There doesn’t seem to be anything that can stop the Mercedes in qualifying so far this year (other than the wall, as Valtteri Bottas managed to find out), even after just one round. Lewis Hamilton topped the timing sheets in Melbourne Q3 with an astonishing 0.664 margin over second place, and as such both Ferrari and Red Bull have complained about the advantage. Therefore, it’s no surprise to see Hamilton favourite for pole position again at 8/13, whilst Bottas is 4/1 to take pole despite doing so last year.
Sebastian Vettel is equal with Bottas at 4/1, whilst teammate Kimi Raikkonen is 20/1 despite out qualifying his German teammate in Melbourne. The Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo are 14/1 and 16/1 respectively, and anyone else in the field is 100/1 or more, such is the gap. If you are looking for an extreme outside bet here then look to the Haas duo of Kevin Magnussen or Romain Grosjean at 100/1 apiece.
Bahrain is one of the few tracks on the F1 circuit where there is plenty of width on the track to give the drivers room to overtake. Combine that with four long straights for the use of DRS and (likely) more than one pitstop and it should be an exciting race, so as such the qualifying position shouldn’t have as much bearing on the end result as other races.
The bookies still see it the same way as Melbourne though, with Hamilton favoured at 5/6, Vettel second at 3/1 and Bottas just behind at 6/1. Verstappen, at 12/1, edges his teammate Ricciardo, at 14/1, despite being beaten in Melbourne thanks to a spin at turn one when under pressure. Raikkonen rounds out the “big three” teams at 16/1.
It’s a huge gap once again from Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull to the rest of the field, but that’s something we can expect for the rest of the year. None of the other teams won a race in 2017 and likely won’t in 2018 but looking towards a podium finish might provide a better chance for the weaker teams. Most bookies offer a podium finish as a market, but if you think the driver will get second place overall then betting on them to win the race and adding the ‘each way’ option at 1/3 the original odds might bring you a better potential reward.
Fernando Alonso has finally shown that the McLaren can be slightly competitive after placing fifth in Melbourne, but the chances of a win here are priced at 100/1 and a podium finish is 40/1. Both the Haas cars were running in the top six in Melbourne before pit stop troubles caused them both to drop out. If they can show similar form this week then a podium could happen if some of the front running cars have problems, and both drivers have odds of 14/1 to do so. If you think a podium is a push for these three then the odds of a top-six finish are 11/10 for both the Haas drivers and 13/8 for Alonso.
Both the safety car and virtual safety car featured heavily in Melbourne and ultimately decided the end result for the race. As a prop bet, the odds are 5/4 for the safety car to appear again in Bahrain or 4/7 for it to stay firmly in the garage.
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