2018 Spanish Grand Prix Preview

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Lewis Hamilton will be looking to win the Spanish Grand Prix for a second consecutive year when the race gets underway at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on Sunday.

The Mercedes driver also won the race in 2014 - the year which kick-started Mercedes dominance in the sport, with the German manufacturer winning the last four constructors championships.

Formula One comes into the Spanish Grand Prix off the back of one of the most dramatic races in recent memory in Azerbaijan, with multiple drivers crashing out and Valtteri Bottas, who looked certain to win, blowing a tyre late in the race and team-mate Hamilton pouncing to secure victory.

With many high profile retirements throughout the race, including the two Red Bull drivers crashing into each other on lap 40, it allowed Force India's Sergio Perez to finish third, while Sauber's Charles Leclerc and Brendon Hartley of Toro Rosso both earned their first driver points in Formula One.

The win for Hamilton means he now sits top of the Drivers Championship with 70 points, overtaking Sebastian Vettel, who won the first two races of the year in Australia and Bahrain.

Hamilton won the Spanish Grand Prix in 2017 Hamilton won the Spanish Grand Prix in 2017

Although only four races have been completed in the 21 meeting calendar, it is likely that Hamilton and Vettel will be fighting it out to be crowned world champion, while Ferrari will be looking to win their first team title since 2008, when they were represented by Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa.

Both Hamilton and Vettel are two of the greatest talents of the modern era, with both picking up four world titles, with Nico Rosberg's 2016 success the only time the duo haven't picked up the title in the last decade.

It is a rivalry reminiscent of that played out between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo - both around the same age and at the peak of their powers, and not allowing the competition a sniff when it comes to collecting the major accolades.

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Max Verstappen has fond memories of the Spanish Grand Prix, with the 18-year-old picking up his first race win in his first race for Red Bull, and used that success as a platform to go on and podium on six other occasions that season.

Ferrari have the best record of any constructors at the race, winning it on 12 separate occasions, with Michael Schumacher winning six times, including four times in a row between 2001-2004.

Raikkonen, who is now a team-mate of Vettel's at Ferrari, has also had a bright start to the 2018 season, finishing on the podium in three of the four races, including a second in Azerbaijan and two third placed finishes in Australia and China.

The 2007 World Champion seems to be somewhere near his best currently, and coupled with an improving Ferrari car, could yet have a say in the title race if he can keep up the level of consistency he has shown in the early part of the year.

Kimi Raikkonen is in fine form this season Kimi Raikkonen is in fine form this season

Daniel Ricciardo sits fifth in the drivers standings having picked up 37 points in four races, most of which came through winning the Chinese Grand Prix.

It is clear the Australian has massive potential, as shown by finishing fifth in last years standings and finishing on the podium in eight different races.

His pairing with Verstappen is one of the most exciting team partnerships in the sport, but both will have to be prepared to play a role for the team rather than going all out for the race win themselves, as it has cost Red Bull on a couple of occasions, as shown in Baku two weeks ago.

Both drivers have had to retire from the race twice this year, while there 13 retirements in 20 races between the pair in 2017.

Ricciardo (L) and Verstappen (R) are two of the most exciting drivers in Formula One Ricciardo (L) and Verstappen (R) are two of the most exciting drivers in Formula One

It is promising to see the lesser known names and teams picking up points and showing improvements this year, with the likes of Sergio Perez, Carlos Sainz, Pierre Gasly and Charles Leclerc all on the points table already.

After the Spanish Grand Prix, Formula One will move onto one of the highlights of the calendar in Monaco, before races in Canada, France and Austria.

Words: Johnny Morton

Images: PA

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