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Formula One: 3 things we learned from Barcelona part one

| 23.02.2015

With less than 20 days to go until the Formula One campaign rolls around again, with the first Grand Prix of 2015 in Australia, there was fervent interest in the first weekend of testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

Motor racing’s top practitioners go again next week at the same track before the big day Down Under a fortnight later, but plenty of pointers were taken away from Spain this time round.

McLaren are in trouble

The Surrey-based sleeping giants were having a tough time of it long before Fernando Alonso was airlfited to hospital with concussion, but thankfully nothing more serious, after smashing into turn three at 150mph on Sunday.

Car trouble blighted Ron Dennis’ team from Thursday onwards, when Jenson Button completed a paltry 12 laps.

On Saturday he managed just 21 and was the slowest of the 10 drivers out there, while the likes of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull’s Daniil Kyvat went round more than 100 times.

At present, McLaren’s 10/1 second favourite odds for the constructors’ championship look terrible, even with Ladbrokes paying out a third each way on the first two.

Lewis Hamilton isn’t yet firing on all cylinders

The BBC Sports Personality of the Year and current world champion had an okay Friday, finishing half a second ahead of teammate Nico Rosberg, before fading somewhat as the weekend wore on.

Hamilton, who has been struggling with illness of late, came third on Saturday using harder tyres than Lotus’ Pastor Maldonado and Toro Rosso teenager Max Verstappen, who finished first and second, but the Brit was clearly still hoping for a bit more control than he got:

“It was a hard day, I was glad I got 100 laps and glad I got time in the car.

“The guys are working hard here and back at the factory, and we are trying to get mileage.

“But I would say the biggest issue is the tyres. They don’t work, they are so hard. They are not spectacular.”

Rosberg, who’s 5/2 to take the drivers’ championship he only just missed out on last year, was almost two seconds quicker than the defending champion, 4/6 favourite to retain his title, using the same medium tyres on Sunday.

Red Bull’s ‘Double-D’ pairing promises plenty

Daniel Ricciardo, last season’s winner in Canada, Hungary and Belgium, just about burned off Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, Williams’ Felipe Massa and Force India’s Sergio Perez, all of whom were using soft tyres, to take the laurels on Friday.

Kvyat followed that up on Saturday by posting more than a hundred laps on medium tyres, while getting to within half a second of Hamilton with his fastest time, then finished third behind Lotus’ Romain Grosjean and Rosberg on Sunday when using softs.

The two Daniels certainly look a top partnership in the making, and Red Bull’s impressive Toro Rosso finishing school (from where both drivers came) should keep them on their toes.

Red Bull are 12/1 to regain the constructors’ championship, having won the title for four years on the spin before last term.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Alex Fortune