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Barcelona beckons Mercedes challenge

Barcelona can be an unforgiving and ruthless place for any competitor, aiming to gain a numerical advantage. Just look at the dominance of the city’s number one football team over the years.

In 2013, all form and common sense went out of the window for Catalunya’s Formula One Grand Prix. One of their own; Fernando Alonso triumphed as if he had the track embedded in his blood. He lived every corner. Not only that, he owned the race.

Born in nearby Oviedo, the Spaniard is 14/1 to repeat that a year later. Although Mercedes are running away with the Constructors’ Championship, their drivers are also topping the individual leaderboard.

Nico Rosberg is just four points ahead of Lewis Hamilton on 79. Since he won the first race, when Hamilton retired, the German has crossed the line in a cloud of the latter’s dust.

Former world champion Nigel Mansell has described the 29-year old’s four victories this season as ‘close to perfection’ recently.

He told British media: “No driver ever wins a world title in a bad team, but what you can do is demonstrate how brilliantly you can win. Lewis has done that this season.

“He has been close to perfection, just brilliant; he has been given the freedom to express himself.

“When you get a few more wins under your belt, you get even more confidence and that gives you another half a second in your pocket.

“They are the class act of the field and, I don’t see them dropping the ball.

“They’re not going to be unbeatable during the year, but I think it will be very hard to close the gap because of their superior engine performance.

“Lewis and Nico are going to have a tremendous time in 2014.”

Unsurprisingly, the duo are the favourites for the victory in Barcelona. Although Rosberg is 5/2, Hamilton’s fine form reflects his odds-on price of 8/15. Both are 4/11 for a double podium finish.

The rest of the field are languishing behind and are scrapping for third – Alonso’s current position. He is well primed to pounce, after a steady consistency that has seen him finish fourth twice, ninth, and third.

Kimi Raikkonen, Alonso’s teammate, finished second in Barcelona last year, though has had an average start to the season, and is currently on 11 points. A double podium placement for Ferrari is 14/1.

Form suggests this will be all about Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes, though just like the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, the season is bound to have many twists and turns.

Qualifying results are as follows –

1. Hamilton
2. Rosberg
3. Ricciardo
4. Bottas
5. Grosjean
6. Raikkoen
7. Alonso
8. Button
9. Massa
10. Vette1
11. Hulkenberg
12. Perez
13. Kvyat
14. Gutierrez
15. Magnussen
16. Vergne
17. Sutil
18. Chilton
19. Bianchi
20. Ericsson
21. Kobayashi
22. Maldonado