to claim a share of history this weekend in a bid to become the first driver in 14 years to win back-to-back Spanish GPs. The last driver to achieve the feat was Michael Schumacher.
If the Englishman can claim pole position, as he has the past two years, that will go a long way to ensuring he reaches the milestone. Of the last 27 races, 20 have been won from the front of the grid.
Along with Hamilton, Vettel, Raikkonen, Verstappen and Fernando Alonso have all won in Barcelona.
The last man to take the chequered flag in Spain – who wasn’t Hamilton – was Verstappen when he claimed the 2016 Spanish GP to become the youngest-ever F1 winner.
Ricciardo should also have fond memories of Barcelona after reaching the podium there in 2014 and 2017.
And after the becoming the only driver outside Ferrari and Mercedes to win a race this season, Ricciardo is also firming as a chance to take the drivers title.
While Vettel and Hamilton are the clear favourites on $2 to take the season’s trophy, the Aussie is second favourite at $23 ahead of Bottas on $26, and Raikkonen and Verstappen on $41.
The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya’s combination of high and low-speed corners, and an abrasive track surface promise to take their toll on the cars this weekend, while tyre wear can be particularly high.
This year marks the 28th time Barcelona has hosted the Spanish Grand Prix.
While cloudy skies are expected to persist through the weekend, the mild, 19C temperatures should prove ideal racing Weather.
The Spanish GP gets underway at 10pm Sunday AEST.
Suggested Bet: Ricciardo to finish on the podium: $2.25
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