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Is there any stopping Mercedes’ dominance?
The 2019 edition of the Formula 1 World Championship so far has been almost entirely dominated by McLaren-Mercedes to such a degree, that after four rounds the German manufacturer holds a stronghold on the paddock, with a remarkable four consecutive one-two finishes to date.
After thoughts that this season could become one of the closely fought races for the title between multiple teams, Mercedes seems intent on eliminating any such notions, with Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas looking set for their own in-house battle to Abu Dhabi in November with just a single point separating the five-time, reigning world champion and Finnish pretender to the throne.
With Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel already 34 points off the Mercedes duo – and the seemingly the closest on hand to mount a challenge this term – F1 bigwigs will be concerned that the season could be already over far earlier than the previous two years in Mexico. There is however a glimmer of hope that this weekend in Barcelona could shake things up a little, and put a spanner in the works of the current Mercedes monopoly.
Ferrari will look to pre-season
Hopes will be high not least for the Prancing Horse, given the same successful pre-season testing that Ferrari enjoyed at the very same venue as this weekend, where both Vettel and Charles Leclerc laid a marker on their intention for the coming year.
Ferrari ran reliably and the team managed to complete 598 and 401 laps in the consecutively back in March. Vettel posted the quickest time of testing with a 1m 16.221s which was just 0.003s ahead of Hamilton’s fastest lap in his Mercedes.
Whilst that early pace setting has thus not converted into a GP win in 2019, the first European leg of the year could yet swing momentum back in the favor of the chasing pack, and cause not only Italian Team Principal Mattia Binotto to raise an eyebrow, but give the rest of paddock a sense of hope for the coming summer months. For the former however, a record of just three third spots on the podium must be improved upon in Spain, as a matter of urgency for the remainder of the season.
F1 to commemorate Senna
Away from the track, this weekend marks the 25th anniversary of the death of three-time champion and racing great Ayrton Senna, who died during the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix at Imola.
During a weekend that will live in sporting infamy, the Brazilian crashed into a concrete wall around Tamburello at approximately 135mph following suspected brake failure, and despite numerous attempts to resuscitate Senna, he was announced dead only hours later at a hospital in Bologna. The sporting world mourned his death, having only 24 hours before seen Simtek driver Roland Ratzenburger killed in qualifying.
Passing away at the age of just 34, Senna had earned the respect of fellow drivers and former Drivers’ champions such as Hamilton himself, Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso. He and Schumacher in particular had gone nose-to-nose frequently during in the golden era of the sport, and the Brazilian was an idol and a source of inspiration to many from his humble beginnings in Sao Paulo.
This weekend, as the rev of engines and whiff of burning rubber fills the air in Barcelona, the thoughts of the great man who had converted many a nay-sayer to the sport, will not be far from the mind.
The 2019 Spanish Grand takes place this weekend at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, with the race itself on Sunday at 1.10pm BST
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