After qualifying and practice I could easily stretch out the speculation before this 2012 Spanish Grand Prix, but the reality is that with the winner almost always coming from pole, or at least the front row, and the results we saw in qualifying yesterday it would have been foolish to back against a McLaren win for Lewis Hamilton. Admittedly Sebastian Vettel has some fresh tires and interesting choices, as does the other McLaren of Jenson Button, but Hamilton would have taken some stopping when the lights go out and the flag dropped.
That is, if the English driver had not been demoted to last for under-fuelling his car, but after having to stop on the way in from his qualifying lap and leave the car on the track Lewis has been demoted to the back of the grid. As much as I hate to agree with conspiracy theorists this does seem fairly harsh on the Brit, but for the rest of the field, and one Colombian in particular it is great news. Pastor Maldonado is now our pole-sitter, in a Williams, and at 10/1 with BetFred to win the race he is nowhere near as far from victory as he may have expected to be.
Fernando Alonso now moves to the front row, and is a 4/1 second favourite to win the race, but astonishingly it is the Lotus of Kimi Raikkonen the bookies are installing as most likely to come in first, VictorChandler having 7/2. This is not so much remarkable for the driver being there as the car, one relatively new to the track, and not expected to be a contender. The Finn will also have his young teammate alongside him on row two of the grid, Romain Grosjean being 15/2 as race winner with Bet365.
Overall, the demotion of Hamilton is probably good news for everyone not in a McLaren hat, as it means he is going to have to race like a demon to get into the points, and with Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel, Mark Webber and Felipe Massa joining him outside the top ten there is every chance this could be a cracker, despite the history of flag-to-flag winners. The title race is hotting up too, and this could well be the weekend it starts to take shape and show us who could be world champion at the end of the season.