Lewis Hamilton claimed one of the most fortunate victories of his career in Baku last month and will head into the Spanish Grand Prix with fond memories of a triumphant duel with Sebastian Vettel 12 months ago.
Hamilton holds a four-point lead over Vettel in the battle for the Formula One title following his first victory of the season in a chaotic Azerbaijan Grand Prix. A late puncture denied Valtteri Bottas top spot on the podium and it was his Mercedes teammate Hamilton who came through to secure maximum points.
Vettel had to settle for fourth spot in an action-packed race which included a dramatic collision between Red Bull teammates Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo.
Hamilton leads the drivers' standings for the first time this year and the defending champion will aim to stretch his advantage when the European swing starts at Circuit de Catalunya. The Brit won in Barcelona last year after starting on pole, Vettel having got off to a great start to hit the front before finishing second behind his rival.
Bottas will definitely be due a change of luck, having come agonizingly close to a win last time out.
TALK OF THE PADDOCK
Hamilton accused Vettel of breaching safety car rules in Baku, but much of the talk has been over how Red Bull can recover from a damaging race.
Christian Horner said Verstappen and Ricciardo would be in the doghouse after a crash which brought their races to a spectacular end. The teammates both apologized for the incident and will be under pressure to make an immediate response in Catalonia.
Verstappen made history by becoming the youngest F1 winner at the Spanish Grand Prix two years ago, but the Dutchman has endured a miserable start to the 2018 campaign. Speculation over Ricciardo's future continues to rumble on, with Toto Wolff stating that Mercedes are not in the market for a new driver. Red Bull are in need of a lift after being the centre of attention for the wrong reasons last time out.
1. Lewis Hamilton (Ferrari) 70
2. Sebastian Vettel (Mercedes) 66
3. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) 48
4. Valterri Bottas (Mercedes) 40
5. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) 37
1. Ferrari 114
2. Mercedes 110
3. Red Bull 55
4. McLaren 36
5. Renault 35
RACEWEEK SCHEDULE (all times local)
As many as 20 out of the 27 races at Circuit de Catalunya have been won by the driver starting on pole.
2017: Lewis Hamilton
2016 Max Verstappen