This week's Formula 1 Gran Premio de España from the Catalunya circuit on the outskirts of Barcelona may not be the most exciting race of the year.

Often it is not and that is due in major part to the teams conducting much of their pre-season testing at the venue and therefore they all know the track and it's characteristics very well indeed.

It can be reasonably expected though that this year things may be a considerably different.

It is obvious to all who are interested that there is a real battle going on at the top in this year's championship, thanks to the re-emergence of Ferrari as a force to be reckoned with and the suspicion that the Mercedes team are more than a little on the back foot.


Barcelona, the real first race of the European season, is where the teams traditionally bring huge quantities of new parts, development parts, updated parts, even parts to replace the parts they have been experimenting with for weeks and depending on whose developments have the greatest beneficial effect, or otherwise, that may set the tone for the next few races as the season goes on.

Red Bull are one team who will have a very large load of new bits for the race weekend as part of the plan to get both Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo back into championship and race winning, contention, in fact in the words of the Red Bull team 'advisor' Helmut Marko "in Barcelona we are coming with a new car."

Ferrari are more concerned with improving the aerodynamics of the SF70H chassis for Vettel and Raikkonen and in Mercedes case it is probable that their own new parts will be considerably lighter in weight in order to try and reduce the overall kilogram count of the car that is, in part, thought to be the cause of the perceived dip in performance.

That problem seems to have affected the driving of Lewis Hamilton a little more than new boy Valtieri Bottas, or perhaps other problems are affecting the sometimes enigmatic Hamilton.

After a superb drive in the Russian GP, Bottas has also proved to be a real threat to teammate Hamilton and has finally got a race win under his belt. I wrote recently that Bottas was in danger of being the number two driver in the Mercedes team but with that win at Sochi he may well have put a stay of execution to that impending role. In fact he may even join in the fight for the championship but to do that he will have to win more races than just the one before the team orders issue raises it's ugly head again.

It was at this event last year that the 'Wunderkind' that is Max Verstappen achieved his first, and so far only, win and despite his still obvious speed and virtuoso like-ability, it does not seem so far this season that this year's RB13 chassis is going to help him win many more Grands Prix in 2017, hence the "new car" quote.

Max's win, on debut for his new team after being promoted from the Toro Rosso squad in 2016, was impressive and shook up the world of Formula 1 but one win in a driver's career does not a world champion make.

Having said that, Mike Hawthorn (1958) and Keke Rosberg (1982) managed to win the Championship in those particular years with just one win in those seasons.

Since 'modern' Formula One began in 1950 there have been 34 drivers to have just one Grand Prix win to their name with nine of those drivers winning the Indy 500, classed as a world championship qualifying event until 1960.** None of those remaining 25 drivers ever came close to winning the World Drivers' title.

Verstappen and Bottas have, almost certainly, got more wins in their respective futures and with multiple wins come championships.

The Spanish Grand Prix also sees the return of the huge paddock team bases, still bizarrely referred to as the 'motorhomes' (although in the case of the McLaren - Honda team it is called 'The Brand Centre' and at Red Bull Racing 'The Energy Station' ) and the paddock will swell in numbers of both the hospitality staff and the guests, the media and the 'hangers on'.

There will be a huge increase in the trucks parking at the tracks with the major teams each bringing an extra 20 or so just to transport the hospitality unit parts.

This Grand Prix really does represent a 'new beginning' for Formula 1 2017.

Perhaps there is also a new beginning, in it's very nascent form, with the return of the McLaren name, however tenuous, to the Indy 500.

With Fernando Alonso driving a McLaren badged car, thankfully liveried in the 'real' McLaren colour of Papaya Orange instead of the awful, turgid and rusty looking Formula 1 version, maybe the famed Indy 500 could reappear on the World Championship list of events.

Great to see, highly unlikely, but nice to dream and that would certainly shake up the sport.

**Johnnie Parsons (1950), Lee Wallard (1951), Troy Ruttman (1952), Bob Sweikert (1955), Pat Flaherty (1956), Sam Hanks (1957), Jimmy Brian (1958), Jim Rathmann (1960).