Hamilton stripped of pole position in Spain
The feature below was written before Lewis Hamilton was stripped of pole position for the Spanish Grand Prix. Stewards found that his McLaren team broke the rules when he stopped on the track after setting the fastest qualifying time.
As Hamilton will now start the race from the back of the grid his chances of winning now look extremely remote – he’s out to 15.00 for the race victory.
Pastor Maldonado has been promoted to pole position and with Hamilton out of the way his chances look much better. Fernando Alonso will also fancy his chances of jumping into the lead at the start and controlling the race from there.
The Lotus team is now a very attractive pick – you can bet on the winner being a Lotus driver at 2.50.
Hamilton’s woe in Spain is just the latest in a testing season. He had a poor start in Australia, which allowed his teammate to take the lead and the win, and has committed a number of costly error in the pits.
McLaren’s race stint times looked good on Friday, however, and they’re redesigned their wheel nuts for quick and consistent changes. Hamilton should still be in with a chance of progressing to the podium even from the back of the grid.
Long odds on Maldonado
It’s not that often you find a driver starting a race from the front row of the grid priced at 11.00 to win it. But in Pastor Maldonado that’s exactly what we have. The Williams driver was in superb form on Saturday, second-fastest both in practice and final qualifying. Can he give Williams their first victory since Juan Pablo Montoya’s triumph in the Brazilian Grand Prix at the end of 2004? The FW34 appears to have solid long run pace and Maldonado has had some good runs earlier this year.
Step forward for Ferrari
Alonso delivered on the improved performance seen from Ferrari this weekend, and will start on the front row following Hamilton’s lapse. He and Maldonado destroyed their teammates in qualifying – the second Ferrari of Felipe Massa lines up 16th, ahead of Maldonado’s teammate Bruno Senna.
Ferrari’s race stint pace was not as good on Friday, but Alonso is certainly one to keep an eye on. His start here last year was a scorcher, rocketing up from fifth to take the lead. He’s priced at 4.00 to win.
Lotus looking good
Lotus’s pace on Friday was eye-catchingly quick. The increasingly impressive Romain Grosjean beat team mate Kimi Raikkonen despite missing this morning practice session with a technical problem.
Keep an eye on the black-and-gold cars at the start of the race. They both moved forward quickly at the start of the race in Bahrain, ultimately finishing second and third.
Passing isn’t easy at the Circuit de Catalunya but the E20s have had great straight-line speed, giving them the chance to pass heading into turn one.
Raikkonen is priced at 4.00 and Grosjean at 8.00. Don’t overlook the latter just because of his comparative lack of experience – he’s been very quick in the opening races and is definitely worth a look.
Finally, a word on the winner of the last race, Sebastian Vettel. He may only start eighth but he’s saved a lot of new tyres. He’s at 5.50 to win.
Keith Collantine is the editor of Formula One blog F1 Fanatic.