Sky Sports F1
pundit and former F1 racer Johnny Herbert reckons Fernando Alonso will be the man to beat this weekend in Spain.
Alonso and Ferrari have been competitive in the opening four races, however, DRS problems meant the Spaniard had to settle for eighth in Bahrain last time out.
As a result Alonso is now only fourth in the Drivers' Championship, 30 points behind the current leader, Sebastian Vettel. As such, a good haul this weekend on home turf at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya would be well timed and Herbert reckons the signs are promising for the 31-year-old.
“I think I am going to put Fernando Alonso and Ferrari at the front,” Herbert told Crash.net
when asked about his predictions for the coming weekend in the latest Sky Sports F1
phone-in for the press.
“Last year, with a car that was maybe not the best out there on the circuit, he got beaten only by Pastor Maldonado and was probably faster, but he just couldn't find his way by. Based on that he looks very good and also he has got a very good race car, and I think he has proved that so far this year. This is one of those circuits, as well, that is going to be quite favourable towards Ferrari. I think Fernando will do very well.
“I still think Sebastian will be in that mix for a podium and if it continues - and there is no reason why it can't continue - Kimi [Raikkonen] should do well too and be in the top three. We could have three different teams on the podium.
“But the Ferrari seems to me - and from what I saw in that test we did here earlier in the year - to be very good, and for what he did last year, and with the situation they have with the race car they have, I think it is Alonso [that will win].”
Meanwhile, when questioned about Jenson Button and McLaren, Herbert added that the 2009 F1 world champion is still in good spirits despite McLaren's dire start to the season. Johnny also believes McLaren can turn things around.
“Coming into the season Jenson was obviously in a good mood because he knew he was the leader. Unfortunately, as we have seen, the car initially in that Jerez test looked quite good, but after that they have struggled ever since," Herbert continued.
"The body language, even in the last race in Bahrain though, was still bubbly and Jenson is still positive. There was obviously the race with his team-mate, Sergio Perez [in Bahrain] and as you may have seen, if you watched Sky Sports F1
, when he joined us with [McLaren team principal, Martin] Whitmarsh [after the race] he showed he still has the passion for it and that ultimate desire to be the leader of the team. What Sergio did there was to threaten that in some regard. We will have to see if that can continue or not. If you go back to last year, Sergio's form was a lot more sporadic and as we know, at McLaren you have to do that [perform] every single time you get in the car. Jenson is able to do and has proved that.
“McLaren are coming here with those new bits, although the team is quite reserved [and cautious] on what is going to happen. But knowing the way that they have worked in the past, many, many times, when they have been behind, they have been able to respond to the difficulties they are under. They have got to do it again and I hope they do. I think we all hope so – all fans of McLaren and all fans of Jenson and there is no reason why they can't. As I said, historically, they have been able to do that.”
You can catch Johnny and watch live coverage of practice, qualifying and the race from Spain on Sky Sports F1