F1 Raceweek: No Hamilton magic bullets, Red Bull's crucial juncture and happy birthday Williams!


The thrilling tussle between Ferrari and Mercedes continued last time out in Russia, but it was Valtteri Bottas not Lewis Hamilton that triumphed for the defending constructors' champions in Sochi.

Bottas topped the podium for the first time in Formula One to leave him just 10 points adrift of Mercedes team-mate Hamilton in the drivers' standings, with Sebastian Vettel continuing to lead the way for Ferrari.

The next stop is the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona, where Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull are preparing to unleash upgrades.

As the teams begin to prepare for the Circuit de Catalunya, we take a look at the talk in the paddock.



With the teams competing at the top of the grid all making changes in Barcelona, Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda is expecting a shake-up.

"The season will start new," he said. "Who has the better upgrades, we don't know yet. But we will see in Barcelona."

Hamilton failed in Sochi to land a place on the podium in a race he has finished for the first time since last June, with the Briton's car suffering with set-up problems.

Mercedes chief Toto Wolff says a lot of work has gone into understanding why, but admits there is no automatic fix.

He said: "There are no magic bullets to understanding that, just a lot of hard work and attention to detail. We must give him the tools he needs to do the job in the next races and that will be a big focus for us."


Red Bull have been helpless as Ferrari and Mercedes battle for supremacy in the early throes of the season.

Just like in 2016, Spain is set to bring a huge step up in terms of performance for Red Bull in what is expected to be one of the biggest upgrades on the grid.

With just one podium finish for the team from four races, the pressure is on, but Daniel Ricciardo insists the whole season does not depend on the upgrade.

"I won't go as far as saying the whole season, but let's say the first half," he said. "It would probably dictate if we're going on the podium in those next handful of races."


It has been another miserable year for McLaren, whose partnership with engine provider Honda has brought up more reliability issues.

Fernando Alonso has yet to see a chequered flag in four races, while team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne had to serve a grid penalty in Sochi in just the fourth race after partly exceeding his engine element usage for the whole season.

However, McLaren team chief Eric Boullier is adamant all is not lost, saying: "We have to be the best ourselves before we see the global picture. Honda are doing the same and we try to work as hard as possible to make sure we will catch up." 


On Monday, it was a special day for Williams - who celebrated their 40th birthday.

Since debuting at the Spanish Grand Prix in 1977 as Williams Martini Racing, only Ferrari and McLaren can boast more than their tally of 114 wins - although the last of those came in Spain for Pastor Maldonado five years ago.

Seven drivers have celebrated winning the world title at Williams, with the last of those coming for Jacques Villeneuve in 1997 - the same year they won their ninth and most recent constructors' championship.