F1 2012 Spain News

By Pete Gill, Mike Wise, James Galloway and William Esler

Nosing about for change

If it feels as if the nascent 2015 season has been shaped by a series of reoccurring themes – Nico Rosberg’s failure to match Lewis Hamilton, Ferrari’s punchy form against Mercedes, Williams’ isolation as the third-fastest outfit on the grid – then it is largely because the year has indeed been stuck on repeat.

Setting a new F1 record, the same three drivers – Hamilton, Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel – appeared on the podium at the first three races, and all that changed on the Bahrain rostrum was the identity of the driver in red when Kimi Raikkonen replaced Vettel.width="220" Beyond that tweak, F1 in 2015 has been a matter of regular routine.

With an avalanche of upgrades scheduled for Barcelona, the gateway for the European leg of the campaign, there's a tantalising possibility that a midfield runner may take a sudden leap forward to join Mercedes and Ferrari at the front. The stronger likelihood, however, is that their duopoly on podium finishes will only be challenged if unreliability strikes. Even if a Red Bull or a Williams discover substantial performance improvement, Mercedes and Ferrari already have plenty in hand over the rest – and in any case, they won’t have been idle over the three-week break either.

But the questions of whether Williams can keep ahead of Red Bull and just how much of a gain the former world champions can deliver are altogether different matters. Rumour has it that Red Bull plan to run a radically-different nose in Spain that is such a departure from their previous design, and such an extreme interpretation of what the rulebook permits, that it reportedly only passed the mandatory crash test at the fourth time of asking. To be worth that amount of fuss - and reputed expense - Red Bull must be extremely confident their new nose will sniff out a big gain on track too. Enough to overtake Williams? Enough to pull in Mercedes and Ferrari? We’ll see.

The telling tiredness of waiting for Lewis to sign up

Don’t sigh and stop with the rolling of your eyes. If you’re sick and tired of waiting for proper news about Lewis Hamilton’s new contract with Mercedes – you know the thing, it's called official confirmation – then that is exactly the point. The fact that it is still a non-story, a month after Lewis assured reporters that the deal was “99.6% done”, is why it is a story. The longer the delay, the louder the doubts.

The sensible explanation for the wait is an endorsement of the official line: he’s still haggling over the small print, eking out every paddock pass and trophy guarantee he can muster, sufficiently relaxed about his future employment prospects to drag negotiations out without any sort of fixed timetable in mind.

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