Raikkonen new favourite as Hamilton stripped of pole

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Lewis Hamilton will start from the back of the grid in Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix after being stripped of his pole position for stopping on the track at the end of qualifying in Barcelona.

The 2008 World Champion had finished a hefty half a second quicker (0.578 seconds) than the surprise second-placed Williams’ of Pastor Maldonado, while Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso delighted the Spanish crowd by clinching third spot.

It meant he was installed 11/8 race favourite before the race stewards announced their decision, meaning that he will now begin at the back of the grid and is 20/1 to clinch his first win of the season.

New race favourite is Lotus-Renault’s Kimi Raikkonen (3/1), the Fin who, after several seasons away from Formula One rallying, is now looking back to his best.

His previous form on the Barcelona track (he won here in 2005 and 2008) means he is favoured to make it a Catalonian hat-trick, despite starting behind new shock leader Maldonado, Alonso and teammate Romain Grosjean.

Reigning champion Sebastian Vettel won here last season but had to make do with starting in seventh after not setting a time in the final session.

However he remains third favourite to win (5/1), partly due to Hamilton’s punishment and also the shock failures of teammate Mark Webber and McLaren’s Jenson Button, both of whom failed to qualify for the final qualifying session.

It means that Button, fastest in practice yesterday and currently fourth in the drivers championship, has it all to do starting in 10th place, while Webber (currently third overall behind Hamilton) will begin in 11th.

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.